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Safety Basics
Learn To Be Safe When Around Horses
WRITTEN BY: Cheryl Sutor   [1997]


1. Always wear safe clothing and use safe equipment. Always wear a helmet when you are working near horses, and always wear boots or hard-toed shoes to protect your feet should you get stepped on. Many injuries can happen when you are handling a horse from the ground, so wear a helmet even when you aren't riding.

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2. The horse has several blind spots from different angles. Always speak to your horse when approaching him or working near him. This way, he will know that you are there even if he cannot see you well.

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3. Because of the many blind spots that horses have, be sure to never approach him directly from the front or rear. Always approach the horse by his shoulder or to the side. Never stand directly in front or directly behind a horse, even when you are brushing his tail or forelock, because he may not be able to see you well.

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4. Whenever you are near a horse, always make sure he knows where you are by speaking to him or keeping a hand on his body as you move around him. When you walk around a horse, either walk far enough away that you are not in his kicking range (at least 12 ft.), or so close that you cannot receive a full blow should he kick. Most people opt for the latter, and if you do, be sure to keep your hand on his rump when walking behind him so that he will stay aware that you are there.

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5. Never wrap any equipment that is attached to the horse around any part of your body. This includes lead ropes, reins, lunge lines and all other equipment.

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6. If you do not know the horse you're handling extremely well, always work with the horse on the left side when you are saddling, leading, mounting, etc. This is because many horses have been accustomed to only being worked with on their left side. This may not be the case with all horses, but, better safe than sorry!

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7. Also, if you do not know the horse you're handling extremely well, do not make sudden movements or sudden loud noises around him. Some horses will become startled from sudden actions or noises and a startled horse is more likely to cause injury to you than a calm one.

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8. When petting a horse, the action you make with your hand should be a rubbing or soft scratching motion, and never a slap-like or pat-like motion. The most similar action to a slap or pat-like motion to a horse is a kick or bite, and most horses do not find this very pleasurable.

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9. Always let a horse know what you intend to do. For example, when picking up his feet, do not grab the foot hurriedly. Instead, run your hand down starting at his shoulder and down to his pastern, and the horse should pick up his foot for you.

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10. Never leave a halter on a horse that is turned loose. A horse may paw at his halter or accidently get it caught on a fence or other object, which can result in severe damage and even possible death should the horse panic while he is stuck. I have heard too many horror stories of horses breaking their necks due to panicking from getting their halter stuck on something, even when wearing so-called "break-away" leather halters.

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11. Never walk under or step over a tied lead rope. When a horse is on cross-ties, never walk under his neck to get to the other side. Doing either of these actions can result in severe injury to you should the horse become startled.



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This article was published on: 1997. Last updated on: 1997.