Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"The safest place to be..."

I remember talking to an experienced horse trainer back when Riley was a baby -- I was contemplating showing him at a sport horse breed show in-hand, and she told me a cautionary tale of how a famous handler had been hurt showing a baby. She observed, "People think I'm crazy for breaking horses, but the safest place to be is on his back..."

One of my readers commented about pregnancy and riding -- statistics, she said, show that it is safer to ride a horse than to groom him. I can't verify this anywhere, and the assertion contradicts some of the statistics I do find (most injuries in the general population occur when riding). If the commenter's stat is true, it isn't an artifact of pregnancy, it's just showing where the dangers of horses leave us most vulnerable. At Rolex one year a lady told me her friend (who was supposed to accompany her to Rolex) was recovering in the hospital after her horse tripped in the stall while she was grooming him, and he fell on her. Gads.

Be careful, all.


  1. When I worked at the harness racing farm, I met a trainer who specialized in "problem" horses. He had one horse that was being exceptionally difficult, and I offered to break him to saddle and see if he was better as a riding horse. He asked: "You want to get ON that thing?! Are you nuts?!" Personally, I thought he was the crazy one, sitting behind all the misfits on a postage stamp with wheels!

    At a fair one year, the head of the group I was with forbade me to ride in a certain area, but told me I was welcome to longe my horse. Well, my horse was trained to be a drill & parade horse, and HE felt more secure with me on his back! He'll carry me plenty of places he would never follow...

    Accidents can happen anywhere, but I guess it's just a matter of perspective where you feel "safest."

  2. I totally agree that the safest place near a horse is on its back. Some of the most horrific injuries I've heard about have been while handling the horse on the ground.

    Perhaps it's more true for experienced riders than beginners though? Experienced riders fall off less, and might push the boundaries a bit handling young horses and so on, whereas beginners probably just fall off more :-) I'm sure the statistics don't reflect the experience/skill of the riders injured.

    I'm quite confident on the horse's back, but I do feel intimidated on foot around large horses becuase I feel the risk of me being injured is much higher.

  3. The SAFEST place to be is on the other side of the fence, lol. I have heard that it's easier to get hurt when on the ground with the horse than on their back. When you stay in the saddle, you really can't get hurt but does that take into account when you fall from their back?

    Pregnant with my first child, I rode until two weeks before my due date. My doctor said it was fine as long as I didn't do any bronc riding. Little did he know, I was working with a flighty four year old Arab. But all went well.

    I have fallen WITH a horse three different times and it sucks! Broke my ankle most recently, when Scout fell over backwards. The other two times, my green horse, Riddler, slipped and fell, on my leg (I didn't fall off) and I had hematoma from my knee down. COuldn't bend my leg at all for three months each time.

  4. I totally agree that on the ground is more dangerous. We are totally vulnerable to a 1000lb+ animal with a short circuited nervous system. My horse recently startled while I was working around her. She took a small sideways step, less than a foot of movement. But her shoulder hit me and sent me staggering for 10 feet. A good wake up call and reminder to always be prepared. We tend to forget that if they run into us it is like being hit by a car, regardless of the speed.

  5. As an afterthought... we also have a lot more points of control while riding. We have a bit in the horse's mouth and two hands to give refined direction, we have our seat and full contact with our legs on both sides of the horse.

    This is surely a much higher degree of control than we have on the ground with one rope attached to a headcollar, which really only gives us control of the front end and one side.

    Riding we have control over the back, the front, and both sides of the horse. Surely that's got to make a difference?

  6. How's Bob? Sending him more good wishes.

    I guess staying on the horse is the safest place to be, mostly because I've been hurt fall OFF.

    However, I tend to agree about most ground injuries. I've been knocked down, stepped on, kicked, and bitten on the ground. Not seriously in any case, but I always know I'm "in the line of fire."

  7. What scares me most, and I feel is most dangerous, is getting caught in the crossfire between horses that are kicking, biting, chasing while in a paddock or pasture.

  8. I'd say it depends on the horse. I used to work with a stallion who could be really scary on the ground but was all business and a perfect gentleman once you were on his back. I've also worked with horses who were absolute love bugs until you swung your leg over. Either way, always best to pay attention and be careful.


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