Staying safe on the trail and at the barn

Its time to think about prevention from a different angle

Consider yourself warned: this post might feel a bit off topic compared to what I normally write about here at Insightful Equine. I felt compelled to share it with all of you because I know I’m not the only one that has ever felt unsafe working alone at the barn or heading down the trail.
Recently on a Facebook page that I follow, there was a video posted about tips for rider self-defense. It was all about ways to prevent getting attacked while riding and what to do to stop someone that is attacking you. This was the particular video.

While it does have some good tips in it I still couldn’t help but feel like our entire way of approaching prevention is a bit off kilter. A couple months ago I saw a post that Sarah Silverman had shared called “Rape prevention tips”. It was a list of ten tips that turned the responsibility of prevention back onto the people committing the rape (where it should be). The very first thought that came to me when watched the rider self-defense video was that it really needs to be remade. 

It seems the script would be much more effective at prevention if it went something like this…

Ways to prevent equestrians from being attacked.

1. If you get the urge to attack someone riding a horse – don’t do it.
2. When a woman is riding by herself, don’t pull her off her horse.
3. If you stop on the trail to give someone directions remember not to attack them.
4. If you see someone loading their horse don’t abduct them.
5. Be vigilant. If you think you won’t be able to control your actions when you see a woman riding don’t go to areas where people go horseback riding.
6. Never wait by someone’s truck and trailer so that you can attack them when they return from riding.
7. Remember, people go trail riding to ride their horses. Don’t attempt to harass someone on the trail.
8. If you are afraid you won’t be able to control your actions, ask a morally sound buddy to stay with you at all times so they can stop you from attacking anyone.
9. Be aware of your surroundings. Take note of all the places you can go when you get the urge to harm someone. If said urge arrises don’t harm anyone instead go to your safe place.
10. Lastly, if you see two people walking down the trail with their horses don’t attack them either.

I know some of you might be thinking that I’m taking prevention/safety lightly or making fun of certain groups of people or downplaying the seriousness of being attacked, I can assure you I’m not. What I do think should be picked on, however, is how we have been going about preventing attacks. Placing all of the responsibility of prevention on the potential victim rather than the attacker is incredibly backward. It goes right along with the horrendous narrative of victim blaming.

As a woman who has worked solo at barns regularly and has had to do my own share of prevention, I’m calling BS. It’s time to put the responsibility where it belongs-back on the perpetrators. Everyone should have the right to feel safe, not be harassed, relax and enjoy their time with their horse, and not have to constantly be worried about being harmed by another human being. Learning self-defense is fantastic, my hope is that we never have a need to use it. 

Until next time worry less, ride more.



Ps. If some part of this idea rubs you the wrong way, it might be worth digging into why it is stirring up such strong feelings. Generally, when something hits a nerve there is a reason that it is resonating. You’ll want to keep peeling back the layers until you find the root of that reason.

Want to feel safer riding down the trail and at the barn? Self-defense for riders is great but perhaps its time to take a new approach to preventing equestrians from being harassed or attacked. Some horsemen and women might find this approach to be offensive but we think its spot on and overdue.

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