Horses are powerful and majestic animals. Children and adults alike can quickly become enamored with a horse after meeting one. Their playful energy and soulful eyes, as well as their ability to do hard work or provide transportation, make them truly life-enriching animals.
However, there’s little question that horses are also very dangerous. In fact, there are legal precedents and state laws minimizing the liability of horse owners and equestrian facilities based on the assumption that horses are inherently dangerous and potentially deadly. One kick from a horse’s rear legs could be enough to permanently injure or kill someone. The following tips can help people to stay safe when riding or working with horses.
Avoid startling the animals
The first and potentially most important rule of horse safety is to respect the animal’s disposition. Horses are herbivores and therefore prey animals. They can be very skittish around people, even children that are a fraction of their size. Loud noises and rapid movements, especially if they occur behind the horse, can lead to dangerous actions on the part of the animal. People should maintain a calm demeanor when interacting with a horse, approach it while in its line of sight, maintain physical contact when walking around the rear of a horse and keep their volume levels under control at all times.
Follow facility rules and read postage signage
Some stables have special rules about how to interact with the animals at the facility. They may even hang up signs identifying which animals are particularly nervous or assertive. People should know their own level of comfort and skill when managing a horse and should select the animal that they work with or ride accordingly. Carefully following all rules established by the facility, such as ensuring a horse’s bridle is secure before releasing it from a stable, is also of the utmost importance for someone’s safety.
Pay attention to body language
Horses cannot effectively communicate with humans. Therefore, those caring for or riding horses need to pay attention to a horse’s ears, tail and legs to monitor it for signs of fear that could indicate future unpredictable or dangerous behavior.
Unfortunately, working with and riding horses can lead to injury even when someone does everything right. Sometimes, people hurt by horses may have a legal right to request compensation. Reviewing the details of the situation that led to an injury with an attorney may help someone establish whether or not they have grounds for a claim for compensation.