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Horses and ponies are magnificent looking creatures and even people who don't ride love to watch them gavotte in a field or being put through their paces. There is something so very elegant about these proud animals who normally so readily accept the fact we jump on their backs to ride them. We all know that riding can be a dangerous occupation, accidents do happen when you are up there on their backs. It might be that the horse spooks at something and catches you unawares, which results in you being unseated and landing in a heap on the ground. It could even be an error of judgement on the riders' behalf, but for whatever reason it does happen that riders get unceremoniously dumped on the ground from time to time. Most people take a few too many liberties with horses when they are on the ground which can prove to be just as painful as taking a fall. Not tying up a pony or horse when doing something to it is a prime example. Another good example of people taking liberties with their horse is to groom the animal in it's box and again forgetting to tie the horse up. These are things people routinely do without thinking of the dangers situations it places them in.
The first thing anyone has to understand about horses is the fact they are flight animals and as such they are very easily spooked. You may feel as safe as houses around your horse. You may think you can trust your horse with your life, but you just never know how they may react to something that startles them, the only thing that's predictable about a horse is the fact that by nature it is unpredictable. The chances are your horse is going to leap or jump around if anything does scare them. In a field a horse would run a certain distance before turning around to see what it was that frightened them. In a stable there is not that much room so if you are in the way, you will get hurt in the process. It can be a very painful experience to be knocked over or trod upon by a one ton horse who has been scared by something and all because the horse was not securely tied up in it's stable in the first place. Another thing that people often do is pick out their horses feet without tying them up or having somebody else hold the horse for them. Again, this is asking for trouble because a horse can jump and land on your foot at best or in the worst case scenario knock you over before charging off into the distance.
Being around horses means wearing all the right clothing and this includes the correct sort of footwear. If a horse stands on your foot it can really cause a lot of damage if you don't have sturdy boots on. It is never a good idea to wear jewellery around horses either because rings, earrings, bracelets and the like can get caught up in things causing you to injure yourself.
Riders should make a habit of checking their tack on a regular basis and this includes whether the saddles they are using fit their horses correctly. A horse or pony can change shape not only as they get older but as they get fitter too. This means you might start out with a saddle that fits your horse really well, but a few months or years down the line, does not fit correctly at all. An ill fitting saddle can cause all sorts of problems for horse and rider, so it is vitally important to make sure your saddle still fits your horse a little later down the line. Keeping tack clean is also something that you need to do regularly. In fact, after every ride you should wash the bit and wipe over your bridle. This allows you to see if there is too much wear on buckles and whether or not your reins might need changing. One very good idea is to change your stirrup leathers over from time to time. The reason being that because you mount from the left, the left leather tends to stretch more than the right one so by swapping them over regularly helps keep them even. Checking girth straps and girth buckles is also vitally important because if these break, you will end up on the ground. Remember your girth is the only thing keeping your saddle in place and this is safely on the horse's back.
It is very important to wear the right sort of riding gear when around horses and it goes without saying that you should always wear a riding hat even if you ride your horse bareback out to the paddock after they've been exercised. Too many riders forget to do this which could prove to be a very big mistake should they ever come off on their way to turning their horse's out. Riding hats today are as light as a feather, but they do offer a lot of protection, they also happen to be very stylish which means there is no excuse not to wear one. Body protectors too are much better designs these days which makes them a lot more comfortable to wear out on a ride and when competing. To protect your hands, invest in some good quality riding gloves and try to buy a pair that are waterproof because when it rains out on a hack, you will be glad you did. Wearing gloves around horses is a must, even when you turn them out because gloves really do stop callouses from forming on your hands.
Being safety conscious around horses means you will have a much nicer experience. Horses are magnificent creatures but they are big animals that can cause a lot of damage to you without realising they have. If you respect a horse and their size, you are effectively reducing the chances of being injured which could ultimately put you off riding and being around these lovely creatures forever, which would be such a shame and so unnecessary because accidents can be avoided if you think safety around horses.
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