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Consider This

Keeping Stable on the Trail

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by horsewoman

Innside Montana-Your Home at the Range

January 6 2008

I?m absolutely enjoying bonding with GaZi , Both riding him and giving Picken her time off are teaching me lessons in finding the ?line?. I can sum it up best by the Serenity Prayer?.

When it comes to riding lessons and endurance riding, there are a lot of rules that can help you stay safe around horses. Horses are, after all, a lot bigger than we are. The following tips are designed to help you make the most out of your barn and trail time and most of all to help you not get hurt. Our set up is horse friendly to accommodate guests and their horses. We make sure they follow our checklist more for them than us. It?s easy to get careless in a different barn or when you?re in ?vacation ? mode.

Avoid Getting Stepped On

While this tip may seem obvious, after all, you wouldn?t put your foot under your lawn mower, a lot of people forget how large a horse really is. If a horse steps on your foot, you run the risk of broken bones, crushing and severe bruising. You should always wear proper boots around horses, but be mindful of where their feet are and where yours are.

Avoid Being Kicked

Yes, this is another fairly obvious piece of advice. While a lot of people may worry about being kicked, they don?t always employ common sense about dealing with horses even well trained ones. For example, don?t make sudden movements near the horse and never back one into a corner. Avoid threatening gestures and striking at the horse. A horse by nature, is a prey animal, they are biologically inclined to flee from danger. If they cannot flee, they will strike out. When moving around a horse, keep a running commentary going and a light hand motion on their side so they know where you are. Avoid stepping behind a horse, especially in a boxed in area that forces you to go too closely to their hindquarters. You need about 12 feet around the back of the horse if you plan to go that way.

Wear a Helmet

Helmets are not always comfortable, but take the time to find one that is. The helmet you choose should follow the ASTM ANSI guidelines. That shows that it has been approved by the Safety Equipment Institute and will protect your head if you fall, strike an overhead object or may get hit by a traveling object. Believe it or not, I have seen someone hit by a ball when riding. Trust me, I dont leave home without it. First thing I do when I go down to the barn to tack up.

Avoid Getting Careless

We all get a little sloppy about doing things in a particular order when we are comfortable. This can be especially dangerous around horses. Confidence isn?t a problem, but a confident horse person also understands how to stay safe. Even the safest animal can be startled and speaking from experience, the one time I dashed out to the barn in a pair of canvas shoes to do just one thing was the one time a horse stepped on my foot. Trust me when I say you don?t want your foot crushed.

Leave a map of your route when riding out on trail and the approximate time you will return. That way the folks back home will know when to start worrying and where to look if you are overdue. Take a GPS as well so you can track direction

Always ride out with a buddy. As an extra precaution carry a cell phone or two-way radio. Tip: keep the cell phone on your person rather than in your trail bag; in case of an unforeseen dismount and separation from your horse.

Help our environment. Be aware of how repeated horse traffic can cause erosion over time. Spread out on hills instead of making a deep single track. Not everyone takes horse manure for granted like horse lovers do Clean up after your horse in the parking lot if you?ve trailered in. Don?t leave manure, urine puddles, or old hay lying about. Bring a muck bucket and a manure fork to clean up with. Heck, that?s standard operating procedure even at shows.

In a group ride the speed of the least experienced rider. Most of all, happy trails

Innside Montana-Your Home at the Range
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