Horse safety when approaching, leading, and handling legs
It is paramount when it comes to horse safety that when you approach your horse it should always be to the shoulder. A horse may or may not see you approaching from behind, so always speak first, and make sure your horse is aware of you being there.
If you startle a horse, you may have trouble next time when you try to catch or fit a headcollar...remember a horse has a memory of an elephant!
She will never forget how you treat her from day one...
It is a simple but most important lesson to learn when it comes to horse safety that when you approach any horse or pony, (or any animal for that matter!) speak before moving towards her. This would appear to be an obvious thing to do, but you would be surprised how any people actually don't do this before approaching a horse.
LEADING IN HAND
It is a good idea to get your horse to lead from either side..but it is usual though to work from the near side (left) as most things will be done from the near side, ie., tacking up and getting on your horse.
Never, ever twist a rope around your hand, if your horse startles, your hand will go with it! - a painful experience, as you can imagine..and certainly not good horse safety sense!
Gather up the slack of the rope in your left hand, speak first and walk forward without 'dragging' or staring your horse in the face.. she probably won't move if you do this!
A trained horse should follow you comfortably (in her own space not yours!) at your shoulder.
HANDLING THE LEGS
When lifting the foreleg, always speak first, pat your horse's neck and face her tail. Speaking softly, run your hand down from the shoulder to the lower leg and on reaching the fetlock, ask her to lift whilst squeezing the joint gently.
Grasp the hoof with the other hand. Some horses have a tendency to 'lean' so holding the hoof rather than at the pastern, (lower leg) is advisable, until you have your balance.
The back legs are similar.. with your face towards her tail, speaking gently, run your hand down the back of the leg and she should raise it. Do not raise her leg too high as this could throw her off balance, and you could run into a few problems!
If she refuses to life her leg at first, a quick lean into her shoulder/hind quarters whichever leg you are lifting, whilst running your hand down, will help to take her weight off the foot and persuade her to lift it.
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