Sophy Burnham: Respect the horses when driving

Published: 8/5/2022 4:25:09 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 4:22:02 PM

One of the beautiful things about living in the Pioneer Valley is that we can ride our horses on magnificent bridle paths in the woods and across the sandy river valleys. But to get to them we often have to walk the horses on the road.

Recently, three of us were riding down a small country road when a truck pulling a construction wagon came bounding along, clashing and clattering, the driver unaware, apparently, of the terror of his muffler-less motor and the metallic bashing from the jolting wagon. He did not slow down.

I put my horse across the road to stop him. He stopped. He was forced to stop. Furious, he shouted at me. When I tried to speak, he roared off. Of course, what I did was stupid. Dangerous. I thank him for stopping. I wish he’d allowed me to tell him that horses have sensitive ears, that some are so skittish that they bolt and could throw their rider, resulting in broken limbs, concussions or even death; or else they could charge into a barbed wire fence beside the road and cut themselves to pieces.

All this I wanted to say to the driver, who did not notice how fast he was going or how noisy was his truck. He had forgotten momentarily about courtesy. Kindness. To everyone out there, if you see a horse walking on the road, please, go slow. Pass at a horse’s comfortable five or 10 mph. You may save a life. Also, it’s Massachusetts LAW: Part I, Title XI, Ch 90, Sec 14: “Every person operating a motor vehicle shall bring the vehicle ... immediately to a stop when approaching a cow, horse or other draft animal being led, ridden or driven. ... remain stationary ... to allow such animal to pass; or, if traveling in the same direction, ... use reasonable caution in thereafter passing such animal.”

Sophy Burnham



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