Pony Axe S Risk Assessment Feb 2017
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HazardWho is affectedWhat are we doing about itRisks Traditional LikelihoodSeverity 0-5 scaleRisks Pony Axe S LikelihoodSeverityWhat else can we do.Related issues
Traditional Horse Industry Attitudes to SafetyTraditional Horse based activities kill and seriously injure significant numbers. The majority are participants. Horse drawn vehicles are a significant risk to anyone in the vicinity. Death and serious injuries are dismissed as "Freak accidents". There are too many "Freak accidents".Pony Axe S rejects the inevitability of accidents. Pony Axe S is demonstrably safe. We reject the "nanny state" arguments, and "elf and safety" sneers. We use "safety" as the first criteria in all decisions. Surprisingly, decisions made on "safety" grounds, significantly benefit animal welfare.Where possible we are automating safety systems. We are improving animal/control system interaction. We are trying to automate pony mood analysis, and connect it to the Instant Pony Release System. We are automating the IPRS to remove human error, so excess speed, tilt, acceleration or drag will trigger the release.We are not trying to stop traditional horse activities. We demonstrate that techniques which are acceptable with consenting adults in a high risk activity, are not suitable to an Inclusive activity, aimed at everyone including small children and people using wheelchairs or with disabilities.
Pony Axe S HAZARDSWho is affectedWhat are we doing about itWhat else can we do.
Bolting Pony with vehicle attached.This is the greatest risk and a known, and frequent cause of death and serious injury to drivers, helpers, passengers and passersbyUse the Instant Pony Release System, operated by Staff, (pony handler) Carer or Service User. Safety training states that "If you are worried, pull the ripcord". Pulling the ripcord releases the pony from the vehicle. Pulling the ripcord at the first sign of trouble is recommended before the pony bolts. Then you just have a led pony, and stationary vehicle with brakes automatically applied.521Automatic systems to monitor stress, and automatic release when speed, acceleration, tilt and load increase above set parameters will reduce risks further.Bolting is a hazard that is common enough to be a word in all the dictionaries.## Bolting is the instinctive defence mechanism of an equid. All horses, ponies, donkeys etc, when threatened, run first; they fight only if trapped.## They don’t run to a cave, or hiding place, burrow, tree or thick cover. They run to open space. Their defence is running. They need to see what might be chasing them.## Instinctively they go to places without people, who might attack them, and without cars, garden furniture, picnic tables or anything a predator might hide behind.## A panicked horse is a hazard. The best place for that hazard is in open space, away from people and things. That is where the horse instinctively wants to go. The safest option on every level is just………..let him.
Risk to Service User. The person or people in the vehicle. People using wheelchairs are in wheelchairs firmly secured to the vehicle. Others are seated on a fixed seat with a grab rail in front.Service User. The person or people in the vehicle. People using wheelchairs are in wheelchairs firmly secured to the vehicle. Others are seated on a fixed seat with a grab rail in front. When the IPRS is used the brakes come on automatically. For vulnerable users a carer/family member is present.2520If the pony has departed after being released, and most don't, the pony handler checks that service user and carers are OK before going off to catch the pony.Bolting and Training## Bolting is an instinctive behaviour. I know Riding for the Disabled "experts" who claim they have bred ponies that don't bolt. This is as ludicrous as the belief you can train away an instinctive behaviour.## You may be able to suppress it, under some conditions, but when panicked, an animal runs. The only possible training route is "Learned Helplessness", but again, there are no guarantees the animal remains in this state. ## Furthermore the ways to achieve "Learned Helplessness" are not safe as they involve punishing and blocking every natural behaviour pattern. While the state of "learned Helplessness" may be "safer" for the people around, the process of producing it, isn't safe for anyone involved.## It is also probably illegal to deliberately induce "learned helplessness" in an animal outside a legitimate scientific experiment.
