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Barn manager talking about clients behind their back

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    Barn manager talking about clients behind their back

    Hi, I don’t normally post, sorry. I was just wondering what you guys would do in these circumstances.

    Been at the barn for many years and the barn manager has always been a little too inclined to talk about people behind their back / criticise them. Always in small ways; showing people and saying “look how sore x’s horse’s back is”, “y doesn’t know what blankets are best”, “z over feeds”, “w is silly for worrying that the horse’s bed is dirty / horse has thrush”, “ b vet is overcharging”. However, it’s always been more generalised about everyone and not targeted.

    Recently that’s changed. There’s a new boarder in the barn who has quite a few horses there and is really careful with their horses, a lot of the comments are being targeted their way, both at them and behind their back. I also fear some are being pushed my way as well as I am friends with the new boarder. There used to be a disabled girl at the barn and they were commenting on her and since she’s left it seems to be at my friend. The comments also seem to have become more, not her fault or problem but one of the boarders fault or problems.

    Here comes the difficulty, my friend has a support system at home and enough contacts that they could move if they need too. My two horses are reasonably settled where they are but I am constantly feeling in the middle / like people are talking about me behind my back and it’s not helping my mental or physical health one iota. I don’t want to move barn and find myself in a worse position as the barn manager has done a lot to accommodate my horses, especially recently, but equally I’m not sure how I show the barn manager it’s really affecting her business and how people feel at the barn. Any ideas would be welcome. Thank you so much.

    I ran into a situation with a Barn Manager similar to yours about ten years ago. I wound up moving my horses home and she cost the trainer almost every client in the barn. I am very sorry you are dealing with such an upsetting situation - no good can come of that behavior and it is extremely toxic in a barn. Boarding is expensive, and your time with your horse should not include a knot in your stomach every time you head to the barn because the barn manager is causing drama.

    My suggestion would be a quiet meeting with the barn owner or head trainer to address this situation before it gets out of hand. The sad thing is that if you hear the person running down someone else in the barn, chances are good she's been doing the same thing about everyone. The bottom line is that your time with your horse is valuable and it should be a positive experience.


      When people show you who they are, believe them.

      This is affecting your mental health. It's not worth that. Move.


        I just assume that everyone is talking about me and everyone else. It is human nature I guess. It has never bothered me and it should not bother you.


          Originally posted by PonyPenny View Post
          I just assume that everyone is talking about me and everyone else. It is human nature I guess. It has never bothered me and it should not bother you.
          Yeah, me too, to some extent.

          I think it is incredibly unprofessional, but nearly unavoidable, especially in the horse world. You just have to remember this is an opinion. People are entitled to their opinions, it doesn't mean their opinion is fact, right, or wrong.

          People, especially in the culture where I live, are incredibly concerned with what others are doing. It's odd, I don't really get it. But it's up to you and how much you can tolerate. I've been in some situations where I've said whatever, and kept going about my business, and others where I've said, I'm not giving this person my money anymore.

          If it has an impact on your mental health and well being, you'll have to look for other options. People like this don't change, in my experience.


            Originally posted by PonyPenny View Post
            I just assume that everyone is talking about me and everyone else. It is human nature I guess. It has never bothered me and it should not bother you.
            Up to a certain point. This - to me - means: saying to others what you would say to the person directly. Talking behind others backs in a bad way is avoidable - just say nothing, avoid nasty chit chat, don't get involved.
            While my horses spend 24 hours at the barn I find it more important that they are happy, so I'd try the 'I do my thing and don't allow people to bother me'. If you can't handle your barn time anymore - move.


              Barns are like soap operas. I swear. Years back I developed the motto "friendly to everyone but friends with no one." Got me by just fine, until more recently. The last 4 years I've been in much smaller barn settings and I think it's worse than bigger barns.
              I am always on a schedule it seems, so my go-to is "off to work, pick up kiddo, dinner's in the oven..." whatever. As for people talking behind my back, which I know damn good and well they do, too bad. I just don't care anymore. There was one person who was constantly trying to undermine me - she'd go crying to the BO about whatever it was, but what she didn't seem to get is that whatever the "thing" was, I had already cleared it with the BO. Thank goodness we've moved past that.

              Be nice, people. Ultimately we all share the same sandbox.


                Talking about people behind their backs, and not in a nice way may be 'how it is' because we all let it.
                What your BM appears to be doing is bullying, and when a victim leaves, she moves on to the next.
                That is horrible, and unprofessional.

                I'm not sure what I would do, other than any/every time I heard it near me, look them directly in the eyes and suggest that it's unnecessary to comment on ___ subject, and perhaps throw in a couple positives about the person. In one f the last barns I was at the BM/BO/trainer liked to comment on one boarders leaning on and not appearing to improve much. I suggested this should be her favorite client, as she will be one forever, and since she pays on time, pays for training and all the other extras, she should be doubly grateful. In the case of the boarder with several horses... "How lucky this barn is to have someone willing to board # of horses here. Let's hope she doesn't decide to leave with all of them."

