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In 2011 The British Horse Society conducted a trial of commercially available self-closing bridle gates. The trial recorded a number of issues which meant that there was an impact on safety and ease of use by horse riders. This confirmed anecdotes that horses and riders were suffering injury; and many were being put off accessing the countryside due to fear of injury. Since then Natural England has been working in partnership with the British Horse Society and a gate manufacturer, Centrewire, to develop modifications and improvements to gates. A new trial has now being organised to look at these modifications and compare them to existing designs. The aim of the trial is to identify features which contribute to safe and easy use. This will help to inform both future gate design and will feed into a review of British Standards.
Natural England wants opinions from all possible users and so they are inviting walkers, horse riders, cyclists and people with disabilities and impairments to sign up to help test ten gates.
The trial is being hosted by Askham Bryan College near to York; it will run from 18th to 24th September including the weekend. OSS members are warmly invited to come along and participate in the trial if they are able to do so.
Natural England expect that participation in the trial will take about an hour. So if you would like to take part on foot, on a bicycle, tramper or horse please contact Nicola Harper on 07900 608 190 or email Nicola Harper at Natural England for more information.
Pippa Langford, principal specialist at Natural England said; “Our beautiful countryside should be accessible to all, but often gate design makes it difficult for people on horseback to access bridleways or for walkers with disabilities, for example, to open and close them safely. These national trials are testing ten designs and we’d like people to sign up to take part in the trial and give us some feedback. The results from the study will be used by British Standards in future gate design.”
The trial is supported by a working group which includes Natural England, the British Horse Society, the NFU, CLA disabled ramblers, IPROW, Askham Bryan Equestrian Centre and members of the British Standard 5709:Gaps, Gates and Stiles working group. Our trustee and local correspondent, Chris Beney, is the OSS representative on BSi (British Standards Institute) Gates and Fences Committee and, via that, is chairman of the BS5709 working party which wants to use the results of the pending trial to update that standard.