Staff. The pony handler. Pony Axe S only needs one person to handle the pony, if more are needed, it is the wrong pony or wrong staff member or wrong location.The pony handler has primary responsibility for pulling the IPRS. Walking beside the pony, if it runs, it will run away from him/past him, and as he pulls the ripcord, the vehicle stops.2521Automating the system improves safety. The pony handler will still have a physical ripcord, but may also have an electronic release. Log all incidents including suspected causes and what the pony did.Ensuring the pony handler does not believe Traditiopnal Horse attitudes to safety is vital. They must be aware that "freak accidents" are not everyday occurrences. They must be aware that safety is possible and most importantly, must believe safety is desirable. Unless they have this safety focused mindset, they should not be employed by Pony Axe S.
Carers. This includes all family members etc, present.Carer walks beside the vehicle, out of reach of pony and safe. Has back up IPRS ripcord if needed. Responsible for ensuring safety of service user.2520Safe.The pony handler is responsible for expalining relevant facts to any carers, and poeple in vicinity. If they will not respect the pony's space, or the pony handler's instructions, pull rip cord and remove pony to safe place.
Public and PropertyThe risks from an attached vehicle are so horrific that Pony Axe S ensures it does not happen. For Pony Axe S risks see risks for pony bolting without vehicle attached.2521Automatic pony stress monitoring may improve the chances of stopping ponies bolting in the first place, and letting them out of the vehicle and calming them down before stress levels become intolerable. Good understanding of, and sympathy for, ponies produces the same result but takes time to learn. See Bolting without vehicle attached.Pony Axe S rules state you only work in areas where the pony has a clear area to run to. If there is no clear area. Don't start. If the clear area fills up. Stop. ##### Personnel selection is critical. When you know the location, you must select a pony reasonably familiar with, and relaxed about, the sights and sounds you would expect at that location. #### If anything startling happens, pull the IPRS.
Pony bolting without vehicle attached.Anyone in the vicinity.This is the only subject where I agree with the Traditional Horse Industry. Ponies are loose on Dartmoor, the New Forest, Welsh Mountains, Fells, Dales and Highlands and Islands. They don't attack people.This shouldn't really be at this stage of the Risk Assessment as the risks are very low indeed. The safest thing is to leave the pony alone. They are running TO open space. Since open space is safe for people and property, let them run to where they want to go.2121Once they have bolted, nothing can stop them, and all attempts make the set up worse. They will run to empty space. Accept it. Catching them will be easy if you have been kind when working and training them. My ponies don't run more than a few yards before coming back to me for treats.
Ponies KickingGeneral PrinciplesMake sure they are NOT wearing steel shoes. Rule 2, Do not corner or trap the pony. Rule 3, do not use ponies that are kickers. Be gentle.3523Pony selection is Personnel Management. Don't employ unsuitable people or ponies. Develop improved tests to identify problems, but kickers are easy to spot. During training, any pony that cocks it's leg in an aggressive fashion should not be used. All incidents must be logged and reported.Training and assessing ponies must focus on Kicking. It is the single biggest risk that we cannot control any another way. ## To understand "kicking" it needs to be broken down into categories. ### Horses kick as a defence when attacked and when they can't run. They are a "flight animal", they always run first.## If they kick, they kick hard with the hind legs. A zebra can kick an adult male lion in the head hard enough to kill. My mother has the photo.### They kick in fights with rivals, and in play fights. The thud when a kick lands is scary.### Most of the kicks deliberately miss, or land and only touch. Warning kicks are common with horses. "He just missed me!" normally means he meant to just miss.
