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Welcome to the Equestrian Outreach Equestrian Safety Rules Page

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The following is a list of Equestrian facilities safety rules.
(Have we missed any? Please contact us)

Attention horse owners, horse trainers and facility managers: it’s a good idea to have some posted guidelines or rules to be followed when you have guests at your facility. A good idea is to post your guidelines or rules where they can plainly be seen.  
Attention riders:  it equally important to be aware of any guidelines or rules as a matter of safety and courteous. Working with and around horses is a wonderful and wholesome if not unpredictable experience and safety first is the best practice. Here are some suggested facility (Barn) rules:

Safe Barn Behavior

(Click here for a list of barn equipment suppliers)

 1. Supervision: The first riding rule should always be that no one who is untrained and unsupervised ever be allowed to handle let alone ride a horse.
 2. Instruction: The second riding rule should be that that no one is allowed to handle or ride a new horse without some instruction and supervision.
 3. Appropriate Barn Attire: Only wear appropriate barn attire, chosen to complement your chosen riding style. As follows:
4. Gloves: Gloves should be well fitting and flexible hand protection while handling horses.
a. A startled horse being led on a lead rope or while lunging can become dangerous if a horse handler loses control of the lead or lunge rope. 
b. Horses can cause painful or even dangerous hand and finger injuries; wearing gloves while handling them is a good safety measure.
 5. Paddock boots: Paddock boots are ankle or thigh length; as the name suggests these boots are used in and around the barn.
a. Having steel toed inserts in your boots would come in handy if a 1200 pound horse inadvertently steps on your foot.
b. Wearing a covered boot while in the barn or paddock area with sharp objects and biohazards is an important safety precaution.
 6. Long Pants: Breeches, jeans or riding chaps. In the summer heat there is a temptation to wear shorts or even a bathing suit. This temptation should be avoided for multiple safety reasons.
a. Scrapes and scratches.
b. Rubbing blisters and sores.
c. Protection of your skin, if you are drug behind a horse.
 7. Tall Socks: Tall (knee length) thin socks will help prevent discomfort and sores.
 8. No Loose Clothing: Avoid loose fitting clothing. Loose clothing can become entangled in tack, leads or trees and brush.
 9. Daily Observation and Education: While performing barn chores observation and education are important components in both your safety and your understanding of your horse’s behavior.
a. Learn about horse nature.
b. Learning the safe and dangerous zones around your horse. (Click here for more information about horse safe zones)
c. Learn about a horse’s vision. (Click here for more information about horse vision)
d. Observing your horse’s habits, moods and reactions.
e. Pay attention around your horse; make it a habit to watch your horse’s signals. (Click here for more information about horse signals)
f. Do an inspection of your horse each morning. (Click here for more information about horse inspections)
g. When approaching a horse make sure that it is not startled by calling out to it.
h. Avoid approaching a horse from the rear or other blind area. (Click here for more information about horse safe zones)
 10. Feeding:
a. Do not over feed! (Most problems affecting a horse’s health involve food and feeding).
b. Horses have small stomachs and should be feed small amounts of the total daily feed several times a day.
c. Do not allow the horse to eat spilled feed from the ground, clean it up as soon as possible.
 11. Feeding Treats:
a. Do not use treats as a bribe as bribing your horse can lead to unacceptable behavior.
b. Limited the use of treats as a reward for learning is acceptable.
c. Avoid feeding sugar filled treats.
d. They can rot teeth and cause handling problems.
e. Do not hand feed treats as doing this leads to biting and other aggressive behaviors.
f. If you choose to feed treats sliced carrots or apples (cut into ½ inch pieces) feed in a bucket are good.


Rider Instruction

(Click here for a local list of Instructors)

12. Instruction: Instruction, all inexperienced riders need instruction from a certified instructor. Many people call themselves experienced instructors few actually are; a potentially dangerous fact!  Even experienced riders should regularly attend instructional safety workshops. (Click here for more information about safety work shop programs)
      a. Instructors instruct people and trainers train horses.
b. Do not assume that a good horse trainer will be a good riding instructor.
c. Choose a riding discipline and a professional and or professionals who specialize in that riding discipline.
d. Choose your instructor carefully; ask potential instructors for references and carefully check those references.

