A young scared horse coming into the bar and causing trouble

Did you know that a horse is a “fight or flight” animal? Knowing this upfront can help a person stay safer when around their equine counterparts; whether it be in simple contact situations, training, riding, or all of the above.

In situations where the horse feels threatened, the horse may resort to running away. We see the same thing in the video, we don’t know what scared the horse so much, but it acted instinctively and became dangerous, took shelter where saw its eyes, and got even more scared when it felt the panic and stress of the people around him. If this is not possible, the horse resorts to biting, kicking, striking or rearing to protect itself.

Many of the horse’s natural behavior patterns, such as herd-formation and social facilitation of activities, are directly related to them being prey species. Depending on what this horse has or has not been exposed to may help you to gauge what moves you and make to maintain as much safety as possible.

Horses are truly sensitive in the fact that they can read you before you even know what you are telling them. If you walk up briskly to a horse and expect to throw a halter over their muzzle, you may be greeted with nothing but a tail following a burst of speed moving far, far away from you (there’s that flight response). In comparison, if you are walking up to a horse softly with a relaxed demeanor, handheld out to allow them to sniff you, you have a better chance of being able to slip a lead rope over their neck and then slowly haltering them.

Understanding prevention and how to minimize the risk of accidents is essential, and best practices should be the norm. Safety procedures and a list of emergency contact numbers should be displayed prominently on the yard and programmed into the mobile phones of riders in case of accidents when out riding. An emergency list should include details of the yard manager, a veterinary surgeon, doctor, farrier, the local police, and the fire brigade.

All horses should be taught to understand basic commands and to respond accordingly. They should be taught to stand still and walk clear of the handler when being led from either side. The handler should wear gloves when leading, and lead ropes or lunge lines should not be wrapped around the hand or permitted to trail on the ground.

Horses should be tied up when being groomed or tacked up, even in a stable. This enables the handler to move quietly and confidently around the horse, without the danger of being trapped in a corner.