The following message was sent to Zia Roberts SDRC’s bridleway officer by Shropshire Council
I have received an email from RAF Shawbury to note that now that the COVID restrictions have been relaxed slightly with regards to exercise and horse riding, their aircrew have noticed an increase in horse riders, some of whom are choosing not to wear high visibility clothing or kit. The increase in activity has been particularly noticeable in the Nesscliffe area, which is a key operating area for their helicopters and they would be grateful for your support by publicising the message below and attached poster through your PC channels.
If you are a horse rider, please have a look at the attached poster and go to our website to download a leaflet on the Be Seen, Be Safer campaign. Wearing high visibility kit really does make a difference to our aircrew, who will be able to see you earlier and minimise disturbance to you and your horse. With our helicopters travelling at speeds of up to 120 kts (130+ mph) at low level it can be very difficult to spot a horse and rider, despite the very best lookout. This is because horses and dark coloured clothing tend to blend into the background. Against a wood line, a cropped field or a stone wall, for example, it can be almost impossible to see the rider until the aircraft is less than a few hundred metres away. By wearing an item of high visibility clothing or quarter sheet, the rider can give the pilot a far greater chance of seeing them.
Having taken part in a riders awareness day at RAF Shawbury I can thoroughly endorse the above messages as well as adding a few of my own thoughts and observations.
Whilst the above note refers specifically to Nescliffe riders should be aware that the whole of Shropshire is a designated low fly area so all riders should be aware of being visible.
I live in an area where there is a large amount of aerial activity both from fixed wing as well as helicopters. However, they are not the only issue to me as a driver and rider. As a driver along a narrow lane it is surprising how often you come across walkers in dark/drab clothing as well as riders (on dark bay horses ) wearing Barbour type coats blending in well with the greenery of the hedge. Just because your eyes have adjusted to the light whilst riding, don’t assume a driver’s are adjusted to see you with the same clarity. The answer is clear wear hi-viz and give yourself better chances of being seen.