Horse put down after it was scared by sportive riders

Owner said Etape de Sussex riders had no respect for other road users, and verbally abused a friend coming to help them

by Sarah Barth   July 7, 2013  

road.cc news

A woman whose horse had to be put down after it was frightened by a group of sportive riders in Sussex said that cyclists had no respect for other vulnerable road users.

Jo Flew and her daughter Joanna were out for a horseback ride on June 23 when they happened upon the route of the Etape de Sussex along Daleham Lane.

When they came across about 20 cyclists, Jo's horse kicked Joanna's in fear and broke its leg.

Jo told the Sussex Express: “We knew a cycle event was taking place but we had no idea what time. On our way home it became apparent that it was happening.

“A few bikes raced past which was OK as our horses were used to them. But then looking behind us there was suddenly a large number in groups of about 20, but only seconds apart.

“As they came past our horses became very frightened. We felt like we were being swallowed. This caused my horse to kick out at the bikes but instead it kicked my daughter’s horse, Willow, in the leg.”

She said that although the riders were screaming and the horse was clearly injured, none of the riders slowed down.

“I could not believe the bikes were still pushing through," she said.

"Two very kind ones stopped, dismounted and came to help. I was in so much shock I couldn’t work out even how to use my phone.”

When a friend from a nearby stables was summoned to come and help, Jo said she was subject to abuse from the riders.

She said: “The girl had huge difficulties getting to us as she was coming head on into the path of the cyclists who, again, had no respect for other users. She asked them to let her through as she was going to an accident but was verbally abused.”

The horse was eventually put down at the side of the road.

Jo said the cyclists “should have more respect - they are in racing mode, nothing else seems to matter.”

Rupert Rivett, from SRS events which staged the Etape de Sussex event, said: “We always tell our cyclists to slow down if they see horses, and they nearly all do.

“The last thing I want to do is add fuel to the flames, and I desperately want to say that horseriders and cyclists should work together to ensure safety on the roads. Everyone is entitled to use these roads; cyclists, motorists, walkers and riders. I would not like to say either way who was to blame.

“One of our riders was a policeman and he gave us a clear-eyed view of what happened. What we do not want to do is get on the bandwagon accusing cyclists or vice versa.”

He also insisted that none of the riders would have verbally abused anyone, and instead would have been calling out to warn the others of their presence.

 

63 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Cyclist dies on road. Everyone shrugs shoulders and says RIP.

Horse breaks leg and is put down by vet. ALL HELL IS LET LOOSE.

If only there was the same reaction when a cyclist is injured or killed.

posted by Mountain goat [9 posts]
7th July 2013 - 23:33

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PS If it was a motorist who had caused this, it would never have reached the papers.

posted by Mountain goat [9 posts]
7th July 2013 - 23:38

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These lycra-clad thugs are a menace to all... It's the same story on main roads... They have no respect for anyone or anything... Not even the law..
#MENACE

posted by jollyselfrighteous [3 posts]
8th July 2013 - 0:34

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This is more of a general comment on sportives/group riding than relating to this incident. As others have said there is not enough verifiable fact to give an opinion either way.

Club cycling, weekly leagues etc. are pretty much the only way to prepare folk and teach them how to act properly in groups riding on this scale (not that I'm saying it definitely will in all cases - as others have pointed out an idiot is an idiot, and some clubs are better than others) but this sportive culture seems to bypass that whole learning curve completely, shunting inexperienced "heads down" commuters, many of whom are decent individual riders with good awareness and bike control - after all you often need those skills not to become a statistic in rush hour traffic - straight into big group organised rides where they become a danger to themselves and others because they don't even know that they don't have a clue. IMHO "open admission" events like these - where you are guaranteed a high proportion of riders inexperienced in groups - should be either closed-course or off the public highway.

jollyselfrighteous wrote:
These lycra-clad thugs are a menace to all... It's the same story on main roads... They have no respect for anyone or anything... Not even the law..
#MENACE

Aww, did you get lost on your way to the Daily Mail? Or did they dispatch a wee troll for our entertainment?

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posted by seven [109 posts]
8th July 2013 - 6:06

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Roastie wrote:
Sounds like the cyclists behaved like morons.

And Sportives are not races. If you want to race, enter a race,and pin a number on your back.


I've seen sportives with numbers recently. I did a charity ride with numbers recently. I'm not sure it's helping break the misconception.

The charity ride had a pretty good briefing and marshals patrolling the course, which was good.

posted by a.jumper [695 posts]
8th July 2013 - 6:59

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The problem is, like in all walks of life, you get some right numpties taking part who care little for anything else. You just have to look at this forum to see some of the comments directed at other users and cyclists to see that.

Mind the title is a little bit confusing, i had a picture in my mind of a rider slamming into a horse and giving it a heart attack.

