There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you are around horses. It is incredible to watch these large animals move with such grace and perfection through sand, rocks, foliage and mountains. They seem to be so in tune with all of their surroundings, whether it be the land, wildlife or people that are around them, they have such a keen sense of how to handle every situation.
There are many important things to remember when you are around horses. Because of their keen senses you have to be careful around these gentle giants and like a horse, always be aware of your surrounding too. Continue reading to learn about what the folks at the Dude Ranchers’ Association think are the top five rules to remember when being around horses.
5 Rules to Remember When You're Around Horses
Number 1 – No Running
When you are around horses you need to remember that it is best to walk everywhere. Excitement definitely kicks in when you are around horses, but running towards a horse could delay you from climbing into the saddle. It is important to know and remember that horses are very sensitive animals and they can spook easily at sudden movements. If they see something or someone running at them, it is a natural flight reaction for them to try and get away from the situation. To make sure you and everyone around you gets on their horses safely, remember to always walk.
Number 2 – No Yelling
Again, it is very exciting being around horses, new experiences and the joy you will endure when riding is thrilling! Even though you are excited, be sure to keep your voice down and do not yell. This goes along with the same concept behind the “no running” rule, loud noises like yelling can startle a horse and endanger the surrounding area. There is an unspoken rule in horsemanship, the quieter you are the better. Being quiet with your voice and with your body will only make you a better rider. Horses can sense the slightest movements and can read their riders body language. It truly is incredible how smart these animals are and how keen all of their senses are.
Number 3 – Always make sure a horse knows where you are
This is a very important rule to remember. Horses only have a certain area they can see when they are facing forward, they do not have peripheral vision like people do. They have several blind spots, but their biggest is directly behind them, therefore you do not want to approach a horse from the back. When you are around horses, make sure to let them know where you are by talking to them and touching them as you move around them. If you are uncomfortable walking behind your horse with your hand or arm on their body, you can walk five to seven feet around them and you will be safe. It is a good rule of thumb to approach a horse from the front.
Number 4 – Keep your hand flat when you are feeding treats
Everyone loves a good treat after a hard day’s work, especially horses! Horses get excited too and can sometimes forget to be very gentle around treat time. It is best to ask permission before feeding treats for safety purposes. So, when you are feeding your horse treats at the end of the day, make sure your hand is as flat as can be. The flat surface will ensure that all you will feel is the nuzzle of your horse’s lips on your hand and to be honest, maybe a little horse slobber. The flat surface will also ensure your horse will not mistake your fingers for carrots or horse cookies!
Number 5 – Stay out of pasture and corral areas
It is always a beautiful sight to see a herd of horses out grazing in a pasture or taking a nice afternoon nap in the corral. You want to make sure you do not disturb the peace though by entering the pasture or corral areas. In herds of horses there are what seem to be strict pecking orders, especially around feeding time. It is similar to a high school cafeteria; there are groups that are on different levels in the "social pecking order". Horses are a lot like people in the way that they have friend groups and the groups don’t always get along. But when they don’t get along, they can kick and bite at each other, and you do not want to be caught in between two horses that are not friends. It is best to observe and watch these wonderful creatures from a distance and take pictures to remember the moment. This way, everyone is safe, all horses and people involved!
A few other tips for safety on and off a horse:
• Wear sturdy foot wear when around a horse, never wear sandals or flip flops.
• Do not wrap the halter/lead rope around your hand.
• It’s always best to wear long pants when riding.
• A healed boot works best for riding.
• Don’t let your horse get too close to the horse in front of you.
• Remember you are not just a passenger while on a horse.
• Always complete the riding evaluation form truthfully.
Of course, there will be other things to remember when you are around horses, but these five rules and few tips will help you understand some of the other rules that will come later! If you want to go on an unforgettable horseback riding vacation and put what you have learned here into action, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association to help find the perfect vacation destination for you!