Horses on Suffolk's roads are sustaining injuries at a higher rate than anywhere else in the region, according to shocking new figures.

Equine charity the  British Horse Society (BHS) said the county topped a "stark" regional table last year for the number of horses involved in incidents - although there were no deaths recorded.

Horses were injured on the region's roads in 2023 at an alarming rate - with five incidents a week in the East of England recorded, it said.

Vehicles passing too close or too quickly were major factors.

Of the 282 horse-related incidents recorded by BHS in the region in 2023, Suffolk experienced the most at 62. That represented a 24% rise compared to the previous year. 

Hertfordshire was next highest with 54, then Essex with 49. Bedfordshire suffered 38 incidents, Cambridgeshire 43 and Norfolk 36. No horse deaths were recorded in any of the counties.

East Anglian Daily Times:

The figures were a stark reminder of a persistent problem with road incidents involving equestrians, it said.

This is despite the changes to the Highway Code in 2022 which set out clear guidance for passing equestrians safely.

Overall, 3,383 incidents were recorded via the BHS’s Horse i app last year across the UK, with 85% of those occurring because a vehicle passed by too closely or too quickly.

The society's director of safety Alan Hiscox said it was clear from the statistics for 2023 that "a significant number" of drivers were still unaware of the advice in the Highway Code and the importance of driving carefully when passing and approaching horses.

"A horse’s instinctive response to danger is to react and move very quickly. Understandably, a driver passing at an inappropriate speed can be intimidating for the horse and be cause for alarm," he said.

"That is why it is so important for drivers to consider the true power of horses, and to pass horses slowly and with plenty of room, following the advice in the Highway Code.”

The BHS's Dead Slow road safety campaign explains to road users how to pass horses safely.

It urges drivers to pass horses at no more than 10mph and to leave at least two metres distance.

“Far too many lives have been lost over the last 10 years and we are working hard to drastically reduce the number of incidents that take place across the UK," said Alan.

"While we recognise and thank all drivers who continue to follow the Highway Code guidance, there is still much work to do, ensuring horses and equestrians are safer when out on the roads. 

"Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible for equestrians to stay off the roads due to the shrinking bridleway network. That is why it’s so important that we all play our part to make sure everyone remains safe.”

Nationally, the BHS figures showed 3,383 road incidents involving horses reported to it last year. Out of those, 66 horses died and 86 were injured. Three people died and 94 people were injured

The BHS encourages riders to wear hi-vis and reflective equipment as well as using the appropriate hand signals to make other road users aware of their intentions to manoeuvre.

It is urging equestrians and the wider public to log any equine related safety incidents using the Horse i app. 

To learn more about The British Horse Society’s Dead Slow campaign and how you can help, visit: