Horses are curious, wandering animals. They are always testing new things and will wander to places before they realise they could be getting themselves into trouble. That's why it's so important that we, as horse people, make sure that we never forget to do anything before leaving them alone.
There's an article posted on Horsetalk.co.nz that talks about two horses who were involved in a car collision because they escaped their paddock through an open gate. Both horses did not survive; one died from the collision and the other was euthanised because his wounds were too severe.
It's so easy for us to forget and we all make mistakes, but sometimes our mistakes can lead to quite a disaster. It's unfortunate that this had to happen, but in some ways I can see how easily this mistake could have been made. Closing a gate is a routinely thing that we do without thinking too much about it. It's just like catching ourselves forgetting to pick out our horse's hooves as we saddle up. Sometimes we catch it in time, sometimes we realise much later and sometimes we just don't.
As horse people, we usually have a lot on our minds. With training, health, care and chores constantly on our mind (not to mention our non-horsey things too!) forgetting to do things can just happen. Am I trying to find excuses to make what happened okay? No, of course not. What I am trying to say is that mistakes happen whether the consequence is big or small. I feel horrible for the owners of these horses and I can only imagine all of the 'what-ifs' going through their minds.
Even though this event did happen, we can learn from it to prevent it from ever happening again. Instead of thinking about all the things you have to do, try to make yourself stay in the moment with your horse. Be aware of everything you are doing and try to not overlook or ignore anything. If you do find that you have started to wander off in your thinking, you may want to get yourself back as soon as you realise it. Besides, it's more rewarding and relaxing to put all your things aside and just enjoy spending time with your horse.
Some people do well with writing things down in order to remember things. If you are one of those people, you may find it helpful to write down a checklist of all the things you need to have done before you leave the barn.
Does this mean you have to be so cautious that you become a person that cannot rest until they have checked that they have done everything they need to at least three times? No, being careful doesn't mean that you become overly cautious. There is a difference between someone who wears a helmet and someone who wears a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads and an eventing vest to protect them in case of a fall. All you need to do is shake the gate to make sure it's locked behind you before you walk away. It's just a little thing to add into your routine and if by chance you didn't lock the gate, you catch it right then and there.
So I hope this has helped to remind you to be more aware of what you are doing or forget to do while working with your horse. I hope that we all will learn from this story (which you can read more about here) so that we never have to hear about horrible things like this anymore. Thank you for reading Pure Horse Sense and I wish you all a wonderful weekend.
Until next time, happy riding!