How Unsafe Are You With Your Safe Horse?


What does the word mean in the equine world anyway?  People say “this is a safe horse” because he’ll take care of the rider, no spook, no buck, no rear.  But in the realm of horsemanship there never is a true “safe,” and it’s simply a word providing false comfort and allows people to get complacent.

Horses are massive prey animals born to take flight at any threat; a half ton projectile with 4  legs.  A horse can be desensitized plenty but it’s still going to be big and have instincts.

Even a non-spooky horse trips, loses it’s balance, kicks at a fly at the wrong moment, and innocent situations that can turn “unsafe” quickly.  Bee stings.  Strange animal encounters on trail rides.

Yes, you do want a safe horse especially for your children; one that will demonstrate patience with the little ones.  Does a safe horse truly rule out the obligation you have to teach your child basic safety measures?  I’ve seen pictures of kids barefoot and helmet-less riding their backyard horses.  I’ve personally seen kids absentmindedly walk under horse’s bellies and around the hind legs.  At an old farm I’ve seen kids and older women sun-bathing while holding their horse’s 12 foot lead-lines to graze.

At what point does your “safe horse” stop you from making safe decisions?  When you and your children become so accustomed to your “safe horse” that you forget what safe decisions even are?

What happens when the same lack of concern for safety is used with a new horse; when your unsafe decisions become habitual? When that new horse doesn’t want you kid near it’s legs?

Maybe I’m overly cautious, overly critical, or paranoid; I’ve had my foot crushed, have been kicked a handful of times.  I’ve been bitten very hard once as well.  Some of these instances could have been prevented. Admittedly I became complacent because the horses I’ve worked with are good horses and it’s easy to get too comfortable. In the end, however, it’s best to consider no horse as truly “safe.”


This was another installment of Stream of Consciousness Saturdays.  If you’d like to read more blogs participating or join the fun yourself please visit



  1. I agree wholeheartedly. I love horses, but the smart ones are not safe, they are the on-guard horses who think for themselves. A ‘safe’ horse should be called a dull horse, one that’s become complacent, but as we know, complacency comes unstuck when ‘things’ happen. And things always happen, sooner or later.
    I was a dressage competitor, showjumper, 3de’s. My brother did rodeo’s and worked stock on stations. A smart horse, not easily handled, saved my brother’s life when he was charged by a wild bull (yes, out in the bush). He didn’t see the danger, she did.
    I’d trust a smart horse, even with a bit of attitude, over a dull horse any day. Personally, I think it’s better for kids to learn how to respect the strength, power, and intelligence of the horse rather than simply ‘love’ it.
    Sorry, went a bit far with the rant, but I’ve seen the results of complacency with large animals – and the animals are the ones blamed.


  2. I agree 100% ! One thing that bugs me so much is the number of people who ride without a helmet! I’ve always worn a helmet, no exceptions, and it seems absolutely mental to me that there are so many people, including children who do not!


  3. Yes! Horses are prey animals and I am always on the alert with even the safest horse. And as for kids on horses with no helmets and no boots with heels. I can’t even….


  4. So true! I cringe when I see people in flip flops or sandals down the yard! Just because you have a good horse that appears ‘safe’ doesn’t mean they won’t do something unexpected one day. Always best to get kids into the habit of wearing the right safety gear and treating horses with respect early on. Especially things like learning where a horse’s blind spots are so they can approach them properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh flip flops are one of my biggest concerns. My dad came to visit from out of town and I brought him to the barn to see my horse…only then realizing he was in flip flops. Ahhh! I made him stand far away in the feed room until I grabbed Blade and locked him up in his stall.


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