HORSERIDERS in Worcestershire say they are lucky someone has not been seriously injured following a recent rash of red roads.

It is not known why horses refuse to walk across sections of road, covered in the new red surface, but several riders have reported their animals stopping at the edge of the painted strips.

One woman fell off her steed when it was faced with crossing a newly-painted stretch in Withybed Lane, Inkberrow.

"There was a road sign on the verge and the horse tried to squeeze between it and the hedge, but his rider was knocked off and hurt her shoulder," said stable-owner Audrey Steel, of Broadclose Farm, Inkberrow.

She says that the 50 horses stabled in Inkberrow are still coming to terms with the painted sections, which she says are unnecessary in country lanes.

"We've had a lot of problems, some horses are still a bit spooked," she said.

"We don't need these red roads on side lanes."

Mrs Steel says, as a member of the Inkberrow Parish Council, she objected to Worcestershire County Council about the painted sections.

"I told them this would happen and it has. Someone could be more seriously injured and then the council could be sued," she said.

"If they wanted these red roads why not paint half the road in the direction of on-coming traffic.

"But you certainly don't need them in narrow country lanes.

"We can't go on a round ride through the village without crossing them."

The British Horse Society said that it was a matter of getting horses used to the red.

"If you have a horse that's worried you should take a more experienced horse out to show that there's nothing to worry about," said Donn Collins of the Worcestershire County Committee of the British Horse Society.

"While we sympathise with people who have horses who are worried about these red strips, we would welcome any measure that would slow down traffic."

The new coloured stretches of road are part of a recently implemented speed limit initiative launched by the Worcestershire Highways Partnership.

More than 300 villages across the county have been consulted in relation to speed limits.

"The red is being used to accentuate the start of speed limits in villages," said Tony Cooper, traffic and development co-ordination engineer.

"If it's a very quiet lane we just put a white spot in the road, but where parish councils have requested red sections we've been complying."