Horses are big animals with powerful muscles, and they’re a lot of fun to be around, but they can be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle them correctly. Kids must follow safety rules when around horses.
Horses need to be respected at all times because when a horse is not being handled properly, it can unintentionally hurt someone or even kill them. Here are some vital rules to follow when working on the ground with horses:
1. Observe the horse’s body language.
Horses are, by nature, very nervous creatures. They need quiet and confident handling. A horse also has a way of telling you how it is feeling, usually by the position of its ears and its overall body language.
- A comfortable and happy horse has a relaxed posture. It might ignore you and continue eating, although some might prick their ears and give you a welcoming whinny.
- When a horse pricks its ears forward and lifts its head, it is intent on listening.
- Horses lay their ears back against the neck when threatening
- Both ears pointing back but not pressed to the neck means that the horse is listening or resting.
- The horse’s tail also gives many signs– a relaxed horse will carry the tail slightly lifted without swishing. On the other hand, it will clamp its tail to the rump when frightened and even when it is about to kick someone.
2. No horsing around horses.
Kids should not talk loudly or yell around horses. Horses like it when people speak to them in a soft voice. Encourage kids to greet the horse and then pat and stroke its shoulders or neck without startling it.
3. Don’t startle a horse.
Horses can’t see behind themselves. They may be startled by loud noises or by someone coming up to them too quickly. They also rely on their sense of smell and how they feel when someone touches them.
Horses can kick if you stand too close to their back end, so make sure that you stay in front or to the side of the horse and let him sniff you first before touching him. Remember: horses can and will bite! These gentle creatures can get spooked easily. So no horsing around!
4. Be confident.
Since horses rely upon their feelings a lot more than we humans do, they can easily sense an insecure rider and become nervous themselves. That is why kids need to spend some time with their horses before they ride them. Easing tensions beforehand can make for a more comfortable and enjoyable riding experience.
5. Always listen to the instructor/guide.
Kids: Pay close attention to the instructions your instructor/trainer/guide gives you. Parents – please avoid leaving your kids alone with horses – Even if your child is ‘horse-broken,’ always ensure that an adult supervises their interactions.
These are some essential safety tips for kids.