Accident at a Show-What do YOU do?

Many of us that attend shows have unfortunately witnessed driving accidents, either in the ring or on a course.  Although often times there are professional horsemen and women nearby to assist the driver and take control of the situation, there are instances where help is needed by the non-professional bystander.  I am one of those non-professional individuals and the one time when I did need to help, I felt completely helpless; fumbling around and trying my hardest to not make the situation worse.   I came across an article on that addressed this situation.  “Some Thoughts on Accidents at Horse Events“, written by Kurt Schneider, discusses important steps to take and things to consider when faced with a driving accident, including a runaway horse:

If there is a runaway, DO NOT TRY TO GRAB THE HORSE. Let the driver have as much room as they need to get control of the situation. Generally, it is best for other competitors in the area to get to the center of the ring, leaving the rail to the runaway. The horse will stop when its fatigue overcomes its fear. The center of the ring is the place where you can move in any direction to stay out of the way of the runaway. Standing in front of a runaway horse and flapping your arms is a good way to get trampled and run over. Even grabbing a rein is more likely to result in a broken rein than a stopped horse.

Other areas are covered such as What to do at the scene of a carriage or cart accident, preparation for show organizers, and how to assess in what capacity you should help.

I think it is a very interesting article with important information to consider as we move into the 2008 show season.

5 Responses to Accident at a Show-What do YOU do?

  1. Mocha Mom says:

    It’s interesting to see that Kurt Schneider shows MORGAN horses in carriage driving. The article is excellent, especially the section for show organizers. It emphasizes the importance of a competent ringmaster, something that is easily overlooked as there are no requirements to be a ringmaster and the USEF rules pertaining to ringmasters do not say anything pertaining to safety.

  2. Carole says:

    I’ve done a lot of driving in my lifetime and I think the most dangerous place to drive is in a show ring filled with people who have just started driving with horses that have just been hooked a couple of times. I have asked the ring stewart to open the gate for me when I could see trouble going to happen and then have the ring stewart tell me that I could not leave…I thought quickly and told him that I had a broken strap. He said I could fix the strap in the center of the arena , but could not leave. I said ” Open the gate NOW.” and out I went. A few seconds later one of the horses blew up and it was quite nastey for a few minutes in the ring. Much better for me to be on the outside lookiing in…

    People think driving is EASY. It’s not. It is one of the MOST dangerous parts of the equine sports…You only have control in zone 3 and the horse will not take care of you. Be very aware when you go into the ring. Look at the other people and see if they know what they are doing or NOT.

    You must know what you are doing and the horse must be really broke before you go into the ring full of wheels , horses ,shaves and light bits and leather. Driving ain’t easy….you don’t just sit there in little carts behind the feet where you cannot see over the horse’s back in a ring full of people going “mock ten.”

    I think there should be a limat on the number of people in the ring. Fewer people with fewer horses if the horses are new to this sort of thing. A rating system for the number of times the horse has been shown under harness and the number of times the person has driven. In Europe you have to take a qualifing test before you show…rather like a driver’s lisence for a car.

    I love three day eventing becasue it is just the clock and “can you do it?” plus you are the only one on course.

    Safety is all a matter of knowledge and a well trained QUIET horse driven by a qualifed person. None of that scary show ring stuff for this old gal.

  3. Alicia says:

    I agree that there is nothing more scary than a nasty cart accident. I myself had a very bad one with my faithful pony at the tender age of 8 that involved a flipped cart, an injured pony, and several stitches for both of us. I didn’t drive again until I was 16, and not regularly until I was 19. As a result, I am very particular about the mindset of any horse I intend to hook, and more so about which horses I intend to show in harness. I can see the validity in the argument that the driver should have every opportunity to get the horse under control before others put themselves in harm’s way. With that said, I have seen a number of remarkably bad situations truly saved by quick action from trainers on the rail. FYI– I will always be the first to jump the rail, and think it is the duty of nearby professionals to get in there and do everything possible to stop that horse. And for cryin’ out loud, if you wouldn’t comfortably drive the horse in an open field and cross country (my personally favorite test) don’t put it in the show ring. You should not rely on the stability of your environment to control your horse. We all know how horse shows can be!

  4. Mocha Mom says:

    Amen to that Alicia. Thank goodness there are professionals like you who usually are ready and willing to jump the rail and help. But I think the more important point you make gets back to the post about over-mounting the exhibitors. We wouldn’t need to allow headers in the Classic Pleasure Driving classes or in the Walk-Trot classes “for safety” if there weren’t so many who were over-mounted or over-hitched. (Is over-hitched a real word?)

    On the subject of Walk-Trot, there was an accident involving a carriage horse outside the in-gate during a Walk-Trot class at New England last year. Now I know that according to the rule book, headers are only allowed into the ring after being invited in, but one quick-thinking and safety-conscious grandmother (who just happens to be the new President of AMHA) was the first person to jump into the ring to ensure the safety of her grandson who was in the class. I heard her comment afterwards that no ribbon was worth her grandson’s safety. As soon as she jumped the rail, all the others headers followed. Fortunately, the horse involved in the accident was controlled by experienced people outside of the ring and the class was not involved. Which was a good thing, because both the ringmaster and the judge ran to the gate and watched the accident resolve without paying any attention to the kids in the class. Now maybe they thought that they could best protect the kids by trying to control the horse outside the ring, but in my opinion, the kids would have been better served if the ringmaster had called them to the middle of the ring along with their headers. This circles back to the suggestions for show organizers in article referenced in the post. You need to hire competent ringmasters who are thinking safety (of the exhibitors in the ring) first.

  5. evamorgan says:

    That was indeed a scary situation at Northampton last year.I was on the rail coaching my neice. I saw what was happening in the infield, at first they almost had the horse caught by the carriage area then he got away again. At that point I yelled out to the judge what was happening so she could stop the class, I then jumped over the rail and down to my neice’s horse who was by the outgate, I truly thought that other horse was going to get into the show ring( I have seen it happen there many years ago) Cindy also jumped in, just to clarify it was her great nephew who was in the ring. Thanks to the heroic efforts of someone with Janbark was a terrible accident avoided.
    I have learned over the years that you have to pay attention to what is going on outside the ring too, especially at Northampton. Once in a while there will be a loose horse on the track.

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