                Barn time is too precious for this garbage. That may mean ignoring it, or nipping it in the bud finally.
                Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014



                  My BO talks behind everyone's back. I hate it. I don't even like to ride when she's around because I know she's sitting there picking me apart.

                  I just try to not get involved. I don't say anything to her about others and try to stay under the radar. I'm sure she still says things, but at the end of the day I am confident in the decisions I'm making about my horse's wellbeing and am aware no matter what, she'll find something or someone to complain about.

                  If you can't stay under the radar and if this is causing distress, then go. Because horses are too damn expensive to have to deal with the drama of undue gossip.

                  We all appreciate some gossip, I think. But picking someone out is wrong. I'd say your friend should certainly leave -- the manager deserves to lose the income. If you haven't been singled out, I'm not sure I'd leave. But it all depends how comfortable you are, and how upset this makes you.

                  Good luck!


                    Originally posted by PonyPenny View Post
                    I just assume that everyone is talking about me and everyone else. It is human nature I guess. It has never bothered me and it should not bother you.
                    As a horse trainer and riding instructor, you have spent years learning to watch horses and riders and automatically keep a running commentary in your mind of what is ok and what could be better.

                    It is not to pick on anyone, is just the way you were trained.
                    The trick is to be mature enough to take note and store that information for if and when you are that horse's trainer or rider's instructor.

                    Very unprofessional to bring that up when you are not involved with those, are not directly training or instructing, are not in a discussion about training or instructing and definitely wrong to bring any of that during chit-chat, lightly socializing with others, especially with the rider not present.
                    Talking about others can become then unwarranted criticism.

                    All of us may speak at times out of turn, realize it and stop ourselves.
                    Some people's filters are not as good as they should be a little too often.

                    What can you do when you and/or your horse/s are the ones being talked about?
                    As long as it doesn't interfere with what you are doing, ignoring the gossip seems a good first step.


                      Picking on a disabled person would have made this barn a hard NO for me years ago. That is completely unacceptable.

                      Talking about people in the barn is totally OK if you are doing it in a supportive way. It's just chatter. I gather these comments are negative/critical when people say "talking behind someone's back."

                      It's in my barn rules that the barn is to be a positive and supportive community. I can and will suggest someone move if they can't comply with that. This is supposed to be fun! Find a new barn with a better "barn family."


                        I am so glad to have my horses at home now. The last place I boarded at for \ the last 3 years was the worst. It was a small barn where everyone had issues with everyone (except me, it seemed, because they all came to me to complain about one another until I got sick of it and shut them down). Everyone talked about everyone. I just dropped by to see a friend there yesterday and immediately everyone started sharing their grievances with me with one another. I just said "Oh that's too bad" and moved on, in an attempt to shut them down. I don't have time for other people's drama.

                        I think the reason no one had an issue with me was because I am highly passive, and for the longest time would just hear them out with the occasional "Oh no, that's not fun" and "That's a pity" that they felt they had someone to vent to. But it all got to be too much, and when people then started asking me to tell the other person something I was like oh heck no! And got the heck out of dodge. My property was ready to bring the horses home by then anyways, thank goodness.

                        I certainly do not miss the boarding environment. At times I miss having people to ride with, but then I just phone a friend, load the horses up, and meet at a trail head or event to hang out! I hate that not everyone has that opportunity. My place isn't fancy, has way less amenities, but to be able to sit outside in a chair and watch my horses in their paddock in the evening without all the drama, it's worth it to me!

                        While its not professional your situation is not uncommon. Best you can do is try to go about your business, shut down anyone that tries to talk about others, and just focus on the horses. Or move if you can't take it any longer, like I did.


                          I’m sorry you are dealing with this. I am one who tends to keep to myself a lot, and try desperately to stay away from barn drama, even though it seems so prevalent everywhere. if people try to suck you in to their gossip, I like the phrase, “ I don’t have ears for that”. I’ve been at a lot of barns that are more like a social club than an equestrian facility. I’m amazed at how quickly people are willing to tear one another down.

                          Right now I am the happiest I’ve ever been as a boarder. I’ve landed at a barn that has a small group of very professional adults, and I have encountered zero drama. And, my horse is happy. I’m driving further than I want, but it’s worth it.


                            Think there is a big difference from idle gossip between boarders and direct, cutting remarks specifically aimed at a client behind the clients back made to other clients coming from trainer, barn manager or other adult paid staff. The first is a suck it up and ignore it or move your business elsewhere. When it’s coming from staff, it’s a bad sign of how they feel about their clients and their horses in general and you need to not ignore it from your horses caregiver standpoint and just move.

                            When they tell you who they really are, listen. Don’t pay to be disrespected by those you are paying to respect you and your horses needs. You stay and keep paying, you allow it to continue.

