Yeah, I know, I'm baaaad.
For example, I rarely use a lead rope when we're at home. We have a system down for morning and evening feed, everyone knows their assigned places and what's expected. Oberon in the stall, Red and Taran tied in the barn, Cash in the aisle. I just grab halters and put horses where they go. Everyone plays along, except sometimes Oberon, who pretends to spook at the gate. It's no fun hanging on a spooking horse's halter sans lead, so we've started to use one on him.
I'm the worst about using a lead rope with Cash. I often don't even put a halter on him - instead, I grab his fly mask and use that to lead him. As Oldest Horse, he also gets special privileges during feeding time, in that he doesn't get tied. For whatever reason, after losing Saga, he panics if he's tied while eating, and starts pacing, completely forgetting to eat. So he gets to be loose. Usually he stays put, maybe wanders to the water trough for a quick drink before finishing his food, but he's got free rein of the place during mealtimes. I know, I know...
I'm terrible about leading horses from the "right" side (i.e. their left). I even mount them from the wrong side, and I'll use just about anything handy as a mounting block. The trailer tire well is a favorite, since it's on the way out of the barn. As to why I get them used to leading and mounting from the wrong side - years ago I worked at a guest ranch in Colorado. I had to dismount on a very steep, narrow trail, then remount again. The only option was to do this from the wrong side. Fortunately, my horse was a saint and had no issue with this concept, but since that day I intentionally do things "wrong" so that if I have to, my horse isn't upset by it.
Another bad habit - I put their blankets on in the field. No halter, no lead, just toss them on and fasten them up. Fortunately the field isn't very big and the boys are used to this, but someday I'm going to have a shredded blanket to show for my efforts.
I've gotten complacent around the boys. I've been treating some strange lesions on Cash's right fetlock, and when I scrub him with chlorahex, I sometimes put myself in bad positions. Tonight Cash stomped at a fly and almost caught me in the face with his knee - of course my face shouldn't have been there. I'm lucky that the reminder didn't result in a bloody nose.
It's funny, when I boarded I never would have done this stuff. It's only since I've been keeping the boys at home that I've started with my bad habits. But lest you think I am a horrible horse owner, I do have some good ones.
- I talk to the boys constantly. "Coming behind you with the wheelbarrow, Red," or "I'm going to put your blanket on now, Oberon," or "Come here so I can take your fly mask off, Cash." It seems to make a difference, they at least understand my intent if not my words.
- I always, ALWAYS wear barn shoes to the barn. Paddock boots or rubber boots, but never tennies or slip-ons. I also always wear pants (usually yoga pants), even if it's 100 degrees out. The boys recently had a minor altercation as I was haltering for dinner time, and I got accidentally stepped on and knocked over. I was lucky to escape with some scrapes, but I would have had a broken foot and a mile of road rash if I hadn't been wearing boots and pants.
- I always wear a helmet. 'nuf said. :)
So, what bad habits do you have around horses? I know I can't be alone!