Weena da Queena, equine product safety engineer

Weena da Queena, equine product safety engineer

This will be one of many posts regarding safety around the barnyard. More will be added as the horses figure out other ways to get themselves into trouble and as I remember past times they’ve gotten themselves into trouble. I’ll generally need to post these in the daylight hours as too close to bedtime and I’m liable to have nightmares or lay awake wondering “What was that noise?! What did they do now???”

We started with one barn, added a second barn about 20 or so feet from the first, and have now enclosed that space between them and added two covered stalls and a covered hay area. As the space between the two barns did not accommodate our 12 foot gate panels, we improvised with chain link gates. This worked very nicely until we put a horse in them. I led little Rowena into one, closed her gate, put a horse in the new stall next to her and before I got that gate closed the sounds of panic came from Rowena’s stall. I looked, my heart stopped, my stomach lurched and my body levitated the 20 feet necessary to rescue Rowena who had managed to trap the back of her neck between the gate and the post.

The bottom of the chain link gate is curved. We’d hung it about 10 inches above the ground so it swings easily. Little Weena, in her never ending search for stray bits of hay had stuck her head out the bottom of the gate to try and reach some edible tidbit or other and when she pulled her head back, the slim part of her neck, right where it joins her head, went up into the slot created by the curved bottom of the gate. She was so panic stricken that it’s a major miracle she didn’t separate her head from her body or snap her neck.

After that incident, we kept larger horses in that stall, but they too have slender necks that could fit into that slot. We ended up replacing that set up with two regular gate panels that overlap in the middle. We’d also never noticed that several of our regular gate panels have that curved bottom. We’ve tied rope, chain, no-climb, hardware cloth,  and bungee barriers across the curved neck catching gates, but every day I go out there I’m scared I’m going to find a horse that has managed to get past our flimsy precautions and killed itself. We’re going to have to weld a bar or bolt a board from the bottom of those gates and across the open space the curves create in order to truly fix the problem.

Below are photos of the safe straight gates and the unsafe curved gates.

Unsafe gate: notice the Weena snoot hovering near the place she can get in the most trouble.

Unsafe gate: notice the Weena snoot hovering near the place she can get in the most trouble.

Safe gate: notice the lack of a Weena snoot. If they can't get into trouble with it, it is uninteresting.

Safe gate: notice the lack of a Weena snoot. If they can’t get into trouble with it, it is uninteresting.

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