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Accredited Practitioner Register 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 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.

Service-users and/or clients must be provided with clear written (or illustrated) outline of the key safety aspects of being around horses which can be confirmed as understood by signature, or if appropriate, signed on their behalf. In addition, a clear briefing around how to behave around horses should be provided, including a recognition that horses can be very responsive to your energy and emotions, so emphasis the need to be aware of how one is 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 exercises or grounding routines.

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 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.

Alcohol, Drugs and other Stimulants 

As stated above, horses can be highly sensitive to humans’ energetic and emotional states and as such from both general safety and equine-sensitivity perspectives consumption stimulants such as alcohol or recreational drugs should be avoided at all times when around horses. Practitioners are encouraged to have a zero-tolerance to such situations.

For similar reasons clients should also be encouraged to declare whether they are under any form of prescription medication, particularly those of a mood altering nature.

There are also general stimulants such as caffeine that are part of general everyday life. Consumption should be kept to a minimum before engaging in equine interactions.

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.