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Conflicting advice, unsolicited comments, barn etiquette, etc.

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  • Conflicting advice, unsolicited comments, barn etiquette, etc.

    This might be long, and I apologize for that. I consider this community to be pretty educated and helpful, and I unfortunately don't have a lot of horse friends (I mostly keep to myself at the barn because I don't want to be that person who people feel obligated to talk to even though I'm actually preventing them from getting their ride in or completing barn chores), and what few I do have are trail riding pals who haven't experienced any of this and can't really help me.

    Here is some background: I am not super confident in my abilities to handle or ride a horse correctly since I am a beginner in almost every way all over again. I had a bad fall a decade ago as a young teen, and it took forever to rebuild my confidence to do anything but very easy, low intensity riding. I've pretty much always had and ridden/handled very docile, generally beginner to intermediate/advanced beginner horses, so I've never really had to solve a lot of behavioral issues, and I've never really had the opportunity to learn much about groundwork and how to handle certain issues with horses until now. I did take hunter/jumper lessons years ago and am currently back in them (and having a blast!). I feel like my general horse knowledge and basic horsemanship need to be added to.

    My first issue is that over the years and still to this day, I get conflicting advice. I have a wonderful trainer who I have a ton of respect for and completely trust her advice, but I already ask a million questions during lessons and she is a very busy person (she never acts like she's too busy for me or anything, but I realize that she has a lot to do and a ton of other clients to take care of, and want to be respectful of that), so I don't want to take up all of her time or keep her from something she needs to get done. However, when I am talking about conflicting advice, I am talking about from other people. The first trainer I ever had as a kid taught me to be firm and not tolerate disrespectful behavior from a horse (for example, swatting a horse for nipping/biting or rubbing on you, swatting with the end of a lead rope to get them out of your space if they're crowding you at the gate and trying to get out, giving a firm tug on the lead rope as a reminder when a horse is not paying attention to you and walking in your space or pulling you, etc.), and all of her horses had the perfect manners, but weren't afraid of people at all. I never viewed any of these things as abusive or out of the ordinary, so I always did these things. However, when I moved to another barn of another discipline for awhile, I was told by a few people that I should never swat a horse under any circumstance because it was abusive, and even though I didn't really agree, it still made me feel like a bad horse owner and person (I know I shouldn't care what random people think, but I'm young and unfortunately care way too much about it- I doubt myself and if I really am crossing the line and doing something abusive no matter how silly it is). This is just one of the few things I get conflicting advice about, but probably the thing that bothers me the most. I have noticed that ever since I became self conscious and unconfident in my handling and let too much bad behavior go unreprimanded or simply with just a "NO", my horses have developed some seriously bad habits and a lack of respect as well. However, I still feel bad, and I know I let some random people who weren't even trainers' opinion rule me, but I just doubt everything I do due to a lack of confidence and want to know for sure, what is the right way, and is there a middle ground between the two, maybe? Then there is the never-ending debate on which tack and training methods are cruel and unnecessary or not (I got chewed out for using a slow twist snaffle on a horse that went really well in it and seemed happy, and felt really bad about it- this was unsolicited and not from a trainer as well).

    I guess some of that kind of ties into my next issue, dealing with unsolicited comments. I know I really need to learn to let things go through one ear and out of the other, but it is so much easier said than done. With me doubting my confidence as a horse owner, rider, and handler, I put other people's opinions on a pedestal, which I know needs to stop. I've been told some pretty rude things, even from so-called "friends", that have damaged my confidence and made me feel like a bad horse owner, like that I don't know how to ride and should probably just give it up, I shouldn't even own horses, that one of my horses is dangerous and crazy and I shouldn't even have him (these people barely even know this horse and one rode him once over ten years ago when he was a green youngster, and the other rode him without my permission, very long story, and was intimidated by him because he can be stubborn). I know I can't control what these people say, but I'd like to find a way to not let it bother me as much as it does, because it's ridiculous how much I let random opinions rule me.

    My last issue is that although I've been boarding for a few years now, I'm a timid and shy person and don't really know how to interact with other people at the barn without bothering them or getting in their way. I ask basic questions like where something is, but I don't really speak unless I'm spoken to first otherwise, and I'm afraid I sometimes come off as unfriendly. Once I get comfortable, I can become very talkative (obviously, since I've written a book here!), but I hear people talk about the one dreaded talker at the barn who they feel cornered by and can't get anything done (not me or even people at my current barn, just something I've heard a few people generally speak of as something they find annoying about boarding), and I really don't want to bother anyone. I'm also afraid to ask for help in certain situations because I don't want to take away time from someone who is busy or be annoying.

