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Horse & Rider Gear is an online glossary of terms and definitions commonly encountered by horse lovers. Click on the links below to choose from our alphabetical list of terms.


There is no end to the potential hazards around a barn, including anything that could catch a hoof and hold it; cause a horse to slip and fall; cause a horse to rear and bang its poll; and anything flammable, poisonous, sharp, or uneven (such as a hole).

Train yourself always to be on the lookout for things that could harm your horse or a rider. Following are some of the main hazards and the simple cures.

Baling Wire
A horse may eat small pieces of wire with his hay, so be careful how you cut bales open. Long pieces lying in the barn may trip a horse or poke him in the eye. Discard all baling wire, and twine, too, which could be picked up and eaten if left in the hay.

Broken Posts or Fence Uprights
A horse can step on or trip over these objects and damage a hoof or leg. Be sure any old structures are completely removed from horse lands.

Dangerous Fences
This category includes fences constructed of materials hazardous to horses and otherwise safe fences that are in a state of disrepair.

Horse fencing made of large-mesh wire can snag a hoof and cause immense damage if the horse is frightened and tries to pull free. Safe fencing with flapping boards and exposed nails is also dangerous.

Remove all dangerous fencing from your property and keep other fencing in good repair. Good maintenance requires daily observation of every fence in every field to ascertain what damage the horses might have done during their turnout, or what natural forces (weather as well as humans, beavers, birds, and dogs) might have done.

Hazardous Materials
Never for an instant leave any flammable liquid in the barn where a person or a horse (or a cat or mouse) could knock it over. Never leave a poisonous substance where drops or pieces of it could get into a horse's feed, hay, or water.

Low Overhangs
Your run-in shed should be a minimum of 7 feet high at the open side; higher is even better. A playing or fighting horse could rear and run into a comer, doing considerable damage to his head, neck, or eyes.

Public Rights of Way
If your pastures or paddocks abut a road or other human thoroughfare, stay alert always for things thrown onto your equine land, including broken bottles, plastic bags (which, if they contain food, might be swallowed by a horse) food wrappers, household junk, and discarded small machinery.

Survey frequently; if possible, install double fencing at road borders, with one horse-safe fence at the property's edge, and another run of fence several feet inside the first. This will leave you a "no man's land" you can easily survey and clean up when needed, and it will make it that much harder for passersby to discard trash on your land.

It will also protect your horses from breaking a fence board, jumping or stepping out, and getting into traffic.

Rodent Holes
These will be made by different "varmints," depending on where you live. In the East, they are often called chuck holes, because woodchucks make them. Whatever makes holes in your area - woodchucks, moles, prairie dogs, snakes - be alert for them and fill them in. When riding in fields, survey well ahead before you take up a gallop; a horse that steps suddenly into these holes can pull a tendon or break a leg.

Sharp Projections
These include old nails from which something has fallen, broken hooks, separating sections of wood, and more. A horse could catch his skin, which would result in a painful and possibly laming tear. He could also catch an eye or eyelid with even worse consequences. Completely remove broken gate latches or any other fastener or holder; check frequently for nails coming out of boards, for nails left behind by workers, and for dangerous wooden structures.