Left, Lauren and Starlight in the picture that started it all. Right, men show they also feel strongly about road safety.
Stripping off your clothes and being photographed naked with some convenient item hiding the genitals and breasts is nothing new but it has mainly been done to create calendars to be sold to raise money for charity.
Perhaps the most well-known of these was the one produced in 1999 by the ladies of the Rylstone branch of the women’s institute, in Yorkshire, to raise money for Leukaemia Research. It was later to be the subject of the film The Calendar Girls.
Well, it may not be for a fundraising calendar but the idea of people discarding their clothes and being photographed, for a good cause, seems to be alive and kicking.
This time the good cause in question is not a charity, there is no calendar and no money is being requested. Instead, all the naked and nearly naked people who are taking part are horse riders, And they are pictured either riding or with their steeds and they are promoting road safety.
The idea is as simple as it is clever. Many cars are driven past horses and riders too quickly, too closely and too noisily – all of which risk frightening horses and causing accidents.
Riders are justifiably fed-up with hearing excuses such as the drivers didn’t see the horses and riders until too late. So, stripping off and posing for the photographs is the riders’ way of saying to drivers “Can you see me now?”
It was all the idea of 19-year-old Lauren de Gruchy from the Channel Island of Jersey. She posted a picture of herself on Facebook; alongside her horse Starlight, Lauren was pictured wearing just a black lace pair of French knickers and her riding boots.
She now runs the Facebook Slow Down for My Horse campaign that has attracted much support with pictures of horses alongside both male and female riders with little or no clothing. While most seem to have originated from the UK (so much for the Brits being shy and reserved), a couple have come from the US. Perhaps more will follow, who knows?
I have nothing but praise for the young lady who started the ball rolling and for everyone else who has since joined in. It may be seen as a jokey or light-hearted way to campaign but it has got a very serious message. It is if you are driving and have to pass horses being ridden on the road, please make sure you so slowly, leave plenty of space and keep as quiet as you possibly can. Certainly, never sound your car’s horn anywhere near a horse.
It is easy to spook a horse and so cause an accident that could lead to extremely serious consequences for horse, rider and others.
Speaking to the Press, Lauren said “I’ve seen so many riders and horses in the news being hit by cars and unfortunately some have passed away. I’ve had experiences on the road with drivers speeding past, coming too close to my horse and spooking him. It takes two seconds to slow down. I don’t think drivers realise the danger of speeding near horses.”
Rule 215 of the Highway Code, the UK Government’s official book which contains the rules which tell people how to use public roads safely, says “Be particularly careful of horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles especially when overtaking. Always pass wide and slowly. Horse riders are often children, so take extra care and remember riders may ride in double file when escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider. Look out for horse riders’ and horse drivers’ signals and heed a request to slow down or stop. Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard.”
I suspect most countries have similar rules, so let’s keep all road users, both human and animal, safe.
Let’s be careful out there!