By Sharon Rogers
I love horses! I know you hear me say that all the time. My passion for these beautiful creatures is one of the reasons I write this blog. I enjoy having the opportunity to share what I have learned in the hope of improving your relationship with your horse. When you share your thoughts and experiences with me I gain as much as I give. Today I want to talk about horse safety. Hopefully some of the following safety tips will help to keep your horses in a safe and comfortable environment.
Knowing that your animals are safe and secure should be a top priority. There are many precautions and steps you can take to assure barn safety. I am hoping that you will look at the following safety tips and then take a good look at your barn. Is it as safe as it could be? Can you, honestly, enter your barn and know that you have done everything possible to keep your horses safe? If not, use this list as a guideline to help you upgrade your barn safety plan. You will sleep better tonight knowing they are safe. So will I!
- The first, and possibly most important, horse safety tip is to have a plan. What will you do in case of an emergency? Make sure that emergency numbers are posted in a conspicuous place in the barn. Keep all of the important papers for your horse or horses in a waterproof and fireproof lock box. It is much easier to grab the box full of information than it is to rely on your memory during a scary or chaotic event. It is also much safer for you and the animals in the event that you have to vacate the barn in a hurry. I have two lock boxes. I have made duplicates of all necessary papers and I keep one box in the barn and one in the house. Now I don’t have to worry about losing anything important.
- Know your points of egress. It is easy to get turned around in a moment of panic. If you are certain where you are headed your horse will follow. It is important to have departure points that are wide enough for you and the horse to exit from at the same time. A scared horse does not always walk in a straight line. A wider doorway means you can steer the horse in the right direction and have enough room for both of you.
- If possible, install alarms and video monitors. The extra few minutes you have when you are alerted by the sound of an alarm could make the difference between safety and catastrophe. Video monitoring can be a fairly expensive addition to your barn. If it doesn’t fit your budget, stick with alarms. They are not a choice but more of a necessity for barn safety.
- Take a close look at the flooring in your barn. Smooth concrete is slippery. Textured flooring or ribbed floor mats will allow your horse to walk on a surface without fear of injury. I have a hard time walking on slippery surfaces, so do my horses. By making the floor safer for them I am preventing possible injuries that can result from a slip or fall.
- NO SMOKING!!!! This horse safety tip is really a tip for everyone. But in a barn it is a requirement not a choice. Hay, wood and grain are great kindling and an errant ash or dropped cigarette could be fatal. Post signs in conspicuous spots so everyone who enters your barn knows this rule.
- Place fire extinguishers in several, easy to reach, spots in the barn. Should a fire start one of those fire extinguishers may buy you an extra few minutes of safety. Do not make the mistake, though, of thinking you are a firefighter. Call 911 as soon as possible and get your horses to safety.
- A place for everything and everything in its place. If your barn is orderly and neat you will always know where to find your supplies. More importantly, neither you nor your horse will fall or get caught on something that is out of place.
- Check your equipment regularly. Sharp edges on a metal trough, bare wires, splintering wood and empty bucket hangers can all be dangerous to your horse. A careful inspection of your stalls, as you clean them daily, only takes a few moments. In those moments you might save your horse from unnecessary pain as well as saving your wallet from a preventable expense.
- Do not leave your horse in a halter inside the stall. It is possible for the halter to get caught and in a flash your horse is panicked and at risk for serious injury.
I could probably double the size of this list and still have additional advice and safety tips for your barn. I will stop here because these are the tips I feel are the most important. Please, after reading through, look around your barn with a fresh eye and see if any changes need to be made. And while you are there, hug your horse for me!