Q2) How can I prevent common horse injuries?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This statement
is just as true when it comes to keeping your horses safe from common injuries.
Although sometimes no matter how efficient or careful you are "horses will
be horses" and injuries will occur anyway, you can still reduce the risk
considerably with just a few common sense steps.
1. Once a month (or more often if you prefer)
do a pasture scan. Walk through your pasture and especially those areas in the
pasture you know your horses favor and look for anything that could cause
injury. You are looking for trash, nails, sharp objects both metal and plastic,
glass, broken or jagged fencing. You would be surprised how many things are
lurking in the grass that you would never know are there.
2. Once a month (or more often if you prefer)
do a stable scan. Walk through your barn and look at all the things that you
normally walk past without even thinking about. Is the tractor sticking out
farther into the aisle than normal? Have the pitchforks migrated off the wall
and now reside leaning against the stall doors? Is there a nail sticking out of
a stall door since the previous boarder removed their horse's name plaque? Are
barn users using the appropriate garbage receptacles, especially for glass and
3. Use safe fencing and keep it well
maintained. Under no circumstances should horses ever, and I mean ever, be
enclosed with barbed wire. If you don't love your horses or care about their
well-being sell them to someone who does. Electric wiring should be marked with
bright ribbons every six feet for easy visibility. My own horse still has a scar
from one side of his chest to the other simply because at full speed he couldn't
see the electric wire. Wear and tear on wood fences can also invite disaster
with large jagged splinters and broken boards.
4. Get to know your horses and their herd
behavior. Because many injuries can occur at the hooves & teeth of pasture
mates make sure that turn out groups are well suited to one another. While
threats, chases and nips are a normal part of equine interaction, severe
injuries especially on a continual basis are grounds for separation.
5. Footing is a major consideration in
the prevention of injury in your horse. Horses are particularly concerned about
footing and will lose confidence if they feel that their footing is compromised.
This means taking care of any ice patches, placing rubber mats in those slippery
cement wash stalls, maybe even placing shavings or straw in muddy gate areas for
traction. The possibilities are endless, just use common sense.
6. Lastly be aware of wild animals in
your pasture or barn. A raccoon may seem harmless but can often carry rabies and
a nasty disposition. Feral dogs can also be a threat to your horses especially
if their numbers are large. For those in the Western United States rattlesnakes
are also a consideration. Look for wild visitors and take steps to prevent your
horse from encountering them. Do not assume that your horse will avoid them on