I believe almost everyone I know, in my home life and online who has worked with livestock , has been hurt as one time or another, From, a whoops out of the saddle, onto our pride, to a first class wreck!
Handling livestock, be it horse cattle ,swine ,etc. can be hugely rewarding , and it can leave a mark.
One of our blogging buddies , has had a few wrecks over the summer and is still in the healing process from the last one. (I have not named her , because it is her story to tell and not mine ) She commented the other day about having some difficulty maneuvering around her super friendly and hungry horses at feeding time. A few of us talked about establishing boundaries ,and I thought now was as good as any time to talk about it . I have 2 colts in stalls right now I am working with , and a yearling gelding Dandy. Dandy and I had a pretty big discussion of boundaries in Jan when he tried to assert some authority over me . suffice to say , he now asks permission to come into my space !
For the sake of our fellow blogger who is healing and ourselves , lets talk a little about how we establish boundaries and safe practices with our stock.
The first thing I am going to say about any of it though is , no matter how long you have been at it , and how much we think we know , every individual ,can get hurt , at any time . Animals are not machines , and they can be unpredictable . That said , there are some ways to mitigate the risks .
1. Always ,Always , always , be mindful of where you are , in relation to the animal , or if there are many (in a pasture catching a horse or on a pen working cattle .)where they all are , and where your safe exit is .
Many years ago I was in a pen checking on a cow calf pair , quiet cow, I had no concerns , I turned briefly to move a fork out of the pen, the next thing I knew momma was ramming me against the barn wall , she kept at me until I literally crawled on my belly out of there. What did I do wrong? I was aware of her , but had not noticed that the calf had gotten around me , she perceived me as a threat to her baby and took action.
A second example
When Johnnie was a yearling , I was walking through the pen he and several others were in . Johnnie had not had a lot of work at that point , but was very friendly . The other horses began running and he spooked. Right into me ! I had half turned to protect myself , but still took 2 boards off the fence one with the back of my head and one with my behind.What did I do wrong??at that point , my mistake was a) I had not taught Johnnie enough to be respectful of my space , even in a panic, he should have been taught to go around me or stop , not crawl in my lap, and b) not mindful of my personal area, I had essentially put myself in a corner and given myself no escape.
I will tell you my darling Johnnie ,learned whoa and BACK off ! and damn fast , I believe even before my head stopped spinning !!!! which leads me to my next point...
2. Be mindful of your own abilities/disabilities .If you are sick or injured, be aware of your limitations regarding mobility . If you can get help do so , if not find some alternative ways to get things done. Or maybe some things can wait .
Just last winter I had a flare up , and was in pretty tough shape. I did chores , very slowly, and did not go in any pens . Yes that meant feed went on the ground and not in feeders , but when I say I wasn't well ,I am not kidding , My sister had to come over later in the morning after I had showered to dry and comb my hair ! (I could not lift my arms at all ) That was not a day to push my limits and try to go right into a pen, if a horse had bolted or pushed me I would have been on the ground under foot, and whole lot worse off! (that time I got it right )
a few years before , I had been discharged from hospital the night previous , and we had a mare to breed . Cactus was a little jacked up, and clearly sensed that I was not altogether OK. He got quite rammy with me . I panicked and jerked him off balance and no one got hurt ,but... I was immediately very aware of how wrong It could have gone , because I was not thinking clearly !
3.(could be 1,2and 3. PAY ATTENTION!!!!! I don't care if this is your first horse ever or , you have been at it since you were in diapers, complacency leads to disaster !
nuff said here right?
4. TAKE YOUR TIME ! ,the only thing that happens in a hurry , with livestock is a wreck!
I have a favorite saying "if you are in a hurry , hurry home , YOU ARE DONE"
In the interest of not having a 4 hr post here I will stop at this .Over the next little while I would like to do a series , on how I teach some boundaries with my horses. I am not a Trainer. just a decent hand with a horse. I am also hoping that a few of you will do so as well. either on your own blogs and let me know so I can link to it , or here in the comments if you chose . I am hoping more for your own blogs , and maybe some of you techies will ad video?
I think my standard "Stay safe " is very fitting here!
so my friends , please do STAY SAFE!