Handling horses the right way makes them more reliable and safer says New Zealand’s leading farm consultants, AgSafe NZ.
AgSafe NZ specialises in consulting with the rural, equine, and racing sectors to prepare hazard management programmes and safety plans.
Horses by their very nature, are prey animals and will run away when they are frightened. “When dealing with and handling horses safely, you must take their natural instincts and senses into consideration,” says Jim Findlay, Rural Consultant for AgSafe New Zealand Ltd.
When dealing with horses, accidents can easily happen if someone upsets or frightens the horse. Only trained and experienced people should ride horses for farm work. Always wear a helmet when riding a horse.
Horses can detect danger through their vision, sense of smell and keen hearing. There are several ways to tell if a horse is upset just by looking at its body language. For example, when a horse lifts its head and pricks its ears up, it is looking at something far away. A horse will dip its head to look at close objects.
Horses have wide-angle vision, but they have blind spots directly behind and in front of them. “It is important to remember about these blind spots and to know where your horse’s attention is focused so you don’t frighten it,” adds Jim. Always approach a horse in calm manner and from a direction where they can see you coming.
When leading a horse ensure you use a lead rope attached to a halter, so you have a ‘safety zone’ and do not hold the halter directly with your hand. “Grip the lead rope with your right hand, 8 to 10 inches away from the horse’s head, holding the end of the rope with your left hand, advises Jim.
Spend time teaching your horse to walk beside you so you can walk at its left shoulder. This puts your right elbow near the horse’s shoulder so you can better anticipate its actions.
When you are returning a horse to the paddock and after you remove the halter, let the horse stand quietly for several seconds before letting it go. “This helps in preventing the horse from developing a bad habit of running away in excitement and accidentally knocking over or kicking the handler as its leaves’ adds Jim.
Contact AgSafe NZ Ltd:
Phone: 0274 587 724