riding over motorway bridges

Murphs

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Oct 22, 2000
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does anyone else have to do this? I am having a real problem getting the confidence to do this. I have ridden my Mare over motorway bridges before when we were at livery but the bridge was pretty high up ANd had equestrian parapets - the one i have to go over now (to have a reasonable hack out) is low and only has low railings - it's also approached from a bend and you do not have visibility of oncoming traffic until you are right on the top. I have done it once - dismounted, led her across and remounted (but finding a safe place to get off and get back on again isn't that easy!), have done some work just leading her back and forwrds over the bridge but to be honest, the sticking point is more with me than with her - i'll set myself a target (like early sun morning to ride out when traffic will be relatively quiet, then find an excuse not to do it or start to get in such a tizz that i won't do it as i know i'll wind Ebs up). I am generally a confident rider but not when it comes to being on the road. I keep my mares at home so don't have the option of riding out with an experienced rider/horse - any suggestions or should i just accept that i can't do it:(
 

Mazpup

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Sep 1, 2001
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Sounds horrible.
When I hack out on our common we have to cross a dual carriageway to get to the other side. we get to pause in the middle, but its murder getting to the other side with spooky riding school ponies and London traffic!
 

HairyCob

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Hi Murphs!

I totally sympathise- when I shared before I had my boy, I had to ride a 4yo stroppy mare over a motorway bridge to get anywhere decent to ride.

I think I know the bridge you have to cross- is it the one going into the village/hamlet near where you live? If it is, then it is a very simmilar situation to the one I used to ride over- no option to get into the middle of the road and close your eyes and hope for the best as the traffic wouldn't see you until it is too late!

I overcame this by getting someone to walk along side me whilst I rode over it- this built up my confidence and the mares and eventually the dreaded motorway bridge became no worse than any other bit of road I rode!

I would be happy to come and walk with you and Eb's if that would be helpful, I'll e-mail you seperately about this!

Hope all is well with you and yours,

H.C's Mum
 

ros

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Jun 9, 2001
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I've got two flyovers near me, and I quite often ride Merlin along the cycle path which runs alongside the A38 (goes right past the farm and is a great shortcut to get to the 2nd flyover and some different rides). Mind you, I only ride facing oncoming traffic and it's quite a wide path, and M is very good in all traffic.

I haven't had a problem with flyovers, and I used to ride Frank over them all the time as well. Merlin was a little edgy the first couple of times, but I rode him in company and now he actually likes to stop in the middle and watch the traffic sometimes - it's quite a good vantage point! I think the idea of having someone walk alongside you is good, and if your horses are OK with that then I would think that's quite a good indicator.
 

judyl

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I quite often used to ride my horse over a motorway bridge BUT it did have high see-through sides. She didn't seem to take any notice - it was more me worred than her, especially when coaches and lorries came along underneath! However, I would NEVER ride over a motorway bridge that didn't have sides to at least 6ft. Imagine when you're on a horse, you're quite a long way up. If something happened and you were unseated, at least you would be thrown against a high fence and you wouldn't go over. If it's a low fence, I'm afraid the risk would be too high if you did happen to fall off.

I think your best bet is still to get off and lead across and get back on the other side. Bit of a palaver but best to be safe than sorry.
 

FOLLYFOOT

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Aug 18, 2001
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motorway bridges

I can really sympathise with this one. To get anywhere from where I keep my horse I have to ride over the M40 via several different motorway bridges which are all very high and open railed.

The prospect of this at first was really daunting and all I can say is dont give up. I know it is really hard and I totally understand your fears (which usually take their grip once you are half way over!!) all sorts of things go through your head, especially if the horse reared and you toppled over the top! I think that was my greatest fear (and probably still is if I am honest!)

There is no real way around this other than face your fear and dont give up! I have found whistling or humming to your horse can help or even talking (although be it in a very loud manner as the noise of the traffic is deafening!) Also yawning a lot can help you relax and makes your horse believe you arent too stressed - does look a bit funny though!

