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Safety around horses

Domesticated, well-trained horses are usually obedient, docile and affectionate, though it is important to understand that working with horses can also involve some degree of risk. As prey animals there minds are generally safety focussed, and therefore can be quick to act and sometimes unpredictable by nature.

All those working with horses, particularly in the context of Equine Facilitated Interactions, should know how to act such that they can remain safe and hold a safe-space for clients and service users, as well as respecting the needs and wellbeing of the horse(s).

General safety around horses

Safety requires both common sense and an understanding of horses. Practitioners of Equine Facilitated Interactions will often be working with service users who have little or no experience of being around horses and as such are obliged to be able to create and hold a safe space for all parties engaged, their clients, themselves and the horses.

Practitioners should provide their service-users and/or clients with clear outline of the key safety aspects of being around horses which can be signed, or signed on their behalf. As well providing a clear briefing around how to behave around them, including recognising that horses can be very responsive to your energy so be aware of how you are feeling.

We recommend that those working with horses have routines and practices that help them to manage their own energy when around them, such mindfulness or grounding exercises.

Practitioners should have a solid grounding in knowledge and understanding of equine behaviour. They should have a clear recognition of the characters of the individual horses they are working with as well as their social dynamics when working in the herd.

Clothing and equipment

Sensible clothing and footwear should always be worn when around horses. This means wearing hard-soled, fully enclosed shoes or boots and socks to protect feet, and long trousers to protect legs; as well as gloves when leading horses on a rope. Even though Equine Facilitated Interactions are generally ground based exercises a protective riding hat should always be made available for clients to wear in the sessions if they choose.

When working around horses, the wearing of jewellery should be avoided. Earrings, other piercings and finger rings are easily caught and can either break or cause injury.

It is also recommended that people have empty pockets and do not carry food with them as they are interacting with horses.

On the yard

On all yards, human and equine first aid kits should be readily available and someone on the yard should be qualified in first aid practises. The Register expects that Practitioners are either trained first aiders or work in locations where there is a nominated trained first-aider onsite at all times.  

All visitors to the site should be made familiar with general hazards and risks onsite accident procedures and know what action to take in the event of an emergency.

Ethical Standards of Horse-care

Registrants are also expected to commit to the Register’s Ethical Treatment of Horses. These are built on framework holistic standards called the five domains which focus not just on physical wellbeing and care, but also emotional and mental. This foundation of animal wellbeing makes an important contribution to general safety when we working around them.