Important Pre-Ride Checks
Airplane pilots have a checklist that they follow before each and every flight. This helps them to keep oversights and therefore accidents to a minimum. You can also enhance your safety whilst riding by employing the same approach.
By taking just a few minutes to perform your essential checks before every ride, you could save yourself and your horse from a variety of potentially serious issues.
Check Your Horse for Lameness
You can look at your horse as you lead them from the field to the stable or when walking them around the yard. Look carefully for stiff or clipped steps, a bobbing head and any signs of soreness. If you suspect that any symptoms are the result of stiff muscles, allow your horse to warm up gently and then check them again. If in doubt, don’t ride!
Inspect Your Horse’s Skin and Coat
While grooming, check your horse’s back for rain scald, hives, sunburn or other skin irritations that might make your horse uncomfortable if you sit it on him. Do a quick scan for cuts and other lesions that might need your attention before you set off.
Before each and every ride, it is vital that you clean out and check your horse’s hooves. You should pull out any debris and foreign objects such as stones or pine cones that could be very uncomfortable to walk on. If your horse is shod, check all of his shoes and ensure that they are not loose. Whilst checking hooves, remain vigilante for any signs of trouble in your horse’s legs.
Inspect Your Tack
Look carefully for frayed stitching, cracked leather, cracked bits, buckles or other metal fittings, weakened saddle billet straps and girth straps. Billet straps and girth straps are particularly prone to wear and so should be checked for tears, cracks, thinning or ripped buckle holes. Broken tack is a safety hazard so this is one check that you should never overlook.
Check That You are Wearing Your Helmet
If your helmet is very comfortable, it is easy to forget that you are wearing it and equally easy to set off without it! Establish that you are wearing your helmet and then make sure that it is properly adjust and fastened.
Tighten Your Girth
Your final check should be the girth. Before attempting to mount, check that the girth is sufficiently tight otherwise the saddle could turn and you will end up on the floor. Check the girth again after a few minutes of riding as some horses tend to expand a little when a saddle is first put on.
A few simple checks every time you ride will minimise the chance of an accident and will ensure that your horse feels comfortable. You will be able to spot the signs of trouble as early as possible and your horse will be more likely to remain happy and healthy. You will always be anxious to get into the saddle but take the time to perform your checklist every time you ride.