Working around the horse
Some advices for the correct handling of the horse. Our good behaviour means safety both for us and for our horses.
Looking after horses, both as a rider as a groom, is a very responsible job. However, the level of responsability asked for and expected of the carer needs to be carefully thought out according to their level of ability and experience.
Correct handling of the horse is vital! Never presume that a horse has always behaved in a certain way he will continued to do so. Horses are very sensitive to changes in our behaviour. They will pick up on our being tired, nervous, worried or in a hurry. This in turn can make them worried and induce a change in their behaviour. They may be also be influenced by outside conditions such as high winds, strange noises or changes in their enviroment.
The use of the voice is a good first method of estabilishing control and reassurance. Horses understand simple words of command such as ‘Stand’, ‘Move over’, ‘No’ and ‘Good boy’ and can develope quite a large vocabulary with time if the words are used consistently. Horses respond to the tone of a voice, and in this way they can be rewarded for good behaviour or corrected for bad behaviour.
When entering the stable, always speak first. Go up to the horses shoulder and pat him on the neck. Before handling him further, put on a headcollar and tie him up with a quick-release knot. He should be tied up sufficiently short to prevent him turning and nipping or biting, but not too short that he feels constrained, is frightened and pulls back. When dealing with the legs and feet, never kneel or sit, always crouch. If they are frightened or worried, some horses will use theyr legs as defence and they may:
- Strike out with the front feet, so when holding a horse always stand to the side and never in front.
- Deliver a cow kick with a hind foot
- Kick out to the back with one or both hind feet. To minimise the danger of being kicked never stand behind the horse. When attending to let or feet, always stand close to the horse. Doing so minimises the impact of any kick.
Another important point to take into account for well-being and welfare both for of our own and of our horses is the hygiene.
The good hygiene should be a routine part of good management in order to maintain the health of both horse and carer.