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Motorists urged to be more aware of horses

PEOPLE in Kent were among hundreds throughout the country who supported the Horse and Hound National Road Safety Day aimed at urging motorists to be more aware of horses on the roads. Nation-wide six riders have been killed and many more injured by cars this year alone.

No one knows the frightening reality of those statistics more than Chirstina Jepson from Lyminge, near Folkestone. She was hit by an 85-year-old driver while out on her horse, Mr Tom, in January. Mr Tom was thrown over the roof of the car and suffered severe injuries as did Mrs Jepson herself.

The 10-year-old horse survived, although he still has horrific scars from the accident.

Mrs Jepson and Mr Tom led the party of riders from Lyminge to Elham on Sunday in support of the campaign.

She said: "I will never forget that day. It is amazing that he will go on the roads now but he is recovering well. That is why it is so important that we raise awareness of all vulnerable road users. The roads round here are really dangerous for riders as I know all too well."

Sarah Drury, from Folkestone, was one of the 17 strong party. She said: "I wanted to get involved because it is such an important thing. I have had a few near misses myself. Drivers need to be more aware that there could be horses on the roads."

Riders from the Blue Barn Equestrian Centre, Ashford, were out doing their bit on Saturday by riding along the busy Great Chart Road holding banners. Hattie Vavasour led the group in her car followed by Sam Kopicki and Pam Finn on foot and Becky Hodgson, Val Green, Rita Thompson and Fiona Bithell on their horses, Jake, Pinky, Bella and Tally.

Mrs Bithell said: "We had a lot of support from people who stuck their thumbs up as they went past. This is a very busy road and so we thought it was important to get out there and make a statement. We didn't want it to be a big affair that is why there were only a few of us but it was a big success. Hopefully this campaign will help drivers to be more aware of horses and visa versa."

The campaign asks drivers to pass horses slowly, give them plenty of room, not to make any sudden loud noises, to be aware that a horse and rider could be around the bend and to respect riders signal signs.

Similarly riders are being asked to be courteous, be aware of traffic on the roads, use signals to communicate what they are doing, wear reflective clothing and to take a Riding and Road Safety test.

For more information visit the website on www.horse-and-road-safety.com

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