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Road Rage Rider Fined!
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Road Rage Rider Fined!

In today’s newspaper I read with dismay of a recent road rage incident where a horse rider was arrested and fined for throwing her riding whip at an inconsiderate motorist who put her and her horse in danger by sounding his car horn as he drove behind her on a narrow country lane.

It appears that the 18 year old ‘businessman’ (who passed his driving test less than a year ago) was driving his performance car at speed through narrow country lanes when he encountered Jessica Mills and her friend riding their horses side-by-side.

Jason Knox, the driver, followed the horses for about 30 seconds (driving just six feet away from the horses’ hind legs) before losing patience and sounding his horn as he pushed his way past. Miss Mills understandably lost her temper, shouted at Knox and threw her riding whip at his car as he passed. Knox apparently roared past them only to stop further along the road where he parked his car so as to obstruct them. He then got out of his vehicle and approached Miss Mills when a heated altercation took place.

Miss Mills told Knox that his driving was extremely inconsiderate and dangerous and could have caused an accident. Knox insisted that the riding whip had cracked his windscreen and damaged the bonnet of his car. Miss Mills told the court that the whip had actually bounced off the car’s roof and landed in a driveway. When Knox pointed out the damage to her she said that it was too low down to have been caused by her whip and looked as though it had occurred earlier. I have to say I find it hard to believe that a plastic riding whip would have even marked a car, let alone cracked a windscreen.

Unfortunately, the court sided with the prosecution and Miss Mills was fined £1,500 to cover the repairs to Knox’s vehicle. Knox, who it transpires already has 3 penalty points on his driving licence for using a mobile phone whilst driving, wrote a letter of apology to the riders for sounding his horn behind them but insisted that the damage to his car was caused by Miss Mills and that her reaction was totally out of proportion.

The court rejected Miss Mills’ defence that Knox was far too close to the horses and was impatiently revving his engine, ultimately sounding his horn at them and that her reaction was out of concern for the safety of her horse and was meant to draw the driver’s attention to the danger he was causing.

I was horrified when I read this story. I’ve had a number of similar incidents with impatient drivers trying to squeeze past me and my horse; gunning their engines and even hurling abuse at me. I suppose drivers are of the opinion that horse riders pay not road tax, aren’t legally obliged to be insured and therefore have no right to be on the road but that doesn’t excuse this sort of behaviour.

I always try to be courteous to drivers; acknowledge those that slow down and pass wide and move out of their way as quickly as I safely can. Most road users in the countryside are used to encountering horse riders and moderate their driving accordingly but there are a few who don’t. It always infuriates me as a driver myself when I pass horse riders who are chatting on their mobile phone, oblivious to traffic and hazards and who fail to acknowledge other road users’ courtesy.

My concern is that this incident effectively condones the driver’s impatient and dangerous actions and sets a depressing precedent for horse riders who have to use the roads in order to access bridleways. It was reported that that Mr Knox’s parents are wealthy local business people with influence. I do hope this had nothing to do with the court’s decision in this case.