    Thank you for reading, and again, I apologize for the length!
    Last edited by HunterEq95; Jun. 11, 2018, 05:36 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by HunterEq95 View Post
    This might be long, and I apologize for that. I consider this community to be pretty educated and helpful, and I unfortunately don't have a lot of horse friends (I mostly keep to myself at the barn because I don't want to be that person who people feel obligated to talk to even though I'm actually preventing them from getting their ride in
    Did half your post get eaten or lost?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

      Did half your post get eaten or lost?
      Yes, I accidentally posted without finishing somehow. I edited it and added the rest though!

      Comment


      • #4
        You say you got “chewed out” over a pretty noncontroverial bit choice? Are you sure you might not have taken an offhand remark too seriously? If randos were routinely chewing me out for swatting a nipping horse or using a bit that works well I’d be finding another barn because it sounds like you have a nest of PETA nuts infesting the place. Or maybe you don’t project confidence and people want to help you, and you get defensive. Hard to say from just what’s here. You also say you have troubles talking with people without pissing them off. This might be a better question for a therapist, not a horse forum, and I say that with kindness, not judgment.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by SnortyPants View Post
          You say you got “chewed out” over a pretty noncontroverial bit choice? Are you sure you might not have taken an offhand remark too seriously? If randos were routinely chewing me out for swatting a nipping horse or using a bit that works well I’d be finding another barn because it sounds like you have a nest of PETA nuts infesting the place. Or maybe you don’t project confidence and people want to help you, and you get defensive. Hard to say from just what’s here. You also say you have troubles talking with people without pissing them off. This might be a better question for a therapist, not a horse forum, and I say that with kindness, not judgment.
          Well, I was told that a slow twist bit was in no way a quality bit that anyone with any knowledge or in their right mind would use, and that even with soft hands, it is an extremely harsh bit that is even harsher than a single or double twisted wire because of the edge it has to it. I probably overthought it and worried myself that I was really causing my horse a lot of pain without realizing it. The people who got onto me about swatting a horse for nipping at me were old enough to be my parents, so I guess I assumed that based off of that alone, they probably had much more experience than me and knew better than me, and most of my horse friends and even some family that are involved with horses were friends with a few people in this group and agreed, so I guess that is why I really doubted myself there and felt like a bad owner. They also called me an a**hole for swatting my horse after he nipped me and said I deserved the swatting.

          I haven't pissed anyone off, but I'm afraid to, or inconvenience them. Most people at the new place have actually been very nice, I just don't want to get in the way or be the person everyone talks about being annoying or cornering them into a discussion, or asking stupid questions.

          Thank you for your response!

          Edit: I realize I didn't word the part about people talking about someone being annoying very well. It wasn't something anyone has said about me, or that I've heard anyone at the current barn say about anyone, but I've both heard and read it generally discussed as a common annoyance of boarding, like "that one person who corners you and won't leave you alone".
          Last edited by HunterEq95; Jun. 11, 2018, 05:49 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            The horse world is famous for having multiple opinions on things. I think the saying is 2 people, 3 opinions?

            You basically have to take everything other people tell you and come to your own opinion and conclusions about it.

            Personally, I see nothing wrong with either a slow twist snaffle or smacking a naughty horse that bites me.

            It does sound like you might have been at a barn with some whackadoos. There's a lot of people out there that think like that and... just coincidentally (ha!)... never ride their horses and get walked all over by their horses. Did any of them wave a long stick around?

            Comment


            • #7
              Sounds like a pretty typical barn to me.

              I wouldn't recommend a slow twist to a beginner either, though I'd shut up about it unless asked. I'd also disapprove if said beginner smacked somebody else's horse in an unproductive way - if she hit him in the face, for example - and I would speak up about that. The last thing the owner of a biter needs is to have her horse made worse by the resident newbies. (If somebody smacks her own horse unproductively . . . I dunno. I've seen it, and I know it's none of my business, but it's hard to watch, even if you can manage to hold your tongue.)

              Overall, OP, I'd say toughen up, try not to worry about others' opinions too much, and learn what you can from people whose horses behave properly and go well.

              Barns just aren't fuzzy-wuzzy places.





              .
              Last edited by Red Barn; Jun. 11, 2018, 08:21 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Repeat after me..."Thank-you for your opinion".

                This can be followed by a slightly confused stare at the person giving their advice....and the glare of looking at an obnoxious person blathering away who knows not of what they speak.

                It's your beast...a "slap" is quick correction done for the horse's and your benefit. Some behaviours are never acceptable (nipping, kicking out etc.)

