Roadside first aid

Top 10 things horse riders need to know about dealing with accidents in the road – and some tips on avoiding them

Updated April, 2021

Top 10 things horse riders need to know about dealing with accidents in the road

Whether you’re riding on a main road or a country lane, horses and their riders are amongst the most vulnerable road users. In any emergency situation, run through the ‘ABC’ checklist to ensure you do everything in the right order and in the casualty’s best interests

  1. Assess for danger: Check for danger, for example the risk of a loose horse trampling the casualty; this loose horse will need to be secured or held by a passer-by or fellow rider before the injured rider can be checked. If a horse has gone for home don’t run after it until you have checked the rider is OK. Any nearby traffic will need to be stopped. Managing these dangers on the roads are challenging following a riding accident but are important to both protect yourself and the injured rider
  2. Alert Response: Talk to the injured rider. Place your hands on their shoulders and gently apply pressure to assess if they are responsive or unconscious;
  3. Airway: Ensure their away is not blocked, for example by the tongue. Tilting the head and lifting the chin will move the tongue away from their airway
  4. Breathing: Look and listen to see if the casualty is breathing
  5. CPR: If the casualty is unconscious and not breathing effectively, phone 999 and begin CPR. See our blog on CPR
  6. Keep them still – Anyone with a suspected neck or back injury should be kept still – movement can cause more damage. It’s OK to leave someone on their back if they are conscious, as they can tell you if they’re going to be sick. But aim to minimise movement until help arrives by immobilising the head. Place your hands on either side of the head and keep talking to them, to reassure them and encourage them to stay still
  7. If the casualty is bleeding control the blood lossby applying pressure, clean the wound and apply a bandage. Monitor the colour, sensation and movement of the wounded limb.
  8. If the casualty is unconscious place them in the recovery position, ensuring that their airway is open and draining. Be alert for vomit and ensure it drains away.
  9. Call 999/112 and ask for an ambulance giving them details of location and what’s happened and condition of the injured rider. Use a grid reference or What3Words to give a more accurate location
  10. Report road incidents to the British Horse Society (BHS) An incident is any unplanned event that has resulted in
    • human or horse feeling unsafe (e.g. road rage)
    • the potential to cause injury to horse and human even though it may not have at this time (a near miss)
    • already caused injury to human or horse (an accident)
Police and ambulance vehicles at an incident on a country road
It is important to recognise everyday riding can result in all sorts of dramas which makes it so important for riders and horse owners – and friends and relatives of riders – to be trained in first aid so they can help in the event of an incident.

Some tips on avoiding incidents on the road:

  • Wear high viz clothing or gilet, preferably with ‘slow down for horses’ or other useful slogan on it
  • Plan your route carefully – is it suitable? Are there safe zones you can retreat to? Be aware of the blind spots and popular overtaking areas where cars might appear without seeing you
  • Ensure all riders with you know what to do in the event of an incident
  • Use clear hand signals if you’re wanting cars to pass you and when you are turning or moving across a lane or roundabout
  • Thank considerate drivers with a wave and a smile
  • Carry a first aid kit in individual bum bags or larger ones for the lead rider. Get trained in first aid too!
  • Don’t use your phone when riding – it’s illegal, unsafe and only provokes anti-rider attitudes
  • Follow the same good practice when on a cycle track or countryside trail with regards to cyclists
  • Be aware of the access rights of riding in the country you are in. This varies throughout the UK.
  • If you’re not sure about riding and the UK highway code, find out before you put yourself and your horse at risk.

Medi-K and First Aid Training Co-operative joined forces in 2019 to run specialist equestrian specific first aid courses.

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For more information about equestrian or any of our First Aid courses, please contact us.