In the end we all have a responsibility when using the roads and whilst vehicle drivers will say otherwise (the usual crap about excise licence, insurance etc etc) the more we, as cyclists, behave correctly the less people can complain.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2706 posts]
8th July 2013 - 7:57

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Well, if I wanted to something to provide confirmation bias for my prejudiced ideas as to the sort of person who does a sportive and the sort of riding that sportives encourage, this would probably be it.

How would cyclists feel if cars or motorbikes undertook an unlicensed race (yeah, yeah, ok, it's not a race, it's just timed and with awards for being faster, so it's definitely not a race, just so we're clear, not a race) on public roads of a weekend?

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posted by Bez [371 posts]
8th July 2013 - 8:01

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SirruslyFast wrote:
Idiots are idiots no matter on two wheels, four wheels or two legs.

If you can't ride a sportive [or a race] properly, don't ride one.

Head. Nail.

Lock the thread.

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posted by ColT [210 posts]
8th July 2013 - 8:18

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Quote:
If you can't ride a sportive [or a race] properly, don't ride one.

Thing is that they don't actually *know* they're doing anything wrong.

They've followed everyone else - taken their brains out - and there's a pack mentality that develops. Add to that the general lack of thinking required (everything signed, junctions marshalled, food provided) and you end up with head down hammer mode.
Try this little experiment - ask a Sportive rider where they've just ridden. Names of villages, landmarks etc. Bet you anything that they won't have a clue. Head down and hammer - no idea of where they've been, the scenery or anything. That's quite sad really.

More rider education is what's needed. Not necessarily the extra complications and costs of licences.

posted by crazy-legs [506 posts]
8th July 2013 - 9:31

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How about some clear, mutually agreed guidelines for both horse riders and cyclists about how to share the road? As a cyclist in a rural area with no experience of horses except as other road users, I'd find this useful. Personally I take the approach of slowing down and making my presence known before passing slowly, but I've no idea if that's the best approach.

I also think that all organisers should issue sportive-specific guidelines on road use covering, for example, passing horses (in both directions), riding in large groups, etc. I know that will be teaching experienced riders to suck eggs (don't use that expression if speaking to a German, by the way), but many sportive riders don't have much experience of his sort of stuff and I bet we could all do with a bit of a reminder about good practice.

lukea-d

posted by lukea-d [32 posts]
8th July 2013 - 9:59

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lukea-d wrote:
How about some clear, mutually agreed guidelines for both horse riders and cyclists about how to share the road? As a cyclist in a rural area with no experience of horses except as other road users, I'd find this useful. Personally I take the approach of slowing down and making my presence known before passing slowly, but I've no idea if that's the best approach.

I also think that all organisers should issue sportive-specific guidelines on road use covering, for example, passing horses (in both directions), riding in large groups, etc. I know that will be teaching experienced riders to suck eggs (don't use that expression if speaking to a German, by the way), but many sportive riders don't have much experience of his sort of stuff and I bet we could all do with a bit of a reminder about good practice.

There is clear guidance in the Highway code which all road users are supposed to adhere to. The problem is that it is is largely forgotten.

posted by arfa [480 posts]
8th July 2013 - 10:08

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joeegg wrote:
I came across a woman on a horse yesterday and she was about 200m ahead of me.I stopped pedalling , pulled over completely onto the other side of the road as it was quiet,and slowly freewheeled past.The horse raised it head,looked at me,then carried on.

For what it's worth, I was taught to go wide and KEEP PEDALING so the freehub/wheel doesn't buzz as you pass.

posted by Yemble [23 posts]
8th July 2013 - 10:10

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Horses have to be able to stand on all four legs. They have poor circulation in their legs and need all four feet on the ground to keep their blood flowing properly. If they don't, tissue starts to die off.

This is why they're destroyed.

posted by Huw Watkins [54 posts]
8th July 2013 - 10:20

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Mountain goat wrote:
Cyclist dies on road. Everyone shrugs shoulders and says RIP.

Horse breaks leg and is put down by vet. ALL HELL IS LET LOOSE.

If only there was the same reaction when a cyclist is injured or killed.

posted by northstar [1100 posts]
8th July 2013 - 12:54

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Mountain goat wrote:
PS If it was a motorist who had caused this, it would never have reached the papers.

posted by northstar [1100 posts]
8th July 2013 - 12:55

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a.jumper wrote:
Roastie wrote:
Sounds like the cyclists behaved like morons.

And Sportives are not races. If you want to race, enter a race,and pin a number on your back.


I've seen sportives with numbers recently. I did a charity ride with numbers recently. I'm not sure it's helping break the misconception.

The charity ride had a pretty good briefing and marshals patrolling the course, which was good.

