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Horse Of A Different Road Rage Color

A little background information on the video you are about to watch. Travellers and Gypsies love their racing horses and the main way they train and race them is on the roads and even highways in England, Ireland and Scotland. There are many videos on Youtube featuring a race between two or three horses and in almost all clips, you see some serious road hogging with a phalanx of cars, vans, and trucks barreling down the road,in front of the horses, beside them and behind them, on both sides of the road forcing oncoming traffic to swerve off the road or turn off the road to wait until the race passes.

In this video, a police car is attempting to stop the race from encountering oncoming traffic and you can clearly see the cars and trucks at a dead stop in the face of all that vehicular metal bearing down on them. The two horses are racing on the wrong side of the highway when the video starts as the police car tries to force them to the correct side of the road. Notice at 2:50 the car in which the video is being filmed is in the opposite lane forcing a truck and car to come to a stop while he swerves around on the outside. Horse racing on the roads is illegal but it occurs despite the Gypsies knowledge and understanding that it is illegal. Regular driving on the road is not illegal and I am all for Travellers keeping their horse drawn caravaning heritage alive. I own driving ponies myself and share the road with trucks and cars on the proper side of the road and by law, motor vehicles must share the road with my cart or carriage. But no one should impromptu commandeer an entire road and scare the living daylights of an innocent driver who sees this heading towards them.

What is the etiquette point? That illegal activity has its genesis in the belief that one is entitled to do whatever you want to do regardless of the consequences to others. Teach your children to think outside of themselves to consider the effect of their actions on others and work towards solutions or compromises that serves the needs of both parties.

{ 45 comments… add one }
  • Damn Yankee October 9, 2012, 5:28 am

    The only thing I can think of is, “Good ponies! Good ponies for not spooking and getting your cute selves killed thanks to the asshat of the year!” and of course, road founder. Morons.

  • Roslyn October 9, 2012, 6:56 am

    I’ve spent a large portion of my life with horses and that is the most dangerous, asinine thing I have ever seen!

  • Ken October 9, 2012, 7:23 am

    And they wonder why people dislike them? I breathed a sigh of relief at the end when the horses were alright. With intelligence like this, I’m surprised the horses weren’t racing the gypsies.

  • Cherry October 9, 2012, 7:55 am

    As a point of information, these people are Travellers, not gypsies.

  • Merrilee October 9, 2012, 8:29 am

    I’ve visited Ireland and the roads are very, very narrow. These people are crazy for attempting horse racing on those roads. They are lucky that the horses didn’t get hurt.

  • Margaret October 9, 2012, 8:33 am

    They are obnoxious Travellers – I feel for those ponies. I don’t understand what the etiquette point is here. This is obviously a legal issue.

  • Just Laura October 9, 2012, 8:40 am

    I’m with Cherry in that I’m a little uncomfortable with the term Gypsy. I’m sure there was no intent to be deliberately provocative, but other, better terms could have been used.


    • admin October 9, 2012, 9:56 am

      There are television series on UK and US stations referring to them as “gypsies”, as in “My Big, Fat Gypsy Wedding” that was a hit series in the UK and its spin-off series in the US, “My Big, Fat, American Gypsy Wedding”. TLC is debuting a new series in a few weeks called, “Little Shop of Gypsies” about the opening of a dress design shop owned and operated by Gypsies. If the word was as offensive as one UK comic claims, there would be a large hullaballoo about the titles of these television series and the persistent use of the word throughout episode after episode. There is a Youtube video of a UK television show in which Irish Travellers took issue with the UK series (can be seen at http://youtu.be/mdZ8A7BYN48) and the use of the word “gyspy” is not among their gripes with the show. The male Traveller uses “gypsy” interchangeably with “Traveller”.

      Voice of America has a series of documentaries about American Gypsies with the name “gypsy” prominent in the title and throughout the narration. Ditto for National Geographic.

      The Independent link you provided is from 2009. As recently as March 2012, complaints regarding the word have been rejected by Ofcom and The Advertising Standards Authority (http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/17442056). Ironically, one of the organizations making a complaint was the London Gypsy and Travellers Unit who took issue with the word “gypsier” in advertising for the second season of “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”.

  • Powers October 9, 2012, 9:36 am

    The etiquette issue is that when the law has to get involved, it’s an indication of a breakdown in etiquette. “It’s impolite” should arrest rude behavior before it gets to “It’s illegal”.

  • manybellsdown October 9, 2012, 9:51 am

    Isn’t this sort of thing horribly bad for the horse’s legs and hooves? I didn’t ride much, but I was always told never to trot my horse on pavement.

