Safety has always been at the top of my list of priorities when it comes to working with horses. I have been blessed to never have been seriously injured so far (keeping my fingers crossed to keep my record going!). But what if something did happen, and nobody was around to help me?
If you're like me, you are often alone when you work and ride your horses. I usually prefer to ride with someone else around, simply for safety's sake. Sticking to the buddy system is great when it's possible, but what if you don't have that option? Accidents happen, even with the most well-broke a reliable horses out there. A friend of mine was home alone once and she was riding her dead-broke horse just down the driveway when the mare tripped and fell to her knees. Fact is, you never know what COULD happen.
I don't believe that living in fear of the unknown is the answer. There's no way to predict and avoid every possible scenario. For me, not riding alone isn't an option. So here's my solution.
I get a great sense of added security by having a "check-in buddy". If I'm going to be working or riding alone, I send a quick text message to a friend, letting them know that I'm working a horse alone. I tell them where I will be, as well as how long I expect to take. When I'm done, I send another text message letting them known I'm safe. And if things take longer than I had expected, I send one to let them know.
Knowing that someone knows what I'm up to and will come and find me if something happens just makes me feel so much safer. So go have fun, ride safe, and be sure to let someone know what you're up to. :)
Here's some more food for thought for your next ride...
Use the buddy system
If you don't have a friend who can ride with you, make sure you check in with someone before, during, and after your ride. Make sure they know where you'll be riding, and how long, so if they don't hear from you within a certain period of time, they know when and where to come looking for you.
Always wear a helmet
Wearing a helmet is often not considered "cool", but, no matter how great a rider you are, there are always things that are out of your control. Did you know that:
- Horseback riding is 20 times more dangerous than riding a motorcycle
- There are 7.5 times MORE deaths each here that are caused by horseback riding accidents than by contact sports
- 60% of riding fatalities are caused by head injuries
It's simply not worth the risk. Protect that noggin! Wear a helmet.
Ride a safe horse.
This may sound like a "Duh!" to you, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people ride horses that they just have no business being on. It's not tough to ride an unsafe horse - it's stupid. If you aren't sure if your horse is safe enough for you, go with your gut. It's better to be overly cautious than to be seriously injured or dead.
Make sure your tack is safe.
Always check your tack before you ride. Does your saddle fit properly? Is the girth/cinch in good condition? Are there any stickers/pokeys inside your saddle blanket? Is the bridle adjusted properly? It can be a huge catastrophe to get on your horse and have a tack malfunction in the middle of your ride!
Use common sense.
Sad to say, but common sense doesn't seem to be all that common anymore. Always pay attention to your surroundings, be polite and courteous to other people that may be around you, stay out of traffic, and pay attention to your horse for any signs that they are becoming uncomfortable or nervous about something.
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