When we think about summer parks and recreation programs we often think about soccer, softball/baseball, swimming, and sometimes arts and crafts.
But could your city programs also include horseback riding? The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) loss control team receives questions every year about liability related to horseback riding lessons or “saddle clubs” in their parks and rec programs.
Safety tips for horseback riding programs
Riding horses could be an exciting parks & rec program that many residents may look forward to and enjoy. When considering whether to have these types of programs, also consider the safety of the program and the dangers. A few safety measures and good training can ensure that horseback riding is fun and safe for all!
- Inspect the riding area for each event. Ensure that the area is clear of any obstructions and limit any dangerous terrain. This makes it safe for both the rider and the horse.
- Ensure that all riders are wearing proper attire.
- Shoes should be closed toe to protect your feet in case a horse should step on them. Shoes should also have a heel to prevent your foot from going through the stirrup.
- Pants should always be worn, absolutely no shorts.
- Shirts should always be tucked in.
- Gloves are good for preventing hand injuries and can also prevent the reins from slipping if hands become sweaty.
- Saddles should fit the rider, so having a variety of different-sized saddles is helpful.
- Make sure all riders are always being supervised. Staff should be trained on safe horseback riding, all the safety rules, and should make sure that all riders are comfortable.
- Riding staff should be comfortable and experienced around horses, be trained to watch for signs of discomfort in the horse, and be able to train all riders effectively.
- Ensure that all riders have reviewed and signed liability waivers. If participants are under the age of 18 make sure a parent/guardian signature is obtained.
- Post signage of what riders should and should not do to help educate riders and make them more aware anytime they are around horses.
Horseback riding can be an exciting program to offer, so let’s also make sure it’s safe! After all, ensuring a safe and fun environment is what every parks and recreation program is all about.
For additional information, this link to the Department of Natural Resources site on horseback riding is a good source.
Submitted by: Troy Walsh, Loss Control Consultant