Should we bubble wrap??
This is an honest question, and one to make us think.
Should we as horse owners/riders consider making a bubble for our horses and us to safeguard against EVERY conceivable accident, injury, scary situation?
I'm not against helmets, or those vest things you eventers wear, or support boots, head bumpers, etc. (I think they're a good idea!!) But at what point do you personally say "It's a horse for crying out loud, they'll find some way of doing something. Or we'll (riders) find some way to get stuck in the middle" At what point did we lose the first understood rule of horses: They are their own animal, with their own minds and adgendas, and they're bigger than we are.
Has it really come to the point that we need to consider wearing a helmet when on the ground brushing or showing showmanship? Or that there is no "perfectly safe" place to tie a horse? Some of us have these rules w/o exceptions that we feel we must make sure others follow. But maybe the events that caused you to have that rule are different from someone else.
For example: I've seen ppl on here say that you should ALWAYS have your horse tied in the trailer. But is that honestly the case, or is that just your experience? Can you back that rule up with hard scientific evidence that not tying your horse in the trailer will cause harm EVERY single time, or will it depend on variables. Another example: Someone made the comment that tying a horse to a round pen panel (or a potentially moveable panel) should NEVER be done. And I can understand where they are coming from, BUT what about tying your horse to a hitching post? I've seen more of those things entirely ripped out (from rot at the ground) than I've seen a horse pull down a round pen. Yet, I will still use a hitching post, or a round pen panel.
What I am getting at is that there are very few 100% rules with horses. Yes, there are rules that have fewer variables than most, but those too are few. There seems to be an ever increasing group that feels "you should never do this", or "always have that on", "only do this with this when horse is...", I've been seeing a lot of "never", "must not", "this is how it must be done".
While it's great that we get to share our experiences, maybe we can all remember that our way is not the only way and it's impossible to "bubble wrap". Your way of staying safe is definately a good one!! but it's not 100% and neither is mine.
So I'm going to do my best to only say "this is what I do in these situations..." or "I noticed you did ...., is there a reason?" Instead of "you should never..." or "you have to do this..." Because I really don't want to bubble wrap my horses or me.
I have been around horses for a long time, a lot of experience under my belt that has given me several reasons to believe that many of the 'rules' should be followed.
Horses can be unpredictable so usually 'rules' are there for a reason.
When it comes to things like always wearing a helmet when around horses, that is from the lead of the USA with their 'sue and you'll get something,' attitude which has spread certainly to the UK and, life in general is leading people to believing that someone else is responsible and accidents are not the result of their own actions.
I am more of a mind that each accident or failure is a learning experience. I try to minimize the risk in any given situation, but I don't view things as black and white. For example with your round pen and tying question. If a horse was a known puller or if they were very green, then no, I wouldn't tie them hard and fast to the panel of a roundpen. They would be tied to the support post in my barn (it's a 6x6 post that is set about 3.5 feet into the ground and has concrete around the bottom). Once they tie well, then I will tie them wherever the heck I need them at that particular time.
You're right, we can't protect ourselves or our horses from every conceivable danger. The most we can do is consider the risks and make sensible decisions.
I don't wear a helmet or a body protector, even on green horses, my horses seldom wear boots of any kind (only when we are working on close work like spins/sidepasses/rollbacks or if they have already proven that they bang themselves hard enough to warrant boots), they get tied to whatever I tie them to, whether it might be considered "safe" or not, they sometimes get tied in the trailer and other times are thrown in there completely loose, even when fully tacked, and about a million other things that some people would consider "dangerous".
People get hurt, horses get hurt, avoiding certain actions or going completely overboard with safety measures won't stop it. There is a lot more to consider than "what protective equipment I can put on us both" when you are factoring risk.
Now, just so we're clear, I am not one of those anti-helmet fanatics that claims that they don't do any good. I know that they can save lives, but at the same time, I also realize that some people completely over horse themselves or get into questionable situations because they have a helmet on and are therefore "safe".
The 2 biggest things that can prevent injury are preparation and knowledge.
I try to mimimise risks as much as possible, and as someone who has had terrible luck with horses getting injured, I do take a lot of precautions to avoid further injuries.
I don't like seeing horses in thick woollen paddock boots 24/7 in the middle of summer in case they scratch their legs, nor do I like seeing them locked in a dark stable 24/7 when there is a perfectly good paddock right outside, in case they go running around and get injured.
But I do boot when I ride, I wear a helmet when I'm in the saddle, I tie in the safest place possible etc.
Just common sense factors really.
As for tying in the float, I used to leave one of my horse's untied, I had a stallion divider in there and didn't think it would be possible for him to get his head around. Stupid me. Car broke down going up a steep hill coming home from a competition, horse freaked out and managed to jam his head behind the divider. Probably one of the most terrfying moments I've had travelling a horse. By myself, not able to take my foot off the breaks, on a busy road with trucks flying past, and a horse going ballistic in the back and about to break his neck.
i've had my same 4 horses basically my entire life. I know them very well and to me they are extremely predictable. I'm not saying that accidents won't happen or my horses won't ever act unexpectedly, i'm always well aware of that. but after a certain point I do place a certain amount of trust in them.
I know there are plenty of people completely against that, but I don't have a set of rules with my horses I always follow no matter what. If I haven't handled the horse much or seen lots of their behavior, then YES, I follow a certain method with them. but for my personal horses, Some i will tie to anything, some I will only tie to certain sturdy places. Some i will throw on a helmet when we visit a new place, the others I don't bother.
There are plenty of things I always do, but i dont think of them as rules that everyone should follow NO MATTER WHAT. I tie my horses in the trailer because theres a little loop there to tie them so i just always have...
I think just use common sense, i know the common dangers and the common risks, and i try not to increase those. It DOES bother me when someone lectures me about riding FLAT trails with no helmet while they're on a horse that they haaven't bothered to train a proper whoa. Of course helmets only help, but i'd rather see people know how to properly control their horse before they get self-righteous about helmets.
Every horse is different and every situation is different. I hope thaat people act accordingly. and that includes not letting your ego get in the way when it comes to sticking to what you ALWAYS or NEVER do... for example i dont like wearing helmets but sometimes i will if i think its the best for the situation.
Being an adult means (hopefully) that you have the capacity to make the best decision in accordance to the circumstances at the time. It's about learning to weigh risks and consequences, and being able to accept the outcome. The rules, for me, are not always hard and fast. There are some horses I would just chuck their leadrope over a wire fence as deterrent for walking off, and others I wouldn't even tie to a round yard. I've ridden a few times without a helmet, but not habitually and not on strange horses. I don't wear a helmet on the ground, but I know the kids that go to the Pony Club camp in my area do - and I do somewhat agree to that. They are little and "head height" and there are so many strange horses and children who aren't the best decision makers.
Somethings though, like tying a horse in a float and many other things, I don't understand when people don't do it. I mean they're there, its not extra effort and they have nothing to gain from not doing it. To me, its like wearing a belt but not doing it up. Sure they may not need it, but its right there and if their pants do fall down they're going to wish they did.
funny aside - i read the thread name and assumed we would be discussing bubble wrapping our horses (you know - boots and wraps and uber pads and blankets and sheepskin covers, etc.).
however i can agree with most of the OP's post - no rule will save you from everything and just because one person does something different doesn't automatically make it wrong.
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