Like a well-oiled machine, an organized barn helps ensure the safety of anyone who comes in contact with it – horse or human. Conversely, a disorganized barn can lead to potentially dangerous situations. A few areas of safety procedures to get organized in the barn include holding high priorities for tools and machinery, cleanliness, a well-kept tack room, safe stalls and important guidelines for visitors to follow.
Keeping everything clean and organized must be a priority so that both people and horses stay healthy and do not get injured from carelessness. Failing to put things in their proper places may lead to injuries that could have easily been avoided. Neglecting to keep water tubs scrubbed, floors level and cobwebs or dust managed can affect your horse’s health.
The first thing that often comes to mind when a person thinks barn safety is fire safety. Having a thorough plan for fire safety must be a priority. This includes forbidding smoking, having the wiring inspected and fire extinguishers serviced. Create a checklist for fire safety including a plan of action if a fire were to occur, and gaining emergency responders access to combinations or keys for locks to gaits.
William Woods Dressage professor Karen Pautz writes in her Barn Cat Blog, “It’s your job, as a careful horse person, to think about all the myriad ways your horse can injure himself, and avoid as many of those ways as possible.” Curious horses want to sniff and play in some odd places. Pautz gives great examples of ways to be proactive in the stall.
Don’t forget to brief visitors to your barn who may not have much horse experience on proper safety. Ask them about their experiences or fears, and show them safety zones, horse blind spots and special guidelines you may have for your barn or the specific situation.
Of course as always, follow safe practices when you’re riding or teaching. Karen Pautz points out proper stirrup adjusting for her Dressage students, and says “difficult and safe is always better than easy and dangerous,” which rings true for everything when it comes to the barn.
As is the nature of any sport, sometimes injuries happen. Maintaining a barn with high safety standards will not always result in an injury-free environment, but it will make the avoidable ones more rare. A well-kept barn means you can spend less time dealing with accidents and more time in the ring, on the trail or just hanging out with your horse.
The online Masters of Equestrian Education program at William Woods is ideal for the working professional in today’s field to become the kind of educator who incorporates barn safety practices into their curriculum.