Proper fitting equipment and clothing are essential for working safely around horses for the safety of the horse as well as the rider. Here are several safety tips to safeguard you and your horse.
- Bridle reins, stirrup leathers, headstalls, curb straps, girths, and cinch straps should be kept in the best possible condition. Your safety depends on these straps. Clean them often, checking them when you do. Replace any of these straps when they begin to show signs of wear (cracking or checking).
- Be sure all tack fits the horse. An ill-fitting saddle makes an ill-tempered horse makes an ill-tempered rider. Adjust the bridle so the bit fits comfortable in the horse’s mouth. Remember that all horse’s mouths are not the same. The old standard of a wrinkle in the corner of the mouth does not hold the same truth for a short mouthed horse and a long mouthed horse. Adjust breast plates, tie-down, etc., to a safe length that will not hinder the horse’s balance.
- Familiarize your horse with new equipment before launching out on that dream ride. Just like an old sweater or your favorite easy chair is familiar to you, your horse gets a feel for the saddle on his (or her) back and the bridle on his (or her) head.
- Wear neat, well-fitted clothing that will not snag on equipment. Belts, jackets, and front chap straps can become hooked on saddle flaps or the saddle horn when mounting or dismounting.
- Wear boots or shoes with heels to keep your feet from slipping through the stirrup.
- Gloves are a safeguard against cuts, scratches, splinters, and rope burns. Wear close fitting gloves that allow you to still “feel” what you are doing with your fingers.
- Horse blanket straps should be adjusted so that there are no low hanging straps for the horse to step on or catch a leg in when lying down or getting up. Remove broken straps and/or have them repaired.
Keeping these tips in mind when working around your horse sets the stage for safety and will provide you with the peace of knowing that you are taking care of things you can control. Enjoy your ride!