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Once per month, this blog will share my insights on the facinating world of the horse business.
Although I will not be taking comments on this blog, your feedback is welcome - email link

Past Cases of the Month are available at this link

The current Case of the Month is available at this link

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January 2019
Barn and stable maintenance is so important in keeping “safety” as the most important item in your checklist of “Very Important Things” to remember at your horse facility.

It is so stupid when any horse becomes injured because a pitchfork was left outside its storage place, wherever that is. Even if the horse involved is not your potential champion green working horse but an old wonderful school horse who has single handedly paid for the new indoor ring…….. you never are “OK” with any horse becoming hurt because of a stupid neglectful human error. After all, we are horse lovers.

The case I had many years ago, involved a high end show stable which was usually immaculate. The problem was a simple tack cleaning hook attached to the barn ceiling and positioned not close to the wall and door opening into the beautiful tack room, but somewhat in to the barn aisle; obviously a dangerous place to have any metal object with the potential to injure a horse or human, for that matter.

And the sad part is that all the horse owners and the stable owners/managers had seen the tack cleaning hook for many years; in other words the exposure to the potential cause of accidents was in very clear view to all for years.

NOW THE ACCIDENT: Several horse owners and guests with their very fancy show horses were at the barn in order to take lessons from the resident trainer, a well-known young man from Canada who had a fabulous record showing both hunters and jumpers. In other words, a well-qualified person to teach these wealthy horse owners.

Now, as the Canadian has taught all morning long, a lunch break is called and, after lunch, the students go back into the ring, but approximately half way through the afternoon session, one of the woman students complains about a migraine headache and leaves the arena. She momentarily leaves her horse untied as she darts into the tack room and then is startled by her horse rearing up into the air and crashes to the barn aisle in front of the tack room.

Obviously, the horse had caught his left nostril on the tack cleaning hook, got scarred, reared and set back, then collapsed on the dirt floor. The “tack cleaning hook” is actually made up of three hooks, welded together then chromed.

The prominent blood flow from the wound was stopped by putting many towels over the horse’s nose. By the time the veterinarian and his vet tech showed up, all they had to do was “start stitching.” The horse ended up receiving over 60 stitches.

Obviously, a lawsuit was filed against the stable owner. I had been retained by the plaintiff to testify as to the damage which could have been anticipated by having a metal cleaning hook in close proximity to a horse area. In addition, the damage to the horse was severe and included two severed nerves which paralyzed the right side of the horse’s face, and looked to be permanent from the testimony of the veterinarians. A case such as this is very difficult since I have known many horse people for many years. I received my judging licenses in 1969 and as so many of the cases I handle are related to hunters and jumpers I backed off from accepting many judging jobs.

In this instance, I knew the barn owner and several of the women quite well, so I felt bad that I was being called upon to testify against an old friend, but my ethical background is very strong and I will not under any circumstances become affected by such a case.

The safety lesson, which cost the insurance company a boatload of money, should not have cost anything. The smart, wise thing to do, for the barn owner, was to have assigned the job of safety “checker” to the barn manager or perhaps the senior groom, or the individual you feel to be the most responsible. Then, of course, as the stable owner, you must always check……. It’s always up to you, the boss, to always follow up so you can ALWAYS TRUST YOUR FACILITY. It really is so very simple.

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