Equestrian Medical Safety Association


Frequently Asked Questions

Equine Safety Questions

  • Will lightning scare my horse?

    Jim and Jo With HelmetIt might, but more importantly, lightning can kill you. A lightning bolt is 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit and heats the surrounding air to 18,000 degrees F, twice the temperature of the sun. It is hot enough to fuse sand into glass. The typical lightning bolt is 1 gigavolt ( 1000 million volts). It seeks the path of least electrical resistance, ie: metal (horseshoes, bits, stirrups), or the tallest object (a rider on a horse, a tree).
  • How do I prevent being caught in a thunderstorm?

    I suggest that prior to planning a trail ride, or before riding outside that you get a good weather briefing. If you missed your local TV forecast, just go to www.weather.com or www.wunderground.com and look at the local forecast.

    Since the exact time of local thunderstorms cannot be predicted, if there is a possibility of a storm you should keep a frequent eye to the sky and get back to a safe location before the storm hits. In most parts of the country the majority of summer thunderstorms start in late morning, so an early ride makes sense.
  • If I am caught outdoors in a thunderstorm, how do I keep safe?

    Avoid being the path of least electrical resistance. Keep away from water. Avoid high ground. Avoid metal objects like fences and poles. Avoid being under a tree; 25% of all outdoor lightning fatalities happened to people under trees. Crouch down. Keep away from other people by at least 15 feet so if one of you is hit others can provide help or CPR. Do not stand under a tree or a partially open shelter.
  • What can I do to protect my horse from lightning?

    The best advice is to steer clear of a dangerous situation. Plan ahead! Failing that, at least one expert recommends that you put distance between yourself and your horse, since is likely to be carrying metal. If a thunderstorm is advancing toward you, and you can see it – flee it! If you can hear it – clear it!
  • How do I get my rider to wear a helmet

    There are numerous excuses for not wearing a helmet: they are not cool, I don’t feel free, gives bad hair, uncomfortable, people I admire don’t wear one, real cowboys don wear one and so on. They are heard in every activity where wearing a helmet can reduce or mitigate head injury.

    As bicycles are used more for commuting and loaner bikes are available, state legislators have gotten in the act for riders when they are on public highways. We need a community ground swell. The reasons for helmet use don’t change the use, nor does the importance of wearing one every time.

    The trick to changing attitudes is to find the tipping point for the specific individual or group. A tipping point is the point in the system or process where a significant and non-reversible change takes place. The personal negatives of helmet use become unimportant and consistent wearing of one is an every time you get on a horse reality.

    Find/engage role models. Use instructors and peers who wear and require those with them to wear helmets, accept parenting responsibility and adult modeling learn from knowledge of injury and devastation from head injury. Purchase only ASTM certified helmets and decorate them to suit your taste, helmets don’t have to be boarding. Be sure the helmet fits, figure out how to keep it clean enough not to be disgusting and wear it every time. There are no excuses.

    The riders4helmets (LINK) discussion of several riders from many disciplines is worth a look.
  • Helmet Fit

    There are videos about how to fit a helmet in our media library. On the Education page under Helmet Fit there are additional resources to help you fit ore evaluate the fit of a helmet.