Both will get you hurt.
Doing our utmost to prevent horse and rider incidents and accidents is the foundation of our foundation training.
There are several elements that factor in when it comes to being safe with your horse.
1. Observation of body language, so we can see when our horse begins to get worried. Often it takes the ‘spook’ for us to feel like something is ‘off’.
2. Part 2 is interpretation of our horses body language. Is he elevated in general. Or is there a specific thing that is bothering him.
3. Often the most overlooked - action. It is our job to take action before our horse escalates further. I see a lot of incidents where the person can clearly see that the horse is bothered, but then they don’t do anything about it.
This could be because they have become complacent — “this is my old horse, he never spooks” or because they are simply ignorant / uneducated “he’s worried but he will come down”.
Intervention is us taking responsibility for our, and our horses safety.
Horses don’t apply a logical thought pattern to ‘coming down’ from being elevated. Horses naturally have a process to ‘come down’ which is “run first, think later”.
Newsflash — you probably don’t want them to run!
So intervening is what helps keep everyone safe.
Move their feet.
Humans get hurt because they apply human logic to situations. A horse will spook at something and the human will say “but he’s seen it before” or “but he wanted to go up to it” — this is one of the biggest issues I see. The horse is curious and wants to approach something, and the rider lets them. Then the horse spooks and bolts, and the rider says “but he wanted to go up to it”. Horses don’t think “oh I’ll go up and if I’m worried I’ll casually walk away” horses think “what’s that ?” Followed by “I’m out of here!”
When you see your horse is worried about something, work at a safe distance to create confidence and a calm approach.
If you can’t tell when he’s worried, spend time observing him so you can better understand him.