Barn rules are set for a reason: To keep everyone in (and out of) the barn safe, including our four legged friends. If you don’t respect them, expect to be loaded up into an ambulance on its way to the hospital.
Young kids and even some adults seem to not understand some barn rules. When I first started volunteering at the barn, there was a group of teen girls that needed community service hours every week for a few months at a time. Most didn’t understand the reason why we still wear our shoes in the barn after taking ponies out to the very nasty, knee-deep mud pit of a field. Others would scream if they saw a spider, occasionally spooking your average therapy pony. Some would fling horse dung over stall walls or run up and down the barn aisles.
When in a barn, you need to turn on your ears and have quiet feet and mouths. Yelling and running in the barn doesn’t help a nervous horse. You need to ask about barn safety rules before you even step foot into the barn door.
Don’t feed a horse by hand, especially if it has a tendency to nip or bite. I wasn’t paying attention the other day when I gave Neville a treat and he bit my finger, leaving that nasty blood blister in the picture above.
More serious injuries can happen if barn rules aren’t respected. Some people have gotten their bones broken and others have lost their lives doing what they loved to do. But, you have more chances being struck and killed by lightning (averaging about 31 reported deaths per year) than you do than being killed by a horse (there are only about 20 fatalities per year related to horses).
One thing you have to take into consideration is; will you, the horse and others around you be safe after your action? If not, rethink your decision and try a different route. If you need to do it the original way you had planned, then wait until the horses are turned out and everyone who could be in danger is away from you.
Always ask permission first! Especially if you’re a volunteer or just a boarder. You need to ask permission from a paid employee before you continue with your plans. You can be destructive if you don’t watch.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. A barn isn’t where you can take off your shoes and lay in the middle of the floor. You need to be aware of what’s going on because you never know when a horse might get loose or a fire might start. Just be aware.
Don’t be nervous. You don’t need to be nervous about anything. Horses can pick up on your nervousness and they can become nervous as well. Just chill out, but still be aware.
Know the basic safety precautions. Don’t run in the barn, don’t yell unless it’s an emergency, don’t wrap lead ropes around your hands, don’t stand directly behind a horse, don’t wear open-toed shoes. Just know the basics and then ask one of the staff members about the safety rules specifically for that barn.
If there is an emergency in the barn, you need to know who to call if a horse or another person is injured. At the barn, we have a list of who boards what horse and their phone number if there is an emergency.
If a horse is injured, following these steps.
Call the vet. We have the vet’s phone number by the phone along with the boarders and their phone numbers if their horse is in danger. Call the vet first. You need to give them the address of the barn and follow the next step.
Get the facts straight. Know what happened. The more accurate you get, the better you can help the horse. The vet will be able to paint a better picture of what happened and know how serious the injury is.
Get one of the staff members. The staff will be able to help you. Whether it’s a matter of just holding the horse while you contact the vet and owner, or the other way around. They can help.
Call the owner. If you don’t own the horse, call the owner of the horse and let them know what happened. They deserve to know, especially if it’s their horse.
Keep the horse calm. You need to stay calm so that the horse will stay calm. Horses pick up on emotions and if you get worked up, they get worked up.
If a human is injured, follow these steps.
Call 911. State your emergency and give the location of the emergency.
Know what happened. If you witnessed it, tell the 911 operator exactly what happened. If you didn’t witness it and the victim is unable to speak and can’t speak, tell the operator that you don’t know what happened but they need an ambulance.
Call emergency contacts. Ask a staff member to do this. They have access to the volunteer files and other staff members files with the emergency contacts. The family deserves to know.