THE hazards posed by silent electric vehicles to horses and their riders has been highlighted during a visit to Askham Bryan College by Princess Anne.

The Princess Royal, who is vice-patron of the The British Horse Society (BHS), was attending a road safety awareness event organised yesterday by the society and the college near York.

She observed electric car demonstrations by Leeds-based Alfa Power which looked into the impact of such vehicles on horse safety, especially when approaching a horse and rider quietly from behind.

Three electric cars were repeatedly driven past horses Micky and Choco, ridden respectively by Megan Green and Katie Golby.

Alan Hiscox, BHS director of safety, said riders had said electric vehicles posed a safety challenge because of the lack of noise and so the society wanted to work with Alfa Power to see what could be done.

He said: “We want to make it safer for horses and riders on our roads and feel there’s work to be done with the electric car companies, not just to help horses and rider but also pedestrians and visually impaired people.”

He said it had been fantastic to be able to work with the college to demonstrate to the Princess the work the society and its partners were doing to protect and promote equestrians’ safety.

Students and lecturers later demonstrated training being undertaken for the BHS’s Ride Safe Award, designed to equip riders with the skills and knowledge to confidently ride out.

College acting CEO and principal Tim Whitaker said he was delighted to welcome the Princess to see the ground breaking study, adding: “Our students and staff were thrilled to meet and talk to the Princess, particularly given her tremendous experience and achievements as an accomplished horsewoman.”

A British Horse Society spokeswoman said it launched a 'Dead Slow' campaign in March 2016 after collating road incident statistics on its Horse Accidents website.

She said that since 2010, 3,758 road incidents had been reported to the BHS and 315 horses and 43 humans had been killed as a result of an incident, with the majority of incidents occurring due to cars passing by too closely or too quickly.

"The BHS launched its ‘Dead Slow’ road safety campaign to help better educate drivers on how to pass horses on the road. The key behavioural change messages to drivers are:

If I see a horse on the road then I will …

1. Slow down to a maximum of 15mph

2. Be patient – do not sound their horn or rev the engine

3. Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width if possible

4. Drive slowly away