I would like to address the serious problem of vehicles passing horses and riders on Maine roads.

Many people have seen my horse Al and I riding in Oakland. To those who slow down, move over, and pass with care, I say thank you. They are sensible, responsible drivers.

To all those who aren’t responsible, however: State law allows horses to be ridden, led or driven on any road unless posted otherwise. Horses have the right of way. Vehicles must heed all riders’ hand signals. It is illegal to harass or purposely startle a horse. This means no honking horns, no yelling, no waving or throwing of objects from vehicle windows as you pass. Most importantly, when passing a horse, slow down and move over. A driver should give at least three feet of space between the vehicle and the horse.

Riders also must follow the rules of the road, along with taking basic safety steps. I try to stay on the road shoulder. I always wear a helmet and a bright, reflective vest.

My horse is quite road safe; not too much bothers him, except bicyclists, as was the case the other day. Horses have two blind spots, one directly in front and one directly behind them. When a bicycle comes up quickly from behind, the horse can’t see it.

A few days ago, two young men biked past me going fast and about a foot from us. Al spooked, and I was almost thrown. I yelled for them to stop, but they continued on their merry way, oblivious to the danger for them as well as myself. A bicycle is no match for a startled 1,000-pound horse, and passing so close and fast could be quite disastrous for all involved.

Eantha L. Haägen

Oakland


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