                You don't owe consideration for unsolicited advice . If the people keep bloviating at you, tell them "go away".
                "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Trakehner View Post
                  Repeat after me..."Thank-you for your opinion".

                  This can be followed by a slightly confused stare at the person giving their advice....and the glare of looking at an obnoxious person blathering away who knows not of what they speak.

                  It's your beast...a "slap" is quick correction done for the horse's and your benefit. Some behaviours are never acceptable (nipping, kicking out etc.)

                  You don't owe consideration for unsolicited advice . If the people keep bloviating at you, tell them "go away".
                  Randomly smacking a biter in the face invariably makes the horse worse - as pretty much everybody knows, and will explain on this forum ad nauseam.

                  If the OP wants to smack her own horse, fine (I guess) but please: don't tell a newbie that doing this to other people's horses is acceptable. Much better she should learn how to use time-tested corrective measures that actually work - preferably after a discussion with the trainer or BO.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Red Barn View Post
                    Randomly smacking a biter in the face invariably makes the horse worse - as pretty much everybody knows, and will explain on this forum ad nauseam.
                    But I didn't see where the OP said she was smacking the horse in the face...

                    I do agree that a 'nagging' smack for just about anything isn't productive but annoying for the horse. If the 'smack' has some 'teeth' behind it, the 'biting' behavior should soon stop.

                    OP, as noted, at barns... 2 people, 3 opinions. Thank people for their thought/opinion/suggestion and be done. Do "listen" as perhaps sometimes a good idea that you can fold into your own tool bag. For some suggestions... correcting unwanted horse behavior... is a bit appropriate... ask your trainer. If your trainer is comfortable with you riding in a specific bit, then carry on. Judge and perhaps tune your 'smacks' and corrections so they become and effective training tool.

                    Also don't forget every single interaction you have with your horse is training. Always be consistent in what you ask of and expect out of your horse. Both of you will be happier
                    If you see your glass as half empty, pour it into a smaller glass and stop b*tching

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Some suggestions since you asked . . .1) Most important in my book: research and tackle your over all shyness. Of my three daughters, oldest was painfully shy. When she turned 30, she finally realized (told me) what her shyness had cost her in her life: better education (too shy to ask teacher questions) better friends (too shy to tell people she didn't like to sod off) better relationships with fellows (too shy to tell a boy what she wanted out of a relationship --if she met one at all --too shy to talk to boys for years); and better job --with raises --too shy to ask. She set her cap to improve --she knew she would always be shy --but with the help of a life coach, she established methods to over come this in various situations: now she manages a department of 106 accountants, has her own house, teaches yoga, and is much, much happier in her relationships --but step one was to decide to DO something about it.

                      Second: continue to work with the trainer in whom you have confidence --but set reasonable limits --you pay her for an hour or two of her time --pre-plan what you will do there ---first 15 you might write down and go over some (limit this) questions you had about the previous lesson or thoughts ---"I wonder about this bit --what do you think?" --then listen to her --you are PAYING for her professional opinion --use it or find another coach --otherwise, you are wasting her time and your money. That leads you to a stronger response to critics : "Interesting, I'll ask my trainer." or "Actually, my trainer is good with this."

                      Last: The best defense is a good offence --the people who speak to you (probably all people who speak to you) are looking for a connection -we all do it. Seeing someone day after day and never speaking to them is uncomfortable. It may be that the others have tried nicer, more supportive statements --only to have you, in your shyness, ignore them, or appear to ignore them ---so they have concluded that you don't like THEM --and respond in kind. Use my mom's advice ---

                      If you want to be comfortable in a group --say nice things. Say nice things about the weather. Say nice things about the other person, compliment the person's children or pets, and always say nice things about their SO. --You really can't go wrong ---The instant you see ANYONE --"My, it's a beautiful day out!" (keep walking) Next time: "I think your horse has the nicest shine on his coat!" (keep walking) "I admire how nicely behaved your children are!" --you don't have to enter a conversation ---and if someone does try to "bend your ear" a "Love to talk to you, you are always so interesting, but I have limited time today --smile ---walk away. You do not have to "be a friend" just be pleasant.

                      Think of 5 "general statements" you can make to anyone who owns a horse in your barn that they will like to hear --use them randomly and repeatedly (after all, can you hear too many times, "You horse has beautiful markings!"} --if I said that every time I saw you --would you mind? Heck, no, you'd think I was a nice person.

