Monday, January 20, 2014
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Community and Rhythm
The biggest benefit of any barn is the community. The community of horses, staff, other boarder, students, volunteers, and the network of acquaintances and relationships that the stable has with other barns and trainers. To succeed and be happy at any barn the trick is to get in with "the flow of the barn" and to take advantage of the community that surrounds you and your horse. As a result, it's incredibly important that you choose a barn with the same rhythm, personality, goals and schedule as your own. Because even something small can make the difference between inclusion of your horse or you in the community: different schedule, adherence to alternate training program ideologies, use of different supplies, etc. And let's also just be honest: people actually have to like you too. In essence: ostracize and fail.
When we as barn owners say we will treat your horse like our own, what we mean is that we will treat them just like our own horses; no better, no worse - just like our horses. That means that before you board at a facility you need to look at the other horses already living there. Look at their lives and see if you want your horse's life to be like the other horses in the facility. This is important because while you want a community, your horse is going to want to be included in a community too. What choosing a facility doesn't mean is that you can have your horse at a barn and expect or do something different than what is being provided to the other horses. Because, like I said, we are going to treat your horses like our own. No different. No worse. No better.
Don't expect us to be a part of the training of your horse if you do things your own way. If your horse on a different schedule, doing different things and working with you differently, how are we supposed to train your horse is a part of our normal routine? And by training I don't mean riding and doing finesse work; what I mean are those normal behaviors in the barn that should be expected by any horse. Manners. We cannot train your horse to walk patiently to their stall if you let them run over you. We cannot train your horse to tie and stand patiently if you refuse to tie them yourself. We cannot teach them to behave calmly with the other horses if you continually act as though the other horses are monsters when you are around your horse. And we cannot teach your horse to respect personal space if you are always allowing your horse to go through your pockets to get treats.
Boarding vs. Owning a Barn
The boarders who have had the most success are those who selected my barn on purpose. What this means is that they chose my barn not because of location, openings and availability, or facilities, but selection with a full understanding of our culture, our services and what they get for their horses with us for the money. As a result, these boarders have woven in and out of our community, engaging our company but mostly spending the quiet and peaceful time with their horses that they desire without concern over details and with confidence in the future.
The key to boarding a horse or having horses boarded at your facility is the following acknowledgement: not every barn is good for every horse owner, and not every horse or horse owner is good for a barn. Luckily, there are lots of barns.
Why don't we allow our trail riders to help tack up their horses before rides?
Well, a little bit because people get in our way, but mostly because horses really don't like getting dressed by strangers. Despite what it may seem, tacking up is actually a quite intimate experience for a horse and requires a great deal of specificity, routine and trust. So, while it might seem like a good bonding moment for the human, it can actually be very emotionally difficult for horses to be continually readied by strangers.
It is already difficult enough on our horses to have so many of our students preparing them for lessons. Adding non-regular riders to the routine would just make their lives that much more difficult and can lead to bad behaviors as horses exhibit their feelings of personal invasion. So, while we appreciate your help getting ready, we like the safety and happiness of you and the horses more.
That said, our horses do appreciate affectionate petting and grooming from their riders after their ride, once they get to know you!!