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Owning a horse comes with great responsibility to provide proper care, training and safekeeping for your equine companion.

When you welcome a horse into your life, you also take on the role of protector against injury, illness and harm.

This article provides helpful guidance for horse owners on important measures to keep your horse safe, secure and healthy.

Secure housing and pastures

Horses require secure, well-maintained housing and turnout areas to prevent escape and injuries. Follow these tips:

– Check fencing regularly for loose boards, gaps or damaged posts. Strong wood or vinyl fencing at least 5 feet high is recommended. Barbed wire fencing should be avoided as it poses injury risks if horses try to lean over or push through it.

– Make sure gate latches cannot be opened by bumping or leaning. Use sturdy chains or carriage bolts to further secure gates. 

– Eliminate sharp corners or protrusions in stalls, aisles and barn areas. Cover metal strips and edges with rubber stoppers.

– Keep stall floors dry and deeply bedded to provide comfortable, non-slip surfaces.

– Ensure ample grazing area in turnout paddocks to prevent overgrazing and minimise horses ingesting dirt or sand. Rotate pastures if possible.

– Trim back overhanging trees to remove fall or scrape hazards. Check for and fill any holes that could cause leg injuries.

– Remove poisonous plants from pastures and exercise areas. Common toxic species include yew, oleander, rhododendron, ragwort and red maple.

Prevent theft and escapes

It’s crucial to have systems in place that deter horse theft and prevent loose horses from escaping the property. Safety recommendations include: 

– Microchip horses and register chips with a national database. Keep records of all identifying marks and features.

– Post signage about premises being under video surveillance even if cameras are not present.

– Ensure barn doors, stalls and pasture gates remain latched. Install double gate entry systems.

– Never leave a horse unattended in an open area like an arena or driveway. 

– Position housing and pastures away from main roads to deter opportunistic theft.

– Join welfare and security programs such as EQUIWATCH, where members of the public can quickly report dangerous incidents or issues with a horse, and ensure that the details get relayed to you immediately, 24/7.

– Get to know neighbours and request they report any loose horses or suspicious vehicles on the property.

– Join local missing/stolen horse Facebook groups to aid recovery in case of incidents.

Injury prevention in housing and turnout 

Simple preventative measures can reduce injury risks from kicks, bites and other accidents in group turnout situations:

– Provide one stall per horse rather than turnouts if there are compatibility issues between herd mates.

– Place rubber wall coverings in stalls to avoid abrasions from rubbing. 

– Use slow feed hay nets in stalls so horses eat together without guarding food aggressively.

– Apply protective leg wraps and boots when turning horses out together to prevent biting or kicking injuries.

– Separate feeding, watering and loafing areas in pastures to minimise food aggression. 

– Provide enough space for dominant horses to evade more submissive herd mates when necessary.

– Check pastures carefully for debris, machinery or poisonous plants before turning horses out.

With vigilant maintenance, safe paddock setups and protective gear, owners can reduce preventable injuries.

Vehicle and loading safety 

Transporting horses introduces risks of escapes, injuries and accidents. Use these tips for safe travel:

– Accustom horses to trailers and loading/unloading using patience and positive reinforcement. Never force or rush the process.

– Ensure trailers and hitches are in good working order. Examine flooring, ventilation, lighting, brakes, ties and padding for deficiencies. 

– Secure the trailer using multiple points – safety chains, hitch locks, wheel chocks – to prevent disengaging.

– Make sure human doors and trailer ramps latch properly to avoid opening during transit. 

– Cautiously load/unload one horse at a time. Keep horses focused forward to avoid back or side injury if resisting.

– Travel with basic safety supplies like bandage wraps, water bucket, and emergency human/equine first aid kits.

– Drive slowly and avoid sudden stops/starts. Allow ample room for turns to reduce centrifugal forces on the horse.

With careful loading practices and properly maintained trailers, horse travel risks are greatly reduced. But accidents can still happen, so exercise extreme caution.

Fire prevention and preparedness

Yard and stable fires are a scary reality, but preparedness plans can save horses’ lives. Important steps include:

– Prohibit smoking on premises and avoid using open flames, sparks or combustibles.

– Store hay, shavings and other flammables away from the main stables in enclosed stacks.

– Run overhead sprinklers with fire rating classification in stables and barns. Test systems periodically.

– Post reflective EXIT signs over doors and install emergency interior lighting to aid evacuation.

– Keep fire extinguishers current and easily accessed throughout the facility.

– Establish primary and secondary evacuation routes from stalls, pastures and other areas.

– Practice emergency drills for efficiently catching and leading horses to safety. 

– Register all horses with local fire and emergency services. Provide stable or yard access if possible.

– Create identification cards for each horse with name, photo, owner phone number and any special needs.

No owner wants to imagine the horror of their stables going up in flames. But thorough fire safety preparation could save the lives of all the horses in your care.

By proactively addressing risks, horse owners demonstrate their dedication to responsibly protecting these beloved animals.

Secure housing, theft deterrence, injury prevention, safe travel and fire preparedness combine to create a safe haven for cherished equine partners.

Stay vigilant and know that an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure when it comes to horse safety. Your faithful steed deserves no less.