Any Horse Can Be Deadly
My horse is not mean. He is not aggressive. He doesn't have any nasty vices like kicking, biting, bucking or rearing. I've had toddlers on him and leading him around the barn (supervised of course). I trust this horse 110% with me when I ride him. I trust him with intermediate beginners too.
But EVERY horse has bad days. I knew yesterday was one when I brought him in and he was acting edgy... not bad but he was dancing a little more than usual and when I had him standing in the barn he got to pawing and pawing and pawing (something he doesn't typically do). So I knew Nikki was having a bad day. I initially saddled him up and he felt "wrong" ... I can't even put my finger on exactly what it was. I decided to leave him in the barn with some hay for a few minutes to see if he would settle down on his own.
The barn I board at is a dude ranch. There are other animals on the property too, including a sheep and her two lambs (both around 5 weeks old). The way the barn is set up, to bring the sheep outside you have to go by the horses which are tied on either side of the barn aisle. There was only my horse in the barn at the time and while he was fussing, he's never been a danger to anyone before.
The sheep were initially all the way out of the barn when one of the lambs ran back in. I didn't see it happen, I just heard a sound like a gunshot. We ran in the barn to see my horse, still fussing, and the baby lamb about five feet from him against a wall, bleeding from the nose and with his eye popped out of his socket, unconscious. All efforts were made to save the little lamb, but in the end it was decided that the kindest thing for it was to put it down.
Which brings me to the point of this story. ALL horses can be deadly. I have never thought of my horse as a killer, and in actuality it wasn't something that can be blamed on him. How can you fault a horse for following his instincts?
No matter how gentle or sweet a horse is, ALWAYS practice safe handling skills and teach young children safety in the barn... because honestly the first thing that came to my mind was what if that lamb had been a small child?
I never thought of my horse as a killer, but EVERY horse has the capability to be one.
Wow, good post! I am sorry about what happened but it sure does make you think and put things in perspective. Thanks for that!
I think we can easily forget that no matter how much training we put in and how well behaved they are they are essentially free thinking animals and not robots. I've been reminded of that many times
Sorry for your bad experience
Very sad story. But a good reminder of the raw strength and animal instincts that are simmering just below the surface of all of our horses. We love them, get to know them, and build relationships with them, but indeed they're still animals. Very large animals. So sorry you had to experience this, though.
This shows how important it is not to let small children run loose around horses. If a horse is not being held by a lead rope, little kids have no business near them unless it is across a fence. They don't even have to intend to hurt them to do so.
Yes...It's awful. I keep telling my young cousins not to run behind Selena but they do anyway....That is the reason they aren't allowed to "help" anymore.
This is something that not enough people realize. When I see people crawling around underneath their horse or standing directly behind them or just being plain stupid, I wonder what they would thing if their 'perfect' horse kicked at a fly or something of the sort. Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you should. Horses are just like any other animal. A friendly little kitten can scratch you. A faithful dog can bite you. A horse can kick, bite, strike or crush you. The bigger the animal the more careful you have to be, no matter how well you know them.
I heard a story a couple years ago that I've already shared here somewhere. A racehorse trainer that a friend knew was in the racing stall with one of his horses (a racing stall being one that the horse is cross-tied in with a metal bar on either side. The horse shifted its weight, accidentally crushing him against the bar, breaking his ribs and piercing his lung. There was nothing anyone could do to help him.
Like the others have said, and OP too, that lamb could easily have been a child. It's all too easy for a kid to have too much confidence and think that a horse wouldn't hurt them. In my mind, a child belongs near a horse only when an adult is supervising, and only by its side or on its back. Never in front, never behind, and never underneath. Kids are just as unpredictable as horses and it could easily end up an awful mess.
Sorry to hear about your sad story. It's frightening to think what can happen in a blink. I agree it's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to such large animals that have lightening fast reflexes. I have had my own experiences with the speed and power of horses and I respect them as such. In one such incident-Our BO's 145 lb dog got too close to one of his normally laid back horses and the horse's food. In a blink, the horse lunged at the dog and quite possibly could have killed him. Thankfully, we were right beside him with his lead line attached and the dog reacted quickly enough to avoid any injury. It was very frightening indeed. Thanks for your story as sad as it was. It certainly hits home.
I know a family that had a huge lawsuit because their horse accidentally stepped on a small child that they had allowed to play around their barn. The child ended up with a serious head injury.
Sad story and I agree that people should always keep in mind the horses size and the potential for danger.
I wonder, was it the baby lamb that had freaked your horse out to start? Did he calm down once his perceived threat was gone? It is hard to know what will freak a horse out and when. They see, smell and hear things differently then we do.
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