Also if you can get another reliable friend and their horse to ride over with you helps no end. Chatting to each other whilst you embark over the bridge takes your mind off the task in hand a little and makes the journey over seem quicker. I also tend to ride the white line whilst going over and stick to the middle. Most drivers tend to be sympathetic to this and either stay well back until you are clear, although I have had the odd idiot try to over-take me whilst I have been crossing!

My worst moment to date across the bridge was back in summer when I had reached half way and hells angels decided to ride underneath. I think we crossed the last section without touching the ground! Not very nice, but unless I get a horse box or trailer and can drive across to safety I am stuck!

Hope it helps to know you are not alone and as I say dont let your fear get the better of you. It is hard but just bite your lip and keep humming!:D
 

Murphs

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Oct 22, 2000
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thks for the replies. Judyl - they are low railings,probably only waist height if i walk across on foot so nowhere near high enough when on a horse. Follyfoot,it isgood to know you are not alone! I agree, the problem is one you get 1/3 to 1/2 way across and the horse suddenly thinks the ground is coming up at them to eat them! Middleof the road definitely has to be the way to go - think i'll need to stick to dismounting and muster up the courage to have another go!
 

DebO

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Sep 11, 2002
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I have a similar problem.

Apparently there are funds for certain areas, and items such as motorway bridges, to upgrade and make safer for riders.

There was a list somewhere of all the roads, might have been in the Horse and Hound, and the BHS newsletter. Try getting in touch with your local bridleway rep or the BHS as they should have some more info about this.
 

galadriel

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Feb 27, 2002
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If you don't feel safe doing something, why screw yourself up to do it? It does sound like what you're describing is unsafe. Rather than make yourself ride unsafely, why don't you find a way to make ***/mounting safer on both sides? Maybe find a big chunk of log and put one on either side, so you have a step, or some such.

You owe it to yourself and to your mare to keep the both of you safe. It's not a matter of courage to ride "bravely," but not safely; it's a matter of being wise and doing what you do feel is the right thing.
 

lamprellsarah

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Jul 21, 2000
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yeah i have two, one wide one which has two way traffic over very low sides, i ride in the middle, the first so many time i go over with a new horses i lead over unless i know he/she will be fine!!

the other it scary it's very narrow only pople/horse/ bikes can go over it and it actually curves, it has hight side but it scares the horses, the spray apint that people put on the side makes them nervous plus their are stones on it, and if the kick one it rattles!!

once i am over i breathe a pick sigh of relief i may be a confident irde but i worry about going over the edge!!!it doesn't bare thinking about!!
 

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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This is something I did as a "kid" all the time.

I lived 100 yards from 2 motorway bridges with low sides, one was a bridleway bridge (very narrow) and the other a road bridge.

Other bridleways used to go under and alongside the motorway. I used them all the time without a thought.

I used to ride and drive Fattyhorsepig over and under the motorway without a thought...as you do when you are young! He was used to it and took no notce of the traffic below or along side us. Heavens, I even used to drive him around the traffic Island at junct. 4 of the M5, Mike will know that one, (Lydiate Ash,) to get to the Alvechurch riding club shows!

Now I think I might get off and lead over it...unless I could ressurect old Fattyhorsepig. But you tend to only find one horse like him per lifetime!

If in doubt, get off and lead...IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD if necessary!
 

Murphs

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thanks for the replies - yes, i think i will get off and lead over and in middle of road - i'll go alonmg on foot and route out a safe and sensible remouting point on either side of the bridge (there are places, they just happen to be on blind spots:( )
 

judyl

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I think that's the best way Murphs. Much better to be safe than sorry and riding is one of the riskiest sports around anyway. I think if I had to ride over a motorway bridge with low sides, I'd get vertigo and just topple over anyway! It makes me feel queasy just thinking about it. At least with high sides you've got something to bounce off of if you do have a tumble.

Sort yourself out some mounting blocks and keep safe. :D