Service User and Carers.All initial interactions with ponies are from the side. I bring the pony up beside the service user. Then if it wants to run, it can, and if it wants to kick, it isn't aiming anywhere near the service user. When the pony is in the vehicle, it can't kick anyone.4513If you don't corner, whip, kick or beat up your pony, warning kicks are the major hazard. If you do whip, kick or beat up any pony at Pony Axe S the Police will be informed immediately. ### Warning kicks don't hurt much. I have been kicked maybe 15 times over the last 16 years. I have never been kicked when working as Pony Axe S, or come close to it.### All the kicks have been when either pushing the boundaries with Henry, or Obama, or when training Winston the Mule.###
StaffThe staff are the most likely to be kicked. Ponies kick in terror, when threatened and can kill. Never trap the pony, never corner the pony, never threaten the pony. Again it is personnel management. You need the right pony and the right people.4533Kicking is normally a sign of fear. It can be playful, but it is the horse's secondary defence. They flee for choice, but if they have to fight, they fight with kicks. Unless cornered and threatened, most first kicks are a warning. I have learned this by being kicked enough times and it not hurting. This is a pony trainer's issue. If a pony comes to work kicking, either the pony, or the staff member need retraining, probably both.Make sure they are NOT wearing steel shoes. Rule 2, Do not corner or trap the pony. Rule 3, do not use ponies that are kickers. Be gentle. ##### This is a personnel issue from both angles. It is impoertant to pcik ponies that don't kick. However all ponies can be pressurised into kicking in extremis. Temple Grandin says, "The Horse is an animal that survives in the wild by fleeing and kicking at predators that are attacking it. A horse is all about flight, and fear is the dominant emotion." Kicking is secondary, if they are allowed a way to flee, they flee first, kick second.
General PublicIf the pony is bolting, it runs for choice. As long as people don't corner or trap it, there is no risk of kicking. If they do, with carefully selected ponies the risk is minimal, and ponies are hard to trap and corner. Don't work in areas where it would be easy to trap a pony. With open space, a pony outruns Usain Bolt easily.2513Ensure there is sufficient open space availably for pony to run into.
Ponies BitingPrinciplesPonies bite in many ways and for many reasons. They bite as communication, in mutual grooming, in play, in play fighting and in real fighting, and finally as defence.3330A close study of apony behaviour may make it easier to assess the risk of ponies biting and reduce the incidence. Unfortunately it is a natural behaviour pattern and disrupting a natural behaviour may lead to other unpredictable reactions. Most biting is nipping and causes bruising at worst. Successful trainers may have to accept bruising as a part of the job. Log all incidents to build up behaviour profile.
Everyone elseWhen vulnerable people are around in close proximity to the pony, it will wear a grazing muzzle if there is any risk of it biting anyone. Then it can't.3330
StaffAny animal with a propensity to bite deliberately and hard should not be used. If you can't get a grazing muzzle on without being bitten, do not use the animal.3313
Head buttingEveryone.These are all habits that ponies can acquire. Head butting is probably the worst as the level of injury if their head smacks into yours is painful.You can lose teeth and might get a broken nose.Don't let people cuddle ponies. They are not teddies.3322Head butting is another personnel issue, and should be logged and reported. It is easy to confuse a pony scratching on you with head butting. This should not be allowed with beginners or vulnerable people. It is part of bonding with a working animal. The head collar needs to have soft buckles.All these issues would be worse with a bigger animal, which is why we use the smallest ponies we can.
BargingEveryone.This is why vulnerable people interact from the side. They can only exert limited force sideways, and assuming the vulnerable person is not between a wall and the pony, they can back away.3331Notifiable incident. Look at retraining. Ensure plenty of space in areas where client pony interaction will occur. Ensure safe escape route for pony.
Treading on toes.EveryoneNo Horseshoes allowed at all. EVER. My ponies don't do it, but I don't bully them. Be gentle, they respond with kindness, if they don't get a different pony.3312
Treading on ToesStraffObama treads on my toes when he feels life is intolerable. It hurts. I wear Crocs all summer and do not get trodden on.3322If it happens, record it.
