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Use Extreme Caution When Passing Horses and Other Animals on Roadways


California Motor Vehicle Code 21759 requires drivers to be cautious when approaching animals on California roadways.

This would mean that it is the car driver’s responsibility to ensure that they pay attention to where the horse and rider are. The horse is unable to see what may be coming up behind it making it very important for you, the driver, to drive cautiously. Horses also become spooked very easily. This means that it is very important to refrain from yelling or honking your horn when passing by a horseback rider.

It is important to know that when an equestrian encounters large groups of bikes or loud cars, the buzzing sounds can inhibit the horse’s hearing, sparking a “fight or flight” instinct. This instinct may cause the horse to bolt and run with the vehicles as it would with a stampeding herd. Horses are prey animals, and this instinctive reaction could cause a rider to lose control and get hurt.

The following safety tips are provided by the lawyers at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys to help ensure that horses, cars, trucks, bikes and pedestrians can coexist safely on Southern California roadways.


  • Be aware of your surroundings. Be on the lookout for cars as well as animals and pedestrians.
  • Slow down when necessary. You are also responsible for animal safety on the roads. When approaching an animal or pedestrian, slow down and give a verbal warning before passing. If the animal seems frightened, or the rider gives a signal that something may be wrong, stop and proceed only after the animal has safely passed.


  • Be aware of your surroundings. Many trails and paths intersect with area roadways. Look out for pedestrians, bikes, and horses that may dart out from these trails unexpectedly.
  • Slow down when approaching. Give the rider time to become aware of your presence. Don’t assume the rider can hear your vehicle or otherwise know or your presence. If the animal seems frightened or the rider signals a problem, stop until the animal has safely passed.


  • When approaching a bike or car, slow down. If you have to, dismount and secure the horse quietly with your riding aids. If the horse is frightened, circle back and calm the animal if possible.
  • Wear a helmet and carry a cell phone. The best way to keep yourself and your animal safe is to avoid situations that might scare the horse. In case of injury, keep your phone nearby to call for help.
  • Know local schedules. If you know of a bike event or race being held in your area, its best to stay home and not risk injury to yourself or your horse.

To find out more about California Laws please visit California Motor Vehicle Codes.

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