There was very sad news recently about a person chasing her loose horses and accidentally getting hit by a car and killed. The horses were not injured in the incident. What a horrific thing to happen while trying to do the right thing for her animals.

A reflective vest can save lives in low-light situations.

Photo Courtesy Rebecca Gimenez

This is unfortunately the second case of this same scenario occurring in the United states this year, earlier in February 2013 in California another woman was killed while trying to catch her loose miniature horse.  Again, her miniature horse was not injured in the incident.

Where Do We Start with Prevention?

 

We all preach how to do prevention (closing the gates, fixing fences, building an outer perimeter fence, putting locks on paddocks, etc.) but animals continue to get loose, and it can happen in an instant of forgetfulness or innocent misunderstanding.

How Many Incidents Occur?

While the number of horses that get loose is unknown, from the number of reports to animal control organizations, there are many thousands that do end up out of their primary containment. We can also base our concerns on the number of horses that get killed by being hit by a car (four horses killed when hit by car) or that kill someone driving a car that hits them (man dies after hitting horse in Montana) each year.While there are no official numbers, the frequency of related news reports is astonishing to anyone who does a Google search.

It is obvious that we as an industry need to improve prevention of horses from escaping into the road, but first we have to admit that it could happen to any of us. It would be nice for someone in the industry to start keeping track of these reports as well.

Many people think of reflective wear when riding--it is important to wear reflective when you are riding in any urban environment as well. Others fail to see the importance. Based on the sad saga of one Midwestern man who was riding with a child and was killed in a hit and run incident without reflective, then four other people trying to assist on scene were hit by yet another vehicle, reflective could have prevented two incidents.

It Happens to All of Us

If you talk to other horse people, many of them will admit it HAS happened to them. It happened to me in 2001 when Karma, one of our cherished foals, was about 2 months old. He laid down to close to the fence and rolled under it, getting up on the outside of the fence! Fortunately we heard his dam whinnying for him and saw her acting weird and were able to lead her to a gate and he followed. This was solved far more easily than when lots of animals get loose as a herd and start running though a neighborhood. Animal control officers and law enforcement report many serious cases of estrays (animals loose) that occur at all times of day and night, and in all types of neighborhoods.

What is a Simple Solution?

I recommend that horse people buy a reflective vest to roll up and keep in their vehicle door pocket.These days they are available at Tractor Supply, Wal-Mart, and other vendors. Then put the vest on if you get into the road for any reason (chasing loose horses, changing a tire, checking for trailering issues, etc.) People in other vehicles can see you, and although that doesn’t mean that it makes it safe for you to go into the road chasing your horse, it makes it possible for the other driver to understand that you are there, and they may slow down. That will help prevent tragedies of horrific proportions to your horses, and to you.

It is bad and dangerous enough to have your horses get out--don't get killed for it.

Have you had any close calls with cars when trying to catch a loose horse?