The Pony.Everyone.A Council Risk Assessment states horses are "large, heavy and unpredictable animals." Ponies are smaller and lighter. Therefore safer.I have dealt above with all the ways a pony can actively hurt someone involved in Pony Axe S. Horse and pony related zoonoses seem to be limited to Ringworm. Tetanus, Weil's disease, Ticks, Salmonella, Wasps, Nettles etc are all countryside issues. Therefore they are location based, not Pony Axe S based issues. They need to be considered when producing a location specific Risk Assessment. #### Sick animals can transmit some infections to vets. Sick animals should not be used without a diagnosis the condition is not transmittable to humans.Ponies are personnel in Pony Axe S. Obama is suitable for some things, Toby for others. Henry if he was still alive would be suitable for different activities. #### Ponies are not machines, they are not "just animals". You cannot say, "children like" anymore than you can say, "ponies will". ##### The pony must be picked for the job. A school playground needs different characteristics to yomping across Dartmoor with Army amputees. Some people can do both some ponies can. ### Good personnel decisions are critical to safety.### Good record keeping is part of that. Any near miss must be recorded with location, activity and probable cause. This record will make pony personnel selection easier.
A second pony.EveryoneTwo ponies are vastly more dangerous than one. #### Ponies kick each other, bite and barge each other and anyone in between can easily get kicked or bitten.3500Pony Axe S does not work two ponies together near vulnerable people. #### The risks are only to close bystanders. Ponies will not go off to cause trouble. ### A minimum 20 metre separation will be enforced if two ponies are used. If this gap is not sufficient, (an all my experience suggests 10 metres would be ample, we will increase the separation.
The iBex Vehicle.EveryoneThe iBex Engineering and safety systems have been assessed by Rod Bromfield, Senior Lecturer in Engineering at Kingston University.#### I sent the vehicle to Kingston University because there is no Horse industry inspection scheme worth looking at.I have used the vehicle for 5 years, and the latest version for 4 years without any problems. #### The floor is 8" off the ground and the vehicle is totally stable as Kingston can demonstrateSee NEAR MISS for the reasons behind the modifications over the years.
Loading person in wheelchair onto vehicle.Service User and assistants.If the vehicle is attached to the pony, and the pony moves at any stage, there is a high risk of toppling for the service user, and potentiual injury to any assistants.2400Pony Access load the people on a stable vehicle, not attached to the animal. When everyone is safe and secure, we attach the vehicle to the pony, if there is any problem we pull the IPRS.
The Head collar and Grazing Muzzle.People using wheelchairs.There is a risk that the pony can catch the Wheelchair in the Headcollar or grazing muzzle and possibly tip the wheelchair over.23Fit breakaway link over "poll" in Headcollar and Grazing Muzzle. ### Design new ones from scratch.
GOOD PRACTICEIt is an established Health and Safety policy that Risk Assessments take into account "good practice" in the industry concerned. In this case I am discussing what the Traditional Industry do, and frequently insist is compulsory, on the basis of safety. ### I explain what the Traditional Industry do, and why Pony Axe S doesn't. ### I need to do this because I cannot risk "experts" telling my staff that "this is the way it should be done," and them not knowing exactly why it shouldn't be done that way. ##
Bolting animal with vehicle attached.Anyone on board. "Whip" + "groom" +passenmger. By definition a bolting animal is out of control. They may try to steer out of trouble. None of the UK National Horse Organisations mention "bolting" or any solution to the problem in their online Risk Assessments.35Sandra Pochin-Serious Injuries http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/carriage-driving-nurse-broken-leg-air-ambulance-quilt-498912
Anyone in the way.Call it another freak accident.35Carole Bullett-Dead http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-19925738 Dora Jufer- Dead http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-guernsey-18606150 Vancouver Public Park- Potential catastrophe. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PjiRo99ubw4
Bolting animals with riders.The ridersRiders are advised to staty calm. Professionals say after the event, "Well they can sense fear" or "If she hadn't screamed it would all have been all right!" or the favourite, "You have to fall off 7 times to be a good rider." If they are killed, "It's the way she'd have wanted to go!" is the correct response.35Professor Nutt wrote a paper Equacy, comparing risks riding to risks of taking MDMA, (Ecstasy) to riding horses. He equated one hour with one MDMA tablet, and discovered the risk from riding of death or serious injury was thirty times higher than from MDMA. He got attachked by the Home SAecretary for pointing out the risks of Horse Riding. http://www.synchronium.net/2009/11/02/equasy/
Anyone trying to rescue themYou can get trampled or kicked by a large horse wearing steel shoes which act as knuckle dusters to maximise the damage as all impact is by solid metal, not organic substances with give. You can lso get dragged, or bitten.15The professionals will say you should have left it to a professional. Who would have suffered the same injuries.
