As horses are unpredictable animals it is always better to be ‘safe rather than sorry’ when it comes to protective measures. This doesn’t just mean wearing a hard hat and sturdy boots – there are a number of different precautions you can take when spending time with horses to help avoid any nasty accidents or injuries.
These guidelines don’t just apply when you are on a riding holiday – these are relevant whenever you are spending time around a horse. Many of these suggestions are simply common sense but even the most experienced of riders can occasionally slip up and come a cropper so don’t hesitate to give yourself a refresher.
Horses have two ‘blind spots’ – directly in front and behind – so always approach them from the side and speak to let them know you are there. Try not to make loud noises or sudden movements and remember to always leave plenty of room if you have to walk behind them.
When you are working around a horse, whether grooming or tacking up, stay close to them so that in the unlikely event that they kick out you will not receive the full impact. If you are in any way nervous or not happy carrying out any tasks, such as picking up hooves, then do not hesitate to ask for help. It is far better to seek assistance than to struggle and cause a problem.
When leading a horse, never wrap the lead rope or reins around your hand and if you are turning them out into a field or paddock, always turn the horse’s head towards the fence before taking the headcollar off. If more than one horse is being turned out leave plenty of room between each of them and ensure everyone removes headcollars at the same time! You never quite know the reaction you are going to get when ‘setting free’ a horse, especially when egged on by their friends! If you are leading a horse into a stable always turn the horse towards you at the door before taking the headcollar off – that way you aren’t in any risk of being squashed against a wall, or backed into a corner.