Pony Tizzy at Burford rehoming centre

Horse yard safety

There are a number of safety hazards on horse yards, but careful management can help to reduce the likelihood of an emergency.

It's important to consider the consequences of safety hazards on your yard. Horses are flight animals and need careful management to reduce the likelihood of spooking. But there are measures you can put in place to keep everyone as safe as possible and reduce the risks.


Keep contact numbers for the yard manager and a local vet clearly displayed on the yard in case of an emergency.


It’s a good idea to have first aid kits available for use on horses and people. Ensure that everyone knows where to find them in the event of an emergency.

You can also find first aid courses provided by the British Horse Society (BHS).

More about first aid for horses

Fire hazards

Stables have plenty of flammable material and fires can spread rapidly. You must ensure your yard provides fire extinguishers and stores them correctly. They should be well looked after and serviced regularly.

There are also several ways you can minimise the risk of fire:

  • Adopt a strict no smoking policy on the premises
  • Do not use naked flames anywhere on the yard
  • Remove cobwebs and dust regularly to prevent them from building up in and around the stables
  • Sweep the yard regularly to remove discarded hay and bedding
  • Check and service electricals and wiring regularly


Your local fire and rescue service can provide free fire safety advice for your yard. In some cases, they may be able to visit your yard to help identify risks and suggest ways to minimise them.

What to do in the event of a fire

Before a fire occurs on your yard, you must have an evacuation plan in place. Everyone on the yard should know this procedure – the evacuation plan should be clearly explained in signage on your yard. Allocate a secure field as a place of safety where you can move horses away from a fire.

  1. Call 999 and ask for the fire service immediately. Provide your name, the address of the premises, a postcode and telephone number.
  2. Ensure that the access route is clear for the arrival of the fire service
  3. Sound the alarm and follow evacuation procedures – first remove horses closest to the fire and take them to a secure place of safety. Loose and frightened horses can create a further danger as they may attempt to return to their stable, rather than flee the fire.
  4. Attempt to fight small fires only if they can be immediately contained at the outset and if appropriate equipment is available
  5. When the fire service arrives, answer any questions they may have and follow their instructions carefully.


Protect human and then animal life as the priority. Buildings and equipment can be replaced.

Tips for staying safe on the yard

  • Ensure horses are always in a secure area. Gates should be fully closed and there should be no open access onto a road.
  • Keep the yard, walkways and fields free of machinery and equipment (such as jumps) to prevent injury or frightening horses
  • Always be calm and quiet around horses. Try to avoid sudden movements and noises that may spook them.
  • Put procedures in place for turning out and bringing in horses, particularly when they are in herds.
  • Always make sure gates and stable doors are opened wide enough for horses to walk through without risk of catching their sides. Gates and stable doors should not be able to blow shut onto horse’s passing through.
  • Ensure medicines and chemicals (such as disinfectant) are stored safely and securely
  • Monitor ground and weather conditions carefully. Ice in winter and mud can cause people and horses to slip, while windy weather can cause them to spook.
  • When tying horses up, attach the lead rope to baling twine that will break if they pull back. Never tie the lead rope directly to a gate or solid object, and ensure horses are not stood too close together.
  • Always wear suitable clothing when you’re on the yard and around horses. This includes sturdy footwear with grip (no smooth, slippery soles), tying back long hair, and limiting jewellery (stick to stud earrings only). Gloves and a hard hat are recommended for leading and handling, and always when riding.
  • When using electrical equipment, use circuit breakers and always keep the cables well away from your horse’s feet and water. If trodden on, cables can give horses an electric shock.
Page details


• 25 January 2024

Next review

• 25 January 2027

Approved by
Ruth Court

Horse Welfare Manager