Strictly speaking, I wouldn’t classify a horse as a vehicle. A cart, yes, a gig or a coach, obviously - but not a horse and rider. However, members of the anti-horse brigade are coming out of the woodwork for their perennial moan about being forced to slow from the 90mph they think is justified on narrow country roads.
The majority of the drivers where I live are decent but the place is a tourist trap in the summer and you don’t know what you’ll meet when you sally forth. What these big boy racers – and I used the term advisedly, because most young boy racers round here are gentlemen when they pass a horse – don’t realise is that it isn’t just the horse and rider that might die: they could too.
I wave, smile and acknowledge motorists who do the right thing. Riders that don’t are doing their peers a disservice. But idiots receive the Paddington Bear hard stare - I am the mistress of the hard stare - and if they’ve been particularly stupid, they are treated to a range of gesticulations and the full complement of curses. I think the Highway Code should include a section whereby riders are encouraged to whip the roofs of cars that pass too close and fast.
I find it ludicrous when they start on the “You don’t pay road tax” tack. Perhaps not, but horses don’t cause potholes or belch planet-and-people-destroying fumes into the atmosphere either. Most riders are also insured up to the eyeballs, partly because of our compensation-driven culture. We live in a world where if a car speeds past a horse, spooks it, and the horse sits on the vehicle, the rider is at fault.
"You should ride off the roads,” also cracks me up. We don’t all own swathes of land and Britain’s bridleway network is a long way from being joined up. Often, the bridleways that do exist attract 4 x 4s on a jolly away from the city or horse-scaring scrambler bikes turning the track into muddy ruts.
Horseboxes are also scoring highly in Jeremy Vine’s poll. So - horses shouldn’t be on the road, nor should they be transported to the bridleways. Ken Livingstone will effectively stop horses being moved across the capital if his Low Emission Zone gets the nod.
I don’t get it. And for those of you who don’t get where I’m coming from, I’d refer you to my favourite poem.
Besides, we were there first.