New Horse Safety Tips
- Unhappy Horse
It was my first time riding and evaluating a horse for training. After getting on and adjusting the stirrups we walked a few steps and she freaked out. Something was bothering her and she wanted me off. She reared, she bucked. My knee was slammed into a fence post. She then sat down with me on her and rolled on her side. She was determined to get rid of me.
Note: It's always good to lunge and or roundpen an unknown horse before you get on it for the first time, especially if you don't know its history. Their body language under tack is usually a good indication of what they will do with a rider aboard.
- New Horse
I was trying a horse I was interested in buying. The owner had me ride into a wooded area, out of sight. The horse wanted to go back to the barn and took off. I tried to pull back on the reigns but she was very strong. So I rolled off her. Hurt my neck and knee.
Note: Always have the person selling the horse ride first. This will show you not only what type of horse you are dealing with, but what the reaction of the horse is to whatever type of rider the owner is. If you don't feel comfortable after the owner rides, walk away.
- Getting to know your horse
Before riding a horse, establish a friendly rapport with the animal. Have an apple for your horse to eat (put apple in palm of hand), talk in a friendly voice and pet the horse. Taking time to get acquainted with your horse before you ride is important.
Note: This is never a bad idea when dealing with a new horse. Make sure you abide by safe practices on the ground. It is also a good idea to get a good feel of the horse once you get on.
- Getting acquainted
Be a little more cautious when trying out a new horse. Take your time getting used to the new horse, especially if he or she is bigger, younger, or stronger than the horse you are used to. Have someone familiar with the horse ride first.
Note: It is always helpful to have a professional help when starting work with a new horse. Having their expertise in times of need, and in general, will be invaluable.
- Knowing the horse you ride
A friend and I were going to retrieve her horse and another one that had gotten out of their pens. I remember saying, "I am not walking all the way back to the farm." I hopped on a horse I didn't know with only a halter and lead rope. That's all I remember. I landed on a gravel road with a concussion. Always wear a helmet (I didn't then) and know the horse you are riding or don't ride it.
Note: Many things could have been avoided in this situation. Never ride a horse without permission from the owner, and never ride one in such a situation when you don't know how it will react.
- Horse you don’t know
You should always wear a helmet but especially when you are on a horse you don’t know or you are getting to know.
Note: Wear a helmet. Every time.
- Being aware
Be very wary of horses you do not know. Lunge extensively first or have the owner ride them in the same equipment (bridle, saddle) that you will use.
Note: It is always best to see a horse go in his usual environment (arena, take, rider) before riding if at all possible. If not, get as much information about the horse before riding.
Always do groundwork and plenty of repeat training at the barn before you take a new animal out for a ride on the trails.
Note: Always make sure you have a good handle on any horse in an enclosed arena before taking them out in the open. An open field is not the place to find out about quirks or to get frightened and not know how to respond.
Ride and get to know a horse for at least 30 days before taking the horse to a show or on a trail ride. If the horse has any bad habits or vices they will have appeared.
Note: I wouldn’t put a time limit on getting to know a horse. It might take five days and it might take six months. Just be in tune to your horse and get to know them.
- Getting to know the horse
A thoroughbred horse bucked me off and I landed on my right hand, requiring two surgeries. I can no longer work in the operating room. I had another injury from being catapulted off a horse (broken hip). In both cases it wasn't my horse. Ride your own horse or at least work with the horse for a period of time on the ground. I now use a Wintec trail saddle which has a deep seat without the horn. Horses benefit from a lighter saddle and a more relaxed rider.
Note: Always make sure the match between horse and rider is a good one, regardless if you own the horse or not. Enlist the help of a qualified instructor if needed.
- Get a complete history
I was riding a horse that had been rescued from a slaughter plant. We were told he could walk, trot, canter, side pass, pen gates, and negotiate trail obstacles. I walked the horse for five minutes then asked it to trot. He bolted and didn't respond to seat and rein cues so I initiated one rein stop. I tucked and rolled away but the horse ran over top of me and struck my head with his hoof as he ran over me. I was wearing a helmet but still had a concussion and had to go to the emergency room. Always get a complete history of the horse before riding it. I later found out the horse had bolted with its previous trainer.
Note: Make sure you buy a horse from a reputable person. Always ask the owner or trainer to ride the horse first before getting on. This will give you a good idea of how the horse will behave.
- Horse threatened by other horses
I was turning out seven horses and got kicked by a new horse. Be aware that a horse may be threatened by other horses.
Note: Always introduce a new horse into the herd gradually – one or two horses at a time. This way the new horses don't get ganged up on.