What Can We Do To Feel Safe?

It’s dark out. You can’t see, but you know the drill. You’re used to it because it’s always dark at 5:00 a.m. when you feed the horses. Yet, something is different about this morning.
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It’s dark out. You can’t see, but you know the drill. You’re used to it because it’s always dark at 5:00 a.m. when you feed the horses. Yet, something is different about this morning. Maybe it’s the sound of a gate left unlatched clanging against the post that gives you the chills before you even know what the sound is. The barn door is open. Why is that? It’s never left open. You flip on the light. The scene before you unfolds in slow motion. You’re so stunned, the picture doesn’t register. The tingling begins right away, however. It starts at your toes and travels up through your body like electricity. You’re hot. You’re cold. You feel lightheaded…Everything is gone. Everything.

As tragic events have occurred over the past few years, jolting us out of our complacency, life as we’ve known it has undergone a radical change. Our need to protect and secure our environment has taken on a new meaning. No longer can we feel relaxed about strangers visiting our farms or arriving at our barns unannounced. Intrusions, while always a concern, in today’s world seem to have intensified. Even well-intentioned neighbors or children can pose a threat by leaning over fences with “treats” in hand, or worse yet, wandering into our paddocks or fields. Everything from our horses to our possessions seems to be at risk. Whether you post a sign, put a lock on the tack room door, or have a gated security system, more than ever the challenge seems to be: How do I keep my horses and belongings in, and unwanted people out?

Horses at Risk

As a farm owner or stable manager, safeguarding your horses from danger and injury is likely to be your number one priority, although, often as not, spectators who stop to see the “pretty horses” mean no harm. However, their actions, no matter how innocently intended, could have serious consequences. Someone who casually reaches over the fence to pat a nose or to offer a carrot could trigger a power dispute between rival pasture mates, resulting in injuries to horse, person, or damage to the fence, for example. Posting your property with clearly marked warning signs should be enough to keep inquisitive passersby at a distance, avoiding the possibility of problems.

Unfortunately, however, not everyone is without malice, as it is estimated that roughly 40,000 horses are stolen each year. These statistics were compiled during the 1992-1993 Texas legislative session to determine the severity of horse theft and led to the creation of a Horse Inspection Program in Texas managed by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA). Further information on this and other related subjects is available by visiting the National Institute of Animal Agriculture web site at www.animalagriculture.org

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Toby Raymond has been involved with horses throughout her life from showing hunter/jumpers, galloping racehorses, and grooming trotters to exercising polo ponies, as well as assisting veterinarians at tracks in New York and Florida. By combining her equine knowledge with her 20-year experience in the advertising industry, she has formed TLR & Associates, a creative resource for people in the horse business. When not working, she usually can be found at the barn, hangin’ with her horse Bean.

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