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Does a horse react to an EV? Yay or Neigh

29th September 2019


Earlier this week, we took a trip over to Askham Bryan College to see how electric cars would impact horses when passing by. The event, organised by the British Horse Society, was conducted in the presence of HRH Princess Anne.

Our test featured three electric vehicles; a Tesla Model S, a Jaguar iPace and a Nissan Leaf. The cars were to drive by two horses; Choco and Mickey, to see how they reacted to the vehicles passing. But why was this test needed?

Our trip was spurred on by comments from Simon Hoare, MP for North Dorset. Earlier this year, Mr Hoare voiced concerns that Horses (and other road users) may be startled by the lack of noise generated by electric cars.

“The rise of electric vehicles is, of course, environmentally welcome,” Mr Hoare said, while addressing Parliament during the Horse Riders: Public Highways debate in the House of Commons on 14th February 2019.

“However, their silence often presents a huge problem for riders, horses and, indeed, other road users as a result of the nervousness that is often caused in horses by these silent vehicles either going past or accelerating from a stop.”

I can immediately confirm that the horses were not nervous around our electric vehicles. As we drove past, Choco wasn’t trembling on his hooves, nor was Mickey dropping all kinds of substances from his rear end.

Now shall we define Mr Hoare’s “huge problem”? No, I am not going to talk about Brexit or Trump (although, I believe these could be defined as a “huge problem”). EV’s passing horses is a moderate problem with an easy fix in comparison.

Going into this, we were expecting the horse to pick up the presence of a half-tonne car driving past. However, we also expected the horse not to react too vigorously as it is a much quieter and cleaner than a typical ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car.

Both horse and rider were passed unscathed, un-polluted and unphased. However, the horse’s did ear twitch. I know right, now we have a “huge problem”.

The sound of tyres on gravel and the slight hum of the electric motor were picked up by the great beast. But, at the end of the day, noise is noise and, I believe, such a sound would register with any animal.

However, given the fact that a smoky diesel would tear past blasting fumes in the faces of both the horse and rider while blaring that V8 engine, I think we’d rather have a slight ear twitch and a silent passing, don’t you?

Despite our positive results, we believe that a second test may be in order. Perhaps, using both an ICE and EV vehicle, while also utilising equipment to determine the impact of cars on the horses heart-rate.

The safety of both the horse and rider is essential, and all drivers should respect this, ensuring they pass slowly and at a car’s width. If you have an engine, don’t rev it. Nobody cares for a demonstration about how small your appendage is.

In conclusion, does a horse react to an EV? Yay, if we count an ear twitch. But, was the horse phased and nervous? Neigh.

Stay tuned to our social media for updates on our second experiment.

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