About HorsesWhile domesticated, well-trained horses are usually obedient, docile, and affectionate. However, it is important to understand their survival instincts, which have allowed the horse to survive from pre-historic times to the present day. Horses have minds of their own and may seem un-predictable at times.
Please be advised of the following:
- Horses are large, strong and powerful physically. Horses are heavy, weighing from 600 to 1300 pounds. These characteristics deserve a human being's utmost respect.
- Horses are somewhat high strung or nervous by nature. When a horse is frightened, angry, under stress or feels threatened, it may instinctively jump forward or sideways or run away from the perceived danger at a trot or gallop at speeds up to 35 miles per hour.
- If a horse is frightened or feels threatened from behind, it may kick straight back or sideways in either direction, with either of its hind legs with tremendous force.
- If a horse is frightened or feels threatened from above, it may hunch its back and buck in a way that could throw a rider to the ground with tremendous force. A fall from a horse will usually be from a height of 3 to 6 feet.
- If a horse is frightened or feels threatened from the front, it may react by rearing up with its front legs, striking with one or both front legs, biting, throwing its head up or from side to side, or running directly over whatever it fears.
- A human must always approach a horse calmly, quietly, and cautiously, preferably from near its shoulder or neck, talking soothingly to the horse.
- Loud or sudden unexpected movements, dropping objects near a horse, approaching vehicles or animals or people, ill-fitting equipment or physical pain can provoke a domesticated horse to react according to his natural protective instincts.
- The first signs of anger or fear in a horse, are frequently the sudden tensing of its muscles, laying its ears flat back against its head, quickly tossing or raising its head, or suddenly snorting through its nostrils.
- A horse can see independently with each eye, actually looking in one direction with one eye, and another direction with the other eye, or it can focus both eyes on one object somewhere in front of it. Usually the direction the ears are pointing will tell an observer where the eyes are looking and consequently upon what the horse is concentrating at that moment.
- A horse has two blind areas: directly behind and in front of its mouth. Therefore a horse should be approached towards its shoulder. Never surprise a horse from the rear or reach first for the horse's mouth.
- While a horse is a very sure-footed animal, it may accidentally step on an object such as a human foot while the horse is balancing itself or turning. A horse ridden or worked on unstable ground or slippery footing could trip or fall down, injuring the rider or handler.