An estimated 149,000 Australians aged over 15 years regularly participate in horse riding activities.
While reliable, up-to-date data about road related accidents and near misses is scant, a survey conducted in 2015 established at least eight per cent of the 20 horse-related deaths annually occurred on roads.
"When riders and horses interact on public roads shared with other road users, their vulnerability to injury or death is magnified. Unlike passengers in vehicles, riders are unrestrained. They can be hit by vehicles moving at high speeds, and/or thrown into oncoming traffic, jeopardising the safety of other road users.The sudden or close passing of a vehicle may trigger a horse's dangerous flight response, causing them to bolt blindly forward or veer into traffic," the survey concluded.
Following a couple of close calls Pindimar resident, Margarete Lethorn has been working out a way to improve public awareness and ensure rider and horse safety is observed along local and regional roads.
People will slow down for a dog and not a horse; when I'm riding with the dog people slow down.Margarete Lethorn
Margarete and a friend were riding along a normally quite street when a middle-aged man made the dangerous decision to participate in a couple of burnouts near the pair.
The man lost control and hit her retired thoroughbred Eli - being ridden by a friend - in the backside.
The gelding ended up on the bonnet of the car, Margarete said.
Miraculously the riders, their mounts and 50-year-old hoon escaped serious injury.
"We had many guardian angels looking after us that day."
Last month Margarete had Eli and his stablemate, 21-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, Beau's rumps shaved to display road safety messages and to raise awareness to take care while driving.
The work of art was undertaken by local horse trainer and equine clip art professional, Vanessa Thurner from Load em' Up - Float Training.
Even, after the artwork was etched onto the horses' rumps Margarete and Eli were abused by a speeding driver while they were walking towards the beach, along the side of the road.
The duo was highly visible; Margarete wearing a hi-vis vest with the words horses training please slow down on the back, and Eli with his newly shaved message 'be present'.
Margarete said horses were like children; they could be unpredictable and scare easily.
"I am lucky my horses are calm but lots of horses scare easily.
"People will slow down for a dog and not a horse; when I'm riding with the dog people slow down."
Margarete generally avoids riding along public roads as much as possible.
Local landowners have given her keys to their properties to enable a safer ride to the beach.
Margarete is putting together a plan to lobby authorities on a campaign for a horse safety awareness on roads project.
Thirteen-year-old Eli has been a constant in Margarete's life since she began taking part annually in the Wagyu beef muster on Robbins Island in the Bass Straight.
The keen equestrian met owners, brothers John and Keith Hammond while working as the reservations manager at famed Sydney restaurant, Tetsuyas and was invited to take part in the salt water cattle muster.
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"It's an amazing experience for any horse person," she said.
"It is a dream come true."
Footnote: Margarete caught up with the Great Lakes Advocate earlier this week, saying the response from drivers has been a positive.
Fifty per cent of drivers slowed down, she said.
"If this prevents even on accident from happening that would be great."
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