General Safety Hazard Tips
Generally, don’t bring dogs around horses. If you must, keep them on a leash to avoid spooking horses and injuring themselves.
Note: Some dogs are very good and even helpful around the barn, but if you are working in an area where there are horses other than your own (boarding situations, horse shows, etc.) be respectful to others and leave your dogs at home. It only takes one bark to set some horses off.
I had a horse rear up on a street as a motorcycle roared past. I hit my head on the road and bruised my tailbone. Be alert to your surroundings in around the area you are riding.
Note: Reality is that not everyone is horse savvy. Make sure your horse is able to handle situations like road riding.
- Hunting season
Do not ride in woods during deer season no matter what color clothing you wear.
Note: If you usually ride in an area with known hunters it is a good practice to cease your rides during the height of hunting season. If that’s not possible, wear extremely bright clothing and make LOTS of noise. Putting bells, etc. on your horse can also help.
- Electric fences
Keep your horse away from electric fences.
Note: If not properly installed, electric fences can be dangerous just like any type of fencing. Yet, if a professional (especially with horse knowledge) is involved in its setup, electric fences can be an asset to a farm.
- Bees in hair
I wear my hair in a ponytail. If I encounter bees, I get off and lead my horse away.
Note: You can also use your clothing to protect you and your horse from things like ants. If you ride through an ant bed immediately dismount, remove a piece of clothing and use it to brush the ants off your horse.
- Stay Away From Fences
I saddled up a young horse and placed some logs in the ring. I had a placed some logs in the ring to start walking her as part of her training. One log was heavy so I left it close to the fence. I tried to get her to cross the big log but she wouldn’t. I rode around the ring again and tried to get her to cross again. She eventually put one foot across the log and then jumped almost into the fence and started bucking. I fell on my right shoulder and broke my collar bone. Don’t try to cross a log mounted until you can do it by leading the horse and don’t place a log close to a fence.
Note: Starting horses over obstacles like this should be done under the supervision of an instructor. This is the foundation for jumping, trail riding, etc. for both you and your horse and it should be a positive one. Be careful about leading horses on the ground over like this as the horse is likely to leap the first time and land on the handler.
- Wild Turkeys
I was riding along the edge of a field next to the woods. A few wild turkeys were in the woods making a lot of noise, but couldn’t be seen. My horse stopped to listen nervously but I tried to push him forward. He spun and bolted and I fell off.
Desensitize! Expose your horse to everything possible in a safe, controlled setting.
Note: Great advice! It’s also a good idea to have an experienced horse with you on outings like this to help a green/nervous horse feel more comfortable.
My horse was spooked by fireworks during late June. Two grammar school age boys had set off fireworks in an area where many riders used our local wooded trails. My horse reacted, lost his balance and fell over me. I suffered head injury and was in hospital 13 days. I was lucky some people found me unconscious right after it happened.
Note: You should always ride with a friend whether out and about or in an arena. If something were to happen the person can go for help. If possible, you should also notify authorities if people are not supposed to be shooting off fireworks in this area, as that could help prevent future accidents with other riders.