HORSE riders hacked through Swindon to encourage motorists to be more considerate when passing them wide and slowly on the roads.

Around 15 people saddled up and set off from Wanborough yesterday to educate road users as many of the riders had experienced frightening near-misses and accidents because of impatient drivers.

Tanya Fry, 26, from West Swindon said: "I've been horse riding since I was five and it's always been the same, drivers beep their horns, drive past us over the speed limit, and swear at me - one lorry spooked Rosie two weeks ago which has made her very scared ever since. There's always a bit of a risk in the back of your mind when riding."

Jill Nobbs and Karen Swift organised the routes. Jill said: "We want there to be more legislation which protects horse riders like there is for cyclists. Drivers are in a hurry but we have a right to share the roads with them and we don't have much of a choice because there are very few bridle paths around here. We're not trying to upset anyone or be a nuisance, we just want to be safe. Scared horses can hurt themselves, their riders and motorists"

Ward councillor Gary Sumner travelled with the riders on foot and let them use the St Andrews Church as a meeting point for the event. Coun Sumner said: "We live in a rural area and it's critical that people are aware of how to be safe around horses. The roads are a shared space and drivers just need to take a few seconds to slow down while they pass, it's not much to ask for.

"I hope the Police Crime Commissioner would support legislation to protect riders and I will be making sure that the candidate for the next PCC will be aware of this and other rural issues like speeding on country roads."

When passing a horse, slow down to at most 15mph, keep the engine quiet and pass the animal with a two-metre gap.

This was one of 60 rides organised around the country by the Pass Wide and Slow group to raise awareness of safety.Rather than a protest, they showed drivers how horse riders keep themselves safe with helmets, high-visibility jackets and cameras.