“10 Safety Tips and a Big Tumble Off My Horse”
I’ve always considered myself to be VERY safety conscious.
When I walk into a barn, my eyes are always scanning for safety. I’m just wired that way. As if I’m on autopilot, I look to see if the horses are tied high and short enough (so they don’t get a leg through the leadrope) … the horses are tied far enough apart (so they don’t kick each other) … the saddle cinches are snug before getting on and then checked again before working a cow, etc.
Welllllll … I had a little accident a few weeks ago.
It was actually a big accident that could have had catastrophic consequences for me and for my horse. But thank you, God. My horse and I are both fine.
Here’s what happened. I was in the middle of showing a cutting horse and the cow was FAST. After turning left with the cow, the off side billet broke on my saddle. I rolled off to the side and onto the ground at mach speed. I landed on my right elbow and shoulder. The horse (a true sweetie pie) was super scared, of course and inadvertently stepped on my lower leg as he began a frantic run around the arena with the saddle under his belly. Thankfully, a friend and fellow trainer was able to get the horse into a confined area. He helped him relax as he retrieved the saddle.
Words do not express how grateful I am. In fact for two days afterwards, I was emotional as I could only think about how grateful I was that no one was seriously hurt.
I do have a bruised elbow and a very bruised leg … but nothing time won’t heal. But my experience did get me thinking about safety even more.
I know that many of you have had accidents both large and small. Some have left serious physical damage in their wake while others have left mental and emotional ill affects that can take a long time to heal. If this has been your experience, I empathize with you now more than ever. Truly.
In the wake of my incident here are some thoughts for you about accidents.
As in all of life, some things just happen and can’t be avoided. Other things could be avoided theoretically with more caution. Some things fall in the middle. No matter … we learn; we heal; we do our best.
I think my off side billet breaking falls in the middle. I know to check billets and saddle leathers consistently, and I do. Did I check that billet that morning? No. Also, the saddle was relatively new. Maybe there was a tear in the billet that could have been detected if I had systematically checked it? Maybe it was a faulty piece of leather that split in that frightful moment because of an inherent weakness? I’m not sure. All I know is that I’m more fastidious now about checking my saddle leathers.
I thought it might be a useful reminder for all of us to compile a list of 10 safety tips to live by as we work and play around horses. This list is certainly not exhaustive so feel free to elaborate on any one of them or add some of your own safety tips in the comments section.