Oddly at my barn, at 55 years old I am in the middle. There is a variety of people younger than me and a ton older. I’ve been doing this horse thing for a long long time and there is always something new to learn, and the best way to learn is from others.
I was raised on a farm, as well as my family held a snooty country club membership. I had manners, respect and etiquette preached to me a million times a day since I entered this world. As a teenager, with a few changes of clothing I’d go from mucking stalls, to church, to high tea, and back to riding all in the same day. I was expected to behave in accord to each situation.
I also remember as a child how it was an honor to be able to be at the barn alone, without parent supervision. Barn owners/managers are not babysitters. Board is not childcare fees. When I was a child we had to earn the privilege to be allowed to be unsupervised at the barn. The list of rules were crazy long and the steps to prove we were responsible enough to be allowed this great honor was even longer.
We had no extreme sense of entitlement. We stayed out of the way of the adults, learned from them by observing, we watched out for the younger ones, kept our mouths shut and our hands off other people’s things. We cleaned up any mess we came upon not just because we feared we’d be the blame and loose our barn privilege but because we just did. If someone gave us advice we listened and said thank you; we didn’t roll our eyes and bark “DA!! I KNOW!”
As a parent I can’t even imagine the thought of leaving my child alone at a barn with strangers and a 1000 plus pound unpredictable animal. My kids are grown adults now, but barn time was something we did together it was such a great bonding. But it appears we got a new crop of crazy.
Of the three barns where I spend my time, one is small with only us three adults and the other two are big. I’ve noticed at these, people seem think that the hundreds of dollars they pay each month to board the child’s horse ENTITLES them to just dump and run leaving a 9 and 10 year old all alone.
It’s a little awkward. Kids you’ve never met, parents you’ve never seen, loose in the barn. I remember when me and my friends were kids, everyone at the barn knew who we were. They knew our parents and we knew our parents would hear detailed reports of everything we did, good or bad.
I’m really not talking about one strange family. There are actually several different groups of kids, all the same scenario, just dropped off at the barn. They don’t even talk to each other. None are working with a trainer and their horse skills seem to come from a TV show or computer game. They are totally lacking in any barn etiquette. They will whip open the arena door not caring if they hit a rider or not, they leave stuff all over and they don’t think twice about using thing that doesn’t belong to them. If they do something to spook a rider’s horse, they do it over and over and over. There are huge safety concerns.
I’m not old crabby horse lady, I enjoy kids and have shared my horses and knowledge with many wonderful kids. I hope to be able to continue.