Competing with your horse is an enjoyable experience but it can lead to an increase in safety risks we wouldn't necessarily experience at home.

Firstly, if your horse hasn't been out and about much he may become excited and unsettled being amongst other horses. Horse events are also very noisy places with lots of people coming and going, loud speakers, noisy rides and sometimes even fireworks.

When you arrive at the event you will usually be directed to the parking area by Parking Attendants. Always remember that the people running the competition are volunteers who have given up their time so that you can enjoy the competition. Wherever possible, allow sufficient room between cars and floats to allow yourself enough room to tie your horse to your float safely. Remember there will be another horse tied to the adjacent float, so enough room for all horses and handlers is vital. Our Bungee Trailer Tie can be very useful at horse competitions. They allow your horse to be tied safely to the float without the risk of a leg being caught over the lead rope, and the panic snaps allow you to release your horse quickly should the need arise. We also stock Pull-Back Collars which can help to keep your horse safe and secure, provided they are used under close supervison. In all cases you must obey the directions of the Parking Marshall to ensure the safety of all competitors and handlers.

Never leave your horse unattended while tied to the float. There will be a lot of distractions for your horse and other horses coming and going, floats and trucks arriving, horses being unloaded and, in some cases, dogs roaming around. If you are competing on your own and don't have the luxury of a helper, ask the people at the next float to keep an eye on your horse while you are away.

If you are lucky enough to have a helper, it will make your day much less stressful. There are often nominations to be placed or checked, toilet breaks required and your helper can also keep an eye on the rings to let you know when it is time for your class without having to take your horse to the arena too early. Marshalling yards are very busy places and it is best to go in enough time to ensure you are not keeping anyone waiting but you also don't want to be there far too early. Getting there too early can unsettle your horse, or he can become bored. There is also a very real risk of danger to yourself and your horse if the marshalling yard is overcrowded with horses passing close by the hindquarters of another horse. Always keep the entry and exit points clear and unobstructed to avoid accidents.

If you find your horse becomes very unsettled it is best to take him back to the float for a while, away from the noise and distractions. If your horse is young, or hasn't been out to compete before, you may find it best not to compete at the first couple of outings. Just take him for a ride around and let him look at all the noises without the pressure of competing.

If your horse reacts strongly to noise, you could consider using ear plugs if the rules of the event permit. POMMS ear plugs are very popular and are discreet and comfortable for your horse. If you do decide to use ear plugs, always make sure you try them at home first as your horse may not like the feel of wearing them.

A few general safety precautions and a relaxed attitude will ensure you and your horse enjoy your outing.

March 10, 2022 — Greg Grant Saddlery