I’m not big on etiquette in everyday life; elbows on tables, speaking out of turn and worrying about hostess gifts are just not things that get my gears grinding. I do appreciate common courtesies though, such as saying “please” and “thank you” or washing your hands after you use the restroom [and before you shake my hand]. I subscribe to these same philosophies of using common courtesy at the barn.
Many of us are boarders, meaning we share our facilities with other people… the key word there being share. In my opinion, there are a few things that all boarders should do in order to respect the fellow equestrians who you board and ride with. Everyone has their own pet peeves, but basic boarder etiquette is important to keeping the barn safe and efficient. So here are my top five boarder etiquette tips! Follow these and you might even avoid some unnecessary barn drama!
Boarder Etiquette Tip #1: Clean up after yourself
If you groom and tack up in crossties or a designated area, please clean up after yourself. I’m not worried about scooping poop within 30 seconds, but don’t leave for the night without picking it up eventually. Same goes for the mud you picked out of your horse’s feet and all the hair you just brushed off him. Try to keep all of your “stuff” contained.. whether it’s in the aisle or stall because you just finished grooming, or whether it’s all of Hershey’s blankets in the tack room. Condense what you can so others have some room for their stuff too.
Boarder Etiquette Tip #2: Ask before you borrow [and return it clean]
Want to try a new bit for your pony before you buy it? Good idea! If Sally has one, just ask her before you gank it off her bridle. And after your ride, CLEAN IT and put it back onto her bridle. Most equestrians don’t mind lending stuff to fellow boarders, but if things are always mysteriously disappearing, being returned weeks later and filthy… the generosity isn’t likely to last.
Boarder Etiquette Tip #3: Know who has priority
If you’re riding and someone else is taking a lesson in the ring, be respectful and stay out of the way as much as you can. Did someone already set a grooming box out in your favorite area? Pick a different place to brush your horse. Always be mindful of those who are less experienced than you… other riders and trainers always appreciate a little extra room for green horse or beginner rider.
Boarder Etiquette Tip #4: Be friendly
Know the saying “you catch more bees with honey than vinegar?” It applies to your fellow boarders too. A small “Hey how are you?” can go a long way toward friendship in the barn. Tell me my horse looks good, and I’m instantly in a better mood. You don’t have to be besties with every boarder at your barn, but being nice is always appreciated.
Boarder Etiquette Tip #5: Help out when you can
We’ve all been in a situation where just one more pair of hands would be so damn helpful. So when you see it happening to a fellow boarder, take 5 minutes to do just that and lend a hand. Whether it’s grabbing a forgotten whip from the tack room, holding a horse while a rider mounts up… or helping catch a loose horse your fellow equestrians will really, really appreciate it. And then when you need help, they’ll be there for you.
What is your number one etiquette tip for boarders?