I am a member of many equine-related Facebook groups. There are groups for absolutely every passion a person might have. For instance, nearly every state has it’s own horse group, and many of the larger states have multiple options. There are groups for rescue, and groups for English, Western, trail riding and nearly every other discipline. However, some of the group names might be less than desirable, such as Hags With Nags. My least favorite named group just happens to be my favorite group to read… Aging Horsewomen! Seriously, I’d rather be a hag with a nag than acknowledge that I am aging…!
The AH group is amazing. There is a ton of wisdom there, both on and off the horse. Whether I like it or not, the group IS my demographic. I find myself increasingly aware of the fact that a horse wreck could dramatically affect my future. As such, I wanted to know how many of the ladies spent any amount of time thinking about their safety. With this in mind, I asked the following questions:
Do you think about your safety? If so, WHAT is your thought process regarding your safety?
What kinds of things do you do to stay safe?
Helmets and vests are a hot topic (literally) on this group. It can get heated, and it is an unwritten rule that no one preach about wearing (or not wearing) helmets and/or vests. I assumed any conversation about safety would naturally create some dialog around these safety features; therefore, I stated folks could acknowledge the use of those items but requested no preaching.
This group boasts nearly 50,000 members from all around the world. Within two hours of asking my question, I had nearly 200 responses! Here is a synopsis of what I learned:
- A rider interested in a safe ride starts by mounting a well-trained, respectful, trustworthy and dependable horse. Of course, this is absolutely no guarantee that mishaps won’t occur, but having a relationship with your horse is the first line of defense against an accident. I rode Kadeen up and over the Continental Divide in Colorado after a fabulous summer on mountain trails. It took me several years but eventually I developed a relationship with him that makes me feel safer and more able to respond in an emergency.
- The vast majority of responders wore helmets and many wore vests. By definition, helmet riders are safety conscious, so that was not terribly surprising. I was surprised at the number of respondents who also wore air vests. No one preached (as requested) but there were many stories of smashed helmets that saved heads, and air vests that saved torsos and ribs.
- Many respondents stated they would only ride with others who exhibited proper trail etiquette. “No Yahoos” and folks who took off at a canter without warning, raced past your horse from behind, or exhibited other risky and inconsiderate behavior on the trail.
- Most responders made a point of riding with at least one other person, although many admitted to riding alone. Of those that rode alone, many told someone they were leaving and checked in when they returned.
There was so much wisdom in the responses of these ladies that Part Two of this blog will post next week with additional safety ideas.
As a final note, in my local community a tragedy a few days ago highlighted the fact that bad things happen to good people. A young couple, ages 37 and 27, were riding their motorcycle on the interstate when a deer jumped in front of them. They were both wearing helmets and protective goggles. Sadly, they careened into the guard rail and they were both dead at the scene. They were doing everything right but things went horribly wrong. They leave behind three young children. I have not been able to get them out of my mind. Please consider your safety in everything you do…