Years ago I wrote this for publication in our local miniature horse club's newsletter after witnessing several serious injuries to humans at horse shows - due to either their lack of knowledge about horse 'herd' behavior, or just not paying attention. Distance, Distance, Distance by Jean Barnhill Rudick Dusty Lane Miniatures, Arkansas http://www.miniatureequine.com/dustylane Having grown up with large cows and horses, I have always had a strong appreciation for their strength and ability to do serious damage if you are not careful. My father always preached to us, from the time we could walk to always be aware of safety concerns. Like never put your arms between the bars of a pen full of friendly calves because a bump could easily break it. When working with animals - no mater how friendly - always work in an area where you can escape easily. Always let animals know you are there before you touch them because ALL animals will react, usually with a kick, when startled. And with the horses, to always keep distance between horses because they like their space. Working with little horses is no different. But I'm finding that the people are - and it scares me. Just because these horses are small does not mean they can't do serious damage. They have the same personality as the big ones when it comes to space. They do not like to be crowded by unfamiliar horses. Mares invariably will react, usually with a good two-legged kick, to a stallion that gets too close. Stallions, especially during breeding season, will want to rip into another that gets too close. Yet I'm finding that many miniature owners totally ignore safety. They want to visit with friends, pulling along their horse into a crowded situation. With geldings, this is usually not a problem, but if there are mares or stallions, the situation could get serious. So - some simple, common sense guidelines ... 1. If you are waiting to go in the show ring, don't crowd up close around the ring entrance. Keep at least 10 feet of distance between you and other horses. Remember, just because you have control of your horse doesn't mean that the person next to you has control of theirs, and you don't want to find that out the hard way. 2. When in the show ring and lining up, keep at least 10 feet (preferably more) between you and the next horse. This is for two reasons - so you don't get kicked by the neighboring horse, and so the judge has room to really look at the horses from all angles - and you do want the judge to have the best possible chance to look your horse over. This is true for lining up head-to-tail or side-by-side. If you know your horse tends to be a little "anti-social" around strange horses and the ring steward directs you to a spot that you feel is too close to another horse, tell them. 3. Keep plenty of distance from horses that are tied. There is absolutely no control over that tied horse, and you don't want to get kicked in passing! 4. If kids are handling your horse, make sure they understand how much power they are holding. Since miniatures are so small, people often think any child can handle them. That is true - if the horse is well trained, but again, that well-trained horse is still a normal horse and may react if crowded by an unfamiliar horse, and the child is the one that will be hurt. 5. Watch out for curious children. Tots are often fearless. They see this cute, little horse and are unaware of the danger of running up and touching them. And it's amazing how many of these kids are left unattended by oblivious parents, especially at county fair shows. Keep an eye out for them. Nothing would be worse than to have your horse be responsible for injuring a child. Remember, even a small miniature can seriously injure a small child with one well-placed kick. So let's all keep our eyes open. Watch out, not only for your horse, but others as well. I don't want to see anyone get hurt and I know you don't either.