Horse Care Horse Health Horse Ownership Safety Stable Management Young Rider

Avoid Barn Safety Hazards

Horses in a barn
Photo by Tomy/Shutterstock

Is your horse’s home a safe place? You can prevent possible accidents by checking for possible barn safety hazards. If you don’t keep your horse on your home property, talk to the barn owner where you board about possibly helping to put the following safety measures in place.

Here are 10 safety tips to help keep you and your horse free from harm.

1. Be sure the barn’s address is clearly visible from the street. If the riding arena is set back from other buildings, post signs with arrows pointing the way. Otherwise, EMS and the fire department could spend precious minutes looking for directions.

2. Fire is a horse owner’s worst nightmare. Fire extinguishers should be within reach. Learn how to use one in case of an emergency. Sweep cobwebs out of corners and empty stalls; they burn quickly and help a small fire grow. Needless to say, cigarette smoking shouldn’t be allowed near the barn.

3. A halter and lead rope for every horse should be hung in a convenient location. In case of a fire, flood or major storm, all horses—including those at pasture—should be easy to catch, halter and lead.

4. Set a date and practice loading each horse on site into a trailer—and even different types of trailers (ramp versus step-up; straight-load versus slant, et cetera) if they are available. If there’s a veterinary emergency or the whole barn has to evacuate, each horse needs to load and haul with good manners.

5. To help prevent electrical fires or sudden shocks, never leave small appliances (like radios or coffee makers), holiday lights or clippers plugged in. Always use heavy-duty extension cords. Any fans used in the barn during hot, humid weather should be certified for outdoor agricultural use.

A large horse and mini horse fenced in, showing that not closing a gate is a safety hazard
If you open a gate, close it. Horses that get loose can easily wander off and become injured. Photo by Kate Hottenstein/hutterstock

6. Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit handy. Have one for horses and one for humans. Include clean bandages, gauze pads, tape and an ice pack.

7. Are you feeding barn kitties or ranch dogs? Once they’re done eating, pick up any leftover food. It can attract critters like raccoons, opossums and skunks. They can carry diseases that may affect your horse.

8. Store treats, pellets and grain in bins and tubs away from the tack room. Tiny nuggets of goodies lure rodents, who also love to nibble on leather. Weakened leather and damaged tack can lead to an accident.

9. If you open a gate, close it, even if you don’t see any horses nearby. Every year, horses get hit by cars because they get loose and wander on to roads. Also, the metal latches and pins that jut out from open gates can cut a horse. Help prevent an accident by keeping gates closed.

10. Emergency contact information should be posted in several places. Everyone at the barn should know how to recognize an ill or injured horse. Sometimes you have to rely on a barn buddy. Make sure they can get help for your horse if you’re not around. You can all work together to make the barn a safe haven for every horse.

This article about barn safety hazards appeared in the August 2020 Mini Digital issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Cindy Hale

Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.


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