Biggest simultaneous horse ride asks drivers to slow down

Many horse riders around the country say they no longer feel safe riding on rural roads.

A new survey shows 66 percent of horse riders have had a near miss with a car or truck, and 71 percent say they no longer feel safe on the roads.

Approximately 1000 people participated in Sunday's National Ride for Road Safety, making it the country's biggest simultaneous horse ride.

Organiser Simone Frewin says the riding community has reached a tipping point.

"There's lots of us who have lost horses in traffic incidents, and it's getting to a point now where we really aren't safe on the roads anymore."

Riders at the event told Newshub some drivers deliberately try to spook their horses.

"We have people revving their engines, hanging out the windows, yahooing, throwing things at horses, yelling and carrying on as they go past," says Ms Frewin.

The Ride for Road Safety event was launched in 2016 after Newshub journalist Karen Rutherford was hospitalised when a car hit her horse at 80km/h. The horse, named Curious George, had to be put down.

While Ms Rutherford is lucky to be alive, she hasn't ridden since the accident.

"A big part of me not getting in the saddle is flashbacks," she says. "I have a real issue with that still, and post-traumatic stress that I think people underestimate. And it's been a long journey."

She and other riders want the Government to impose a speed limit for those travelling past horses.

"Motorists and truckies and cyclists need to remember that if they give us a two-metre berth, and they actually pass at 20km/h - as they would with a school bus - you could save a life."

Rider Elaine Smith summarised the event's message: "Slow down. Give us room. We'll give you room."