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These 9 questions will determine if you’re the good or bad boarder – Sponsored by MD Barnmaster
There always seem to be at least one bad boarder at every stable; that person who makes everyone cringe a little when they walk into the barn. Other riders will even try to schedule their barn time for when they least expect ‘that’ person to be there. Then there are the boarders who everyone loves; they help out, they are courteous and just generally great to be around. So which type of boarder are you? Take a look at these nine questions to determine if you’re the good or bad boarder and what you can do to improve your reputation at the barn…
1) Do you sweep up after yourself?
The workers at the barn you board at are not your personal servants. It is your responsibility to sweep your cross-tie area when you are finished. Or if you make a mess somewhere else in the barn, just clean it up. It also wouldn’t kill you to sweep up a mess that wasn’t made by you or your horse every now and then because going the extra mile is always appreciated.
2) Is your tack always put away neatly?
The tack room is a communal space at the barn. Don’t leave your tack somewhere in a big heap. Do your bridle up nicely and put your saddle tidily away on its rack. No one at the barn wants to walk into a tack room that has things strewn about everywhere with gross, dirty tack hanging up. Don’t be that boarder who is the reason that the tack room doesn’t look impeccable.
3) Do you smile at people and say “Hello” or snarl and ignore them?
When people walk into the barn be friendly, smile and say hello. Even if you are busy or in a miserable mood, take the time to greet everyone pleasantly. It makes for a much better barn atmosphere when everyone is social and makes one another feel welcome.
4) Do you lunge your horse in the arena when other people are trying to ride?
This is my biggest pet peeve. Lunging a horse takes up a lot of space, and typically horses on the lunge line are far from angels. It is disruptive to other people who are trying to ride when your horse is running around and bucking on a 20-meter circle. If you need to lunge your horse either find an arena that is vacant or wait for other riders to finish in the arena. At the very least, make sure you ask if it is okay to lunge your horse while someone is riding because some riders are on quiet horses that will handle it fine, but others may be on mounts that will lose their marbles. You don’t want to be an arena terrorist.
5) If you drag a thousand jumps into the arena do you put them away afterwards?
It is hard to ride in an arena that is crowded with jumps. If you have time to set up jumps, then make sure you have the time to put them away correctly. If there are other riders at the barn that may want to use your jumping exercises, then ask them if they can put the jumps away when they finish. But don’t just assume that your jumping exercises will be wanted and leave them in the way.
6) Will you offer people help when they clearly need it, even if they didn’t ask you?
If you see someone struggling with something at the barn, whether it is trying to load their horse onto a trailer or braiding their horse for their first ever competition, lend them a helping hand. We have all been that rider who was having a tough time with something, and in those moments we would’ve loved some assistance. Don’t be one of those horrible people who just watch and laugh after the fact. Helping people around the barn will make you a barn favourite, and in the future when you need help, chances will be excellent that you’ll have loads.
7) Are you respectful of other riders’ space when you’re sharing an arena?
You don’t own the arena so make sure you’re courteous when riding with others. Remember to always pass left-to-left, don’t ride obnoxiously close to others, don’t start a fight with your horse when others are nearby, steer clear of naughty horses, look up at all times, etc. There is nothing worse than trying to ride with another person who is not respectful of personal riding space. You can comfortably fit a lot of horses in even a tiny arena if everyone is mindful of where they are going.
8) Do you tell people your opinion in a nice way or a condescending way?
Unsolicited riding advice is not always welcome. If you feel that another rider needs to know something for safety reasons or it would significantly improve their situation then you can share your advice with them but make sure you tread lightly. No one likes a condescending know-it-all so use your words wisely. For example, if you see someone putting boots on their horse standing right in front of their horse’s front legs then tell them, “I know of people getting injured from their horse’s knee hitting them in the face when they were putting boots on like that. You should try to put the boots on from your horse’s side just to be safe.” Don’t make a big fuss and say something like, “Oh you CANNOT put boots on like that ever because you might get smacked in the face.” It is all about how you word things, and if someone chooses not to use your advice, then you need to respect their choice.
9) Are you a good horseman who takes proper care of your horse?
No one likes seeing a horse being mistreated or neglected at the barn and it is also unfair to the horse. Just because your horse’s stall gets mucked and it gets fed for you, doesn’t give you a ticket to skip going to the barn for days at a time. Your horse needs proper exercise and grooming, which is likely your job. Don’t make everyone at the barn feel sorry for your horse and despise you because you’re too ‘busy’ to swing by and pay attention to your horse. If you don’t have time to take proper care of your horse, then pay for training board.
You can also be a bad horseman even if you go to the barn every day but don’t treat your horse kindly. No one wants to see you throwing a tantrum on your horse because it isn’t doing shoulder-in well enough or putting your horse away with sweat marks on it because you’re too lazy to wash it off properly.
If you are going to be a horse owner/rider then make sure you are a super horseman and a good boarder.
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