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Awareness of surroundings and uncontrollables

  • Paying attention to surroundings
    Make sure gates are closed all the way. Once, a tractor came around the arena and shifted the gate, spooking my horse while I was mounting.
    Note: Horses are going to spook at times, it's part of their instincts. Make sure to minimize the probability of it as much as possible. 
  • Heat
    Quit riding when your body is either hot or tired.
    Note: Pay special attention to your body and your horse. If you or your horse is hot or exhausted, take a break. Accidents happen to fatigued horses/riders. 
  • Fences
    Stay away from arena fencing or walls when backing a young horse or one with known issues.
    Note: Young or untrained horses are unpredictable; never put yourself in a situation where you might be trapped or thrown against a wall or fence. 
  • Gate safety
    When turning horses out into a paddock, make sure other horses are at least 10 feet away. Always be aware of where every horse is and what they are doing.
    Note: Have a friend help keep other horses out of your way if necessary when turning out into a field. 
  • Going through gates
    When going through gates, get off your horse and lead it through the gate.
  • Footing
    Always be aware of your horse’s footing. Slow down in slippery conditions.
  • Turning out
    Be very careful when leading your horse through a gate into a pasture where there are other horses. Don’t get caught between the horses in case they rush the gate.
    Note: Make sure you always turn your horse back towards the gate once you’ve entered. This will put you out of danger should the horses begin to kick, and also gives you a quick exit should you need it.  
  • Have an escape path
    A careless rider bumped into my horse outside the in-gate at a horse show. Do not let your horse stand or be placed in a tight spot where you have no clear path to exit.
    Note: It is the responsibility of ALL riders to be aware of their surroundings and other riders while also demonstrating etiquette and courtesy in show-type situations. 
  • Wet ground
    Don’t run or trot on any roads or terrain where it has rained. There are likely to be slippery spots.         
    Note: Make sure you know the footing you will be riding on. It's your responsibility as a rider. 
  • Dogs
    While I was grooming my horse, some loose dogs were barking and running by. It spooked my horse, who stepped and broke my toe. Keep dogs and other animals around your horse controlled, tied up or out of the barn.
    Note: If it is a personal barn, then know how your horses will react around other animals and proceed accordingly. If you are at a boarding stable, be considerate and leave your other pets at home. 
  • Not letting your guard down
    I had just finished a lesson and was mounted on my horse with loose reins. I was discussing the lesson with my instructor when a dog emerged from some undergrowth and startled my horse. I hit the ground hard, landing on my back. I suffered whiplash, a severely sprained neck and a mild concussion. I should have dismounted from the horse or had a firmer hold on the reins.
    Note: We, as riders, tend to get lax about situations - especially on a familiar horse. Always be prepared for the worst. 
  • 100 percent of your attention
    I was riding at a canter and my horse was calm and gentle, so I let my mind wander. She stumbled and since my mind wasn't on riding, I fell off and was hit by the stirrup. My nose was fractured and had to be totally reconstructed. Keep your mind on what you are doing.
    Note: Never take your mind off the task at hand. The situation can go from perfect to horrible in a split second. You need all the reaction time you can get. 
  • Safety mindset
    I was just walking my horse on our 17-acre field, thinking about my day at work and not about my horse or the ride. A bird flew up from some weeds and my young horse bucked me off. My husband found me out cold in the field. I had hit my head. Always give riding 100 percent of your attention.
    Note: Although riding is a great way to decompress, make sure you are conscious of what is going on around you and always pay attention to the task at hand. 
  • Horses and unpredictability
    I had recently finished a lesson on my horse. After I turned her out to pasture I walked up to praise her, but apparently she didn't want to be messed with. She kicked out with both hind legs and kicked me in the head and leg. I wasn't wearing a helmet, thinking that because I wasn't riding I didn't need it. I received a concussion, amnesia and a very bruised hip. Always wear a helmet around horses. They are unpredictable.
    Note: Be able to read your horse's body language in order to gauge their reactions to different situations. Make sure you have the proper safety gear. 
  • Pay Attention to Other Horses
    I was trying to catch a loose horse in a field of four horses to put on her grazing muzzle. I wasn’t paying attention to the horses when one spun around and kicked me, leaving a hoof shaped bruise in the middle of my belly. Fortunately no internal injuries.
    Note: Always be aware of horses in a herd. Even if your particular horse is behaving, the herd mentality might cause unusual behaviors simply b/c of reactions to the others.  
  • Ride in Safe Areas
    I was out trail riding with some friends in a popular park located near the stables. A man playing Frisbee golf under the influence of alcohol decided it would be funny to throw his Frisbee at the horses. Two of the horses including mine spooked and took off. My horse tripped while galloping and fell somersaulting on top of me. I suffered nerve damage in my neck and back.
    Note: Make sure incidents like this are reported to the proper authorities and if possible speak to the person responsible personally. This behavior is uncalled for and dangerous. Other than desensitizing your horse, this situation was just an unfortunate accident caused by a childish person.  
Page last updated: 6/17/2013 12:56:12 PM