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How to Think Like A Horse: The Essential Handbook for Understanding Why Horses Do What They Do

Horse Stable and Riding Arena Design

Horse Owner's Veterinary Handbook (Howell Reference Books)

Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage: Designing and Managing Your Equine Facilities

Tips For Beginners

Above all else, safety first!

  • Always wear your helmet when riding. Don't ever get on the horse without wearing a helmet!
  • Never wear shorts or really loose clothing - it promotes hazards!
  • When walking behind a horse, either stay really close, or really far away. Walking just a few feet away increases the force of the impact, should the horse decide to kick.
  • Never run or shout around horses. Walk and speak in a normal voice.
  • Never sneak up on a horse, because you will startle them. Approach the horse from an angle, because they cannot see you if you are directly in front of or behind them.
  • Never stand directly behind the horse
  • Always watch the horse for signs of action - what it will do if startled or scared
  • Always squat down if you're doing something towards the ground - you can spring away faster than if you're kneeling
  • Don't make sudden movements around horses
  • Never punish a horse in anger. They will not understand. Know the difference between discipline and revenge
  • Always wear boots or shoes when working around horses. No sandals or loafers, please
  • Never ride when you're completely alone. Always have some means of communication in case something happens.
Leading, Tying, and Turn Out
  • Hold the lead rope in your right hand, standing on the left side of the horse's head.
  • Never loop the excess lead rope around your arm or hand
  • Drop the lead rope on the ground or place it over the neck when haltering or unhaltering.
  • The horse should walk beside you, not in front or behind
  • When turning a horse, turn to the right and walk around him. Turning to the left could easily result in squished toes.
  • If the horse tries to get away, don't try to hang on
  • Never tie or wrap the lead rope around you!
  • Protect your fingers!! Keep them out of the way!!
  • Make the horse stop at gates and doors and the handler go through first
  • When turning a horse loose, always make him turn to face you and stand still before you let go of the lead rope.
  • Don't turn a horse out with its halter on
  • Tie the rope 'eye high and arm's length'
  • NEVER tie with the horse with the reins!!!
  • Tie the horse to something solid ' not a board or something that would easily break
Bridling and Saddling
  • Stand back and beside the head so the horse won't hit you with his head
  • Never stand in front of the horse's feet
  • Open the horse's mouth by sticking your thump in their mouth
  • Be gentle when pulling the bit into the horse's mouth
  • Use your left hand to guide the bit into the mouth, and the right hand to slip the crownpiece over the ears
  • Always check the saddle and saddle pad for abnormal objects
  • Don't tighten the girth all the way to start with
  • Secure the girths and stirrups before putting the saddle on the horse, to avoid banging the horse with them
  • ALWAYS check the girth for tightness before you mount!!
Mounting and Dismounting
  • Don't flop into the saddle when mounting
  • Never move off as soon as you are seated' - always wait a few minutes, so the horse will not get the idea that mounting means 'go'
  • Foot should be parallel to the horse or with the toe turned into the girth, while mounting
  • Check the girth before mounting
  • Bounce three times and spring lightly into the saddle; don't haul yourself up using the saddle to pull your body up
  • Always run English stirrups up after dismounting
  • Never loop the reins over any part of your body
Arena Etiquette
  • Horses going to the left have right of way
  • Fast horses (cantering or galloping) get the rail, slow horses move in
  • Always check behind you before stopping or backing
  • Never hit your horse

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