June 24, 2022
Written by Kelly Shaw, Farm Management Coordinator
Whether you are visiting, riding, or working with the horses, safety at the Equestrian Center is very important. By following the safety guidelines listed below, you help ensure a great experience for yourself, as well as for our horses. Read on to learn the importance of wearing proper attire, knowing how to read a horse’s body language, and being aware of your own behavior around our equipment and animals.
When visiting the Equestrian Center, you should wear some form of closed-toed shoes. Wearing a pair of boots or closed-toed shoes will also help protect your foot in the event you were to get stepped on. If you are riding during your visit, you need to wear a pair of close-toed boots that will keep your foot from sliding around or out of the stirrups. Riders also must wear riding pants or unripped jeans and a fitted shirt.
Safety in the barn is important for both us and our horses. Never enter a stall without the explicit permission and supervision of the Equestrian Center staff. Make sure you stay alert, watch your surroundings, and be aware of the horses you are working with. When a horse is relaxed, its tail will be flat with little or no movement and its ears will be forward or rotating depending on the noise around them. When anxious or upset, its tail will be held up or swishing back and forth, and its ears will be pinned back or standing on high alert. Pay attention to the horses’ body language and respect when a horse needs a break from saying hello!
When we move the horses between the barns and the fields, it is called turnout. There are many safety precautions you can take during turnout time. The biggest is to always keep two hands on the lead rope. This gives you control over the horse that will help prevent accidents. Another important thing to remember is to not let your lead rope or reins drag on the ground, which is a tripping hazard and can spook the horses. Before letting horses loose in their field, ensure they are facing the gate and spaced out among one another. Occasionally, they get excited to be out with the other horses in the field and may try to take off running. Facing them towards the gate encourages them to not run into one another or the person caring for them.
Always make sure you check your equipment before heading out for a ride. This includes everything from your helmet to your horse’s gear, known as tack. Before mounting your horse, you must check your boots and helmet to make sure they are in good condition to protect you while riding. Your helmet should not have any room to slide around, even when you slightly shake your head. It should sit evenly on your head, about one inch above your eyebrows. When checking your tack, you want to be on the lookout for any wear or tear that may provide issues with the integrity of the equipment. If there is an issue with the equipment, let the Equestrian Center staff know immediately.
Next time you visit the Equestrian Center, remember these helpful tips for having a safe, positive visit with our amazing horses. If you have any questions about the Equestrian Center, please visit our website at https://www.liberty.edu/campusrec/equestrian-center/.