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The following rules will help you avoid accidents:
**Learn about horse nature
**Get to know your own horse's habits, moods, and reactions
**Provide a safe, sturdy, well-ventilated home for your horse, and keep it well maintained.
**Pay attention around your horse
**Use sturdy, well-fitting tack
**Always wear a safety helmet when riding
**Make sure you receive good instruction from a qualified teacher
If you live where winter snows are heavy, regularly check your barn's roof. Shovel off snow ad ice when the load gets heavy - a roof collapse is the mother of all barn accidents.
Install plenty of lights, with switches located next to the main doors. Place light fixtures out of your horse's reach, and cover bulbs with heavy-duty wire screening. Install motion detectors for exterior lights, so they'll switch on as you, or an intruder, approach your barn after dark.
Never drop hay or anything else out of a loft without first looking to make sure no people or animals are below. Call out a warning to anyone who might be approaching.
Install a handrail for stairs, if your barn has them, and guardrails for loft doors and hatches you keep open in hot weather.
Keep potentially harmful medications and toxic substances, such as rat poison, in securely closed cabinets, out of the reach of curious cats, dogs, horses and children.
If you live in earthquake country, don't store bottles, jars or any heavy items on shelves where they might be shaken off. Secure them in trunks or latched cabinets. If you live in a storm or tornado belt, install lightning rods to reduce fire hazard and add hurricane strapping to your barn's roof to reduce wind/debris damage.
Keep two first-aid kits on hand - one for people, one for horses. Check them from time to time to make sure they're fully stocked and that the medications haven't expired.
Make sure stall and barn doors open easily, swing or slide fully out of the way, and aren't obstructed by hay bales or equipment. Stiff doors and blocked doorways invite accidents by encouraging you and your horse to squeeze through narrow openings. In an emergency, they're a disaster waiting to happen.
Keep drives and walkways clear of snow, and well-sanded for traction.
To reduce fire hazard, don't leave fans, the barn vacuum, or any other appliance hooked up, especially if they have extension cords. Every time you finish using an appliance, unplug and roll up the cord, then put everything away to reduce clutter. Use extension cords rated for outdoor use, and never run electrical cords near water.
Keep aisles clear. Banish tack trunks, brush boxes, ladders, wheelbarrows, brooms, and other items to out-of-the-way storage areas, where no one will walk into them.
Level stall and aisle floors to reduce the danger of tripping. Fill places where aisle pavement has cracked; consider resurfacing with a nonslip material, such as textured concrete. If you've put down stall mats, make sure they lie flat, with no curled-up edges.
Keep halters and lead ropes handy and hanging. Never leave them on the floor where you or your horse could trip on them.
Lock up feed and grain in horse- and rodent-proof containers. A food raid by a hungry horse could result in such life-threatening conditions as founder and colic. Rodent-proofing will help prevent contamination and spills.
Stand in your horse's stall and imagine all the ways he could get in trouble if he tried. Could he catch a hoof in that hay rack if he reared? Cut himself on the handle of his water bucket? Tear a nostril on a poorly fastened bucket clasp? Fix what you find. Protect glass or Plexiglas stall windows with horseproof grills.
Go on a hazard hunt: Look for popped nails, bent brackets, protruding door latches, cracked windowpanes, splintered boards, torn wire mesh, and anything else that could wound a horse or a human. Fix every offending item, even those that seem minor.
Reference: Horse & Rider; September 1998
Storey's Horse Lover's Encyclopedia; 2001