The Elephant In The Stable

As the weekend draws to a close, I have been preoccupied with the elephant in the stable.


As a young veterinary student, I had an amazing opportunity to spend two weeks with the veterinary team at Perth Zoo. A behind-the-scenes, “up close and personal” that vet students get really excited about. On one particular day, we were called to help an elephant who had colic. All turned out just fine for the elephant (she was constipated) but what is foremost in my recollections from this fascinating consult, is just how ropeable the veterinarian was when the elephant moved unexpectedly during the examination. The veterinarian was angry that the elephant's handlers had not kept the veterinary team safe. For elephants are very large; slow but very large. Mass times acceleration; if you are knocked by an elephant the force is great and potentially catastrophic.

As equestrians, safety is never far from our mind. Don’t over-face your horses. Don’t over-face yourself. Ride out with friends. Fencing hazards, facility maintenance, the maintenance of our gear. The float has to be serviced regularly and there is a fire extinguisher in the back of the truck. Arena footing, horse health (worming, teeth, shoeing, vaccinations).

The endless attention to horse care and horsemanship. It is all about the horse and rider staying safe.

Crossing the chains on the horse float in case car and float unhitch; the wearing of sturdy boots. Tying our horses to hay band, back protectors and helmets. Bunch the end of the lunge rein, a loop might noose your fingers.

It is all about safeguarding ourselves from the unexpected. For the unexpected involving horses, can result in the catastrophic… the elephant in the stable.

Stay safe everyone and have great week with your horses.