Sep 3, 2012

Barn Manners

Most all equestrian riding and boarding facilities have rules that pertain to you and your horse.  These rules are published and presented as terms and conditions in contract form or visibly posted for all to see.  Most all barns require "release" forms before riding or entering the facility.

Below, are my "suggestions" that demonstrate good manners, etiquette, and common courtesy.  By all means, do not replace any of my "suggestions" with your barn's commandments.  Stick to the rules of your facility for safety and a more enjoyable environment.

1)  Clean up after your horse:
  • While grooming your horse, if you see enough hair on the ground to stuff a sofa, sweep it up.  
  • If your horse urinates or defecates it is better to shovel and wash down the area immediately vs. waiting until after he/she steps in it several times.  
  • If you use Swat, Thrush Buster, hoof moisturizer, the same applies.  Clean up excess medicines, wound creams, or grooming lotions.  It's no fun to slip down and turn up purple.
2)  Arena manners:
  • Where to ride? The coveted covered arena.  When approaching the covered arena, if there are 20 people riding, including a class of beginners, it may make sense to use another arena or trail ride.  If you prefer to enter anyway, do so and yield the way.  
  • When approaching oncoming traffic (horse and  rider) pass each other left shoulder to left shoulder.  
  • Directions - schooled enough to the left?  Before switching directions or your gate, assess the other horse and riders.  .
  • Mixed disciplined riding - Use your best judgement.  If a dressage class is in session it may not be the best time to barrel race.  
3)  Spectators, Friends, Dogs:
  • Dogs -Leave them at home, leave them at home, leave them at home.  
  • It's not safe for unleashed or untrained dogs to visit the barn.  It's a sure recipe for disaster.  
  • Spectators that aren't accustomed to being around horses can't be expected to know the basic no nos.  As a result, I have witnessed and been victim to open news papers, umbrellas, and soccer balls flying by.  This is not a  park, it is a horse facility.  
  • If you would like to bring your mother's side of the family, give them some basic tips that address rapid movement, loud noises, walking around horses; and clearing the working and grooming area for the boarders.  
4)  Under 18?  Children 
  • This is not a babysitting Service:
  • Don't drop your children off at 8:00 a.m. and pick them up at 8:00 p.m. unsupervised.  
  • If you have teens, remind them to respect adults, be polite, and always have their phone with emergency contact information.
  • If you have your children in a lesson program, please show up on time.  The instructors are professionals with schedules that depend on an orderly start and finish.  Can't make it at all, please do call and cancel with advance notice.  
4) Trail Riding:
  • If you are lucky enough to have acreage at your barn, or trailer to an area, discuss the trail ride as a group.  This should be done whether there are three riders or twenty-three riders.  
  • Ensure that everyone is comfortable with the terrain, the difficulty, the duration of the ride, and whether the group will walk, trout, and/or canter.  
  • Nothing ruins a great calm ride like someone taking off at a full gallop without advising the group.  
  • Prey do not like to be left behind.   
  • Cold, hot, sunburned?  Get off of your horse to take layers off, put layers on, or unpack your saddle bag.  This includes experienced riders.  
If you frequently ride, board your horse at a busy barn, I hope these are only reminders.  If you are just coming to a new barn, ask about the rules and the unwritten courtesies.  You'll be well received and enjoy the experience by understanding the expectations up front.

Have fun!

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