The train runs over a horse. Most common riding hazards and accidents. How to prevent risks for horses.
Horses are often the focus of news stories after being victimized in accidents. It is a much more widespread and common phenomenon than we think even if most of the time they do not make the news. Often the modalities and dynamics are similar and mostly the consequence of a tragic fatality difficult to predict.
Near the Vercelli station, a horse was hit by a Regional Fast train of the Turin-Milan line. The animal had become mad and unseated a woman who was mounting it on an estate in the municipality of San Germano. The frightened horse continued to run, first ending up in a ditch and then continuing. Instead of going back to the stable, he headed for the tracks where, at that moment, the regional train was passing by which could not stop. Unfortunately, at the Vercelli stop, the commuters witnessed a macabre scene with fragments of the animal’s body on the tractor.
Accidents with the Horse
Accidents with the horse are very common. Being animals that have a large size it is difficult to control them in some circumstances. The horse can be frightened and run away by finding itself in hostile places unsuitable for its nature and being the victim of accidents.
Trains, cars, ditches, canals, asphalt, precipices: they are the worst enemies of horses.
Added to this is an infinite number of situations in which the horse can get hurt.
Horse Running Away
The most common cases occur when the horse runs away. The horse can run away from the fence just to go and look for pasture to graze on. When he runs wild and frightened, the animal becomes uncontrollable. Furthermore, the context in which he finds himself feeds his stress. Being a prey, which lives in a pack, the horse that runs away alone is more stressed. All the more so if it is an animal that lives in the countryside, in a stall or in the wild and suddenly finds itself in contact with noises, objects, places it doesn’t know.
Situations in Which the Horse Can Escape
There are numerous circumstances in which the horse can escape.
Fence Maintenance: the conditions of the fence are fundamental for the safety of the animal. If it is a cordless fence, it is important to check the battery for functioning. For other types of fences or fences, regular maintenance is necessary to avoid sagging in the fence and the possibility of leaks.
Box: the same applies to the maintenance of the box. It must be built horse-proof with a suitable closing system. Check the barn door regularly. The horse tends to lean, to push against the wall, and with time it can cause wear and tear of the structure.
Rope and Halter: you must be very careful when you bring the horse to the halter and we tie it somewhere. Whether inside the riding stable or outside on the ground, the rope must be tied well so that the horse does not release. Even in these circumstances, it could be strange for anything: a sudden movement, the passage of a dog, a cat or a bird, a particular noise, sometimes a stronger gust of wind is enough that makes things slam or move to scare the horse. Make sure that the horse is well tied to a solid surface and cannot easily melt or by pulling on the rope break the surface and bring the fence behind.
The greatest dangers occur during walks or excursions outside the stables. Inside a fence, the horse, even if it gets wild, can hardly run away even if there is always the possibility that it will come to skip the riding fence. During walks outside where there are no fences or protections, there are greater risks in the escape. The horse could be frightened by a noise, an object it does not know, by the presence of an animal or even by the reflection in the puddles or on the windows of the machines. The wild animal can discard and buck to disarm the rider or pull abruptly on the reins, making him lose control of the horse. An uncontrolled runaway horse risks getting very hurt.
Horse and Most Common Accidents
Among the most common cases recorded when running away or in the newspaper:
- it can slip on the asphalt and fracture or injure itself badly
- fall into a ditch, a canal, a pond, a river or a lake
- getting caught with the reins or a “string” rope
- get stuck in the barbed wire or in the sheep pen
- fall from a precipice
- it can end on the busy road, on the highway or on the train tracks
- in other circumstances, it can also injure itself with metal protrusions, pieces of wood from broken fences or broken branches
- the horse can “pack itself” or in some cases when lying down it cannot get up from the ground in the box because it does not have space or slips or has a stuck limb
- Even when it is tied to the rope we must be very careful: it can slip and cause a fracture (fatal to the animal) or a straightening in the neck or risk of strangling
- the substitutions: without doing it on purpose, the horse can slam its foot on a ledge on the ground, even a simple stone and provoke the so-called “suburb“; a hematoma under the foot which in some cases requires veterinary intervention
- tear the muscle or ligaments with sudden movements
- injure the eye with protrusions, brambles, or dry twigs to hunt a blade of grass.
Secure the Animal
There is an infinite number of cases in which the horse can be the victim of an accident. The password is not only to secure the rider but also to the animal. Too many times we tend to underestimate the risks with horses. Despite their large size, they are extremely delicate animals and their character easily exposes them to stress or fear. In addition, the horse is not as agile as a feline and can get carried away by its weight.
Desensitization is essential to get the horse used to deal with different situations. It is important to create a bond of trust in the binomial-man horse so that the animal learns to respect the man but also to listen to him in risky situations for which it will be easier to calm him.
Securing the horse is the first thing to think about. Those who are practical with horses know how important it is to pay attention to each element. So it is always recommended to check the fences or the box frequently, check protrusions or elements with which the horse could injure itself, pay attention to the type of road surface or flooring that can be slippery. When the horse is tied, make sure that the pole or fence is strong and that the rope is well knotted at the correct height to prevent the horse from sticking the limb or getting caught.
On the walk, a rider should never be distracted. Although some breeds of horses are quieter and it is possible to relax but it is always necessary to pay attention to the horse and the context to foresee as many dangers or unexpected events as possible.
- On the road, pay attention to the transit of vehicles whether it is buses, cars or motorbikes: they must slow down passing near the horse, so it will be the rider’s responsibility to signal the drivers to slow down.
- Depending on the type of path, there are gaits to be respected especially if the surface is slippery and it has rained. It is not recommended to gallop or trot on the asphalt, when they are slippery and on descents or curves when it is not possible to see what is behind the curve. Even in the vicinity of precipices, canals, or steep terrain, the horse must be kept in step. In the slopes, it is possible to zigzag with the horse or it is always recommended to get off the saddle and continue on foot keeping the horse by the reins at a due distance, keeping in front of and alongside the animal.
- Close to the tracks, keep in order to prevent a possible discarding of the horse if a high-speed train passes by that could frighten it. Keep the horse in all circumstances without giving way to the animal to escape the control of the reins, containing it as much as possible even with the legs. The horse must be gradually desensitized, never in a coercive way but respecting its nature.