Danger Zones . . . with horses
Most of the time, everything we do with our horses turns out wonderful.
Inspiring. Uplifting. Great :))
Yet sometimes the proverbial sh!*t hits the fan . . . and stuff goes wrong.
There are certain Danger Zones us seasoned horse folks know to watch out for.
(See Red-Flag List below.)
“WARNING — Nasty reality check. Difficult topic. Which is why SAFETY and developing Horse Sense is so very important.” DawnHoof
And this element of Horsemanship requires much awareness. Respect. Not unlike swimming in the ocean. (It’s possible to drown!)
There are certain Hot Spots with horses. Danger Zones that will always come back to bite us, should we let our guard down.
So we must ever be on the ready, and not let our guard down.
Not now. Not ever!
Especially, many years into our ever-so-confident Horsemanship careers.
Trials for Those New to Horses
But how do new, or occasional horse enthusiasts, get up to speed?
How do they learn to think for themselves and develop their own Horse Sense, and thus navigate the endless dangers and variables we encounter working around horses?
We trail guides, trainers and riding instructors do our best to keep everyone safe. Educated. But realize there is far more here than anyone can be completely prepared for.
To top it off, everyone who works with horses seems to have their own rules, and a different way of going about things.
Everyone Does Things Differently!
In my vast horse library, every book has a slightly different (to greatly different!) definition of the “correct” way to accomplish something with horses.
(Including differing regional vocabulary for the same pieces of equipment.)
Then how do we know which way is right?
(Please see: Personal Safety Checklist at the bottom of this post.)
“In my 50 years of horsing, here are some examples that I’ve seen cause potential accident, injury, or harm.” DawnHoof
Danger Zones! (Red-Flag List)
Anything near or around a Gate
Bad/Dangerous positioning Between horses . . .
Separation of Animals
Horse Explosively Pulling Back at the Tie Rail
Saddle/Tack fit & fitting
Burrs under the Saddle
Leading Horse to Mounting Area
Fresh Horse/Under-worked Horse
Energy — Feed Ratio
Large, Big-View Open Areas
Surfaces — Slick/Frozen/Boggy/
Change in Surfaces — Asphalt to dirt, ie.
Man Hole Covers
Stripes on Pavement
Beach sand/Ocean Waves
Other Species/Other Animals — especially Ostriches
Dogs wearing head cones!!!
People on the trail
Running, playing children
Sparkling sunlight on colorful Water Bottles
Dump Trucks/Rattling Trailers
Speeding Police Cars
Honking horns/Loud noises/Backfires
Skipping stones (from passing vehicle)
Vehicle with Load that Falls onto Roadway (Drainage Pipes, falling, bouncing, like pick-up sticks!!!)
Helicopters/Hot Air Balloons/Low-loud Aircraft
Remote Control Model Cars/Airplanes/Drones
Sonic Booms (Space Shuttle!!!)
Anything New/Unexpected — Out of place/Out of the Ordinary
Flushing Birds/Wild Animals
Running into Obstacles/Pointy Branches/Trees/Boulders
(Especially eyes, feet, shoulders, legs, arms injuries)
Poisonous Plants (Sumac, Poison Oak, Poodle Dog Bush)
Going off-Trail/Lost/Losing the Trail
Unstable Ground/Steep Slopes
Forest Gates/ Pasture Gates
Other Horses galloping off, unannounced
Other Horses in groups or herds, running free
Other Horses galloping along fencelines
Snaps Unsnapping/Equipment Failure
(Chicago Screw Unscrewing — Bit falling OUT!)
Order of Horses on the trail
Competitiveness of Horses on the trail
Horses Kicking other Horses/Riders
Runaways/Bolting/Bucking (especially on the way home)
Feet stuck in Stirrups and dragged
Injuries due to Horse running under Low-Lying Obstacles
Turning Horses out — fingers/thumbs at risk of removal
Turning Horses out — kicked in face or body
Other Elements and Factors:
Pressed for Time?
Break in Routine?
Intuitive Hit — “Something doesn’t feel right . . .”
Bullish, Know-it-All People! (who won’t listen)
Along with Anything Else that can cause a 1,000-pound Animal to React
(Please see my post, Anatomy of an Accident, for further insights into staying Safe around horses)
No, it’s not pleasant.
But working with horses and their owners over these many years, I’ve seen plenty go wrong.
And I know you’d rather not have to learn it all the hard way.
And remember. When you’re told to watch yourself around horses, when you ride boss asks you to do something cautiously, or in a certain way — it’s in your own best interest to listen up.
“Safe rides are happy rides” :)) DawnHoof
Personal Safety Checklist:
Beware the mistake of thinking your horse mentors are making WAY too big a deal of warning you of the dangers of mounting/dismounting, etc. etc. etc. (the list is LONG) — anything to do with these “oh-so-safe” horses that we love.
- The best rule of thumb: Listen up to what the people you’re working with tell you.
- SLOW DOWN! Don’t rush or make fast movements around horses.
- Take a deep clearing breath before stepping into a horse’s zone. Check your personal internal state, and listen to your intuition.
- Honor your instincts and intuition — it can, quite literally, save your life!
- Watch yourself. Watch others. Make your own observations of what works — and what doesn’t. Keep a journal of your observations.
- Make your own Personal Safety Checklist (including drinking water, staying hydrated, and bringing nutritious snacks for keeping up your energy levels and focus).
- Don’t get cocky thinking that you know everything. Dangers lurk in tiny, innocent blunders, and in areas in which you don’t yet even know.
- Just because you’ve ridden or been around horses safely, most likely you’ve been lucky.
- Everyone I know who works with horses long-term has had accidents/incidents. Broken bones. It’s part of the learning curve, and tends to sift out the ones who can’t hack it.
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Join Dawn for a SUPER-SAFE Soul Horse Ride! Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse. Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!
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for Strategies and Insights into the
Journey of Life
Photos: Dawn Jenkins