Wokingham Borough Council have introduced a new ‘off-road’ training programme to prepare horses and riders for eye catching road improvements.

Two mini roundabouts in Finchampstead are being included in a new overhaul of the California Crossroads.

This includes painting multi-coloured leaf designs on the tarmac around the two mini roundabouts to make them more attractive and encourage traffic to slow down.

As new surfaces are known to make horses nervous, the highways consultant WSP and the Wheatlands Farm livery yard have organised a panel of surfacing which is marked with the leaf designs.

This allows riders to test the surface before experiencing the real thing.

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Nicola Greenwood, who runs Wheatlands Farm and is also the British Horse Society’s access and bridleways officer for the area, said: “The trial panel is proving invaluable to local horse riders, allowing them to introduce their horses to the colourful design in a safe, controlled environment.

“It allows riders to take as much time as they need for their horses to become confident with the design and we’re very grateful to the council and WSP for their help in providing this training aid.”

There will also be a new, more accessible crossing between these roundabouts with a refuge island, plus four more on the approaches on Nine Mile Ride and Finchampstead Road.

Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport, and highways, said: “We want to make our highways network safer and more friendly for all forms of alternative travel.

“While walking and cycling might spring first to many people’s minds, horse riding is another popular option – especially in the rural areas that make up much of our green and beautiful borough.

“We take residents’ feedback very seriously, so we were delighted to work with the local riding community to find a way of making the upcoming crossing improvements more accessible to them. This will ensure they can safely enjoy the same benefits as other people who are crossing on foot, wheelchair, bicycle, push scooter and other types of active transport.