                      Once you are thought of as "the nicest person in the barn" I think others will adopt your tone. Whole place might be more fun.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Where'sMyWhite View Post

                        But I didn't see where the OP said she was smacking the horse in the face...
                        She said that her horse's behavior is deteriorating, and she didn't describe any sort of consistent retraining tactic to combat the biting. She also said that she was swinging ropes around to get horses "out of her space," so yeah - I'm drawing my own conclusions, based on newbie (and not so newbie!) stuff we all see in boarding barns every day of the week.

                        Maybe, OP, you could simply book a couple of lessons entirely in groundwork and handling? That would boost your confidence and improve your horse's behavior at the same time, while eliminating any guilt you might feel about bugging your trainer when she's not on the clock.



                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Ruth0552 View Post
                          The horse world is famous for having multiple opinions on things. I think the saying is 2 people, 3 opinions?

                          You basically have to take everything other people tell you and come to your own opinion and conclusions about it.

                          Personally, I see nothing wrong with either a slow twist snaffle or smacking a naughty horse that bites me.

                          It does sound like you might have been at a barn with some whackadoos. There's a lot of people out there that think like that and... just coincidentally (ha!)... never ride their horses and get walked all over by their horses. Did any of them wave a long stick around?
                          Thank you! Actually, yes, a few of these people were into the Natural Horsemanship thing and didn't ride much.
                          Last edited by HunterEq95; Jun. 11, 2018, 10:27 AM.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Red Barn View Post
                            Sounds like a pretty typical barn to me.

                            I wouldn't recommend a slow twist to a beginner either, though I'd shut up about it unless asked. I'd also disapprove if said beginner smacked somebody else's horse in an unproductive way - if she hit him in the face, for example - and I would speak up about that. The last thing the owner of a biter needs is to have her horse made worse by the resident newbies. (If somebody smacks her own horse unproductively . . . I dunno. I've seen it, and I know it's none of my business, but it's hard to watch, even if you can manage to hold your tongue.)

                            Overall, OP, I'd say toughen up, try not to worry about others' opinions too much, and learn what you can from people whose horses behave properly and go well.

                            Barns just aren't fuzzy-wuzzy places.





                            .
                            Oh no, I've never smacked a horse in the face, but usually on the neck, and it was always one of mine (or a family member's extremely spoiled horse who actually got skin once).

                            I actually feel really uncomfortable disciplining others' horses beyond a "NO" and maybe a firm tug on the lead rope if they're really out of line, especially since other people's views about correcting bad behavior are so different. The times I've received comments have always been when I've handled my own horses.

                            Thank you, I think learning from people whose horses are well behaved is a good guideline, because some of the conflicting advice becomes confusing. Honestly, now that I think about it, most of the people who had a huge problem with the correction had pretty pushy horses.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Trakehner View Post
                              Repeat after me..."Thank-you for your opinion".

                              This can be followed by a slightly confused stare at the person giving their advice....and the glare of looking at an obnoxious person blathering away who knows not of what they speak.

                              It's your beast...a "slap" is quick correction done for the horse's and your benefit. Some behaviours are never acceptable (nipping, kicking out etc.)

                              You don't owe consideration for unsolicited advice . If the people keep bloviating at you, tell them "go away".
                              Thank you! Biting and kicking are both things I have zero tolerance for, even in the form of a small nip (because in my experience, letting nipping slide can turn into biting).

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Foxglove View Post
                                Some suggestions since you asked . . .1) Most important in my book: research and tackle your over all shyness. Of my three daughters, oldest was painfully shy. When she turned 30, she finally realized (told me) what her shyness had cost her in her life: better education (too shy to ask teacher questions) better friends (too shy to tell people she didn't like to sod off) better relationships with fellows (too shy to tell a boy what she wanted out of a relationship --if she met one at all --too shy to talk to boys for years); and better job --with raises --too shy to ask. She set her cap to improve --she knew she would always be shy --but with the help of a life coach, she established methods to over come this in various situations: now she manages a department of 106 accountants, has her own house, teaches yoga, and is much, much happier in her relationships --but step one was to decide to DO something about it.

                                Second: continue to work with the trainer in whom you have confidence --but set reasonable limits --you pay her for an hour or two of her time --pre-plan what you will do there ---first 15 you might write down and go over some (limit this) questions you had about the previous lesson or thoughts ---"I wonder about this bit --what do you think?" --then listen to her --you are PAYING for her professional opinion --use it or find another coach --otherwise, you are wasting her time and your money. That leads you to a stronger response to critics : "Interesting, I'll ask my trainer." or "Actually, my trainer is good with this."