  • Lisa October 9, 2012, 10:06 am

    This was hard to watch and I had to close it out before it ended. Those poor unfortunate horses. I hope the owners got what they most justly deserved for pulling such a prank.

  • Cherry October 9, 2012, 10:06 am

    As an Irish native, I am painfully of the programme.

    We never, but never, refer to Travellers as Gypsies here. There is also a question of ethnicity that would mean that one should not refer to Travellers as Gypsies as you can see in Just Laura’s link. However, in Ireland, there is no legal recognition of them as a separate ethnic group, but rather a social group. They are Irish.


  • Marketeer October 9, 2012, 10:16 am

    “Little Shop of Gypsies” is not about a shop owned and operated by gypsies. The dressmaker made famous by “My Big Fat Gypsy” wedding (she makes the enormous, over-the-top wedding skills) is trying to give back by teaching dressmaking skills to young gypsy women, who often leave school at 14 and have no work experience or marketable skills to fall back on.

  • Cherry October 9, 2012, 10:26 am

    With reference to the nature of the video itself, I have never seen this here.

    I think we have more of a problem with “boy racers” here. These are young guys who soup up small cars and drive at high speed around small country roads. I am sure a quick trawl of youtube will have videos of these guys filming each other doing crazy, dangerous stuff.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith October 9, 2012, 10:43 am

    Traveller has a very bad connotation indeed. The only coverage I’ve seen in the US pertains to groups that travel in order to gain cash, clothing, luxury items and whatever else is wanted by any means necessary, including theft, extortion, substandard trade (contractor scams) and similar. Perhaps other communities are different. The disregard for others in this film is criminal and reckless. Want to race on the road? Get a permit. Pick a road that’s not so well traveled and ask for police escort. Ask a private road owner if you can have use of their road or long drive. There are lots of ways to showcase these horses and the drivers’ skill set that don’t require trying to run people off of the road or causing potential loss of property and life. Could even make some real money at it, I’d think. (Not an educated thought- that last one. Merely speculative.).

  • Enna October 9, 2012, 10:52 am

    The etiqutte issue is the complete disreguard for other other road usesrs. It is also a legal one. Not stopping for the police is a criminal offence too. They should have the horses converstcated: racing on the road is illegal and to do it with animals and put their lives in danger is animal abuse. The riders are not wearing helmets either.

  • Cat Whisperer October 9, 2012, 12:14 pm

    General comment on the issue of someone comandeering the road and wreaking havoc on traffic:

    In my neck of the woods (SoCal), we don’t have the problem of horse vs. car conflicts on most of our roads. But boy oh boy do we have issues here with bicycles and skateboards.

    There have been instances of car drivers getting out of their cars and attacking bicyclists who they perceived as blocking the roads. There have been instances of people stopping their cars suddenly to cause a bicyclist to hit them, or opening their doors to catch a bicyclist with the door. And on many of the streets here, you can see lines of cars bumper-to-bumper, with drivers honking and giving the one-finger salute, because of bicyclists in the center of the lane blocking traffic.

    I’ve seen whole packs of bicyclists blowing through stopsigns and even traffic lights on Sunday mornings. They’re out for their ride and by golly traffic laws are for sissies! And of course you get the people on bikes who ride on the wrong side of the road, who ride on sidewalks, who zig and zag and wobble and swerve without apparent regard for other vehicles and pedestrians around them.

    And don’t get me started about skateboarders. Husband and I have had some close calls with skateboarding teenagers who have their earbuds in place, their iPods turned up, and are grooving to their own beat, who suddenly dart out of nowhere into the street, apparently unaware of any traffic until our screeching brakes and blowing horn suddenly wake them up.

    Whatever happened to the rules of courtesy on the road? The law is clear that whether you’re on a horse, a bike or a skateboard, the same laws that apply to the cars apply to you: there is a right and wrong side of the street. You have to obey traffic signs and lights. You have to signal your intention to make a turn. You need to check your blind spots, you need to yield to pedestrians, you need to mind the rules of right-of-way. That’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.

    Courtesy, which my driver training teacher in high school taught us in those long-ago days when they taught driver ed in schools, is that if you’re going slower than the general flow of other traffic, you stay as far to the right as you safely can. We were taught explicitly that if you have three or more cars backed up behind you because you’re going too slow, you pull over and let them pass as soon as you can safely do so. And we were taught that you never, ever deliberately impede someone else or try to block their way.

    I don’t worry about horse-drawn vehicular traffic here. But I worry about bicycle traffic, and frankly skateboarders scare me to death whenever I see them on the roads. I wish they’d obey the laws and show some courtesy, and with skateboarders I really wish they’d ditch the iPods and pay attention to their surroundings.

