Thursday, July 7, 2011

Going it Alone and Being Safe

There comes times we all have to ride alone. Although for some the idea of riding alone fills them with dread, I am not one of them. I am quite happy to take off for a nice ride with just myself and my horse, but, I try to do it safely. Last week's ride I have several safety minded choices to make.

My plans were to ride outside for the first time in awhile. Yet the weather was a bit worrisome. I was starting to change my mind as a few water droplets hit my windshield. I am not a big worrier when it come to weather, but a few years ago there was a boy killed in Wisconsin from lightening. He was coming in from the fields when the sky got dark and there was thunder. Apparently you don't need rain, if there is thunder there is lightening. So please be careful if you hear thunder while riding. Today, just a few droplet of water though, so I still was not sure.

When I pulled up to the barn, decidedly absent was both Sensei's truck and his trailer. Sensei often hauls for people or may have taken his granddaughter on a trail ride. Normally this is not a cause for concern because he will be back, but this time I remembered he and his wife were going to pick up a wagon and would be gone for the weekend.

Now I started thinking. Nobody was at my house and knew that I was at the barn. Sensei would have someone coming over, but who knows when they would come. This is a private barn, only a few boarders that don't come out often. I did have my cell phone, but we all know that people can be knocked out cold from an accident with a horse. So I did what I think everyone should do in my situation, I called a friend. I called my boyfriend, M. He is in Chicago, he knows nothing about horses, but I gave him my location, the local police department, and told him I would call him in no more than two hours.

So simple, but if anything had happened to me and I could not call for myself, I knew that M would. I did not think anything would have but, come on people we are dealing with horses here. ANYTHING can happen! Just walking out into a field of horses, one could
run into you, knock you down and leave you unconscious. These like that happen.

As I explain to M that I would call him in a few hours I went to get Corrie. Sensei says a few sayings. One is that when you are with your horse, you are training. Training does not start in the barn, or when you put your foot in the stirrup. It starts when you walk out to the pasture. He believes in taking full advantage of every moment he has with a horse, including walking to the barn. So he would probably not have liked that I was on the phone and not paying attention to Corrie, but I was and atleast now someone knew I was riding.

Sensei has another saying, listen to what your horse is telling you. Doesn't matter if you are alone or not, listen to what your horse is telling you. Our horses will tell us if they are having an off day. They will tell us if they are ready to do something new. They will tell us if they are going to behave if we ride in that new bit or try to go bare back.

On the way back to the barn Corrie was her normal self, although I was still talking to M. There is bit of a routine that we follow to get into the barn. There is a pipe gate, and the not 4 feet further is the door, which is summer is usually left open. So as I open the gate for Corrie, I have to ask her to step half way through the door and whoa while I close the gate behind her. I never have to let go of her and she knows the routine very well. But apparently not today. She didn't whoa, although M heard me loud and clear as I shouted it into the phone. I finished with M and did a little training with Corrie.

Already Corry is telling me that she is not up to riding outside. So I canceled those plans. Grooming was not much better. So I decided that riding was out the window too. Corrie was telling me what she needed to work on. She needed a little reminder in her ground manners.

How often do we say to ourselves that we have plans of what we want to do and we are going to do it. We don't care if our horses are being dinks, we are going to do ride on the trail/ ride bare back/ whatever anyway. I know I'm guilty of it. I was not listening to Abby when I fell off of her. I am learning that it is so important to do just that though.

I did continue to work Corrie. We worked through some groud work issues. I have to tell you, I was annoyed at first that she was acting like she didn't have a clue about what I was asking her to do. But even though she was brilliant a few days ago, that day, she was not responding the way I expected to her and all I could do was work with the horse that was in front of me. Most importantly, I had safe enjoyable time with Corrie because I was safe about it.

So my three safety tips for the day are
1) Pay attention to the weather and heed weather warnings.
2) Make sure someone knows you are working with your horse.
3) Listen to your horse and take into concideration what they are able to do or not do on any given day.


  1. Very good advice!!!

  2. Great post. Something everyone who works around horses should read.


  3. Great advice. I like to carry my cell phone with me as well. But I also try to avoid being alone at the barn and try to always bring someone along.

    I used to board at a barn that had a massive trail system (20,000 acres of private land) and they had a sheet in the tack room to sign in and out on. Even if you were just going to groom your horse you were supposed to note your arrival and departure time and what you were doing and where at. Not a half bad idea considering how spread out the place was.

  4. Great list of safety tips and definitely important to keep in mind. :)

    Lightning is actually usually around the front leading edge of a storm (not in it with the rain), so it's actually really common to have lightning with no rain. That's really sad about the little boy dying and a very good reminder to be careful with lightning around. I sometimes take it too lightly I think, so thanks for the reminder.

    I always take my cell phone with me and rarely ride out alone. Of course I always had my sister there with me. Now that we live far apart I might have to ride out alone more than I like so I'll definitely keep these tips in mind. It'll be a whole year before Chrome is old enough so I probably should save this somewhere lol because I will forget. :)


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