Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Risk assessment and horses - facts and comedy.

Right, so take an animal that weighs over half a tonne, isn't bright enough not to poo in its own water and then use it to jump round a course of fixed fences at 30 miles an hour.  Who thought up that one!!?? I think it goes without saying that risk assesement is pretty important with horses.  Secondly, I won't pretend that I'm I'm an expert in safety and risk for a second... I mean let's face it teenage boys have a reputation to live up to!

So let's have a look at the classic horse inflicted injuries and how to avoid them.

First off, as prescribed by comic books, the kicked or bitten bum! Probably the easiest step to avoid this is to teach horses not to be so badly behaved or alternatively don't present them with a target.

Next on the list is probably the head butt.  Now we've all watched this one happen and reckon we would've seen it coming... then next thing you know is that it's you with the sore head.

More seriously though.  The easiest way to stop things going pear shaped is to avoid putting yourself in a position where horses could intentionally or unintentionally hurt you.  What about the riding front though?

Let's look at eventing.  Obviously the most likely cause of injury is falling off.  I mean that soily groundy thing is fairly hard.  When it comes to falls though you'll stand the best chance of bouncing and stealing a few lives off your cat if you're fit.  Fit people tend to come out of falls better.  Not only that but you'll react quicker so hopefully won't have as many in the first place.

Looking back at the yard now.  A lot of risky situations arise because of bad yard design.  We've all seen the situation where a horse squeezes past a door with inches to spare.  It may be fine most of the time but the one time it's not could be disastrous.  It's quite a simple task to look at the yard and think of lots of worst case scenarios.  It might just be a case of moving buckets to give yourself more space.  Simple changes for big improvements.

Hay bale storage is also a big one.  Take a real close look at how your hay or straw is stacked.  Falling bales should be a massive concern.  Bales should always be taken from the top so you don't end up with a top heavy pile aka the leaning tower of Pisa.  Also, try and avoid having stacks that could fall out onto the yard where people could be.  It's much safer for them to fall against a wall... Putting a few ropes around your bales as well could just be enough to keep everyone that bit safer as well.

And finally.  To end my sermon.  Non - horsey people are actually a bit of a hazard.  If you haven't had it drilled into you from the year dot it isn't obvious not to stand behind horses.  Even feeding horses off your hand in the wrong way is a bit risky - I mean fingers are at risk here!  Anyway, just keep an eye open for those safety things you take for granted.

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