“Every time I get up into the saddle, I look for a seatbelt”, a guest said jokingly as I tied Tuffy’s lead rope onto the saddle horn. I actually witnessed her reaching behind to try to grab for the imaginary safety gear. I laughed and laughed as I went back to grab another horse for a guest to mount. It was such a funny idea. I guess growing up around horses; everything involving these soft-eyed creatures seems pretty normal to me. So I got to thinking, how do we make our giant beasts safe for beginner riders? Safety is extremely important when it comes to horses, but it’s more complex than a simple strap of fabric across your chest can solve.
Training a horse starts from the time that they are born and continues their entire life. These horses here at Red Horse Mountain Ranch have had years upon years of training. Most have also had previous careers before coming here. Some examples include RC who used to be a 4-H horse. Back in the day, Big Sug and Otis pulled wagons together. Bob used to be a barrel racer, and Bailey unknowingly came to us pregnant. Thanks to Bailey, we now have a horse named Kahlua who is our youngest member and currently away at training. A horse’s lifespan on average is 25-30 years. Most of our horses are at least above the age of ten.
Along with buying diverse, well-trained horses, and spending many hours legging them up for guests, we also take certain precautions to keep guests safe. Before rides, we ask everyone to stay on the porch until it is time to mount up. I know that you all are just so excited and want to pet all of the pony noses, but there is a lot going on as your wranglers work hard to make sure that everything is safe and sound on your horse. We also have a lot of horses tied close together. Every now and then they decide to bite or kick at their neighbor. We certainly do not want our guests getting tangled up and hurt because our horses got out of line. Literally! Another one of our rules is no running the horses on the valley floor. This is a hard one because it’s a wide-open flat space, but this is the worst thing that we could do as it teaches our horses to run home. If we do this even one time, the next time a new rider gets on that horse, he is going to be prancing and misbehaving because he wants to run home. We have plenty of opportunities for our guests to test into advanced rides and go galloping on our trails.
So you see, we do have seatbelts for horses. They are just a little bit more abstract than the average piece of car safety equipment. We ask that you please follow our rules while at the ranch to keep everyone safe and sound. These creatures are amazing and I love watching guests connect with their horses throughout the week. When you look into a horse’s eyes, they will tell you everything if you know how to listen. Have any of you been to the ranch and fell in love with one of the horses? Comment below on your favorite horse! (mine is Howie.)