Horse Training
 (Click here for a local list of Trainers)

13. Training: All untrained horses need training from a certified trainer. Many people call themselves experienced instructors few actually are; a potentially dangerous fact!
      a. Instructors instruct people and trainers train horses.
b. Do not assume that a good riding instructor will be a good horse trainer.
c. Choose a riding discipline and a professional and or professionals who specialize in that riding discipline. Avoid people who insist that they can train in multiple riding disciplines; professional trainers specialize!
d. Choose your horse’s trainer carefully; ask potential trainers for references and carefully check those references.

Riding Attire
(Click here to see English riding gear illustration) (Click here to see Western riding gear illustration)

14. Appropriate Riding Attire: You should get in the habit of always wearing this attire during your barn and riding time.
a. Only wear appropriate riding attire, such as breeches and a collared, shirt should be chosen to complement your chosen riding style.
b. Inappropriate riding attire can cause sores, discomfort and poor riding form; even compromise your riding safety.
 15. Helmets: Helmets, all riders should always wear a helmet, regardless of the discipline that you choose!
a. Helmets protect the most vital and easily injured part of your body. (Note: 80% of all riding horse related deaths and injuries are results from head injuries).
b. Be sure to shop for a helmet that is SEI certified.
Make sure that the helmet is comfortable and fits well.
c. Do not accept a “hand me down” helmet.
It is critical that you wear a helmet and that it is in excellent condition, for your protection.
 16. Gloves: Gloves should be well fitting and flexible hand protection while handling horses.
a. A startled horse being led on a lead rope or while lunging can become dangerous if a horse handler loses control of the lead or lunge rope. 
b. Horses can cause painful or even dangerous hand and finger injuries; wearing gloves while handling them is a good safety measure.
 17. Riding boots: Riding boots, knee high with steel-toe (or comparable protection) with ankle-support boots or shoes with a short heel.
a. Having steel toed inserts in your boots would come in handy if a 1200 pound horse inadvertently steps on your foot.
b. Having boots with supports in the ankles assist you in acquiring a proper “riding leg”.
c. Having boots that cover you inner thigh and inside knee keep down discomfort and sores.
d. Boots with heels keep your feet from going too far into the stirrup; an important safety measure to avoid your feet from getting caught up in the stirrup.
e. Boots with heels assist you in maintaining your foot and heels in their proper position which will improve you’re riding form.
 18. Paddock boots: Paddock boots are ankle or thigh length; as the name suggests these boots are used in and around the barn.
a. Having steel toed inserts in your boots would come in handy if a 1200 pound horse inadvertently steps on your foot.
b. Wearing a covered boot while in the barn or paddock area with sharp objects and biohazards is an important safety precaution.
 19. Long pants: In the summer heat there is a temptation to wear shorts or even a bathing suit while. This temptation should be avoided for multiple safety reasons.
a. Scrapes and scratches.
b. Rubbing blisters and sores.
c. Protection of your skin if dragged.
 20. Tall Socks: Tall (knee length) thin socks will help prevent discomfort and sores.
 21. Loose Clothing: Avoid loose fitting clothing. Loose clothing can become entangled in tack, leads or trees and brush.
 22. Sun Block: Waterproof, SPF 30.


Horse Handling

 23. Warn the Horse:  When approaching a horse, call out to them to avoid startling them.
 24. Approach Properly: Do not approach a horse from a blind zone. (Click here for more information)
24. On the Lead: When handling a horse on a lead; lead from the near side (Left side) However it
25. On the Lead: When handling a horse on a lead; hold the lead safely.
a. Hold the rope end with left hand.
b. Hold the lead rope with at the halter with right hand.
c. Never wrap a lead around your hand.
26. On the Lead: Your horse must be trained to respect your space.
a. It is not allowed to crowd you.
b. It is not allowed to step on you.
c. It is not allowed to walk into you.
d. It is not allowed to rub on you.
e. It is not allowed to pull or over pace you.
f. When you stop it must stop and wait for your instruction.
 27. Never allow a horse to crowd you in a confined area.
 28. When entering any doorway or opening.
a. Make the horse halt while you walk through.
b. Then lead the horse through.
 29. A horse must not be allowed to nip or bite even if it seems playful.
 20. A well trained horse stands quietly when asked.
A well trained horse responds to commands while in hand and to riding aids.
When “turning out” a horse, do not allow it to display bad manners or unruly behavior.