More about road, rage, horse, rider, jessica, mills

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  1. mered30
    I remember one time I was riding along the road. When a box truck goes flying by. The horse I was riding didn't like box trucks so he spooks as far away as he could. I stayed on luckily I just stood there in shock. Luckily I was nice about it too
  2. Eve Sherrill York
    Eve Sherrill York
    Sad. That rich kid needs.....well you know. Voted.
    1. autumnap
      Thank you. Indeed, jumped-up little rich boy asked for the response he got I think. He clearly doesn't realise just how much damage half a ton of horse would do to his precious sports car if a horse sat on the bonnet!
      1. Eve Sherrill York
        Eve Sherrill York
        You said it, Sister.....lol
    2. mered30
      You mean a swift kick somewhere
    3. mered30
      You mean a swift kick somewhere
      1. Eve Sherrill York
        Eve Sherrill York
        Yes, for starters.
  3. Ponypumpkinrider
    I think so much of this sort of behaviour is due to ignorance of horses (they were powering our roads long before sports cars were invented!) I grew up in a rural area and long before I could ride (I've never been a horse owner either..) I knew how to hold a horse in hand/pick a hoof but now live in a city and many of my colleagues don't even know what equestrian means… Many drivers here treat cyclist and moped drivers that way… rude I know but far less dangerous than treating a horse that way. And his car is replaceable, intact he'd get a better one. Miss Mills and her horses are not.
    1. Ponypumpkinrider
      oh and voted :)
      1. autumnap
        Many thanks!
  4. Cowboy 68
    To my knowledge the horse is still considered the main mode of transportation at least on the law books and that gives the horse right of way. In PA the driver would be guilty of aggressive driving, following to closes (tail gating) and reckless endangerment. With his points he already has would and should loose his driving privileges. This behavior should not be allowed in any of our states nor taken lightly by the justice system.
    1. krystajo
      As I noted in my own reply post, Cowboy, this incident didn't happen in the U.S. The pound instead of dollar sign indicates it was in the U.K. somewhere or possibly Australia if, as I believe they are, they still use pounds for their currency. However, as you say, in many states in the U.S. the laws are as you say. Pennsylvania's strict laws aren't as surprising as Massachusetts because of the significant presence of Pennsylvania Dutch residents there.
  5. soakland
    A friend and I were riding when a car veered off the road came past me within a foot of my leg and hit my friend on his horse. The car then zoomed off. A kind, passing motorist saw what happened and took off after the car and got a license number. When tracked down the driver claimed that he had no idea that he had hit a horse and rider....nothing happened to him. My friend was thankfully ok but his horse was never the same again.
    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      Wow! I wonder if the driver was too old and needed to have handed over his keys to someone else. So sad.
      1. soakland
        Nope....about 18 and needed his keys handed over to someone else....
        1. autumnap
          Take care out there!
  6. krystajo
    Wow. Or should I say 'Whoa!' I was utterly appalled by this incident, which by the way you wrote up excellently. So much for the idea that people -- particularly drivers -- in places like Great Britain are more attuned to horses in the countryside than in are drivers in places like most parts of the United States because people in the UK because they (horses) are more commonplace in the UK than the US. [Figured that this was a UK based incident by the fact the monetary figures are in pounds.] To my best awareness, most U.S. states have "right of way" laws that favor horses over cars. Not only that, some states have very specific statutes. I used to ride out as a relief trail guide for a hacking stable years ago. In my state of Massachusetts, where such stables are few and far between -- and more now then back then, a good few decades ago -- the statute is very specific. It requires a driver to identify "the person who appears to be in charge of the draft animal." [In this case, "draft animal" refers to any equine creature, not only genuine draft horses but light horses and even 'horse family' mounts like mules and so on.] What this provision of the law covers is "group" or "team" situations. For example, on 90% of hacking stable rides for truly public stables you have a trail guide and maybe one or two intermediate to experienced riders, and everyone else is a beginner: and often beginners at least some of whom believe they already know everything. Drivers are required under Massachusetts law to identify the person who appears in charge of the entire group; and if they receive conflicting signals from different riders, then they must respond to the rider who appears most in charge. That is to say, if I'm the trail guide (sometimes also referred to as the stable's "outrider,") and someone else in my riding group signals 'pass' and I signal 'stop,' then the driver must stop, responding to my signal. Similarly, in equine parade units or other drill teams, even though these are made up of more experienced riders, one individual is typically in charge of the unit overall, and the driver must identify and respond to that rider. And that's Massachusetts, which overall isn't a 'horsey' state. Rules in many western states, I'm told by friends who do or have lived there, are much more horse-favorable. That dates from the days of ranching when horses were literally considered more valuable than people and many horse-related violations were lynching offenses. I was taught as a trail guide to bring back the same number of horses and people I started out with if at all possible [i.e., a horse that bolts back to the farm after dumping a rider often will head for the barn at all before it can be caught]: a friend who trail guided in some western states was always told if you had to make a choice, leave the PERSON who fell often and make sure to bring back the mount! A far cry from the incident you describe!
  7. Renee Dryden
    Renee Dryden
    I have had this problem with tractor trailers. I would ride the shoulder or in the grass along side of the road. A few times I have had the truck drivers lay on their air horns. Now my horse never spooked easily and you could shoot from his back. But when you have a truck driver lay on his air horn as he goes past my horse would try to jump out from under me.. I have also had teenagers drive their vehicles right behind me either revving their engine or laying on their horn.. Its very scary for the horse as well as the rider. There was a few times I wished he would kick their car. But I was afaid he would hurt his leg. People need to learn to respect riders as well as other motorists. That guy got what he deserved. Hes lucky that the horses didn't bold and hurt their riders. Voted..
    1. autumnap
      Thank you kindly. There are some idiots out there!

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