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Watch NZH Local Focus: Equestrian community pushes for law change

By Kaysha Brownlie

Not a day goes by without Alison Stoelwinder riding her horse, Bruce.

But, other road users can make that experience more dangerous than it should be.

"A stock truck and trailer came towards me and he wasn't slowing down," Ms Stoelwinder says.

"I asked him to slow down and he took no notice of me, so I was asking him to stop, he still took no notice of me and he passed me, my horse shot off the side of the road into a ditch and almost through a fence."

That's the reality horse riders face throughout New Zealand.

Ms Stoelwinder says she has had car horns tooted at her and people revving their engines.

"They just think it's a laugh to see a horse do something silly."

And the equestrian community have had enough.

They want a change to the law - making it mandatory for motorists to leave a gap of two metres - and slow down to 20 kilometres an hour when passing horses.

Central Hawke's Bay Ride for Road Safety Co-ordinator Ashley Jevon-Dalgaard says: "Two metres and 20kms that's what we're asking for."

Horse riders from Northland to Invercargill will participate in a Ride For Road Safety on Saturday to educate motorists.

"There's less tolerance of people who are driving to other road users, walkers, runners cyclists and horse riders," Mrs Jevon-Dalgaard says.

"If a horse hits you at 100km nobody's going to walk away from that."

Last year - Auckland journalist Karen Rutherford was seriously injured and her horse was killed when a Chinese National's car ploughed into the pair.

Ms Stoelwinder says if that had happened to her she would have been gutted.

"I love my horses to bits and to be in that situation is just awful."

Horse riders say increasingly they are being banned from beaches and other public areas - so they're forced to ride on roads.

"We are people, we pay our road taxes, we drive cars and we just want to be safe doing what we love," Mrs Jevon-Dalgaard says.

Riders are hoping their campaign will show the Government that cars and riders can co-exist with a few simple courtesies and couple of tweaks to the law.

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- NZ Herald

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