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  • 06/02/2004
  • WildlandFire.com Team
  • 0 Comment

Yo, Tonya…

Your FF’s right. I broke and trained horses for eight years. I loved them and still do; I’m helping a neighbor with a new green broke colt whenever I can (Houdini…beautiful pale palomino stud colt, probably going to be about 16 hh). Fire looks more dangerous; big flame fronts are dramatic, and there’s something about fire that just kicks in the adrenaline. And yeah, fire is dangerous; but we’ve been trained to the gills in fire safety. We have PPE and fire shelters and escape routes and safety zones and look outs. We have fire weather and terrain analysis to try to make fire predictable. Horses on the other hand. First, there isn’t the same kind of safety awareness around horses that there is around fire. Do you wear a helmet? All the time? When you’re grooming? How about when you’re turning a horse out? Leading him down a barn aisle? We love horses, so we don’t want to believe that they’d hurt us. A good friend of mine was in a coma for two months after her quiet, well-mannered school master gelding crushed her against the wall of a grooming bay when he got stung by a bee. Another friend was trailriding on a loose rein with her helmet strap loose and her horse spooked. Somehow in spite of the loose strap her helmet stayed on, and it saved her life; the helmet was cracked in half on a rock when she hit the ground. I’ve come off horses many more times than I can count; I’ve got a goofy wrist thanks to a fall, and a rib that keeps coming out of its socket from being crushed up against an arena rail. Of all my fire buddies, we’ve got stories of close calls and running for safety zones, the oldsters have bad knees and creaky backs, but I’ve never heard of the injuries we thought were just kind of normal around horses. Fire is scarier because it’s impersonal; it’s a force of nature. It’s hard to think of horses as dangerous because we love them and we have this idea that they love us, and maybe they do, but they still startle, and they have the sheer mass and speed to hurt as badly by accident. I’ve never seen good statistics on horse-related injuries, on or off the track, but I know from my own experience that both horses and fire can and will kill you if you get careless. Obviously, I still do both.

Anyway, I’m glad to hear you’re doing well and having fun.

Nerd on the Fireline

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