Most large sportives now, you wear numbers on your handlebars, the simple reason. When it comes to the official photographer publishing photo's. It makes it easy for the rider to search their race number

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posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
8th July 2013 - 13:25

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I find it funny how people elitism comes out with stories like this.

Everyone here wants people to cycle to reduce congestion and motorised road traffic but as interest in cycling increases (especially with sports cycling), all people here seem to do is moan about them.

The amount of bollocks being posted in this thread with elitist accusations backed with anecdotal evidence is astounding.

No-one here can comment on this story because the evidence is conflicting and even the woman whose horse was destroyed has contradicted herself. Until a more fuller report is posted (Im awaiting the organiser publishing the side given by the policeman that was taking part), all everyone is doing is spewing their prejudices.

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posted by zanf [479 posts]
8th July 2013 - 13:42

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Bez wrote:
How would cyclists feel if cars or motorbikes undertook an unlicensed race (yeah, yeah, ok, it's not a race, it's just timed and with awards for being faster, so it's definitely not a race, just so we're clear, not a race) on public roads of a weekend?

You mean like all the car-based "treasure hunts" that still go on? Big Grin

I've not noticed sportives with awards for being faster, but then I'm unlikely to be in danger of winning any such things, so it wouldn't form part of my interest in events!

Gkam84 - I think the numbers were mainly for ticking off who's finished so that no-one was left out on the course (at least on the charity ride I did). Most people fixed them to their seat posts like fins, so they were easy for marshals to spot as we passed checkpoints and the finish, but aren't seen in photographs.

posted by a.jumper [695 posts]
8th July 2013 - 13:46

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There’re a fair few elitist comments in this thread. Fact is, arrogant idiots will rise to the top in any situation. Just because you have a ‘number pinned to your back’ and are in a road race doesn’t give you any more right to be a dickhead, and certainly I’ve seen some total dickheads in races (exactly the same comments levelled against these sportive riders applies to many freshly minted cat4s). Go to the time-trial forum and you can find similar discussions about ‘nutters’ cutting blind corners to save a few meters and a fraction of a second. The red-mist descends…

Sportives are not races, but they are timed, and often have time limits or threshold times/standards. Although many riders will be aiming just to finish, I can see why some entrants would be pushing themselves to their limit just like any other road race/TT, and good luck to them, so long as they aren’t a danger to others and show some consideration to those around them. Same applies to strava-junkies. Same applies to club chain-gangs. Same applies to you and your mates going for a thrash around local lanes. Same applies to everyone really

posted by 3cylinder [61 posts]
8th July 2013 - 15:36

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a.jumper wrote:

Gkam84 - I think the numbers were mainly for ticking off who's finished so that no-one was left out on the course (at least on the charity ride I did). Most people fixed them to their seat posts like fins, so they were easy for marshals to spot as we passed checkpoints and the finish, but aren't seen in photographs.

Nah, Rupert's were for handlebars for photographs as we were all given a lanyard with a timing stamp thing, you had to scan it at certain timing stations and then at the end, its scanned into the computer and gives you an instant finishing time and your name goes up onto the timing screens at the finish event

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posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
8th July 2013 - 16:10

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quite disgusting for any riders, in a sportive or otherwise, to totally disregard other road users' in this manner. Gives us all an even worse name than we already have ...

posted by Karbon Kev [670 posts]
8th July 2013 - 16:21

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zanf wrote:
I find it funny how people elitism comes out with stories like this.

Everyone here wants people to cycle to reduce congestion and motorised road traffic but as interest in cycling increases (especially with sports cycling), all people here seem to do is moan about them.

The amount of bollocks being posted in this thread with elitist accusations backed with anecdotal evidence is astounding.


Agreed. Many people just don't have the time to join clubs and enter licensed road races regularly. If you are a weekend cyclist the sportive scene is a way of testing yourself a couple of times a year. It is a bit disingenuous of some posters here to say that people 'shouldn't be going fast' in these events as this is the first thing you would do and your definition of fast is probably faster then theirs. Experience is a wonderful thing, but it must be gained; snobbery won't help.


Leviathan of Riderstate

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posted by bikeboy76 [1248 posts]
8th July 2013 - 18:43

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As a fairly reasonable standard rider I find horses probably the hardest things to go around on the roads.

I take the approach that speed isn't necessarily the issue, as long as I'm freewheeling past (no sudden stamping on the pedals) and give a very wide berth then I'm doing my duty of care to the rider as well as getting out of the way of anything coming the other way.

Slowing to a stop and then having to suddenly 'power up' if something comes the other way is surely far worse than a responsible, clean, ease off freewheel through.

http://matmitchellcycling.wordpress.com
The usual new 4th Cat blog with some stuff about Pros too.

