Kids and Horses
Everywhere you look there are horse crazy girls flocking boarding stables and riding schools, eager to take any chance they can to be around the horses. While it is wonderful to see their eager faces around the farm, it is important to consider their safety.
Kids believe that they are invincible and indestructible. It does not matter how old or how young, it is impossible for a youngster to understand the incredible amount of danger there is around a farm.
If you take a good look around the average horse farm, you will be amazed at just how many dangers there are to those who are not aware.
One of the biggest lures for youngsters is heavy equipment. From big tractors to small ATVs, the equipment around the farm is like honey to a bee. Kids will clamber over, under and through the equipment without considering that they could get hurt. If you have a farm that may have kids around, be sure that all equipment is stored with the keys removed, and any dangerous parts covered or put away. A vehicle with keys attached is far too tempting to a little one, and unless the child is old enough to know how to drive, he should not be using the equipment.
Of course, kids are usually there for the horses. Unfortunately, not all horses are as easygoing as we would like to see. While some will stand in the crossties for hours with little girls brushing them, others would just as soon bite or kick the hand that feeds them.
It should be made clear to the kids which horses they are allowed to handle. Small kids, should be encouraged to wear a helmet whenever handling horses. Older kids may be okay on their own without a helmet, but should still be supervised whenever handling the animals.
When riding, there should always be a person on the ground, available to help in case of emergency. No-one should be riding if there is not one person on the property available who is able to drive should a trip to the hospital be necessary. Riders should only be allowed on horses that they know, unless they are supervised by an adult the first few times.
Any horses who are potentially dangerous to kids should be clearly pointed out. You should put signs on their stalls, and try to avoid turning them out with horses that the kids are likely to have to bring in from the fields.
While you would not want to discourage kids from enjoying the horses and having fun around the farm, setting up some rules and safety measures is essential. An ounce of prevention can go a long way.
Remember, even in the safest barns accidents can happen. Put together a plan for managing emergencies, and make sure that all the kids know exactly what to do if something goes wrong.
Never leave kids on the farm without at least one adult nearby for supervision. Discourage parents from randomly dropping their kids off for the day, and be sure to have all emergency numbers on hand.
Kids can be great help around the barn, but they need to be safe.