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Safety, From Horse’s Perspective

PULLMAN, Wash. – Horse handlers aren’t the only ones concerned about safety. So are horses, and if handlers would look at life from the horse’s perspective, they would be less likely to be injured by their animals.

That is the theme of “Ground Handling Horses Safely,” a new 18-minute educational video for adult and older youth beginners.

Betsy Greene, WSU Cooperative Extension equine specialist, says the video provides a unique perspective on how and why horses act and react in different situations.

“The handler who is paying attention to the surroundings and ‘tuned in’ to how the horse perceives the immediate environment is more likely to respond to situations in a manner that is safe for both horse and handler,” Greene says.

“By understanding life from the equine viewpoint, you may be able to anticipate, prevent or safely respond to new or frightening situations for your horse.

“The horse, no matter how well trained, will always revert to natural instincts in a threatening situation.”

After an incident or accident involving a horse, ground handlers often say things like:

  • He spooked all of a sudden…for no reason.
  • Bubbles shies at the ‘silliest’ things!
  • All I did was try to pet her…
  • I always did that with my old horse.

Greene says these statements usually indicate an inadequately educated ground handler.

Safe methods for approaching, haltering, leading, tying and general ground handling of horses are demonstrated in the video. “It is an effective educational aid for new horse owners, riding instructors, camp counselors, and anyone involved with youth and horses,” Greene says.

The video was produced by horse and safety experts at Washington State University, the University of Idaho and the University of Nevada. It is endorsed by the American Medical Equestrian Association, the American Association for Horsemanship Safety, Washington State 4-H Youth Development and the Horsemanship Safety Association, Inc.

You may order the video by sending a check or money order for $19.95 to Betsy Greene, Clark Hall 126, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6310. Make it payable to “Equine Video–WSU.” Washington residents must add 7.5% sales tax and $5 shipping and handling.

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