It’s easy to take shortcuts when you’re at the barn. Luckily, I’m frequently reminded (on horse forums) how easily a short cut can lead to a problem.
So, here’s my list of things that I do to stay safe at the barn. Feel free to add on your own. (This list does not include riding safety which would start with wearing an approved helmet).
- Always wear hard shoes. No flip flops, no matter how tempting it is to stop at the barn on a whim to do a few small things. It hurts badly enough when your horse steps on your well-protected foot. No shoes can end up meaning fewer toes.
- Always lead a horse with a halter and lead rope. As someone who is recovering from a rotator cuff injury I have renewed appreciation for the fragility of shoulders. Leading a horse by the halter (without a lead rope) is a good idea only until the horse spooks or throws its head up into the air violently.
- Never wear earphones when working around horses. Their hearing is so acute that they are aware of sounds we only barely hear when we’re fully listening. When you have earbuds firmly inserted into your ear canals you don’t have a chance of hearing the sound that spooked your horse.
- Always turn a horse toward you when you turn them out in a pasture or even put them in a stall. Too many people get kicked when that horse gives a squeal of delight and kicks out as they run off.
- Never touch your horse’s hind leg unless he knows you’re there. I learned this one the hard way. I came out of the tack room and leaned down to put hoof dressing on a horse. I wore that hoof mark on my thigh for several weeks.
- Always put a horse on cross ties before changing blankets, picking hooves, etc. It only takes an extra minute and you then have a horse that is relatively under control.
- Don’t use food to catch a horse that’s in a herd. Unless, of course, you don’t mind being mobbed by several hungry and increasingly aggressive horses that are jockeying for position to get the treat. In fact, I don’t use treats to catch my horse at all.