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To bite my tongue or not...?

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    Original Poster

    Originally posted by Tarlo Farm View Post
    If she's as good a friend as you say, then this: “hey as a friend I’m telling you this is a terrible management for your animal and it’s unhealthy and unsafe for both of you.”

    And everything trubandloki has said.

    Get on with it or disengage. (But for the sake of the horse, get on with it). She must know it's not normal to change barns eight times in two years...?
    She thinks she’s just been unlucky and in fairness, some of these places she has been. I’ve been riding my whole life and I’ve also made mistakes with choosing a good boarding arrangement so I’m not shocked someone with way less experience is having trouble. It’s hard to find places that meet your needs... it’s even harder when you’re still figuring out what those needs are.


      Instead of trying to recommend a new barn or influence the turnout situation, can you recommend a trainer or suggest some questions for her to ask the vet instead? Or maybe pair some educational materials about horse care with your next chat? I mean, if the horse is bucking and spooking when she rides, then I'm guessing she tells you about it, and you can suggest a trainer that you know that has good horse care sense, or some books, or tell her she could ask her vet about it? Or that she should ask her vet about her turnout recommendations? Since you said she thinks your turnout thoughts are personal preference, it would really help if you had some pro evidence to back it up.


        Originally posted by WildLittleWren View Post
        If you have shared your opinion and she has chosen not to heed your advice, there's really not all that much you can do.
        The thing is, the OP admits to not have actually shared her opinion on this. Read what the OP posted that I quoted below. The OP is dropping hints but not actually stepping up to the plate and helping her friend become a real horseman with true knowledge being passed along.

        Originally posted by Equkelly View Post

        I wouldn’t say I’ve told her this... I tiptoe around things subtly but I’m too scared to sit her down and be like “hey as a friend I’m telling you this is a terrible management for your animal and it’s unhealthy and unsafe for both of you.” I think I was just kind of having doubts about whether or not I should keep biting my tongue or if I need to be honest.


          Originally posted by Equkelly View Post
          Horses however, I find cope differently and internalize stress a little more and I think because people don’t see it, they assume it’s not a problem.

          Generalize much?

          Some horses don't give a fig for turnout & live happily in stalls, run themselves into a sweaty mess if left out.

          From what you described, I'd attribute the bucking & spooking a LOT more to her very infrequent - & probably unskilled - rides, not to the way the horse is kept.
          Does friend have zero interest in taking lessons on this horse?
          Sounds like she expected a Trailmaster, if so, she got the wrong horse.

          Agree with those saying TALK to her.
          Stop skirting the issues, tell her what you know from your greater experience, then let it go.
          She is not obligated to accept or value your advice, but at least you (hopefully) provide food for thought.
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


            There is plenty of scientific research that shows the benefits of turn out, can you share those with her?


              Original Poster

              Originally posted by gottagrey View Post
              if she's on her 7-8th barn in 2 years, all of those with limited turnout - I'm wondering if all those barns operate that way in the area or if it's truly your friend. It sounds as though you live relatively close to each other why not offer to accompany her on some of the barn tours..
              We do, and I’ve offered so hopefully she takes me up on it. I think a lot of places operate like that out here especially when it’s a big training place where the horses are getting their exercise needs in training/ riding only she’s not doing the training/ riding part.

              trubandloki I think nailed it. I need to do a better job at listening to why she doesn’t want the horse turned out. I know the horse isn’t IR or anything but I think she just kind of wants to stick to whats she knows and she’s never been at a place that does turnout while she’s had it. I think she might be afraid of the horse getting injured or something so maybe she’s avoiding it. But I should l should listen because it could be an anxiety issue and not an ignorance issue. Or both.


                I'm a really straight forward person so I would tell her point blank. Hey, what you are doing is detrimental to your horse and hand over a boatload of research and reasoning. If she chose to ignore the advice and proceed with her nonsense, I would no longer consider her a friend.
                No mourners, no funerals


                  A few thoughts:

                  1. Your belief that it is "abusive" for horses to live in stalls is an opinion, not a fact. Don't get me wrong, I'm a supporter of full time turnout and a natural lifestyle for horses. But stalling horses, even without regular exercise, does not automatically equal what the law defines as abusive conditions. I point this out because using extreme language, like "abusive," is a good way to shut down your listener.

                  2. You can't expect someone to listen to your advice if you've only delivered it subtly; the odds are that the listener did not pick up on what you were saying.

                  3. Can you be friends with someone who doesn't share your core beliefs? Not everyone can, and that's okay. Knowing that about yourself may help you determine if this is an issue worth pursuing or if biting your tongue is the best course of action to preserve the friendship.

                  4. I think the best way to teach someone something is for them to experience it for themselves so that they can arise at their own conclusions. You can tell a green horse owner something repeatedly, yet it often doesn't "click" until they see it in action. If this friend has only been at boarding barns where the norm is stalled horses, they are unlikely to see anything wrong with it. Especially if those barns also have those sub-par pasture board situations that are all too common in boarding barns. You know, the situation where you pay a reduced rate to toss your horse in an over-grazed field with a massive, incompatible, ever-changing herd. In those situations, there is constant competition for status and resources leading to illness and injury. Find opportunities to show your friend what a healthy turnout situation looks like, with happy horses living in a good environment. I don't know where you live, but even something touristy like Kentucky thoroughbred farm tours will address the importance of turnout. There are no horses more valuable than racing breeding stock, and every single one of those farms turns their horses out extensively, often 24/7 when not breeding or foaling.

                  Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                    If you haven't explicitly stated what you think, then I would possibly say something nicely. However, I'd test the waters first. Ask her questions about why she is doing what she is doing and then ask why she isn't doing full turn out. Tell her why you give your horse's full turn out instead of stalling. If you sense her getting offended, then I would stop there, but if she is open for discussion, then I would continue. And as suggested by Jealoushe read about the scientific reasons for turnout vs no turn out and have those answers ready if she asks. This may make your argument more credible.

