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Duty of Care & Accident Prevention

As in all walks of life accidents will occasionally happen but many may be avoided by following the guidelines below:


  • All harness should be in a sound condition and adjusted to fit the horse, pony or donkey.

  • The vehicle should be in sound condition and of a type suitable for the terrain to be covered.

  • Never put a horse, pony or donkey into an environment which you believe it will find alien.

  • Before attending a group event eg: rally, show, ensure that your horse is happy driving with other turnouts.

  • When driving in company never move off adjacent to another horse being put to without checking that the other driver is happy for you to do so.

  • When driving in company leave sufficient distance from the vehicle in front to permit change of pace or direction.

  • After descending a slope remember that all turnouts behind must be clear of the slope before anyone increases pace.

  • Look well ahead and remember what you miss (!) that your horse sees, could be the start of a problem.

  • Avoid driving on the highway at dawn/dusk and at night. If this cannot be avoided reflective clothing, carriage stickers and anything that will make you more visible are essential.

  • After lighting-up time vehicles on the highway must have reflectors and red rear electric lights - Candle lamps do not provide sufficient lighting. White lights should be fitted and facing towards the front. These should be turned on anytime between dusk and dawn.

  • Your whip is an aid - and should be in your hand and not in the whip socket.

  • Never tie a turnout to a fixed object with a horse/pony still in the shafts.

  • Never tie a turnout to another turnout.

  • Never dismount from the vehicle unless you have someone at the horses head.

  • Never remove the bridle until the horse is free from the vehicle.

  • Always approach a ridden horse with extreme care.

  • An active groom or passenger should be carried on the vehicle at all times - it is advisable to have One groom with a single or pair and at least two grooms with a team or unicorn.

  • Always stop in a space which allows you to exit easily at any time, especially applicable to groups.

  • Brakes are not compulsory on horse drawn vehicles, but if fitted they must be in good working order (Road Traffic Act 1998).

  • Alert other equines, ridden or driven, and pedestrians before passing slowly and with care.

  • Ensure that the Highway Code is always adhered to and that any signals given to other road users are as identified in the code.

  • No passenger or groom should be on the carriage until the driver is on the box seat and with the reins in his hand.

  • When the equine is in harness and attached to the carriage, control must be maintained at all times either through the driver who will be on the box seat, or by the groom who will either hold the reins or a lead rope attached to the bit or under halter.

  • At any rest stops, turnouts must have an attendant with them at all times. 



  • Members under the age of 18 must be accompanied and supervised by a competent adult at all times when driving and/or handling a horse.

  • All drivers/grooms/passengers under the age of 14 years must wear a correctly fitted hard hat when in a carriage or in attendance to a turnout.

  • The whip is an aid and should be in the drivers hand whilst driving and not in the whip socket.


Drivers/Whips must be clearly told that they may not start/be required to withdraw if :-


  • they breach BDS Safety Rules;

  • their horse/vehicle/harness is unsound/unsafe/faulty;

  • their handling/driving causes safety concerns;

  • they fail to obey Highway Code or rules of the Drive;


in the Organizers’ opinion, whose decision shall be final.

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