What should runners do when encountering a horse and rider?

There's plenty of advice out there for motorists and cyclists, but we had to ask the British Horse Society for specific information for runners

A video clip (see below) showing a rider-laden horse being spooked when competitors in the Windsor Triathlon cycled past at speed made headline news recently, with the the cyclists involved garnering much condemnation from the organisers, responsible bike users and the equestrian community in general.

However, as a runner you may have been wondering what to do when sharing a country lane or trail with a horse. Specific information for runners is not easy to find, but we contacted the British Horse Society (BHS) on this and we relay their comments below.

First of all, though, we asked members of Trail Running's #Run1000Miles group. To date, 152 people have responded to our poll. Here's what they said (responders could make multiple choices).

As you can see, the vast majority (60%) said they would stop running and walk, with only three willing to admit they would carry on running at the same speed. Slowing down was a reasonably popular option too 14%.

The BHS responded to us with the basic advice for cyclists and added "our advice for runners is essentially exactly the same".

So here is their advice with the wording adapted for runners:

• Alert the horse and rider to your presence
The horse and rider may not see or hear you approach from behind, so calling out "hello" as soon as you are within calling distance is important to prevent the horse being startled. 
• Give the horse and rider time to react
If a horse is frightened by your presence, please stop, and give the rider a chance to calm the horse and move out of your way before you run off again. A horse rider may also attempt to move forward into a wider space in order to let you pass – help them to do so by slowing your speed and keeping back a safe distance.
• Events
If you are taking part in an event, your concern will be to pass a horse as quickly as possible, but please remember to:
o Slow down and call out
o Pass wide and slow on the outside when safe to do so – do not ride between the horse and the verge
o Leave a car’s width between you and the horse when you pass

Trail Running training editor Paul Halford admits he'd not given it much thought in the past, but coincidentally passed a horse yesterday on a relatively narrow trail in Nene Park, Peterborough. He said: "I'd always wondered if it was going a bit over-the-top to call out or stop, but when running up behind a horse and rider yesterday, I had to bear in mind the advice I'd recently seen from BHS. 

"The rider made it perfectly clear she appreciated me calling out 'coming past' and stopping to walk. 

"I think it's a bit different when facing the horse and it can see you approaching, but when coming from behind you have to be careful not to startle it."