Borough horse riders have raised concerns over motorists driving dangerously close to them as they pass as such incidents across the region rise.

Tottington rider Karen Brown has often encountered irresponsible drivers when riding down Turton Road in the town.

Drivers are asked to leave a 2-metre gap between their vehicles and riders but this is often not followed, leading to near misses and more serious incident.

Earlier this year, Karen was called out to an incident where a friend suffered a serious head injury after being pushed to the ground when a horse they were leading panicked when drivers failed to slow on request.

She said: “Very many drivers are excellent but there is a notable minority which dangerously pass us - too fast, too close or both.

"Although it is a minority who are like this, it only takes one driver to cause a serious accident."

So far Karen and her 24-year-old mare have managed to stay safe on the roads, but there is always a danger if people do not drive carefully.

She said: “My mare is excellent in traffic, but she is a horse and any unexpected noises such as deer, cats or anything else making sounds in hedgerows or gardens would result in her momentary taking fright, and that’s all it takes."

To keep herself and other riders safe, Karen takes extra precautions.

She said: “I ride with a camera and report inappropriate driving directly to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) who are externally supportive and follow up reports.”

Michelle Cardno, who lives in Walshaw, used to stable three horses shared with her daughter Morgan Massey, 18, in the same area.

She said: “It was too dangerous on the road so we moved them. Riding on Bury roads you take your life in your hands it's awful.

"I've been riding 45 years and things are so much worse now.”

Despite moving their horses to a different location in search of safety, Morgan narrowly escaped a serious injury to herself and her horse Frankie on November 10.

On Manchester Road in Kearsley, just past the border of Radcliffe, Michelle said Morgan and her four-year-old horse faced a double decker bus approaching them at great speed.

Morgan arm gestured to tell the driver to slow down but she said the driver ignored the signal and narrowly missed hitting her spooked horse.

Michelle said: “She became fenced in between a woman with a pram on the pavement and the bus. Frankie was scared and shaken, as was Morgan.

"Another bus driver stopped to see if she was OK, but the driver of the original bus just sped off. He didn’t care about the severity of the accident he almost caused.”

Meanwhile, the Facebook group Pass Wide and Slow is raising funds through members of the group to have 50 buses with a safety message for motorists on them going on them throughout the UK in August next year.

Last year, for a month in September, members of the Facebook group amassed funds to allow 35 buses with the message to motorists to "Pass Horse Riders and Carriage Drivers Wide and Slow" on the back of the vehicles.

According to figures from the British Horse Society (BHS), since 2010 there have been 12,113 road incidents involving horses. A total of 44 people have lost their lives following the incidents, 1,592 were seriously injured, 570 horses were killed and 1,436 were injured.

Last year, there were 3,552 road incidents involving horses reported to the BHS, which led to the deaths of 68 horses and 125 of them being injured. A total of 139 people were injured too.

Out of these incidents, 26 per cent of riders were victims of road rage or abuse, 82 per cent of incidents happened because a vehicle passed by too closely to the horse and 78 per cent of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly.

In the North West alone in 2022, there were 370 incidents, a 21 per cent increase compared to 2021.

In response to the problem, a GMP spokesperson said: “The issue isn't something that's being raised with us as being a significant issue GMP are experiencing.

"But we would always encourage the public to report incidents that take place, and we have Operation Considerate we regularly promote which is around the submission of dashcam footage via the online portal so officers can investigate incidents like this.”