Bolting animals without riders or vehicles.AnyoneLeft alone, they are no problem. More dangerous than barefoot ponies but not much.21Don't do anything and they head for open space where they can see threats. When calm they will return to their friends and sometimes their owner, if they haven't been abused too much. I routinely leave my animals loose and expect them to hang around me. They do because I don't hit, kick or bully them.
Traditional horses kickingAnyone near by.The big threat is shoes. Knuckle dusters for horses. ### Kicks from shod horses Kill. http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/nine-year-old-girl-dies-hunting-accident-53155635There is a tendency to hit horses for kicking. You tube is full of videos showing this. A horse that is kicked, hit and abused is more likely to kick.
Traditional horse biting.Anyone near byHorses bite. Their bite is more powerful than a ponies and they have a longer reach.33
GOOD PRACTICEIt is an established Health and Safety policy that Risk Assessments take into account "good practice" in the industry concerned. In this case I am discussing what the Traditional Industry do, and frequently insist is compulsory, on the basis of safety. ### I explain what the Traditional Industry do, and why Pony Axe S doesn't. ### I need to do this because I cannot risk "experts" telling my staff that "this is the way it should be done," and them not knowing exactly why it shouldn't be done that way. ##
Whips.The user.If you hit a horse they tend to retaliate.Taking a whip to a horse is dangerous. That is common sense. The Pony Club test 10 year old children, to see they are comfortable with a whip in either hand. ....Don't ask.
Anyone else,Whips scare horses. My pony Obama is terrified of whips 8 years after I rescued him from a series of Pony Club type homes.Whips are compulsory in the Pony Cub, British Horse Society, British Driving Society and Horse Racing. The British Horse Racing Board describe the compulsory whip as a safety device. I have looked for years and never found any instructions, anywhere, on how to use the whip as a safety device.### Research shows that horses, hit with a whip in a race, are MORE likely to die. How this contributes to Safety is a mystery.Pony Axe S ban whips absolutely. However we are not bigoted. If anyone can show any evidence that hitting a horse with a whip makes it safer, we will reconsider the issue. Until that moment, they are BANNED.
The horse.The average French horse is slaughtered for behavioural problems at seven. Like in England, the average French rider carries a whip and uses a bit and spurs.We give our children dogs, direct descendants of wolves, pack hunting carnivores, and let them roll around the floor together. ### The pony is a placid, herd living, vegetarian flight animal, and we send the children out with a whip and bit , gloves, boots, helmet and back protector. Why?
Bits.The Horse.Pony Axe S drives ponies in a headcollar, cross country, through City Centres and see no reason to use pain when it is clearly not needed.It doesn't stop the horse. Horses at the Charge of the Light Brigade carried on with their lower jaw shot right off. No bit is that severe.
The rider or carriage driverIt doesn't stop the horse. See Bolting above.
