Rancho Relaxo’s Liesl Fulton, here seen holding 16-year-old Bonnie, is calling for signage alerting motorists and others to the presence of horses in rural Saanich. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Saanich equestrian calls for signage to ease conflicts between horses and vehicles

Liesl Fulton said riders often receive rude gestures from motorists

A Saanich entrepreneur and equestrian with more than four decades of experience in riding, training and coaching horses would like to see signage to help mitigate conflicts between horse riders and other road users.

Liesl Fulton of Rancho Relaxo on Hector Road said signage alerting motorists and others to the presence of horses would help maintain and improve the area for all categories of users, including the many cyclists and joggers who use Hector Road and other nearby roads.

Conflicts in the area between riders and non-riders are not uncommon, she said. “I personally work hard with neighbours on this block, and I know a lot of the neighbours on the other block. If somebody is having a consistent conflict, I educate the people.”

READ ALSO: Groups wants Saanich to improve rural roads

Fulton said riders who take lessons at Rancho Relaxo receive training to step off the road when a car approaches.

“So the cars on my road are pretty good,” she said. That training has really helped, she said later. “It is often people that come from outside to access businesses, and that is what we are having trouble with,” she said. “So that is why signage would be awesome.”

Conflicts usually arise when vehicles go too far and too fast, said Fulton. “Then the riders will put up their hands and say, ‘Please, slow down.’ Often that is met with rude gestures and ‘get off the road,’” she said.

So what are the recommendations for motorists when it comes to dealing with horses on the road?

Fulton said motorists should slow down to a crawl and gives horses on the road a wide birth.

“If you are approaching a horse, realize that they are often not scared of the car,” she said. But if other animals startle the horse, it is going to react by jumping sideways, she said. Horses need a minimum personal space of about 1.5 metres. “So they are going to jump a good four feet away from whatever they are frightened of,” she said.

RELATED: LETTER: Drivers must respect horses on rural roads

Here Fulton noted that going the speed limit is not sufficient.

“You hit this horse at [30 km/h], it is going to flip upside down, and its feet are going to come through the windshield, because that this is the lightest, most pointed part [of the horse],” she said. “Yes, you may kill that horse, and you may hurt that rider. But you may also kill yourself and wreck your really nice car.”

Motorists who see horses ambling down the middle of the road have reasons to be upset. “But most horse-riders are not going to be doing that, and if they hear your car, they are going to move over. Most of us in this block thank you. We are very thankful when people pass slowly. We will wave and say thank you.”

Fulton herself has had close calls while riding. On one occasion, a full-sized dump truck with a fully loaded trailer ran her and two other riders as well as a dog-walker off the road. On another occasion, she was leading a horse on Hector Road. “An oil truck came,” she recalled. “I heard him coming. So I stopped. I got to the opposite side of the road, because there was less ditch there, put myself between him and the vehicle, and motioned him to slow down,” she said. “And he let the air brakes go. I guess he has no choice on that. So the horse took off, and I was dragged and broke both of my legs. And you know, that oil truck never stopped, left me laying in the road with my broken legs.”

Ultimately, she framed the problem like this. “It’s not that we don’t have control of the horses,” she said. “We don’t have control of the humans.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church hosts open house, spring cemetery clean up

Learn more about the region’s oldest cemetery May 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Three arrested in Sooke drug bust

RCMP targeted traffickers in fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine

Standalone Beach Drive plum tree gets love

Ivy pulled off plum tree next to Queens’ Park

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Most Read