When leading your horse, never wrap a lead around your hand. If the horse bolts, it can drag you or even cause you to lose some fingers. It’s best to use both hands when leading a horse. One hand (usually the left) can hold the extra length of lead while the other hand holds onto the lead closer to the horse’s head. It gives you more control.
If you do keep a halter on your horse when it’s out to pasture, use a safety halter.
• My cousin had a paint pony named Cherokee who was difficult to catch when he was in the pasture. He kept Cherokee in a regular halter. One day, Cherokee didn’t show up at the barn with the other horses and ponies. My cousin went to look for him and found him with a broken neck. Apparently Cherokee had been scratching his head or neck with his hind foot. His foot got caught in the halter and he fell down one of the steeper hills in the pasture and broke his neck.
When a horse is wearing a halter in the pasture, there is a chance that the horse could get his foot caught like Cherokee or get the halter caught on something in the field. Safety halters or breakaway halters are like regular halters except the crownpiece is made of leather and can be broken if the horse pulls hard enough.
The proper way to release your horse is to enter the pasture, turn your horse around so that he is facing the gate, then release him and exit the pasture. Sometimes the horse will be so excited to be free that it will take off running or bucking and you could be hurt. If the horse is facing the gate, you have time to exit in safety.
Avoid barbed wire. There are several options for types of fencing to use with horses. Woven wire (with large squares throughout), board fences, horse fence (type of woven or welded wire with smaller squares at the bottom that gradually get larger towards the top of the fence), high tensile wire, and PVC or vinyl fences are good options. Barbed wire is not a good option. I have known many people who have used barbed wire for their livestock. Where I grew up, everyone had barbed wire fences. I had never heard of anyone who had had a problem with the barbed wire until I was grown.
• My parents had a neighbor who purchased a horse for his children. Strawberry’s pasture was fenced with barbed wire. The fence was in good condition with no sagging wire or loose ends. Strawberry lived in that pasture for several years. Then one night something spooked her and she nearly ran through the barbed wire fence. Luckily, Strawberry didn’t have to be euthanized. However, she was cut up very badly, had to be kept in the barn for weeks and will always have the scars. It’s not worth the risk if it can be avoided.
Regardless of the fencing material used, you do need to check the pasture often. Inspect the fence and check to see that everything is in good repair. If the field is near a road, check for litter. Check for poisonous plants such as ragwort, foxglove, jimsonweed and nightshade.