To tattle or not to tattle: When to tell your coach and when to keep it to yourself



To tattle or not to tattle: When to tell your coach and when to keep it to yourself

At most stables, there is a head coach or trainer in charge. Not only do their students look up to them for guidance and approval but coaches are usually responsible for ensuring the stable runs effectively. Even if some riders at a particular stable don’t take regular lessons with the head coach, they still have to follow the barn rules.

I have boarded and ridden at many different stables, all with different coaches. At all of these barns, I have noticed there is always one common thread – DRAMA. A lot of this barn drama actually stems from riders vying for their coach’s approval. Jealousy is a part of human nature and it is challenging for some people to keep theirs in check. There are numerous situations where one rider does something and another rider runs off and tells their coach all about it… This is could be described as tattling. As a child, tattling was always frowned upon by your peers and as an adult it still is. However, there are some scenarios when talking to your coach about another rider is necessary. In order to minimize barn drama and not become known as the barn tattletale, ask yourself these questions to determine whether you should tell your coach or if you are best to keep it to yourself…

1) Is it urgent?
If someone is doing something blatantly dangerous to themselves, a horse or another rider you should politely offer some guidance instead of running off to the coach. Everyone makes mistakes and often riders are unaware of the error of their ways. However, if a rider is jumping without a helmet even though wearing one is barn policy and he/she refuses to strap one on despite your suggestion, then maybe it is time to alert the higher authority. You are best to take action immediately if something hazardous is unfolding in front of your eyes. Other times, the situation is not urgent and this will give you time to assess whether or not you should take action. Always be kind to other riders, don’t lecture them or go behind their backs and talk about their mistakes.

2) What’s the real impact?
If you see pictures on social media of another rider partying recklessly and you think it reflects poorly on the barn, it is NONE of your business. But if they show up to the barn drunk or snort a line in the stable bathroom then they are directly impacting the barn. First, you should try to talk to them about it yourself. Again don’t lecture them about their personal decisions, instead, point out how the barn is a professional operation and they are expected to conduct themselves in a proper way. Always think about the impact of another rider’s actions to determine if it just upsets you for some reason or if it could cause real harm in some regard.



3) How often is this happening?
Everyone has rough days where we forget things, are a bit sloppy or maybe have a rotten attitude. If a rider shows up to the barn and leaves a paddock gate open accidentally and then says something rude to a new boarder, give them the benefit of the doubt. Let them know they left the gate open so they remember to double check next time. Try to have a nice conversation with the new boarder so he/she knows the barn is a friendly place. People don’t make mistakes on purpose so grant them some patience. However, if their unideal ways become a regular occurrence then you should definitely have a conversation with them and politely point out these potential problems.

4) Did they do it intentionally?
A rider purposely using excessive force in a fit of rage when handling a horse is a lot different than someone who is riding poorly and yanking on their horse’s mouth. A rider who regularly ignores barns rules and displays poor behaviour is way different than someone who just doesn’t know any better. Always ask yourself if the person is intentionally doing something wrong or if it is an honest mistake or isolated incident. If you do feel it is likely intentional and needs addressing then try to do so directly, don’t involve your coach. Never start off your conversation on the attack, you can phrase your question along the lines of “Why did you use so much force when leading in Dobbin?” or “I noticed you rode without a helmet today, did you know it is a barn rule to wear one?” Never assume people are purposely breaking the rules even if everything points to this being the case.

5) Put yourself in their riding boots… How would you want things handled?
Imagine yourself as the other rider and think about how you would want your peers to handle things. Now put yourself in your coach’s position. If the rider is doing something that is seriously impactful or repeatedly, despite you or others pointing out that it is wrong then it is time to tell your coach. When you tell your coach do not make it into a complaint session, just state the facts and never get personal about it. You don’t need to go into excessive detail, just enough for the coach to understand. Make it clear that you are only concerned about the barn’s success or safety of horses and riders. Once you talk to the coach, the ball is in their court and you NEVER need to bring it up again. Move on, know that you did your best and don’t dwell.

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