By Helene Mauchlen

The BHS Scotland advice for horse riders sharing paths and tracks in Scotland with walkers and cyclists is as follows:

Accustomise your horse to walkers, cyclists, buggies, wheelchairs and buggies.

Always pass other people slowly and politely

Avoid causing any unnecessary damage.

Restrict your speed according to ground conditions and visibility.

Keep to one side of the path (usually the left, as we are in Britain!)

Move to one side, or if necessary off the path, to allow others to safely pass.

Acknowledge courtesy shown by other people.

Remember that some people are frightened of horses.

Try to move your horse off paths before it dungs. Otherwise, if it is safe to do so, dismount and kick the dung off the path.

And with particular reference to cyclists we advise horse riders;

Find safer alternatives to promoted downhill or other bespoke mountain bike routes.

If possible, move to the side of the track to allow cyclists past without dismounting.

If cyclists are hanging back, let them know when it’s safe to pass by waving them through.

If you meet cyclists on a corner, try to stand on the inside to allow the cyclist the easier, wider outside track.

We do our best in the spirit of the Land Reform Act to encourage riders to be sympathetic and open to other’s needs – but sometimes it back fires. We have been criticised on social media recently for daring to suggest that “fast riders” on “young blood horses” should be expected to dismount and remount in an effort to keep well used paths and track, paths and tracks that are accessed by self-propelled wheel chairs and buggies free of horse dung. Goodness me how could the BHS think such a thing would be even reasonable, Has the BHS seen my wild horse called Storming Norman?

Sometimes it’s just impossible to help or defend our sector – other times its good to see positive initiatives emerging. In the Tweed Valley instead of getting totally furious with mountain bikers buzzing and jumping horse riders, we see our local BHS rep gathering horse rider riders together to engage positively with forest managers and route managers to make the best of the situation with plans to share and zone around Glentress and Cardrona. And plans are afoot to film an educational film (for both sides).

The BHS battles every day with shared use access because there are some people (yes including selfish horse riders) who think cyclists, walkers, all abilities people and horse riders simply can’t live in harmony on paths and tracks. But experience and good practice shows us that with courtesy and communication and relying on the three tenants of our access legislation which are; taking responsibility for your own actions, respecting the interests of other people and caring for the environment then everything can be well.

Off my soapbox now – Blair was excellent this year when the beautiful sun came out to play and Scotland preeminent equestrian event went like clockwork. The BHS tearoom was at full bore and of course we had all sorts of people (even William Fox Pitt) help us “trot to Tokyo” on the terrible mechanical horse. I call him terrible but everyone else loves Henry.

Congratulations to our new Scottish champions Jade Paterson won the Clemmie, Louise Docherty the Dodson & Horrell and the Botanica was won by Clare Pearson.

We are indebted to our volunteers and sponsors and also to Sophie and Tricia in our office who have run nearly 100 qualifiers during the year. These Scottish champions really are champions; qualifiers for next year’s Blair are already underway.

All we need now is for the sun to put in a long September appearance so that the harvest can come home and Scottish Farmers can relax.