Everyone elseIt doesn't stop the horse, see Bolting above.Piece in Stable Management
Dominance Control and RespectThe day I need the respect iof a small scruffy pony, I will go and get treatment. The day I think I control something rather stronger than a rugby scrum, ditto and Dominance isn't my scene.A pony is not a human, and knows that humans are not ponies. Since I don't want to get access to my pony's mate, or food ro drink, dominance is irrelevant. ### In the wild, horses do not compete for food. There is enough for everyone, or there isn't. When short, food is also scattered, so no one animal can control it. They do not naturally ficght over food. This is an issue created by humans. Don't feed them as a group with anyone in range.Ponies are incredibly good at understanding what humans want. Check out Clever Hans. ### They also respond well to treats, scratches etc. ### Most importantly, they are a herd animal and understand leadership. Leadership is positional. You do it from in front. If you walk off and leave the pony on his own, he is vulnerable. He is now the only prey, and consequently 100% of the targets. Next to you he is only 50%. And he no longer has to outrun the lion. Just you. So he will follow you. Since your job is to lead a pony around with a wheelchair enabled vejhicle attached, life is simple. Be nice. Walk in front.
Narrow, spoked wheels with solid tyres.Anyone close.Large wheels with widely seperated spokes, traditional coach wheels, are big blunt scissors for any limbs that get in them. Narrow wheels increase injury levels massively if they run over you. Steel tyres can cause serious injuries and give minimal grip on most surfaces. Solid rubber, not much better.Pony Axe S uses wide profile, pneumatic tyres, on plastic rims for lightness, with no spokes. The wheels are on modern replaceable bearings which removes the need for huge wheels. "Double the diameter, half the draft" is only true of wheels on wooden bearings.The British Driving Society state. PNEUMATIC TYRED VEHICLES with their greater tyre friction and often heavy axles have been proved to create considerable extra stress for horses/ponies over the longer distances in the above Awards and are therefore not permitted. Likewise the LIGHTWEIGHT pneumatic tyres vehicles are deemed unsafe and unable to withstand the stress and wear of the longer distances of LDD Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards and are also banned.####### This is demonstrable nonsense as the comment below shows. and it establishes that this wqas known to be nonsense in 1847. below is what the 1847 Mechanics Magazine says on the subject.
It is clear that any discussion of wheels, in carriage driving circles, ignores engineering and safety, and only respects selected traditions.The Mechanics Magazine concluded: ‘Despite the opinion most people would form…that the draught [i.e. the force needed to pull the carriage] must be greatly increased, (it) is unquestionably much lessened. The tyres are perfectly elastic as well as soft. They do not retard the carriage – they yield to every obstacle, permit the carriage to pass over it without rising up, and expanding as they pass from the obstruction, return the force borrowed for a moment to compress the tyre.’
Turntable steeringAnyone closeTurntable steering is dangerous. Itf it was safe, our cars might not use Ackermann steering. Ackermann invented the steering system for carriages.Tradition meant that Ackermann's system was ignored fopr carriages, but every car driver uses his system. Pony Axe S use a completely unique, trailing, offset, fully castering, rear wheel steerring system. This removes any risk of jacknifing
High seatAnyone in the vehicleHeight is dangerous. Check any HSE literature. Get as low as possible. Pony Axe S seat height is 22" from the ground. Wheelchair height, the floor is 8" from the ground.Traditional vehicles are subject to tipping over. Riding for the Disabled mention it in their Risk Assessment. The iBex is stable under all foreseeable conditions.Getting the centre of gravity as low as possible, is vital. The idea that you need height to see where the horse is going, is ludicrous. Firstly, the Horse has eyes. For this reason we dop not blinker the pony, or hold his head in a single position which restricts their vision due to the foveal strip vision system of equids.
Wooden shaftsHorses and people close byI have seen a wooden pole explode on the Queens Park Drag, driven by the Household Cavalry. Wood splinters cause horrible injuries and scare horses.Pony Axe S do not use wood as a structural member where it can cause injuries if it fails. We try to avoid glassfibre for the same reasons. I use glassfibre mudguards as the cost of short run plastic parts is frightening. In theory the muguards are not involved in any foreseeable accident.
Side shafts
Mane and Tail Pulling.
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