The top 5 barn safety violations!
I think we can all agree that we usually try and stay safe and diligent around our horses. For some reason, we are also known to cut corners. Save a few seconds or minutes here and there and we feel like we have saved hours. But it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
These violations have a few things in common: they take seconds to remedy, fixing them can prevent a disaster, and you will be setting a good example for others at your barn.
By shoes, I mean people shoes! Please, no flip-flops in summer. I’m also not a huge fan of sneakers because of the laces, but that’s not as unsafe as sandals. If you love sneakers at the barn, go for the velcro closures! I dare you!
Spend the milliseconds to fully attach the halter. The flapping cheekpiece allows your horse to back out of his halter, and the buckle can fly around and whack ears and eyes. The first standing enucleation (eye removal) that I witnessed was of a horse that hit himself in the eye with the cheek buckle of his halter.
Finish buckling the halter up. It takes a second.
- If you are unsure about halter fit, some good info is here.
- Also, spend the milliseconds to detach the halter from the cross ties when your horse is bridled and you leave the area. This is a tripping hazard for humans and horses, and it’s just rude for the person who needs to use the cross ties after you.
Lead rope violations
Use two hands! It’s as simple as that. Your left hand holds the end of the rope, your right hand is about 12 to 18 inches below the lead rope clip. If your horse decides to yank away, you have a chance of him not getting away if you have two hands. Also, make sure you have no loops around your fingers or hands.
Stall doors left partially open.
This is a great way for humans and horses alike to stub toes and bonk hips. Decide if your barn stall doors are to remain fully open or fully closed when they are empty. There’s more on this subject here.
Just decide. Also, note that partially open doors are more likely to slam shut (or open).
Not correcting bad horse behavior
Every time you handle a horse, you are reinforcing his behavior. If the behavior is good, no worries, reward him until the cows come home! If the behavior is bad, it’s up to you to show him the proper way. Otherwise, you are creating a horse without boundaries, and ultimately a dangerous horse. It can be behavior such as nipping, not walking quietly next to you, or not standing still to be blanketed. Give them an inch, they will take a mile. Correct bad behavior to keep yourself, your friends, and your horse safe.
And please don’t confuse correction of behavior with punishment. To correct a horse, physically move him into the proper position and praise. Horses will learn infinitely more things when we praise them for everything they do correctly. It’s fast and free.
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