                            And, yes, that’s one of my lines in the sand. It’s also been grounds for termination of those nasty staff members at most bIg, fancy barns and much more modest ones that are operated in a professional manner. One barn even ejected a client for running her mouth about other clients. It creates toxicity in the barn.
                            Last edited by findeight; Nov. 2, 2019, 02:26 PM.
                            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                              I am so glad my horses are living a my home. I only need to referee the grey gelding..and the ducks.


                                Originally posted by PonyPenny View Post
                                I just assume that everyone is talking about me and everyone else. It is human nature I guess. It has never bothered me and it should not bother you.
                                Sadly this happens just about everywhere . In your family, your job, church , boarding barn, etc.. doesn't make it right or acceptable.

                                The best thing you can do is walk away when people start gossiping. Learn to let it roll off your back or it will get the best of you every time.


                                  Originally posted by PonyPenny View Post
                                  I just assume that everyone is talking about me and everyone else. It is human nature I guess. It has never bothered me and it should not bother you.
                                  In fact, if they're talking about everyone then I'd be even less concerned about what they might be saying about me. :-)

                                  I've tried to explain to a friend of mine who is a wicked gossip that 1) everyone judges all the time, 2) most gossip about everyone else, and 3) if they're gossiping *with* you then they're also gossiping *about* you. At first she literally, didn't believe anyone would have the nerve to gossip about her, which I thought was pretty funny. :-)

                                  I also tend to be a little uneasy around people who don't gossip, and especially if they're super nice to everyone because I keep waiting for them to crack. And then when they do I often find the contrast unsettling!

                                  That, and I know that gossip is driven by insecurity/low self esteem, so the best approach is to try to build gossipers up instead of getting frustrated because they spend so much time trying to build themselves up.


                                    Gossip is a very conventional, if not very admirable, human trait. A BO who does that can find themselves an ex-BO if they manage to run off all their clients. That's a thought that ought to be foremost but seldom is.

                                    If the OP is suffering some sort of mental distress in all this then their choices are confront BO and tell them to "sod off" (in the nicest way possible, of course ; grow a thicker skin; or move. Each will have burdens and benefits. I hope they make a choice that best for them.

                                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo


                                      Barn gossip is one of the things I was very happy to see in the rearview when I brought my horses home. And I think every place that humans gather has some of it... barns, offices, clubs, etc. As someone else said, unfortunately part of human nature.

                                      But there is a difference between clients gossiping amongst themselves, and staff making derogatory comments to and about clients, which is rude and unprofessional. The client stuff can be blunted by simply not engaging. Someone makes a rude comment about Sally's choice of breeches/saddle/car, easy enough to say, "Gosh, can't agree, plus she is SO nice, who cares what she wears/rides in/drives."

                                      A BM who said to me, "look how sore so-and-so's horse's back is!" would be met with a steely look and the comment that they should speak to the client in question, as it's none of my business hearing what should be private information about another customer's animal. And I'd be very clear about my expectation that my business being kept private, too.

                                      But once you have made your expectations clear in a polite and professional manner, that ought to be the end of it. It is not a client's job to "educate" a BM about how her actions might affect the business, and those conversations simply don't ever end well.

                                      If it's become so challenging that you are considering leaving, and depending on the type of relationship you have with the business OWNER, you may wish to have a private meeting to express your concerns, in the hopes of having the BM's boss take some corrective action. However, most clients are reluctant to "throw the BM under the bus," because they know that these sorts of employees often retaliate in ways that are hard to catch/address. Oh, sorry, didn't manage to get Trigger out today before the rain, so sorry...! Oh! Did we forget to blanket Trigger last night?! So sorry! Etc. So that type of information, if conveyed at all, is generally done on the way out of the barn. So sorry, loved x, y and z about this place, but just couldn't take (X) anymore..."

                                      The bottom line is that most barns have this sort of drama in one form or another. At some places it hums along at a low level and can easily be avoided. At other places it seems to be a giant sucking mass of energy from which no one escapes - those are usually the places where the owner/trainer is the driving force. Whatever the case may be, it's almost always a case of deciding what the available alternatives are and deciding what you can and cannot live with. If this barn has made accommodations for you / your horses that would be difficult or impossible to replicate elsewhere, you may decide to just ignore it and treat it as an opportunity for personal growth. Not caring what other random people think of you is a life skill and one that is worth cultivating.

                                      We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                                        Barns seem to magnets for the unprofessional, needy, soap opera types. Best advice is to not encourage it.

                                        I would consider saying like, "I'm sorry to hear you were unhappy at your former job. That isn't something I can really help you with. Let's talk about more positive things."

                                        Or, "I'm sorry you and Suzie Q aren't getting along. But that is something you need to discuss with her. Right now I'd like to focus on grooming my horse, getting ready for my ride, packing my trunk (or some other task)."