The old saying that “experience is the best teacher” is a good one, even in the horse world. Once we’ve survived a tragedy or been publicly humiliated we’re extra sure not to do that same stupid thing again. Consider them lessons learned the hard way. Unfortunately, along the way to enlightenment we’re putting our horses in danger.
Since I just mentioned hitching posts, let’s begin with Lesson #1: Don’t use your reins to tie a horse.
I’ve seen this several times at my local mini-mart, but I’ve yet to have an opportunity to counsel the offenders. Typically it’s a couple of teenagers who ride their horses across the parking lot to a hitching post next to the store. They tie their horses by knotting leather reins around the metal pipe and then blithely wander inside for a soda. Meanwhile, a few yards away, cars and trucks are zipping past on our town’s main thoroughfare.
Several potential nightmare scenarios come to mind, but each one begins with both horses breaking their reins and ends with them skidding across the asphalt parking lot and into six lanes of traffic.
How do I know this could happen? When I was a young teen I got in the habit of tying my little sorrel mare to the wooden fence that surrounded the restroom at the stable. I’d tie her (pink) nylon reins around a board and take my time. After about a dozen uneventful episodes, something spooked my mare and she took off. The nylon reins didn’t break. But the wood did. You can probably imagine how hard it is to subdue a horse that’s dragging an 8-foot plank of plywood tangled in its reins.
And that’s how I learned to use a halter and lead rope, or one of those combination bridle/halter rigs, if I’m trail riding and plan on making a stop. Plus, I’d never tie my horse near a street anyway, unless there was secure fencing around the hitching post. I can’t imagine the horror of seeing my horse slamming into someone’s windshield.
I’m confident you’ve also encountered people who are making cringe-inducing errors with a horse. And you’ve probably learned a few of your own horse handling and riding lessons the hard way. Feel free to share them. Who knows, in an upcoming blog post I may be writing about the very same topic that makes you want to scream, “Hey! Trust me. You really shouldn’t be doing that!”
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