For someone that stood on a shavings fork the other day, with it resulting by a smack in the face by the handle, I have felt compelled to write an article all about safety in the stable yard. You may think accidents only occur when a horse or pony is being ridden, but many accidents happen in the stable and the yard. Some horses (and owners!) do seem to be accident prone, but to minimise any incidents, some basic precautions can be taken into account:
HORSES ON THE YARD
Always ensure that when you are working with your horse in the yard that they are tied up securely. In my opinion, I always tie my horse to some baling twine that is on a metal ring or bar so in the event of any spooking, he can break away easily without causing further damage. Sometimes we have to think of horse safety against people safety too. There may be situations however where it is safer to tie to something solid, rather than have the horse break away and bolt into a crowd of people or a busy road. Common sense prevails, so use it to the situation you are in with your horse.
Make sure all entry and exits to the yard are limited by gates which should always be closed when not in use. This will stop any loose horse on the yard is trapped in a “safe” environment. Stable doors should also be fastened securely with horse-proof locks and areas that horses cannot hurt themselves on any obstructions that are in the way.
Make sure stables and all yard buildings are well maintained. If they are then they will be a safe and secure for you and your horse. Repairs should be done promptly and correctly. Half done or sub standard repairs can present dangers to you and your horses. Make sure your horse’s box is clear of any sharp edges and other hazards that your horse could harm himself on. Never use glass in windows of a stable. Ideally, use metal grill or bars for airflow which can be used with plastic sliding window for bad weather.
Ensure all the bolts on the stable door are in good working order and fix kick bolts as a necessity to the bottom of stable doors, as some horses can be Houdini’s!
Make sure there is also adequate drainage on the yard which minimises surface water. This is especially essential in the winter to prevent ice forming. In very cold weather, think carefully when emptying a water bucket which would then freeze over, turning the yard into an ice skating rink! Keep a supply of rock salt at close hand which is brilliant for unfreezing treacherous surfaces. Not only could your horse slip and fall but you could easily too!
Always make sure the yard is clean and tidy. Tools not in use should be stored somewhere where horses cannot get to. Never leave tools in your horse’s box with him or her in there, even for just a few minutes. Clean away rubbish too and having a dustbin in the tack room is essential. Make sure the tack room is kept tidy and respect each other’s tack and belongings. With tack thefts on the rise, ensure you have this safely locked with a lock and key and if finances stretch to it – have it alarmed.
Do you know how safe the electrics are in your yard? Make sure they are waterproof electrical installations and lighting circuits which are necessary, especially in stables and barn areas. Ideally all electrical work and installations should be checked by a qualified electrician every 3 – 5 years.
FIRE – BE AWARE OF FIRE SAFETY IN YOUR YARD
For the sake of a few pounds, install some smoke detectors alarms in the stable and barn area, and have a fire extinguisher in the tack room. All yard exits should be free from obstructions so that horses can be led to safety quickly and the fire service can get in. Ideally, horses should not be in stables near the hay and straw storage. In keeping with having the yard tidy, make sure that all waste hay and straw are always swept away. I once read about a yard fire that was started by the farrier visiting and a spark ignited hay that was not swept away, so keep it clean!
Make sure head collars and lead ropes are close to the stabled horses so that they can be evacuated to safety in case of a fire. For more information about Fire Safety In Stables then you find this HERE
I know this may all seem common sense and some procedures may be difficult to implement but just a gentle reminder about what can happen is good for us all. Whilst researching this, I especially had not thought about the issues of fire in the yard, so I will be making a couple of purchases – just to be on the SAFE SIDE!
Written by Samantha Hobden owner of Haynet
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons