Motorists who pass too close to horses will be targeted in a police campaign to reduce the number of injuries and deaths on roads.
The Lose The Blinkers drive is aimed at all road users but particularly those on the fringes of large towns and cities where many horse riders stable and exercise their animals.
The British Horse Society says that since 2010 there have been two rider deaths and ten horses killed on Scotland’s roads. A total of 50 riders and 43 horses have also been injured.
Many of the incidents have been caused by vehicles either colliding or passing too close to the horse, causing them to throw the rider, panic or bolt.
Alan Hiscox, director of safety for the British Horse Society, said: “We want to remind drivers that horses can be unpredictable and even the most well-trained horse can react to its instincts and want to move quickly away from what they consider to be a threat.
“It is worth remembering there are three brains working when a horse and rider meet a vehicle on the road, the driver’s, the rider’s and the horse’s. There is room for everyone on the road if we all show some consideration.”
The Police Scotland campaign, which is supported by the British Horse Society and Glasgow City Council, will be officially launched on social media and at an event in Ayrshire on Friday night.
The campaign will see plain-clothed officers from the mounted branch patrolling areas of concern and recording incidents of bad driving on camera.
Drivers will be stopped by police officers and educated in the hazards of passing horses incorrectly before an enforcement phase is introduced in November.
Inspector Janet Dickie, from Police Scotland’s road policing division, said: “We recognise the vulnerability horse riders experience on our roads and this campaign is aimed at both riders and those who may come across them.
“All road users deserve to travel safely - some people are put off from riding as they fear being involved in a collision and many riders are deterred from riding on the roadway for fear of them or their horses being seriously injured or killed.
“I am urging all drivers to give horses as much room as possible when you pass, as failure to give sufficient space is considered careless or even dangerous driving and drivers face prosecution.”