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posted by mtm_01 [90 posts]
8th July 2013 - 19:21

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British Horse Society guidance for Horse riders and cyclists is fairly readily available on the interwebs

http://www.bhs.org.uk/~/media/BHS/Files/PDF%20Documents/Safety%20leaflet...

Largely common sense, don't creep up in silence, call out, ask permission to pass, if in a large group split up, et cetera. All common sense around large animals that are highly strung and hard to control. Sadly a rare commodity for town dwellers who usually only otherwise encounter horses from within the safety of their tin box on wheels.

And far too many sportive riders/weekend warriors ride with the same mindset they use when they drive.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [378 posts]
8th July 2013 - 20:27

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zanf wrote:
Everyone here wants people to cycle to reduce congestion and motorised road traffic but as interest in cycling increases (especially with sports cycling), all people here seem to do is moan about them.

What have sportives got to do with reducing congestion or motorised traffic? They add to both.

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posted by Bez [371 posts]
9th July 2013 - 10:44

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It seems to me that everyone is in the wrong here.

Sportives are basically BS. If you want to race, then race. Race entry is about half the price of sportive entry and although you need a race licence the cost all evens out over the course of a season. If you don't want to race and just want to ride for fun or to challenge yourself just get your bike out and go for a spin. Want to know how fast you are? Get a stopwatch. I just don't see the point of sportives apart from to make money for the organisers.

Horses are another issue. I encounter horses a lot whilst on the road in the area that I live. I'm always very considerate and 9 out of 10 times have no problems when I meet them on the road but sometimes they seem to get spooked very easily, moreso by bikes than cars. Too many times the rider seems to have less than full control of the animal and things start to feel dangerous. We all need to be considerate but when we start debating details such as whether to pedal or coast when we go past them we have to consider if the balance of responsibilty is really what it should be.

So what's the answer? Ban Sportives? You may as well, they're junk anyway and do nothing for the sport of cycling or the promotion of utility cycling. Ban horses from the road? This seems a bit heavy but maybe it would be good to see some standards established before horses and riders take to the road (maybe the same could be said of cyclists).

Sorry, I've gone a little off-topic here....

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
9th July 2013 - 22:58

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Matt eaton wrote:
Sportives are basically BS. If you want to race, then race. Race entry is about half the price of sportive entry and although you need a race licence the cost all evens out over the course of a season. If you don't want to race and just want to ride for fun or to challenge yourself just get your bike out and go for a spin. Want to know how fast you are? Get a stopwatch. I just don't see the point of sportives apart from make money for the organisers.

I can see the point of them. You can do a much longer ride, not in the wind all day, on a route you don't know, with marshals and mechanics to back you up. The few using them as pseudo-races should be stopped , but how?

posted by a.jumper [695 posts]
10th July 2013 - 7:47

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a.jumper wrote:
I can see the point of them. You can do a much longer ride, not in the wind all day, on a route you don't know, with marshals and mechanics to back you up.

A multitool, a puncture kit and a map or a phone, job done. Do people really need marshals and mechanics?

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posted by Bez [371 posts]
10th July 2013 - 8:25

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Having only ever ridden 1 sportive, my preference would be to just go out and ride. In their defence, I would say that they are a good way to discover new rides and regions but the timing business is nonsense as it turns it into a pseudo race and for some, they leave their brains in the car park when they set off. If you want to time it, use a stopwatch/garmin/strava.
When I punctured on the sportive, countless riders whizzed by asking if I had everything I need. Kind but not very genuine -imagine if I had said no ?! I had a similar experience later when I stopped to help someone with a broken chain.... all it tells me is that the culture of the sportive is not quite right.

On horses we should remember that they are vulnerable road users like ourselves. There are plenty of people who want the roads clear of cycles and and horses (something I do not endorse). The horse racing industry also employs quite a few people and sometimes horses have to be taken on roads -eg Epsom. All I can say is that extra special care should be taken around young stallions and kicks can be fatal.

posted by arfa [480 posts]
10th July 2013 - 12:04

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Bez wrote:
a.jumper wrote:
I can see the point of them. You can do a much longer ride, not in the wind all day, on a route you don't know, with marshals and mechanics to back you up.

A multitool, a puncture kit and a map or a phone, job done. Do people really need marshals and mechanics?


Need? No, but they're nice to have sometimes and can make for a much more relaxed ride, knowing you'll get round it somehow.

If you carry tools to cover all eventualities, it soon gets heavy, and phoning for recovery can mean quite a long wait... and I'm sure most of us have experienced inaccurate/out-of-date maps taking us off-course into some pretty hostile roads. Organised group rides can help avoid both of those problems, so I can see the attraction. Riding socially sometimes is much nicer than always riding alone, too.

I'm disappointed to read that some sportives are publishing results in time order with awards. When is a sportive not a sportive?

posted by a.jumper [695 posts]
10th July 2013 - 12:05

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