by Keith Roper
Horses, no matter how well-trained they are, can be wild and fierce sometimes. Horse riding can be a dangerous sport if one is not careful. There are several things you should notice for your own safety when riding a horse. People might overlook the situations as trivials, however both you and your horse are likely to get into trouble ignoring these warnings.
1. Always leave your horse’s halter on the stall! Living here in So. Cal. It is imperative that the halter and lead be left on each horse’s stall because of the ever present threat of a fire where it’s sometimes necessary for total strangers, (firefighters and volunteers) to evacuate your horse where minutes or perhaps even seconds count.
2. Never leave your lunge line out in the arena or anywhere the horse can reach. If you turn your horses out in your arena never leave the lunge line where the horse can get to it. I made the mistake of doing so more than twenty years ago when I came down to the arena to put a sweet Quarter horse away after a turnout only to find him literally hog tied with all four legs wrapped up together in a bunch. It was absolutely comical except for the disaster potential it possessed. Luckily he was a very calm horse that didn’t panic as I methodically proceeded to unwind the line. Any other horse that didn’t possess his calm attitude could have been tragic.
3. Be careful leaving a treat bucket in your horse’s stall. We often leave a bucket of carrots or other supplements in the stall with the horse as we run off after a ride to our busy lives but it’s really quite dangerous as the horse can easily get its hoof stuck between the metal handle and the plastic. Play it safe if you must leave something in there and opt for a rubber flat feeding bowl.
4. Be careful feeding your horse its treat by hand. Before you know it you can train your horse to not only be a biter but he can become a complete nuisance constantly probing you and other things searching for a treat. Such behavior can wreck havoc upon your grooming routine and cause a simple tack up to take forever.
5. NEVER tie to a stall door or anything that could pull out or break! I actually saw this happen once at a barn we stabled out. A horse after being tied to the sliding box stall door set back and in an instant pulled the door right off of its track and went flying all over the ranch with a steel door dangling from his head taking out everything in their path as well as banging up the poor horse’s legs.
6. NEVER teach your horse he can open his own gate. We think it’s really cute behavior to have the horse push a gate open for us while we’re on them. I used to think it was adorable too until my very determined Appy mare went to push the gate open to leave the arena and finding it latched pushed so hard that before I could pull her up she flattened the whole side of the arena pushing every bit of it down flat to the ground. Boy did I feel stupid as she casually strolled across the mess to return to the barn.
7. Never leave the lead from the halter dangling in your horse’s stall. Had this happen also where one of my students didn’t properly tie the lead to the halter on the stall in a way to keep it out of the pony’s reach. The result was a horrible rope burn across the back of the pony’s fetlock because he had pulled it in and got it caught around his ankle causing a nasty infection and a hefty vet call and antibiotics.
Of course this is not a complete list of all the little things we do that can get us into trouble but it’s a start with the point being that we just need to be more mindful of all the dangers out there no matter how trivial they may appear. Remember one hard and fast rule; if there’s any possible way a horse can get hurt you can be sure he’ll find it! Don’t give him the chance!
Millie Chalk (White Star Woman)
Professional horse trainer for 25yrs. and author of historical fiction. Part Cherokee Indian I’m passionate regarding the current struggle of all the first nations feeling most akin for several reasons to the Lakota.
If you’d like to know more about anything regarding horses please check out my new website; http://backyardhorseman.com/