  • Claire October 9, 2012, 12:23 pm

    They are Irish Travellers. In Ireland.

    Hats off to the Garda Driver, he is brilliant.

    Gypsy is not a racist word, in itself, though “Gyppo” is. In the same way as Pakistani is not racist but “Paki” is.

  • Sara October 9, 2012, 12:30 pm

    I’m not clear on why those involved weren’t arrested. From reading the comments on YouTube, it seems that perhaps police abandoned the chase due to safety concerns, but it seems like the cops could have caught up with the group when the race stopped and made arrests.

  • AIP October 9, 2012, 1:08 pm

    I concur with Cherry. Although the terms are interchangeable on MBFGW, they are separate ethnic groups – Romany Gypsies being Indian in origin and Travellers generally from very old Irish families – and the shower above racing the “sulkies” are definitely Irish and travellers (Gardaí are the Irish police force).

    And those poor ponies (piebalds) are that comfortable around cars as they are generally kept either on the side of the road, wasteground or halting sites which aren’t far away from a major national route.

    They are not generally liked, and these dumb@sses are the worst example of the “culture”, however I live in a town with a large Traveller population and thankfully my neighbours are nice; a lot of work, but nice and would be embarrassed by this carry-on.

  • MsMashNWUK October 9, 2012, 1:44 pm

    With respect to Admin, I am in total agreement with Cherry and Margaret, they are Travellers, i.e. in previous times, ‘Tinkers’ and not proper Gypsy i.e. Roma or Sinti who feel that the term ‘ gypsy’ has been abused by various programme makers etc.
    Roma/Sinti/Gypsies are respectful of the land and its people is the best way to understand the differences between their goodselves and Travellers.

  • Chocobo October 9, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Endangering other people on the road is indeed both an etiquette and a legal issue, but horse racing on the road when no one is around is not an etiquette issue. Etiquette rules require other people to be broken. The law and moral rules do not.

    Not all breaking of the law lies within etiquette, although the legal realm and the mannerly one often share goals. It is important to separate the two from one another, as sometimes civil disobedience — in a civil manner — is required for not only the greater good of Etiquette, but also Morality. See: Freedom Riders, Rosa Parks, anyone who defied Jim Crow laws.

    Therefore I cannot agree with the admin’s blanket statement: “Illegal activity has its genesis in the belief that one is entitled to do whatever you want to do regardless of the consequences to others.” Perhaps in this case, yes, but that is not always so, and I believe it is important to remember that.

  • barb October 9, 2012, 4:16 pm

    They should have been arrested and had the horses confiscated. They were endangering the animals.

  • Amanda October 9, 2012, 5:17 pm

    As an equestrian, I want to know how they ever trained those ponies not to spook when faced with a HIGHWAY.

    In my town, we have a problem with non-car users of the road. Competitive bicyclists in this region seem to believe that just because they have the fancy suit and expensive racing bike they can do whatever tickles their fancy. They will ride in packs, blocking up the rose and creating a safety hazard for themselves and motorists (this is illegal), dart out and slow down, cut you off, ride too close to you, and ignore the bike path our city so nicely built for them even if it’s RIGHT THERE. If you give a small honk to let them know they’re blocking you, they look at you as if you’re the most offensive thing they’ve ever seen and will probably flip you off. It probably doesn’t compare to those racing horses.

  • Esmeralda October 9, 2012, 6:33 pm

    I’m of Romany heritage. My two cents worth: Irish Travellers are not of the same bloodline as the Romany people, although there are certainly some cultural similarities. Also, most Romany of my age group (40’s and under) are keenly aware of both the dubious origins, and negative connotation, of the word “gypsy,” and choose not to self identify by that word.
    I’ve seen a couple of those t.v. shows, and find them apalling. They are not an accurate portrayal of any Romany people I’ve ever known, in the same way that the kids on Jersey Shore don’t accurately portray all Italian-Americans. I’m sure these people exist, but they are definitely not the norm.

  • Nannerdoman October 9, 2012, 7:17 pm

    Those poor, poor, gallant little ponies. Worthy of so much better care than they’re obviously getting from these joy-riders.

    And as for obeying the laws of traffic, what about the laws of physics? Even a small automobile is bigger, faster, and heavier than a horse-and-sulky rig. Guess who would win in a collision.

