Working around a Horse’s Hindquarters
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Working around a Horse’s Hindquarters

August 16, 2019

Another safety concern we see a lot with young
folks or amateur novice horsemen working around horses is working around the hind legs of
a horse. There are things that we need to do to the hind legs, cleaning it or maybe
bandaging it. And even things like doing rectal temperatures on these horses we have to work
around the hindquarter. One thing we want to keep in mind when we work around the hindquarter
of the horse is, again, how the horse sees. So understanding basic hearing and sight and
smell in horses is a really important basic knowledge to have. But when you work around
the hindquarters, particularly important. When we look about the horse’s vision, horses
can see quite nicely out here to the side but the horse cannot see anything along the
top of its back or directly behind them. And lots of accidents can occur because people
don’t understand that horses can’t see there and they surprise the horse. Two stories come
to mind. One, a woman I worked for in California was killed by a young horse because she just
walked up to it and slapped it in the butt to move it over. It’s a horrible thing but
how many of us at one time or another have gone up to a horse and slapped him in the
butt and said “Move Over!” She did that and she was an experienced horsewoman and it was
the wrong horse at the wrong time and it kicked her in the chest. Another incident was a veterinarian
which I thought was interesting, was doing a flexion test on a hind leg and was flexing
the horse – the horse jerked the hind leg away- and he slapped it in the butt and the
horse kicked him. So I thought the veterinarian’s fault. So surprising the horse in the hindquarter
is not a good idea and it’s amazing how many times even the most experienced horse people
forget some of these basic rules. So when you’re doing things about the hind legs, it’s very
important that you’re facing the hind legs – up at their shoulder or at their belly region-
facing the hind legs. What you don’t want to do is get to the side of the leg right here because
she could easily cow kick me – or never get directly behind them as I am standing here
– not a very safe place to be. Okay? Especially if you were to walk up to them and surprise
them by putting your hand on them or tapping them because these horses could react. One, they don’t see particularly well. Two, animals are very reactive. So when you’re woring about
the hind leg, ideally you’re going to stand in a position that you’re facing
this hind leg. So, for instance, if you’re picking this hind leg up – letting this horse
know that you’re approaching them – and then lifting this hind leg up – staying close to
the horse’s leg . Okay? Now, when dealing with the hind leg as well, you’re always safer
standing closer to the horse. Standing tentatively and standing away from the horse is much more
dangerous. If you’re closer and this horse moves into you because it’s being fractious
or uncomfortable with something, it’s going to have a chance to push you out of the way.
If you’re really far out, it’s not going to have that ability and if the horse moves into
you and then kicks, you’re more likely to get kicked. So you always want to be facing
this hind leg. The same thing with clipping, you want to be out here and clip or maybe
a little bit to the side. But you never want to be clipping their hind legs from directly
behind the horse.

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