Maintaining harmony amongst regular users of the countryside is essential in a rural setting.
Recently horse riders in Angus have felt particularly misunderstood and have even come under attack while out trying to enjoy the outdoor delights our area has to offer.
Horse rider Sally Russell said: “People have come out of their houses to shout at us for using certain areas to ride the horses.
“Particularly in the case of Hercules Den, we have checked with the land owners and they are happy with us using the area.
“Some people seem to object to us using the pathways even when we are as respectful as possible. In one instance I was actually sworn at when attempting to engage with the person.
“We love it when families come over to us and encourage children to pet the horses and become familiar with them. It helps to spread understanding. But when people have an issue with us and start arguing or getting aggressive in front of the horses it can have a greater problem, spooking the horses.”
It is often a lack of awareness or understanding of the shared uses of the outdoors that leads to heated exchanges while out and about.
“It is really helpful if dog owners can put their dogs on the lead as we walk by, reducing the stress or excitement for both animals,” Sally explained.
Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, horse-riders and carriage drivers enjoy a right of access to most land in Scotland, provided that they behave responsibly.
Sally said: “We take every care to behave respectfully towards other countryside users and ask that people be respectful to us in the same way that we are respectful to others, such as trying to keep out of the way of dogs.
“We also kick horse dung off the tracks, if and when it is safe to do so, as required by guidelines. Horse waste does not have the same dangers as other animal faeces so it is not hazardous.”
Whilst riding on roads shared with motor vehicles understanding the limitations and needs of horses is crucial.
Sally said: “Car drivers on roads should slow down and give plenty of room when passing horses on the road as we have had instances where cars have sped up when we have asked them to slow down or gesture rudely or toot horns. Horses cannot see directly behind them and can spook easily if a car comes behind them speeding. This can result in damage and injury to car/horse and riders.”