Stay Safe – and Have Fun!

The June America’s Horse offers tips for a summer full of safe riding.

The June America’s Horse offers tips for a summer full of safe riding.

AH-Cover-June-2013If there’s a common theme in our newly released issue of America’s Horse, it’s this: staying safe.

It even starts with the cover of the June issue, which features a recreational rider decked out in his Sunday best – and wearing a properly fitted safety helmet. We know that helmet usage, especially in the western world, is optional. But staying safe is not.

Horse owners who aren’t secure in the saddle probably aren’t having fun. And that’s where we hope America’s Horse can help – providing advice and inspiration to keep our beginner riders on the path of progression and offering great reminders for those who are more experienced.

The first of a three-part “Back to Basics” series with AQHA Professional Horsewoman Julie Goodnight kicked off in June, with an examination of the rider’s proper position. The alignment of ears, shoulder, hips and heels keeps you balanced in the saddle, and it also helps you cue your horse more correctly. Julie, who wears a helmet while riding, says it’s not just about sitting pretty. Sitting in an aligned position actually makes it easier to stay on board.

We’ve got trail-riding safety tips from AQHA Professional Horsemen Bob Jeffreys and Suzanne Sheppard. Because after all, being prepared always makes you feel more confident. Here’s one of their gems: “If you ride with friends, have a prearranged meeting place should something unforeseen force you to scatter in different directions (bee or wasp attacks, for instance). Anyone who is allergic to insect bites or stings should carry the appropriate medication.”

Although colt-starting certainly isn’t something for beginners, riders of all levels will be interested to see how some veteran horsemen worked to keep their colts calm – and themselves safe – in “Staying This Side of Trouble.” While participating in the Horsemen’s Reunion colt-starting event, Buster McLaury, Wade Black and Ty Van Norman found themselves working with some very sensitive, reactive colts – the kind who might have put on a bucking-horse show if left to their own devices. But these men, all of whom learned from renowned horseman Ray Hunt, gave the colts a better and safer introduction to their new life with humans.

A slightly different angle on horse safety comes in “Chasing Chariots,” a profile on two outriders who fulfill a vital role at the chariot tracks. “In this sport, it’s not if it’s going to happen; it’s when and where it’s going to happen,” one outrider said. “And you’ve just got to be prepared for it.” The outriders are there to help, whether it’s with a team that gets away from its driver, or even a driver who is jerked out of his cart by the explosive start of his team from the gate.

Now, of course, a magazine can’t offer hands-on help. If that’s what you need to stay safe with your horse, AQHA can direct you to some expert boots on the ground. The AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Association is a group of trustworthy experts. Many of them specialize in preparing your horse for competition, but they can also help with basic training needs. Also on that page, you’ll find a link to the Certified Horsemanship Association, which is an AQHA alliance partner. CHA instructors focus on safety and horsemanship education.

And for those AQHA members who are working to get better with their horses – learning more and staying safe as they go – America’s Horse will be riding along beside you, offering basic stories on horse health and training and, as always, the human-interest stories that make you feel like part of a really cool community, the American Quarter Horse world.

America’s Horse is delivered to AQHA members 10 times a year, as part of their member benefits. Members can also access a digital edition of the magazine. Go to to download the digital version or to find links to purchase or renew an AQHA membership. Our membership web page,, will give you the low-down on all the other great member benefits.

Happy riding — and reading!

Author: holly

Editor, America's Horse magazine

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