Patriotic England football fans could spell trouble for horse riders, says the British Horse Society, which is worried about supporters flying flags from their cars.
The society is urging England supporters to be aware and considerate of horses during the Football World Cup, set to kick off in Brazil..
Flying flags on cars has potential to cause a dangerous situation for a horse and rider on the road, the society says.
The flapping noise of the flag could result in a frightened horse putting the rider at risk, as well as the possibility of causing damage to vehicles.
Four years ago, during the last World Cup, a rider was hospitalised in Cornwall when the horse she was riding spooked at the noise of flapping flags mounted on the bonnet of a passing car. The horse bolted and the rider fell, being narrowly missed by a second car.
“The BHS understands fans wishing to show their support for the England team by flying St George’s flags on their vehicles and we by no means want to dampen the excitement,” says Sheila Hardy, the society’s senior executive for safety.
“However, we would ask everyone to be aware that horses are likely to be startled by the loud flutter that car window flags generate and to pass any horses they encounter on the road with due care and attention.”
The society is asking drivers with car-mounted flags to slow down even more than usual and give horses a wider berth when overtaking.
It also asked supporters to consider flying flags only on the driver’s side of their vehicle to allow more room between the horse and the flag.
This, it said, would help reduce the chances of other incidents such as the one in Cornwall, keeping horses and riders safer, as well as cars and their drivers.