Ever been kicked, stepped on, or hurt by a horse? As much as we love and adore our horses, they are big animals with a very strong fight or flight instinct and it is important to take precautions when handling them – especially young horses and horses that are excited or in a new situation!
Here are some safety tips for handling feet, bridling, and mounting! I’ve started hundreds of young horses, been kicked, bitten, stepped on, and knocked down. These techniques are a habit for me – something that I do with each and every horse that I ride and handle. It is important to make these techniques second nature so that when you are at a show and your horse is excited or when you are working with a horse you don’t know, you can stay safe and out of trouble!
Legs and feet:
Whenever you go to pick up a foot or to put a boot or wrap on a horse, ALWAYS start up at the shoulder or hip and work your way down to the lower leg. If you just touch the horse on the lower leg, it may cause the horse to kick you out of surprise! It is important that they see you coming before you grab onto one of the legs!
- Be sure to take the horse out of the cross ties. Having the horse connected in the cross ties with just the halter around the neck is an accident waiting to happen!
- Teach the horse to lower their head to get the bridle on. There is no reason that the horse can’t be taught to lower they head for the bridle given that they ALL put their head down to eat!
- Take the halter off and put it around the neck, then put the reins around the horse’s neck. Then put the whole bridle around the horse’s head and use your thumb in the corner of the horse’s mouth to get the horse to open their mouth. Try NOT to hit the horse in the teeth with the bit!
- Point the ears straight forward and then slide the bridle over the ears. Be sure NOT to bend the horse’s ears when you put the bridle on!
- Make sure to get the reins short, but do not pull on the horse so that if the horse goes to leave you can stop them. Also grab hold of the horses mane. You should have a hold of the reins and the horses mane in your left hand before mounting.
- Read your horse before mounting and be sure that you can pet them and touch them – they should seem relaxed.
- Lower your weight slowly onto the horse… You don’t want to just slap into the saddle!
- Be sure you horse waits at the mounting block and don’t just let them rush off!
I hope these tips are helpful! Accidents happen so quickly with horses so it is important to be proactive and on the cautious side whenever handling them!