  • Jade October 9, 2012, 7:52 pm

    I don’t know how they trained the horses not to spook either, but that is one of the more dangerous and asinine things I have ever seen for two reasons. The first being that it would only take one truck to come around a corner too fast and not be able to stop to create utter carnage all over the road and tremendous loss of life both human and equine. The second is that in the car where the video is being shot you can clearly hear a child speaking on the audio. So the driver was speeding, on the wrong side of the road, had several narrow misses, including one with a truck that seemed to come out of nowhere and the whole time he had his kids in the car with him.


    • admin October 9, 2012, 10:26 pm

      It’s really no mystery how to train a horse or pony to be road safe. The Amish do it all the time. My own pony was trained via Natural Horsemanship to be desensitized to all kinds of spooky things. Cars, big 18 wheelers can pass us on the road and she doesn’t bat an eye.

  • Esmeralda October 9, 2012, 11:09 pm

    In her book Animals Make Us Human, Temple Grandin explains how to desensitize a horse to pretty much anything. But the horses in this video should never have been put in such a dangerous situation! I hope the cops caught up to these guys eventually.

  • Damn Yankee October 10, 2012, 12:36 am

    My mare and gelding have been trained and desensitized for road work. My gelding is even helicopter safe, as we do mounted search and rescue. The key to training is exposure and positive experiences. After pasturing the horses next to a road so they got used to the sound, the only thing that spooked them was the garbage truck. I applied a “bribe” of fresh cookies and had the garbagemen make our farm their last stop, and fed the ponies while they emptied the dumpster loudly and repeatedly. No more spooking at the garbage truck! They saw it wasn’t going to eat them, and they got dinner and treats for it.

  • Kry October 10, 2012, 1:14 am

    I have known several Gypsies, Roman or Travelers (which ever name you prefer to use) families and I have noticed one major thing among the men I have met. The men all seem to think that because their ancestors were persicuted they are intitled to behave as badly as they wish and that laws or rules do not apply to them. I feel sorry for the horses that are being used in this horible way for the ‘enjoyment’ and am thankful that no major accidents happened this time. My english cousin tried to dodge a race like this several years back and she wrote off her car and was in hospital for several days because of this sort of behaviour.

  • Green123 October 10, 2012, 3:40 am

    There are a lot of comments on this thread about the race or ethnicity of the people involved, but relatively few about the road safety and animal welfare aspects in the video. I don’t care whether the people involved are Gypsies, Irish Travellers or whoever under the sun – they are using the road dangerously and are putting their lives, the lives of others and the safety of their animals at risk.

  • Skittle October 10, 2012, 6:10 am

    My horses don’t bat an eye at traffic either, but I guarantee if I hooked my pissy little mare to a sulky and took her careening down a highway, she’d dump me and get her butt off the road.

    Its too bad that the horses are the ones who will pay the most for this stupidity.

    On a side note, crap like this is part of the reason why I get flipped off and honked at for riding my horse down the shoulder of the road. Fortunately the neighbors are starting to get used to seeing us and are beginning to realize that we don’t hog the road, but its taken over 3 years to make any headway at all.

  • Melissa October 10, 2012, 8:50 am

    I don’t believe “gypsy” is the appropriate term for these people and I have to say I’m disappointed that admin used reality TV programs to justify the use of the word.

    Idiot teenagers race cars on roads all the time. This seems like a reach for this blog.

    • admin October 10, 2012, 10:42 am

      Just stop. The comments about the use of “gypsy” claiming it is a racist term is making a few commenters appear ignorant and making a PC mountain out of a molehill. In late June of 2011, gypsies/travellers across the UK voted between 19 candidates to elect a “Gypsy King” who would “act as a point of contact for the police, local council and government to discuss issues and will encourage integration. Police community support officer (PCSO) Petr Torak, who is helping co-ordinate the event, said it would be similar to a British general election.” The founder of this election, Roman Cicko stated, “We hope eventually to have a Gypsy Council where our Gypsy King will sit with other members of the Gypsy and travelling community and speak on our behalf.” Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2007853/Gypsy-King-elected-thousands-travellers-cast-votes.html#ixzz28uURMZ9R

      And then they had that election and it was reported in the Mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/king-of-the-gypsies-crowned-in-first-election-137661

      And if the UK Commission for Racial Equality can liberally use the term “Gypsy” then I seriously doubt it is a heinous epithet a few here seem to claim it is.

      Focusing on the meaning of a word used in a blog post rather than the actual substantive content ragarding dangerous and illegal road rage is to attempt to deflect the discussion away from the main subject.

      Idiot teenagers hot rodding on the roads is indicative of the rebellious nature of teens to defy authority and live dangerously. Traveller/gypsy road racing is done by adult men who should know better.