  1. Although it is acceptable for turned out horses to become “coltish”, it is not acceptable to have a horse behave in a way that is unsafe to you.
  2. Correct a horse that becomes aggressive after release.

Safely Mounting and Dismounting a Horse

There are 3 accepted mounting methods:
 29. Never mount or ride a horse in the barn.
 30. Mounting from the ground. This method works for smaller horses and ponies but is much harder all the way around for bigger horses. It is however recommended to at least learn this method.
 31. Mounting from a mounting block. This is the best solo method of mounting a horse.
 32. Mounting with assistance. This is the safest method of mounting a horse.
 33. Mounting Procedure:
a. Before mounting it is always advisable to check your tack and that the girth is sufficiently tight. A loose girth will result in the saddle slipping to one side when mounting and while riding.
b. While it takes a lot of energy to hop into the saddle of a 16 hand horse, the object is to do so with the least amount of strain and impact or you horse.
c. The quicker that you can get into the saddle the less opportunity you horse has to become fidgety or to move.
d. Keep both of your reins firmly in your grasp and do not let go.
e. Never mount a horse that is tied as it may try to move while you mount and panic when it cannot.
f. Never mount or ride a horse in the barn.
g. A horse should be trained to stand perfectly still while mounting.
h. If your horse won’t stand still while you are trying to mount, face your horse into a corner or have an assistant hold it.
 34. Dismounting Procedure: Dismounting properly is also important part of safe riding.
a. To minimize the possibility of injury, do not begin the dismount until you horse is standing squarely and completely halted.
b. Grasp both reins and a portion of the horse’s mane in your left hand.
c. Remove both of your feet from the stirrups at the same time.
d. While holding the pommel of the saddle with your right hand, swing your right leg over the horses rump and bring the leg down to meet your left leg.
e. At this point you are supporting your weight with your arms.
f. To complete the dismount simply slip to the ground landing on the ball of your feet.
 35. Emergency Dismount: This dismount is as the name suggests only for emergencies and can cause injuries.
a. It can be used for dismounting from either side of the horse while the horse is in motion.
b. Quickly remove both feet from the stirrups while holding onto the pommel.
c. Swing either leg over the rump of the horse.
d. While swinging the leg you should push up and away from the horse, landing facing forward.

Trail / Pleasure Riding Rules

 36. Red Ribbon on the Tail: This is the globally accepted sign of a horse that kicks.
a. Owners of kicking horses should avoid crowed areas.
b. Owners of kicking horses should have this behavior corrected.
c. If a & b are ignored, owners of kicking horses are required tie a red ribbon on that horses tail while in public.
d. Avoid horses with red ribbons on their tails.
 37. Riders Approaching Riders: While riding whether in a ring or on a trail ride; riders who are approaching each other should employ the “Left Shoulder to Left Shoulder Rule”.
a. Simply stated riders should pass on the right hand side of each other.
b. This is an often ignored but none the less important rule to avoid serious accidents.
c. As a matter of courtesy riders who are approaching others (fellow riders, bicyclists, pedestrians, etc.) should call out in a clear voice: “Behind You!”

Show Manners - Kicking Horses

 38. While riding whether in a practice or shop ring and as a matter of courtesy, riders who are approaching each other should call out to each other
a. Never, never allow horses that kick around the public, whether in a show or on a trail.
b. Horses that kick kill and injure people and other horses and should be retrained by a professional trainer.
c. Horses that kick should have a red ribbon prominently placed on their tail; where the public can see it.
d. Avoid horses with red ribbons on their tails.

Show Manners – Call Out!

 38. While riding whether in a practice or shop ring and as a matter of courtesy, riders who are approaching each other should call out to each other  ‘Inside’ (Away from the rail) or ‘Outside’ (Against the rail).
a. A rider who is on the outside calls “Outside” in a loud clear voice.
b. A rider who is on the inside calls “Inside” in a loud clear voice.