As with anything else in life, accidents can and do happen; however, whether your horse lives in or out, there are many things you can do to reduce the risk of injury or illness and ensure that its environment is as safe as possible.
- Make sure your horse's stable has no dangerous fittings or sharp objects on which it could injure itself.
- Internal fittings such as feed mangers or water buckets should be fixed firmly and checked on a regular basis.
- If a feed bucket is used, remove the handle as your horse could get its foot trapped. Any feed containers should be removed immediately after use.
- Electric lights must be covered and located well out of reach of your horse. Switches should also be out of reach and both horse proof and water proof.
- Windows are essential for light and ventilation but make sure they are covered by bars or mesh and consider using toughened glass or plastic materials.
- Stable doors, locks and hinges should be kept in good repair.
- Make sure the top door of your horse's stable is held back securely with a hook. If it isn't, the door could swing loose and hit your horse's head.
- Move your horse out of the stable if it is to be shod or plaited, as nails and needles can easily be dropped and lost in your horse's bedding.
- The safest and most natural way to feed hay is from the floor, however if you use a haynetor hayrack make sure your horse cannot get his foot stuck in it if he rolls.
- Check your horse at least once or preferably twice a day for signs of illness or injury and make sure you have a first aid kit with you when you visit the field.
- Broken or badly maintained fencing poses a real risk to your horse's safety and could also allow it to escape onto the road and cause an accident. Make sure you check all fencing on a regular basis and repair it immediately.
- Familiarise yourself with plants which are poisonous to your horse and check your field on a weekly basis. Dig-up and burn small numbers of offending plants or remove your horse and treat larger areas with an approved weed killer, making sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
- If your field has a public footpath running through it, make sure you check for litter on a regular basis.
- Consider erecting a polite notice asking people not to feed the horses in your field.
- If contractors carry out work in the field in which your horse is grazed make sure they remove any debris when they leave and keep all gates closed.
Stable yards, by their very nature, can present a serious fire risk if they are not regularly checked and maintained. Hay, straw, electrical equipment and even cobwebs can all pose a fire hazard if appropriate fire safety measures are not taken.
Fire is every horse owners' worst fear, however the risk of fire can be dramatically reduced by following a few sensible precautions:
- Make sure your yard is a no-smoking area by erecting notices and reminding visitors.
- Develop a fire drill for the yard and test it out. This will allow you to work out potential problems - such as evacuating the horses - and ensure you have a clear procedure in place.
- Have electrical wiring and appliances tested and inspected on an annual basis and check to ensure that items like clippers and heaters are unplugged before leaving the yard.
- Remove cobwebs and dust on a regular basis - particularly around the light fittings.
- Consider fitting fire and smoke alarms that can be easily heard - particularly if your yard is left unattended at night.
- If you are burning a muck heap or bonfire make sure you site it well away from the stables and damp it down completely before leaving it unattended.
- Check that you have the correct number and type of fire extinguishers located around the yard.
- Have your fire extinguishers tested or serviced on a regular basis so you can be sure they are in working order should a fire occur.
- If in doubt arrange for your local fire safety officer to visit the yard and advise you.
- Have the procedure for dealing with a fire clearly displayed on the yard, including a contact phone number for the yard manager in the event of an emergency.