The ground trembled as horse and rider hurdled through the dense woodland, dodging crimson branches as the sun rose. The possibilities of death or injury at any moment were nonexistent to the team that raced on. If the horse stumbled or tripped, the two would have found themselves in extreme peril.
“Even at a walk, accidents happen,” Rachel Ibarra, Nature Speaks horse ranch founder, said.
Nature Speaks was a non-profit organization dedicated to helping horses in need. Owning a boarding stable in Jupiter Farms, Nature Speaks took in four horses. Shadow, Windy, Ozzi, and Dallas were all rescued from past neglective homes, but they are not the first horses Ibarra has fallen in love with.
“I was riding Jazz [her former horse] in the woods,” Ibarra said, “and she collapsed and I flew over her ears and slid on my face in the sand. I had to have plastic surgery to fix it. She stood up on my left hand and broke my pinkie finger in half. I had surgery three times. Three days later, Jazz was hit by lightning and killed in the pasture. That’s why I started Nature Speaks.”
This unfortunate incident demonstrated just how important it was to be safe while riding a horse. According to equisearch.com, head injuries compromised about 15 to 20 percent of all equine activities.
“Always pay attention when you are around the horses,” Ibarra said.
It is also key to pay attention to the horse’s safety and health as if they were a child. More so, even, because horses have no ability to clearly speak in words what is wrong with them. Horse owners must see their horses through another horse’s eyes, so that when the horse is in pain, or is acting unusual, they notice right away, and have more ability to understand what the horse needs.
“Listen to the horse,” Ibarra said. “It will communicate with you.”
Responsible horse owners should also look at things the horses cannot see, like the condition of tack before heading out on the trail. According to the Spruce.com, basic tack includes a saddle with a girth or cinch, a saddle pad, a bridle or hackamore with a decent set of reins, and stirrups. A helmet is also recommended.
“The saddle should be in good condition. If not, parts could break off while riding. There are multiple parts that make a saddle safe, and if any break, the rider could be injured,” Ibarra said.
Those who own horses also know that it was important to keep food in check.
“[Horses need] lots of grass and grain, but hay is needed too,” said horse owner, Erica Palmer.
Riding a horse required skill and patience, and safety was the number one rule in this game.
“The safer you are,” Palmer said, “the more happy both the horse and the rider will be.”