Every owner and every rider always has to think about their safety around horses. Safety is something you should never take for granted, no matter how many horses you’ve been around or how long you’ve had your own horse.
Something can always go wrong and a good situation can turn bad very quickly.
I’ve owned horses and have been working with them for over 50 years and I am still cautious every time I’m with my horse. Even when I was around Jazz and Apollo who I had owned for over 30 years, I was still aware of what was going on around me at all times.
That caution saved my life more than once and protected me from being hurt accidentally many times over.
Even-though there has been a long history between horses and humans through the ages, horse-related accidents still occur way too often, even amongst professionals and non-professionals.
Some of the current research studies I’ve read show that the occurrence of horse-related accidents can be directly correlated with the frequency and amount of interactions with horses. Kind of a no-brainer. Basically, the more time you spend around horses, the higher the chance of an accident.
So, according to these studies, the frequency of accidents depends more on how much time someone spends with horses instead of how competent they are with horses. The more you’re around horses, the higher the risk of injury.
Sounds simple, right?
O.K. I agree with this finding but there’s more to it than that. You can lessen the time you spend around horses in the hopes of lowering your risk of injury, but if you don’t know how to be safe with horses than you’re still at risk. Being safe around horses and knowing how to keep yourself safe around horses is also important.
The studies also show that the most important aspect of keeping yourself safe around horses is actually the horse-human relationship. Yup, having a good relationship is the key to your safety.
Studies have looked at short interactions with familiar and unfamiliar horses as well as long-term bonds between horse and owner and they all showed the one thing that developed a safer environment was a strong, positive relationship.
I’ve been saying this for years, but now the research is showing that the best way to keep a person safe around their own horse or an unfamiliar horse is to develop a strong, positive, relationship with that horse.
Wow! That one thing can keep you safer. Good to know.
Well, even though it sounds easy, so many people have told me their hardship stories about the difficulties of developing a loving, trusting relationship with their horse. It’s simple to say, “The best way to stay safe around your horse is to develop a loving and trusting relationship”.
But how do you do that?
According to the studies I’ve read, there are 3 main aspects to developing a strong, positive relationship with your horse.
- Maintain consistency in the management conditions of keeping your horse. This would include housing, feeding, social contact, and training. They have found that deficits in these conditions will put a definite strain on the horse-human relationship because of a horse’s natural desire for safety, security, and protection both physical and emotional.That just means keeping up with what your horse needs – a place to get out of the wind or bad weather and stay physically safe, nutritious food to keep your horse healthy at his or her particular age, and a safe environment with social interaction from you.
- Keep the interactions with your horse positive as often as possible. Horse-human relationships are built up on the basis of a succession of interactions either negative or positive. If the interactions are primarily positive a horse will start to see each interaction as a step for the next one. Therefore, expecting more positive interactions and developing a stronger, positive relationship with you each time.
- A better knowledge of the herd rules and a better understanding of the dynamics and behaviors of horses are essential. This not only helps with training, but also to counterbalance the unavoidable negative inputs that exist in routine procedures and reduces their impact on your relationship.
This knowledge will help you assess how to approach your horse better and safely (observing position, posture, gaze, ears, etc.), what type of approaches and timing may help you in developing a positive relationship, what outside influences affect your horse, and how you can adapt your behaviors to fit in with the herd.
Developing awareness and attention to behavioral cues given by your horse will certainly help decrease accidents and keep you safer.
So the #1 rule to keep you safer around your horse is to build a strong, positive relationship where the two of you know, like, and trust each other.
You also want your horse to be happy, right?
Well, if you work on developing this strong, positive relationship, the two of you will begin to understand each other better and will become more in-sync in everything you do.
Connection – Communication – Cooperation
It is all connected. However, like any relationship, you will have your ups and downs and neither you nor your horse will be happy ALL the time. But if you continue to work on developing a better relationship, your horse will also continue developing a strong relationship with you, and the safer you will be around your horse.
These studies also revealed that the time and type of contact a person has with his or her horse plays a key role in building a strong, positive relationship. And even though I completely agree with their three main aspects to building a strong, positive relationship, I have found one easy way to do this.
Here is my main aspect to developing a strong, positive relationship with your horse.
- The best way is just to start hanging out with your horse as much as possible. That doesn’t mean you have to be doing something all the time, but it does mean you need to just spend quality time together. Sit around and watch time pass together, listen to the birds and the breeze together, or hang out and eat together.
This can be hard for some people who have trouble just “being” quiet and feel they have to keep “doing” something all the time. But eventually it will become easier and easier with practice. And it is the best way I know in order to develop a strong, positive relationship with your horse.
A simple, easy, and effective way to keep yourself safe around horses.
Plus the added bonus of knowing that your horse is happy. How nice is that?
I want to add here that I am available and happy to help you and your horse develop this strong, positive relationship. If you want to chat about it, please call me. I’ve added a link below to set up a free call with me anytime. I’m here to help you not sell you.
So try it out. It can’t hurt. And if you could get a solution to something that has bothered you for some time? It would be worth a free call, right?
If this resonates with you and you haven’t yet dipped your toe into my programs, then click this link. Check them out and let me know if you have any questions, by contacting me. I look forward to hearing from you.
While reading this I’m reminded of Red Polard and Seabiscuit. Also, Sonora Webster and Lightning. In both cases, they were safe until they rode a different horse they did not have that relationship bond with. Both were seriously injured riding unfamiliar horses.
Very true. 🙂