Basic Safety in Handling Horses



Following simple, basic safety rules when handling horses will prevent serious mishaps. Make it a habit to practice safety at all times.

  1. Know your horse, his temperament and his reactions. If you can anticipate what he will do in given circumstances, you can make better judgments regarding your safety and his. 
  2. Never approach the horse directly from behind. It is advisable to approach from an oblique angle at the rear, even if the horse is in a single stall. 
  3. To avoid startling the horse, always speak to him before approaching or touching him. A startled horse may jump and kick. 
  4. When bridling the horse, keep your head in the clear. He may toss his head or strike out to avoid the bridle. If the horse is nervous, avoid bridling in close quarters. 
  5. When leading, walk beside the horse on the left side. Do not walk ahead or behind him. When turning the horse, turn to the right and walk around him. 
  6. When leading, use a long lead shank. You will be able to stay on the ground if the horse rears up, because the folded lead shank will unfold to its full length. 
  7. Never wrap the lead strap, shank or reins around any part of your body, eg. hands, wrist, waist. 
  8. Don’t try to outpull a horse. He’s bigger and stronger than you. A quick snap on the lead shank or rope will likely make him respond. 
  9. Keep your reins, stirrup leathers and cinch straps in excellent condition. If any of these straps shows wear, replace it. 
  10. When saddling the horse, keep your feet well back in the clear. 
  11. Adjust the saddle carefully, and tighten the cinch enough so that it will not turn when you mount. 
  12. Never mount the horse near a fence or trees, inside a small barn or under an overhanging projection.
  13. Soon after you begin riding, dismount and tighten the saddle girth again. 
  14. If your horse is frightened by an object or noise, sit quietly in the saddle and wait for him to calm down. 
  15. Maintain a secure seat and keep your horse under control at all times. Anticipate objects or noises that may frighten your horse, and keep him steady. 

  16. If the horse is frightened and tries to run, turn him in a circle and tighten the circle until he stops. 
  17. When going up or down hills, hold your horse to a walk. 
  18. If you are riding on a surface which may cause the horse to slip or fall, reduce your speed. 
  19. When riding in a group, stay at least half a horse length behind the horse in front of you. Watch out for overhead tree branches. 
  20. Avoid riding on paved roads. If you have to cross a paved road, slow your horse to a walk. If your horse is excitable, dismount and lead him across the road. 
  21. On long rides, dismount and lead for five minutes every hour. 
  22. Protective head gear is a must for novice riders, and a good idea in general.

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