                                Last: The best defense is a good offence --the people who speak to you (probably all people who speak to you) are looking for a connection -we all do it. Seeing someone day after day and never speaking to them is uncomfortable. It may be that the others have tried nicer, more supportive statements --only to have you, in your shyness, ignore them, or appear to ignore them ---so they have concluded that you don't like THEM --and respond in kind. Use my mom's advice ---

                                If you want to be comfortable in a group --say nice things. Say nice things about the weather. Say nice things about the other person, compliment the person's children or pets, and always say nice things about their SO. --You really can't go wrong ---The instant you see ANYONE --"My, it's a beautiful day out!" (keep walking) Next time: "I think your horse has the nicest shine on his coat!" (keep walking) "I admire how nicely behaved your children are!" --you don't have to enter a conversation ---and if someone does try to "bend your ear" a "Love to talk to you, you are always so interesting, but I have limited time today --smile ---walk away. You do not have to "be a friend" just be pleasant.

                                Think of 5 "general statements" you can make to anyone who owns a horse in your barn that they will like to hear --use them randomly and repeatedly (after all, can you hear too many times, "You horse has beautiful markings!"} --if I said that every time I saw you --would you mind? Heck, no, you'd think I was a nice person.

                                Once you are thought of as "the nicest person in the barn" I think others will adopt your tone. Whole place might be more fun.
                                Thank you, this is all very helpful! I agree that I need to tackle my shyness, and I haven't thought about it before, but it really is costing me in several areas of my life, in some ways similar to your daughter's.

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by HunterEq95 View Post

                                  Thank you, I think learning from people whose horses are well behaved is a good guideline, because some of the conflicting advice becomes confusing. Honestly, now that I think about it, most of the people who had a huge problem with the correction had pretty pushy horses.
                                  Well, that tells you something, doesn't it?

                                  Discuss your correction methods with your trainer, then stick to whatever you two decide between you. If others are worried about how you might treat their horses, tell them just what you told me. (If these are heavy NH people that might not be sufficient, as they can be quite pushy themselves, but at least you'll know your bases are covered.)

                                  Best of luck.






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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Red Barn View Post
                                    She said that her horse's behavior is deteriorating, and she didn't describe any sort of consistent retraining tactic to combat the biting. She also said that she was swinging ropes around to get horses "out of her space," so yeah - I'm drawing my own conclusions, based on newbie (and not so newbie!) stuff we all see in boarding barns every day of the week.

                                    Maybe, OP, you could simply book a couple of lessons entirely in groundwork and handling? That would boost your confidence and improve your horse's behavior at the same time, while eliminating any guilt you might feel about bugging your trainer when she's not on the clock.


                                    My horses' behavior unfortunately began deteriorating AFTER I quit smacking after a bite (never in the face) and replaced it with a sharp "NO". They were much better when I DID do that.

                                    What ways would you suggest to keep horses from crowding the gate? The only thing I've been able to do is swing the rope at them and sometimes give a swat (I only do this to mine, don't feel comfortable doing it to someone else's horse unless they explicitly tell me to) so that they don't try to sneak through when I'm getting one out.

                                    Scheduling a groundwork lesson is a great idea, thank you!

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Red Barn View Post
                                      Well, that tells you something, doesn't it?

                                      Discuss your correction methods with your trainer, then stick to whatever you two decide between you. If others are worried about how you might treat their horses, tell them just what you told me. (If these are heavy NH people that might not be sufficient, as they can be quite pushy themselves, but at least you'll know your bases are covered.)

                                      Best of luck.





                                      Thank you, I have since moved away from the NH barn back to a H/J barn, but still visit friends at the old place and still get a lot of comments about my horses and such. I honestly think my H/J trainer is very knowledgeable and her horses are well mannered and extremely well trained.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by HunterEq95 View Post

                                        My horses' behavior unfortunately began deteriorating AFTER I quit smacking after a bite (never in the face) and replaced it with a sharp "NO". They were much better when I DID do that.

                                        What ways would you suggest to keep horses from crowding the gate? The only thing I've been able to do is swing the rope at them and sometimes give a swat (I only do this to mine, don't feel comfortable doing it to someone else's horse unless they explicitly tell me to) so that they don't try to sneak through when I'm getting one out.

                                        Scheduling a groundwork lesson is a great idea, thank you!
                                        This is a tricky one, because you're dealing with other people's horses.

                                        I'd ask the trainer or groom who brings them in how s/he does it, and then stick to the plan that works. Consistency is generally best - unless, of course, a given barn's "plan" is mad chaos, in which case I'd talk it over with the BO.

                                        When dealing with kids in a big lesson barn, for example, we simply had them go out two at a time, one armed with a longe whip. (An adult could go alone, of course.) Just the sight of the whip did the trick, because all the instructors followed this rule, and the horses knew the drill.

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