How many times have you heard when a horse is having a tantrum, that you would rather be on board to deal with it than on the ground? I know I agree with that statement totally when it came to dealing with my horse. I had more injuries with dealing from my horse from the ground than riding him! This ranged from broken toes, bites to losing the skin from the inside of my hand trying to hold on to him together with additional cuts and bruises. He may be sounding like a monster but over fourteen years in owning him, most of these injuries were few and far between.
Statistically, injuries from horses are 80% from falling and the remaining 20% is from an accident dealing with horses on the ground. Horse riding falls are reported daily with some being comical to the catastrophic. When horses and humans interact, accidents happen because of the size and power of the animal in most cases. This is due to either a misinterpretation of communication from the handler to the animal or a horse simply cannot deal with a hazard, sound or is just being naughty. Few horses deliberately attack a human but their reactions are quick, unexpected and sometimes unexplained.
A horse can hurt you in all manner of ways but the most common is by a kick, bite, buck, bolt, spook, treading on you or shoving you aside resulting in injury. These incidents will no doubt lead to bruises, open cuts, lacerations, to broken bones and fractures. More serious injuries such as concussion are common if you have fallen to the ground, especially if you have not been wearing a riding hat ….
So how you can you minimalise accidents when dealing with horses on the ground? First of all, it is being aware at all times that a calm situation can escalate into something different quite quickly and making safe decisions on how to deal with it. Any horse, however calm in its personality or has years and experience on its side can be unpredictable. Put a horse in a stressful situation, its flight instinct will kick in. This can be a broom falling over in the yard to a low flying aircraft suddenly appearing will potentially give any horse room to protest. Consequences of this will lead to a potential accident or injury to you or the horse.
Be aware of your horse’s space and have respect for that. They are wonderful animals that let humans have such direct contact with them. However, be aware that some may protest, especially if they are eating. Be calm around them even if a job like plaiting a tail is not going well by them not standing still, be patient and don’t raise your voice. Make sure you also have enough space to make a swift exit if they start to react.
Wear Correct Clothing
How tempting is it to wear your shorts and flip flops to the stables in hot weather. Don’t risk working around your horse as in one second a heavily shod horse hoof could be stamped on your toes. Even loose clothing can get caught in latch bolts causing you to lose footing spooking a horse. Don’t just wear gloves in cold weather, they are needed in the summer too. Holding a lead rope or reins with sweaty hands can lead to loss of control especially if leading two horses to a field. Having said earlier about the loss of the skin on the inside of mine hands on a hot day, I wish I had been wearing gloves…
There is also the question of wearing a riding hat when dealing with horses on the ground. From a health and safety point of view, a hat should be worn always. In the realistic world, this does not happen. However, if you are dealing with a youngster or a handling a new horse it would be advisable to wear a hat.
How To React To An Accident
If a serious incident happens with a horse on the ground, make sure you have at least access to a phone and a medical first aid kit. Try and remain calm and try and deal with the situation without further harm to you or the horse. Assess straight whether medical assistance is needed and ring for emergency services. Make sure the area and the horse are made safe, ensuring that the injured person is not moved until medical attention has arrived. There are many first aid training courses that are aimed at horse riders, so to attend one of these would be extremely valuable to yourself and other riders around you.
Horse and ponies are the most amazing animals to be enjoyed but they need to be worked around in a caring and experienced manner. Enjoy them but just be aware that sometimes in certain situations, there could be an accident waiting to happen…
Written by Samantha Hobden
Image credit: Pixabay
Please note: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified medical professionals in the event of an accident. This is an advisory post only.