Friday, July 4, 2008

How to Be a Good Boarder

How to Be a Good Boarder

The privilege of having a horse or horses of our own is a wonderful part of our lives; however, the decision to keep them at home or board them at a facility is a personal decision. If you opt to board your horse away from home, you should be aware how to be a boarder who is a welcome sight to the barn owners and manager. No one wants to be the person who makes everyone cringe at the sight of his or her car pulling into the parking lot.

Obviously, the barn where you have decided to keep your horse was chosen because it met all the criteria needed to make you feel your decision to board was the right one for you at this time. As long as you are pleased with your arrangements for the care and well-being of your horse at the boarding facility and if you want to be a welcome addition to any barn, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Pay on time - with the current state of the economy, times are tough for most everyone. However, remember that the facility you board at still has a lot of overhead to manage - they have to buy hay, feed and bedding, pay their staff, utilities, etc. every month just like everyone else...
  • Be pleasant - despite their often casual nature, boarding facilities are still public spaces and places of business, where you will have to interact with a variety of people - not all of whom you will like. Nevertheless, it pays to be courteous and civil when sharing a facility...
  • Help others and be supportive – barn life is not solely about you, your horses, your shows or your ribbons, at times you will fail and the support of others will be welcome, you should be prepared to reciprocate this support when others are in need. If a fellow boarder or lesson student needs assistance the offer of a helping hand or a kind word will surely be appreciated.
  • Clean up after yourself and your horse – Although the barn has workers to muck stalls and do general clean up jobs. These people are not hired as your personal house cleaners or groomsmen. Put away your tack and keep the top of your trunk clear of debris, boots, wraps etc…
  • Don’t demand, ask nicely – You get more flies with honey than vinegar is an old adage that holds true anytime. There is never a need to be nasty and demanding, pleasantly requesting that a task be done will get you further every time, and will most likely get the job done with a smile instead of a sneer.
  • Show up on time for lessons – Your trainer has a set lesson schedule and if you are not on time for your lesson, tacked up and ready to ride, you will throw the entire day of lessons off. Be mindful of fellow student’s time, you are not more important than anyone else is, and their time is just as valuable as yours is.
  • Be on site for farriers or vets – If your vet is seeing your horse be there to help, unless you have made prior arrangements with the management to handle this situation. Some horses need to be held for the farrier, if your horse is a ‘no cross-ties- for- me -candidate’, it is your obligation to be on premises to hold him while he is shod. Relying on others to do your job for you is not an option, unless as I said prior arrangements have been made. Barn staffs do not have time to take out of their busy day to pamper your horse.
  • Obey the rules – Every barn I’ve ever boarded at has a set of rules. Get a written copy of these and follow them, the rules are in place for a reason, usually the safety of horse and rider or the professionals running the barn is a top priority.
  • Offer your opinions only when asked - in other words don’t be a know- it- all telling everyone how to run their lives or their horses care. It might be wise to consider that the barn was there before you came and will be there after you leave.
  • Keep your tack clean and put away in its proper place – there is nothing worse than having tack strewn around the barn or tack room, when you are finished for the day put everything back in its place, the other boarders will thank you for your consideration of the space you all share.
  • If a gate you know should be shut and you find it left open, close it. Try to be mindful of the safety of the animal and human occupants on the farm at all times.
  • Keep your personal information (phone #’s to be reached at) your horses personal information (vets #’s, farrier, feed, supplements etc...) attached to the inside lid of your tack trunk in a plastic bag or if permitted on the front of his/her stall. In case of emergency, all information should be easily accessible.
  • Having your own ideas about training and constructive opinions and questions should be welcome by any trainer, however, if you disagree with the program you and your horse are on, never get belligerent with the trainers and argue with them in the presence of other students or boarders. If you disagree with the training of either you or your horse, take it inside for a personal one on one with your trainer if possible.
  • In addition, the barn owner should be told if anything is bothering you concerning the care of your horse. No one else in the barn should be involved. Gossip in barns usually runs rampant, (“if you don’t have anything nice to say about anyone, come sit by me”!). So, remember you could be asked to leave for any disruptions you initiate, and you might want to think about that before starting any mutinies. Boarders not only bring their horse to a new barn but their reputation too, make sure your reputation is good and any barn would be delighted to have you.

The horse community is very small and it‘s just a matter of fact that everyone seems to know everyone else’s business. Therefore, it is always best to keep quiet, enjoy your horse, and not get involved in petty disputes. In general, be a responsible pleasant person who is an asset to the barn.

After all the reason you have a horse in the first place is that you enjoy riding and you love horses. Getting involved in barn politics is more often than not a mistake. Enjoy the time with your horse, it is the most worthwhile time you will ever have, period.

Until next time

Quote for Today

One reason why birds and horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other birds and horses.
- Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends and Influence People

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