Horse Safety

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.

Zoppe Rearing Horse


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.

Molokai rope "Corral"

Local Molokai horse, living tied out by the side of the road

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.)

Low Flying Aircraft

“In my 50 years of horsing, here are some examples that I’ve seen cause potential accident, injury, or harm.”   DawnHoof

Molokai ~ Leimanna blowing conch shell

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

Checking Bridles/Reins/Girths

Burrs under the Saddle

Leading Horse to Mounting Area


Explosive Energy

Fresh Horse/Under-worked Horse

Energy — Feed Ratio

Windy Days


Weather Changes

Large, Big-View Open Areas

Surfaces — Slick/Frozen/Boggy/

Change in Surfaces — Asphalt to dirt, ie.

Man Hole Covers

Stripes on Pavement



Optical Illusions

Water trickles



Twisted Roots

Creek beds/Rivers/Waterways

Beach sand/Ocean Waves

Other Species/Other Animals — especially Ostriches

Dogs wearing head cones!!!

Other Horses!!!

People on the trail



Running, playing children

Sparkling sunlight on colorful Water Bottles



At the Trailer




Dump Trucks/Rattling Trailers

Fire Engines

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



Cat Looking

Snags/Underbrush/Sharp Foliage

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

Edgy Fenceline


Hidden Wires/Traps/Holes/Obstacles

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

Shayla's Statue

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)

I'm Gonna Get You . .

Difficult Topic

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

Shayla's Statue

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.



~~___(\ ~~___(\ ~~___(\
…/< >\ …/< >\ …/< >\

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!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

Perfect Shadow :))


Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

Molokai Egret preening


Copyright 2019

Photos:  Dawn Jenkins


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