The massive size and power of a horse equates into risk of injury to human riders from bites, falls and kicks. A sudden reaction from a horse or miscommunication between horse and rider can easily result in an injury to the human rider. Most accidents are happenstance and not deliberately inflicted by the horse. Injuries may range from eye injuries, torn ligaments, fractures or even concussions. This article approaches the subject of safety from the view of a recreational rider.
- There are steps a rider or owner can take to minimalize risk of injury. Always speak in a low tone and move calmly in the proximity of a horse. When grooming a horse stand to one side. Never approach a horse from the rear and do not squat.
- Utilize a halter and rope when leading a horse to the paddock or barn, but do not loop the lead rope around a hand. If the horse pulls back, step with him not against. Should the horse continue to pull, let go of the reins. Before removing a halter, turn the horse to face to face. After the halter is removed, give the horse a soft pat.
- Always put tack and equipment away to avoid damage to the equipment and also to avoid a horse or person from tripping. Tack and equipment should be maintained in good condition. Proper care can extend the life of the tack and equipment.
- A feed bucket is necessary for treats. A trained horse may get excited over a treat and confuse fingers with a food source. Feed buckets are a very inexpensive safety item.
- Sturdy riding boots with no more than a one and half inch heel with slight tread will protect a rider’s feet and ankles from being stepped on by the horse. Leather boots are most desirable with a tapered toe. Most riders prefer either English Riding boots or Western Cowboy boots. Boots should be considered an investment. A good pair of leather boots provides comfort and longevity with proper care.
- A helmet provides protection for the brain when the unexpected happens. Many riders complain that helmets are ugly, uncomfortable, ruin hairstyles and not the traditional headgear of choice for cowboys/girls. Select a helmet that is approved by The American Society for Testing and Materials as these helmets have passed rigorous testing requirements. Helmets certified for FEI level competition are also safe helmets.
- A bright color t-shirt with a vest that can be layered for warmth without restricting arm movement is a good choice for trail riding. Riding gloves to protect your hands and a warm wide winter coat with gussets are good purchases. Many people prefer jeans; however, traditional riding pants provide easy movement.
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