You need to be thinking about wrecks

One thing that annoys me is when people talk about developing confidence by promising or pretending nothing bad will happen. Accidents WILL happen- you can’t control all of the ways they will happen. But you CAN control your ability to observe, prepare, educate yourself, your horse, and make sure you’re using appropriate and safe equipment.

Example: I teach all my horses to be confident dragging something behind them, I teach them to hold still when mounting and dismounting, and I teach them if a rider is unseated, to hold still as well. I still wear boots that will pop off should my foot get stuck in the stirrup, and my stirrups will release quickly. And I still work on developing a better seat – you need to be doing this too, because your safety depends on it. Even if you just trail ride. Can you ride a sideways scoot? A sudden stop? You need to be working on this if you can’t. Is your horse appropriate for you? Are they educated? Are you a solid rider if you have a young or green horse?

My safety is a matter of both education, my riding ability and ability to observe and direct my horse, and appropriate equipment.

Tying is another place that often can lead to wrecks.
I teach all my horses to lead well, to understand the lead rope and to keep slack in it, I teach them to hobble, and I teach them how to tie. Wrecks while tied are largely preventable – many horses who have had accidents tying either weren’t educated properly, were tied to something inappropriate to tie to (if you’ve seen a scared horse, you know how strong they can be- don’t EVER tie to something that can be pulled out by a scared horse), were set up to fail by people, or tied with equipment that can easily break before being educated (toss your bungee ties out right now). And don’t do anything to a tied horse they can’t do loose!

Don’t make assumptions. Many accidents happen with seasoned horse people and broke horses – people getting complacent and making assumptions about what a horse is and isn’t ok with.

I watch people every day talking away while their horse is winding around them, lead rope tangled between their fingers, horse one step away from creating one very very dangerous scenario. Talking is not more important than paying attention to and directing your horse – ever!

One thing I think I have the good luck to deal with in my life is horses who are dangerous and not ok with many things. It keeps me observant, keeps me from doing things to get myself or them hurt, and keeps everyone safer.

Don’t get complacent, pay attention, educate your horse, use appropriate and safe equipment, and think worst case scenario first. I know this sounds counter to developing confidence but this is what keeps me confident: imagining the worst case scenario first and doing everything I can to prevent and head it off, then relax on my ride knowing I’m well prepared.

You need to be thinking about wrecks to head them off.

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