We have all heard the old maxim “pride goeth before a fall.” I would bet that comment came from someone watching other people riding horses because it seems like just when you think you know what you are doing, you get “jinxed” then injured or fall from a horse, or have an “accident” of some kind. Unfortunately it also happens to horsemen and women related to safety with horses just about the time we get complacent and assured that “we know this horse” is about the time we get hurt, or we do something that gets the horse hurt.
Do you know anyone like this? Have you seen it happen to yourself? Have you noticed how hard it is for people to admit when their actions contributed to getting their horse injured or scared?
A great example: assuming the horse trailer is hitched correctly because we’ve “done it a million times” is a dangerous attitude. Even if you have hitched a trailer every day of your life you still haven’t done it more than 10,000 times and if you have hitched it that many times then you know that wires break, balls get loose, lubrication needs to be added, brake lines crack and fail, hitch pins get lost or break, etc. Go back and check especially if you leave the trailer hitched to the same vehicle all the time. Can you change your attitude to be more positive like “Before I load the love of my life in that trailer, I am going to ensure that trailer is a safe place for him to be on the road.”
I will be honest and tell you the truth. We are all that “cocky” self-assured person that “knows everything about horses” at some time in our lives. I can remember that, probably when I was 13 I by God thought I knew everything about them – after all I had been riding for more than half my short life. (Then I got kicked in the shin by a loose horse and decided maybe there was more to learn…)
Then I was 17 and I really knew everything about horses – after all it was my transportation and all my recreation with my friends and family.(Then I fell off a friend’s horse and broke a tailbone that I didn’t tell my parents about and because I kept riding anyway it took YEARS to heal properly and I still have a swollen spot 30 years later. So – I realized you cannot ride every single horse at liberty the way I rode mine in the pasture… and decided there was probably more to learn.)
Then I was 22 and I knew absolutely everything – plus I had a bachelor’s degree to prove it. Then, I got my first adult purchased and trained on my own horse – a leopard appaloosa for the then princely sum of $600 – because he was a runaway, barn sour, didn’t load, didn’t allow clipping or bathing, etc., etc. Heck – I could barely get on him because he took off like a bat out of hell at having a butt hit the saddle. (Assuming you could get the saddle on him in the first place.)
He (Mr. Brownstone) taught me that I had a whole hell of a lot to learn Ð mostly to keep him or me from getting hurt or killed – and thus I found various ground manners and riding horsemanship clinicians, purchased books and read voraciously, started going to satellite courses, went to various clinics, went to in person courses with my horses. Then I applied to Clemson University for a graduate degree where I was thoroughly amazed at what I did not know about horses – and duly began at the bottom of a mountain of information and started eating it up and educating myself. I haven’t stopped since – and I now know that you can learn something from anyone – either something you want to do or see yourself doing, or what not to do. Plus, I have come to understand that I can never know it all, or prepare for everything. However Ð that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.
Another great example: assuming that our fences are sturdy and complete. Mother nature loves to mess with us and drop trees across fences, wild animals run into them, rust becomes them and causes them to break or fall down. Horses’ natural curiosity can cause them to investigate, then possibly get thru the fence and run loose. So many highly preventable incidents occur with horses running loose where they get hit by cars or get injured by running into obstacles or stepping into holes, etc. Take a more positive approach “It’s been a month since I rode around the whole property and checked fences. That is a good project for the students to take them with me on a group trail ride today and ensure everything is still okay.
I meet so many people whose “know it all” attitude gets in the way of their learning new things, or recognizing hazards (whether it is ina barn, on the facility, or out on a trail ride.) Using situational awareness (Blog on this topic at https://thehorse.com/135543/situational-awareness/), asking questions, paying attention to the details of the environment around us, and using our more humble side of our personalities to think through what possibly we haven’t considered Ð can prevent accidents in the first place.
What examples can you give (without naming anyone) of people letting their egos and attitudes get in the way of learning or performing well and leading to accidents or incidents with their horses?
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