  • The Elf October 10, 2012, 11:16 am

    Melissa, just because teenagers road-race with cars doesn’t make better for adults (of any demographic) to road-race with horses. It’s illegal, rude, and morally wrong.

  • Virg October 10, 2012, 11:17 am

    I’m also a bit mystified why the perpetrators of this aren’t arrested and the horses taken. Do the police in Great Britain not have helicopters or the ability to set up roadblocks? Is it really that difficult to find and prosecute these offenders? I can imagine it’d taper off pretty quickly if the horses were taken every time they were caught and their equipment destroyed because they’d run out of horses to race.


  • Amandaelizabeth October 10, 2012, 2:40 pm

    Two things. This happened in The Republic of Irelland (Eire) not Great Britain . They are seperate countries. Picky perhaps but important.

    Secondly, I am not a horse person, but I cannot imagine a horse moving at that speed on a hard Tarmac road will be doing their legs any good. Horses traditionally race on grass or bran surfaces to protect their ligaments and muscles. This racing on the road would be a quick way to ruin a good horse.

  • TheBrit October 10, 2012, 5:27 pm

    I’m starting to be really uncomfortable with the “gypsy bashing” that I’ve seen in a couple posts on this site. Like Esmerelda, a previous commenter, I am of Romani heritage. It seems to me like some people have had some bad experiences with a few Romani, and therefore judge the entire race by those individuals. I’m sure several Italian-Americans would be upset if I mentioned that I thought that they all liked to work out, oil up their hair and wear wife-beaters and gold chains, or that I thought Irish-Americans just sat around and drank all the time. Not all Romani are fortune-teller, rude, animal-abusing thieves.

  • Srina October 10, 2012, 11:23 pm

    I work a lot around horses and seriously hope these horses got confiscated that has to be the dumbest, most dangerous thing ever! those poor horses even on the wrong side of the road is that much more dangerous!!!! shame on those IDIOTS that did this to the horses! and too fast and long on the hard asphalt for those horses hooves. 🙁

  • Kay October 11, 2012, 12:39 am

    Personally I don’t really care what these people call themselves – as per a long running road safety campaign here in Australia, I’ll call them bloody idiots.

    Regardless of how well your horse is trained, no horse can safely navigate that sort of environment 100% of the time. I trust my horses along the road, but I wouldn’t ask them to race along the highway.

    To say nothing of the damage a fast trot, pulling a sulky, on bitumen can do to a horses legs! Whether you own horses for the love of rising, or consider them a commercial prospect, there is no valid reason to damage a horses legs like in the video. A lame horse is not fun to ride, nor profitable.

    I would hope that the police not bow to political correctness or cultural sensitivity (or whatever is bandied about when someone wishes to avoid the law) and arrest the drivers of those horses, impound their sulkies and seize all their animals pending an investigation into cruelty.

  • Ann October 11, 2012, 12:56 pm

    This was painful to watch on many levels.

    In addition to not caring about themselves or others, those sulkie drivers obviously don’t care about their animals either. Oncoming traffic, or not, racing that far and that fast on pavement will destroy the ponies hooves and legs.

  • Emily October 11, 2012, 7:19 pm

    I, along with everyone else, think that that is a stupid, dangerous idea, but shouldn’t they at least be wearing helmets?

  • The Elf October 12, 2012, 10:22 am

    *Should* they be wearing helmets? Probably. Will they? Likely not. Even if it was the law, they likely wouldn’t bother since disobeying the law to do the race doesn’t seem to dissuade them.

    I’ve said before here that I am a motorcyclist. I always wear a helmet, and that is the law in my state. However, I always wear one when I ride in helmet-optional states too. It’s just common sense. Those that do not wear helmets usually have one of two reasons: 1) They say the idea is not to wreck anyway. Yeah, I agree, if you stay upright on two wheels you likely don’t need a helmet. But you really trust car drivers that much? I sure as hell don’t. Even if I do everything wrong, they can still wreck me by turning left in front of me, merging into my lane, rear-ending me, or crossing the center line. I’ve seen all four happen, resulting in near misses. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that a near miss could have easily been a hit. 2) They say helmets block vision and hearing. Here the helmet-opposers have a point. However, with new designs (and, if you like, half helmets over full) the impact is minimal. But the life-saving potential is so high that the minor limitations are worth it. Doctors can fix broken bones, but there isn’t much they can do for broken brains.

  • The Elf October 12, 2012, 10:24 am

    …. Uh, that would be “Even if I do everything right…..” If I do everything wrong, I’m sure I’ll wreck without help from anyone!

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