A HORSE owner has urged authorities to finally act on years-old concerns about riders’ safety - after a beloved animal had to be put down due to the injuries it sustained in a collision with a car.

Julie Fields - who has owned horses for 30 years - has urged both Barnsley and Wakefield councils to finally listen to her having made a desperate plea to help horse riders feel safer on the roads following last month’s tragedy.

The horse, named Bess, was being ridden by Kelly Jowitt on Brierley Road - in between Shafton and Felkirk - and had to be put down at the side of the road due to its injuries, while Kelly suffered a broken pelvis, wrist and finger.

The matter was discussed by Shafton Parish Council, whose members backed Julie’s bid to boost safety alongside bordering communities where horse riders frequent.

“The Highway Code changed in relation to motorists encountering horse riders on the road and a two-metre gap must be left, as well as passing at 10mph,” Julie, who runs the Shafton and South Hiendley Horse Riding Community, told the Chronicle.

“Drivers need to take more caution, but they don’t, and this awful incident clearly shows what we’ve been saying is true.

“More signs need to be put up around the area where Bess died as the roads around Shafton, along the West Yorkshire border, are semi-rural and often where motorists exceed the speed limit.

“It’s something that requires urgent attention - the amount of near-misses our group’s members report is frightening and unfortunately we’ve now had a horse die and it riders suffer serious injuries.

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“Hopefully our voices will finally be heard, but we need both local authorities to join forces to change what we’re constantly facing.”

Julie backed the British Horse Society’s ongoing campaign - called ‘Dead Slow’ - after it was revealed incidents across the country have climbed in recent years.

The BHS says 82 per cent of incidents occur because a vehicle passed by too closely to the horse, while 78 per cent involved a vehicle passing too quickly.

A total of 66 horses were killed last year and 96 injured, making it the highest rate of equine fatalities since 2018.

Alan Hiscox, director of safety at the BHS, said: “Horses are still being killed and injured on our roads, riders continue to be seriously injured and too many drivers underestimate the importance of driving carefully around horses.

“Our fear is that guidelines aren’t being clearly explained and delivered; this needs to change.

“Urgent action is required to make every road user aware of the Highway Code changes and, critically, why it’s so important to pass horses with care.

“Only through working collaboratively to educate and drive awareness will we be able to stop these awful incidents from happening over and over again.”

Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock, who was praised by Julie for helping the cause locally, said she supported calls for more safety measures to be brought in.

She said: ““Julie does so much to support the local horse-riding community in and around Barnsley, and my office have been pleased in being able to help by securing safepass signs in and around Shafton to warn drivers of potential riders.

“It is really important that riders feel that both themselves and their horses are safe when out in their local area.

“Julie is a passionate campaigner for this cause and I know the horse-riding community appreciate all her hard work.

“I am happy to support her whenever I can.”