Trust Me. You Really Shouldn???t Do That


    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.

    Before I come across as a fountain of wisdom, let me assure you that I’ve done some idiotic things during my life with horses. But I’ve also learned not to repeat the same mistake. For example, I learned not to stand directly behind a horse that’s sitting back at the hitching post. When the lead rope finally snapped it cost me several painful (and expensive) dental visits to fix my front teeth. Please keep that perspective in mind as I occasionally share things I’ve witnessed that make me want to scream, “Hey! Trust me. You really shouldn’t do that!”

    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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    1. Yes! Thank you!
      In my past with training horses, I have learned many a thing! From MAKE SURE YOUR TACK WORKS PROPERLY (broken reins on a galloping 3 – year old on the trail isn’t a lot of fun) to DON’T RIDE WHERE THE GRASS IS ABOVE YOUR HORSE’S HEAD!!!! (He may begin to think it’s snack time!)

    2. haha So true. I’ve done so many stupid things with horses…
      I was galloping my horse through the mud once and we turned a tight corner and we fell. She broke my foot and I was laid up for a couple weeks. I kept my ruined boot as a souvenir… =)

    3. i was at an auction once, and i forgot my horse’s halter. she was tied with a bunch of strange horses, but my friend’s horse was there too.
      so i tied her with my (NEW) braided (expensive) reins and went inside to get something to eat. somebody came in and informed me that my dear sweet horse was loose. yup, she had tore back and tore her reins.
      luckily somebody had caught her, and with a red face, i went out and tied her, with one of my friend’s reins this time.
      AND, she tore them, too. Finally me and my friend decided to leave. we walked to my aunt’s house just down the road and waited there until my friend’s sister came in her car and lent me her reins.
      SO we made our way home. i wasn’t pleased, but always after that, i remembered to TAKE A HALTER AND LEAD ROPE ALONG!
      oh, and before or after that incident (not sure) a large group of friends were singing at our local retirement home. we had rode up there across the fields in the dark.
      i had Sweet Pea. we were with strange horses, it was COLD and dark, she was in heat (i think =) and then i tied her, by her reins ( to her halter, tho) with strange horses. yes, she tore back and got loose, then ran away with me on the way home.
      my goodness, i can’t believe i never seriously got hurt with that (crazy :~) horse!!!
      STAY SAFE!

    4. This is a great blog. My pet peeve relating to horse safety is the lack of helmet-wearing. All it takes is for your horse to stumble, or spook, or get stung by a bee, and there’s no telling where your un-padded head may land. WEAR A HELMET! Every ride, every horse, every time.

    5. HOWDY!

    6. So, I’m sure this is my inexperience talking and I have a lot of it, but I don’t understand how a halter and lead rope will make the situation better. Won’t the horse break that too? Or is the issue, tying up the horse?


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