Grooming Area Pet Peeves and Dangers!
- The grooming area of your barn is where you and your horse probably spend a lot of time together. You may have cross ties, or you might tie your horse to a pole or post, or use a blocker ring, or just keep your horse loose. Whatever the area for horse grooming, let’s keep it a Vet-Bill-Free-Zone.
- Most grooming areas are just enough room for you, your horse, and some grooming tools and tack. Close quarters mean that horses can easy step on things (like YOU), knock things over, and generally cause crashes. Keeping safe in these close quarters is easy to do with a smooth set up and some common sense.
Some horse pet peeves
Have your horse’s halter fully clipped and secure. Here’s what can happen if you don’t fully latch your horse’s halter:
- Your horse will escape. He has plenty of room to back out of his halter without the cheekpiece.
- His eyeball will escape. I’ve seen a lot of horse things in my day, and I’ve even seen a standing enucleation. This particular horse had his eye damaged so badly by the loose cheekpiece clip that the vet had to remove his eye.
- One more halter pet peeve – unclip it from the cross ties and hang it up. Halters that are left to dangle create wonderful traps for horse and human legs. The next person to use the cross ties after you likely won’t appreciate it either.
So many feelings bubbling up right now…
Other things to be mindful of in your horse’s grooming area:
- Try not to walk away from your horse when you have him tied for grooming. I’m a huge fan of forgetting things that I need in the cross ties. I’ll only go grab it if there’s someone that can stand near my horse while I’m gone. Or I ride bareback that day.
- Be mindful of the muck tub and scoop if you have one in the cross ties. I’ve seen a leg or two kick the bucket, and I’ve even seen a horse step into the bucket and use the scoop as a way to remove the skin from his leg. Keep any muck tubs and scoops outside of the cross ties.
Pro – nothing for your horse to step into here, like a bucket or tub. Con – the back of the cross tie could be gated or fenced to create a butt barrier.
- When choosing between clotheslining yourself and going under your horse’s neck, take your chances with the clotheslining. It’s a great way to practice your hand-eye coordination and not get whacked by your horse.
- Along those same lines – why on earth would you walk under your horse’s belly? I’ve seen it, and it’s just about the dumbest thing you could do around horses.
- Except for maybe kneeling on the ground to work on your horse’s legs. You lose valuable time if your horse shifts or spooks and you have to clamber up from kneeling. This also puts you in a situation where your HAND rests on the ground – and we all know how awful it is to have your foot stepped on.
And while I’m here – please stop posing with your horse in his paddock when you are sitting in front of him. Or beside him. Or laying down, or doing handstands. Or just generally being in a position that isn’t on your feet and paying attention to the 1,000 pounds of a reactionary and illogically thinking piece of prey near you.
I know it’s “Instagrammable” and lovely and and and and and…but it can end badly.
**** Deep inhales and exhales *****
What else about your horse grooming area could be safer?
- Keep the footing in your grooming area grippy. No one wants to ice skate on super smooth concrete. You might not need mats, but just be sure whatever the surface is, it’s not slick when it’s wet and not slick when it’s dry.
- Keep outlets and switches covered. Fire safety is one reason, the other is that some insects will actually creep into outlets to nest. TO NEST.
- If this is a shared area, set the example and pick up after yourself and don’t use things that are not yours. Lots of weird horse skin funk gets passed around barns by sharing stuff! Is this the barn equivalent of eating someone else’s lunch from the office break room fridge? Probably.
What did I forget? And also, don’t forget to breathe!