Horse Sense

Originally posted on Academie Duello’s blog in May 2012

The final item on Horsemanship 1 checklist is:

11. Demonstrate safety and common sense when working around horses

This is something our examiners make note of during the whole of the horsemanship assessment. We want to see that you are calm, confident, and sensible while handling your horse. Most candidates are very good at staying clear of the kicking zone and handle the horses well.  However marks are often lost for these common mistakes:

  • Horse is unsecured at some point.  For example, the candidate has not kept the connection of arms and halter around the horse’s neck while switching from bridle to halter or vice versa.
  • Lead rope coiled around hand or dragging on the ground while leading.  The first could cause broken fingers; the second is a tripping hazard for handler and horse.
  • Reins hanging down to ground.  Not just a tripping hazard, but could also cause a broken bridle or an injured mouth if the horse steps on them.
  • Human feet in danger of being stepped on, either when leading or picking hooves.
  • Stirrups not run up when leading the horse.  This could spook a horse when the stirrups bang against his sides, or get caught in doors and gates.


While we don’t give specific turn-out marks at this level, your own attire should be safe as well.  This includes:

  • closed-toe footwear to prevent foot injuries
  • well-fitting clothing: no loose or flowy bits to spook horse or snag on tack
  • long hair tied back
  • minimal and safe jewelry: necklaces worn inside shirt; no dangly earrings or large rings
  • gloves available

For a good review of safe handling techniques with a tied horse, we can revist Ally and Noah

Bonus Question: How could you improve the way Noah is tied?

This brings us to the end of the Horsemanship 1 series of blog posts.  If you are planning to assess in the near future you can go back and review them all by selecting the ‘horsemanship level 1’ tag. Even if you’re looking at level 2 or higher, these make a good pre-assessment review, as all the material builds on this base.

Next week I’ll start a series of posts focussing on riding tips.

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