Horse Equipment Safety Tips
CORRECT TACK SAFETY TIPS
Putting a pony saddle on a big chunky horse is a mistake. Ill-fitting tack can cause the horse to act up in an attempt to avoid pain. Make sure your tack fits.
Note: Many tack stores offer tack-fitting clinics, most times for free, so make sure you take advantage of this resource. Ill-fitting tack will make for an unpleasant experience for both you and your horse.
Always double-check your tack, especially if someone else saddled the horse.
Note: In addition, ALWAYS check points of stress or wear on your bridle and saddle.
- Tack fitting
Make sure the saddle is the right size for your seat and fits the horse.
Note: Ill-fitting tack can cause soreness and possibly behavioral problems with horses. A saddle that doesn’t fit the rider well will hinder their riding ability.
- Correct equipment
I was trying out new equipment on a horse. I could tell it didn't fit well but decided to finish the ride. The saddle slipped and I fell. I should have fixed it when I noticed the problem.
Note: Not only is ill-fitting tack a safety concern in terms of slippage etc. it is also very uncomfortable for the horse and could cause behavioral problems. Always make sure your tack fits properly. Have an expert help if needed.
- Saddle horn
I got a bruised sternum and broke ribs on a horn of western saddle. If you don't use your saddle to rope, consider sawing off the horn and wrapping the area with leather.
Note: If you are not using a western saddle for its proper use I would suggest finding a different type of saddle instead of altering the western one. Trail, Australian, and English saddles are all comfortable and versatile.
STIRRUP SAFETY TIPS
Make sure you have quick release stirrups to avoid having your feet caught when your horse starts bucking and you are thrown off.
Note: There are many forms of quick release devices to keep yourself safe. First of all, wearing the proper riding shoes will help to minimize your risk of having your foot caught. Yet, if it is to happen, always make sure your stirrup bar is down and you have either peacock irons or flexible ones that will give under pressure.
- Small stirrups
Ensure that stirrups are not too small so that if you fall your feet come out easily.
Note: With stirrups you want the stirrup to be at a width that your boots fit with just a small amount of extra room on each side of your foot. This makes it big enough so your foot doesn’t get stuck, but not too big that it will slide through.
- Tack repair
Wear a leather belt as you never know when you may need it as a quick tack repair on a long ride for a stirrup strap, cinch strap, lead rope, etc.
- Neck straps
I always ride with a neck strap on my horse to use as an emergency rein, stirrup leather or lead line.
Note: This is a good practice for emergency purposes and can also be used when learning to jump.
- Carabiner clip
I have a carabiner clip located on my saddle where I always hook my cinch, breast collar and my buck strap when my saddle is not in use and I always make sure that my latigo is not hanging. This ensures that as I am loading or unloading my saddle from my trailer tack room, nothing is hanging down for me to trip on.
Note: This is great advice. It also helps to keep your tack neat, clean and tidy.
CHECK AND MAINTAIN TACK
- Cheap tack
Don’t skimp on tack. That doesn’t mean you have to purchase the most expensive out there, but make sure your tack is safe. I purchased a cheap saddle off the internet thinking I would upgrade in a year or so. The first time I put the saddle on it didn’t feel right and second time I thought it doesn’t feel safe. My daughter had an accident due to a cheap cinch strap breaking.
Note: Always do a safety check on your tack, whether it is quality or not. This will help to identify problem areas before they become a problem.
- Check your tack
If someone else tacked up your horse, be sure and double check the saddle, cinch, bit, bridle, reins, etc.
Note: No matter who tacked your horse, you as the rider are ultimately the one its going to effect if something goes wrong. Do a safety check.
- Tack check
Always double check your tack one more time before mounting. Think like an airline pilot who runs safety checks preflight and during flight.
Note: This is wonderful advice! Especially if someone else helped you tack up. In the end, it's you and your horse that could be in jeopardy, no matter how helpful someone was trying to be.
- Broken reins
My horse spooked and started running and bucking. As I tried to control him, one of the reins broke and I fell. Always check tack including reins very carefully to make sure in good condition.
Note: Safety checks are one of the most important things you can do before riding. Take five minutes and do it before every ride.
- Leather care
Poor leather care is an accident waiting to happen. You must keep your leather tack supple. Clean and oil it every two to four weeks. Leather stirrups, saddle billets, bridles and reins all need care. Poor leather maintenance leads to dry rot and breakage.
Note: Good advice. Always make sure you do a safety check as well, especially buckles and stitching.
TRANSPORTING HORSES SAFETY TIPS
- Ball bearings
Keep your horse trailer ball bearing greased to avoid hauling injuries.
Note: You should keep your hauling vehicle and trailer in good working order and make sure you do routine maintenance and safety checks, especially before hauling.