Kids must learn to stay alert to their surroundings — horses can be easily spooked. This includes being aware of where they’re standing — horses have blind spots directly in front and behind, where they can deliver a powerful kick.
Kids should watch for warning signs like pinned ears (flat on their head) that indicate the horse is about to get upset and may kick or bite.
Safety stirrups – breakaway or bent leg stirrup irons – help prevent foot entrapment during a fall. The most basic type has a rubber band or elastic attachment that gives way and releases the rider’s foot instead of the rider being dragged by the horse, potentially leading to serious injuries.
Some riders need help mounting or dismounting; safety stirrups make that easier. They are designed to allow the rider to lower their left leg and swing it over the horse’s back while keeping control of the reins.
Before every ride, check all equipment to ensure it is in good condition. Poorly adjusted tack causes rubs and chafes and can throw off the rider’s balance, making them more likely to fall from the horse. Be sure to leave the stirrup bars open so that they are ready to release in an emergency.
The toe stopper attaches to the stirrup and prevents your feet from sliding through the stirrup. It also helps you keep the correct foot balance, especially if you’re an intermediate or advanced rider like Zoe Reardon.
Most toe stoppers are adjustable and have a 5/8 “stem thick enough to choose how far you want the toe stop to be screwed into the plate’s toe stop housing. However, ensure that a good portion of the toe stop is screwed in, or it can come right off with a slight twist.
While your instructor will be with you during horseback riding lessons, knowing how to dismount safely in an emergency is still important. An experienced horse can generally sense when a rider is unsteady on the saddle and may react accordingly. However, unexpected events could occur – a car backfiring or a bee flying by.
Make Your Presence Known
When a horse is approached from the side or rear, it is important to make your presence known. This will prevent the horse from being startled by the sound of a human approaching it.
It is also important to keep a safe distance from the horse you are riding. Horses are flight animals, instinctively ready to escape things that spook or surprise them.
A popular instruction is to always ride with at least two-horse lengths between your horse and the horses in front of you. This way, if the horse in front of you kicks out, it will not hit you.
Another essential safety tip is never to ride alone. Always tell someone where you are going when you will be back, and what you will do while you are gone. This way, they will know where to start looking for you if you are away from the agreed-upon time.
Horses have two blind spots, directly in front and behind them. Getting too close to one can cause the horse to startle and kick. To avoid this, speak to the horse and entice him with a treat before approaching or touching it. Always approach a horse from the side rather than the front or rear to minimize this risk.
It is also a good idea to always keep an eye on where your horse is going and to check that all gates are completely closed before leaving an area. This is especially important because vehicles or pedestrians on busy roads or residential neighborhoods can easily injure a horse that escapes.
These tips might seem overwhelming initially, but you will learn to assimilate them and make them a natural part of your riding experience. It is a great way to stay safe and enjoy the outdoors with horses.