I was riding along a country lane and almost got hit by a horse. Yes – not the other way round! The rider tried to blame me and my noisy motorcycle, but I cut the engine and coasted by them both. The horse kicked out and luckily, I managed to ride by before it could turn and clobber me off my bike.

This got me talking down the pub with some friends… if there had been an accident, who would be to blame?


Ahh, the joys of wildlife and motorcycles. The law on this topic is pretty old. From a criminal perspective, if you are involved in a collision with a horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog, you MUST stop and exchange details, or report it to a police station within 24 hours. Failing to do so is an offence. This doesn’t apply if you hit a hamster, cat, or deer; I don’t know why this is, but the law comes from the Road Traffic Act 1988, so it might be a little out-of-date as far as the keeping of animals as pets goes.

If you have an accident, the police don’t need to send you a Notice of Intended Prosecution, as it is trite law that having an accident is warning enough that a prosecution might follow. Therefore, don’t wait at your letterbox counting down the 14-day rule – it doesn’t apply.

To bring a civil claim against an animal keeper or owner, you have to look to the Animals Act 1971 or common law negligence. The Animals Act is a horrible piece of complicated law that is long overdue an overhaul. A keeper of an animal must take reasonable care in order to prevent harm occurring to others. In this case, had there been an accident, it would be important to know more about the rider’s experience and the tendency of the horse to buck before you could mount a successful claim for damages.

This is most definitely a type of case you need a lawyer on, and I would not recommend going it alone. There have been lots of conflicting decisions on animal versus motorcycle cases but, thankfully, such animals are usually insured. This means if you do get a decent lawyer on the case, there is a good chance you will see some damages. It is much better to sue a defendant who has the backing of an insurer, rather than a defendant alone, as they may not have the money needed to pay you damages.

I am glad nothing happened in your case, but if the worst were to happen, aim to gather as much evidence as possible at the scene, i.e., keeper’s name, type of horse, which livery yard it is kept at, and photographs. All of this becomes invaluable at a later date. Safe riding!

Gavin Grewal

Fast Bikes Mag – December 2023