AROUND a dozen horse riders took to the roads around Basingstoke on Sunday morning to raise awareness of the need to pass wide and slowly.

The procession, which got underway from Kennel Farm and took riders through Cliddesden, Brighton Hill and Hatch Warren, was part of a national demonstration of 176 rides across the weekend.

The Basingstoke procession was organised by Hatch Warren resident Tracey Patterson, a horse lover herself who said: “When we have been out on the roads people don’t seem to realise that they need to give us distance and slow down.

“I have had a lot of friends that have been hit by cars. We ride out and we are allowed to ride side by side, that is to put the more nervous one on the inside, but we get a lot of abuse for that.”

Statistics from the British Horse Society show that nearly two horses die on the UK’s roads each week, whilst incidents increased by 81 per cent in 2019-20 on the previous year.

Among those at the event was Stephanie Scott, who spoke about an incident 12 years ago when she was hit from behind by a car.

The 34-year-old said of the incident near Little London: “I was riding over where they painted ‘slow’ in giant letters.

“I heard him coming, we were by a traffic calming island. He was coming very fast, then he just drove straight into the back of the horse and he was on the bonnet.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Stephanie ScottStephanie Scott

Thankfully, despite suffering a broken pelvis and torn ligaments, Stephanie’s horse survived, although it dented her confidence on the roads.

“We were in a known horsey area, the chap lived on the road, he knew the road,” she continued.

“It does take a couple of bad riders to give the rest of us a bad reputation. We are as sensible as we can be.

“I have had people tell me it is like a game, ‘ten points if you take a rider off’.

“I had one guy sit behind revving his engine, and pull alongside and do a burnout. You kind of get used to it. You shouldn’t have to get used to it.”

Another keen rider, Carol Donner, said: “I find people come screaming towards you. They slam their brakes on and skid. What are they going to do, get to their destination a nano second earlier?”

When asked what riders would like drivers to do, she said: “It is that slowing down and that width.

“If a horse is frightened, it is going to step its bottom round. If you are less than one and a half metres away, it is going to hit your car.”