                    Basically, skim around the edges to gauge her response before diving in head first. You'll be able to pick up whether she is open to suggestions from you or not. If not, then that is unfortunate. However, she will learn eventually herself, as all of us do in our journey with our first horse.


                      Original Poster

                      Originally posted by Texarkana View Post
                      A few thoughts:

                      1. Your belief that it is "abusive" for horses to live in stalls is an opinion, not a fact. Don't get me wrong, I'm a supporter of full time turnout and a natural lifestyle for horses. But stalling horses, even without regular exercise, does not automatically equal what the law defines as abusive conditions.
                      I didn’t say it was “legally abusive” I said it was “in my opinion abusive”... which I stand by completely when we’re talking about no turnout, almost no riding, and no exercise. I think there’s plenty of things that are normalized but just because they’re “normal” doesn’t mean they’re ok and this is one of those things. But I do agree that’s probably not the best way to say it to her though.

                      There’s lots of things that my friends do with their horses that I don’t agree with and I know enough to keep my mouth shut unless someone asks me for my opinion. This one is just feeling like a gray area because it’s a good friend and it’s causing some really serious issues.


                        If you use the same vet, maybe you can mention it to them. If they agree with your assessment, they might talk t her about it. However, it really depends on the vet. Some vets I know would say something if you point out a horse that's cooped up and only ridden a couple of times a month (information they might not have). Especially if the horse is fractious when they are called out. Other vets will not go there. Since she respects her vet, she might listen.

                        Preferably, you can also just say it to her very clearly one more time and then drop it. Be forceful and specific. Use phrases like 'abusive to keep them locked up'. Talk about her horse potentially picking up bad habits, like stall weaving and cribbing. If she doesn't listen, then you can't do anything and should probably not talk about horses much with her.

                        I feel for you. If this is a lovely friend, I hope you can still be friends. I hope that when the horse gets to be too much, he ends up somewhere safe.

                        I hate seeing poor animal care and not being able to change it. I've watched some of hubby's family members free feed their dogs for years with expected results. They make it to about age six before they can hardly get up. I love Goldens and it sucks to see the animals go from cute puppies to morbidly obese. We see them twice a year. First, it was polite, making conversation. We also used the same vet for awhile and I know he was giving them grief until they switched to a vet that wouldn't. Then, it escalated to borderline snarky comments about the size of the dogs, etc... Nothing worked. We gave up. Poor dogs.


                          Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                          From your first post, it sounds like you told her all this once or more than once. And she isn't listening. So you've done what you can.

                          You can't do anything. Moreover she is not your responsibility. She is on her own journey with horses and will make mistakes and discoveries on her own time. If she's gone through 8 barns in 2 years then she is likely a difficult barn client. Anyhow, her success or failure or getting hurt or her horse's health are not your responsibility unless she asks for your advice.

                          You should not "feel terrible" in the sense of feeling responsible and guilty about the fact that your friend does not want to take your advice.

                          You need to disengage. Not your monkeys, not your circus, as they say.

                          Totally agree with this...remember the old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't MAKE him drink"?? I don't think your friend WANTS advice...just someone to gripe to. The horse is TRYING to tell her he/she isn't happy with his/her arrangements. Horses NEED turn-out and exercise or they tend to forget how to be a "good horse"!! But at this isn't your problem. Sounds like she need to get rid of her horse...for the horse's own good... and rent a trail horse at some stable when she wants to ride.
                          Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                            When I’ve been in similar situations, I’ve stated my opinion clearly and succinctly. No need for a ton of details. Such as, well yeah Dobbin is acting like a nut he doesn’t get enough exercise. And done. If she’s a good friend, I would not drop her. It’s her horse and she can do as she pleases. Every time she complains, reiterate the same sentence “well yeah, Dobbin isn’t getting enough exercise”. Then moving right along to the next topic.

                            I totally get your desire to change the situation. Totally get your desire to vent about it too. I’ve often felt the same. One thing that helps me is looking at FB pages of horses being pulled from kill pens. For me, it helps put things in perspective so I’m not obsessing over how my friends’ well fed horses are living and I’m not sabotaging a friendship with a good human being.


                              OP has already said she's shared many barn suggestions to her and also offered to go along. Anyway.
                              This isn't your fish to fry! Its not your horse! she wants to stall her animal more than you want to stall yours. What are you HONESTLY expecting? You'll turn her into someone who wants to horse manage as you do? Why not for a few seconds say: How would I react if she 'sat me down' and told me my turnout routine wasn't 'correct'. Really! she's got her own right to her own choices as do you, as do all of us. I think its great you've tried to suggest another way.. (I'm sorry, I won't even say 'better'....many stalled horses are very loved and cared for in that correct way too) but YOU'VE DONE THAT. you're done.
                              "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                              --Jimmy Buffett


                                So you've suggested that more turnout would work (and I don't disagree with your opinion at all) and she's not biting, why not try suggesting she get's one or even two other people to part lease the horse so he gets more exercise and input that way?


                                  Rather than give her solutions, which sounds like you've already tried, just stop humoring her when she complains about the horse's behavior. Next time, and every time, your friend complains about her horse bucking or other behavior problem, just answer "Well of course he bucked, that's what horses do when they don't get any regular exercise or training. Dobbin's not some inanimate jet-ski or bicycle-- you can't expect good results if you park him in a stall 24/7 and only let him out of his cage every couple of weeks to carry you around."


                                    Is she the type of person who responds well to data, or maybe to information coming from what a source that she will see as a respected expert? If so, perhaps it would be helpful to find some articles and/or studies that talk about turnout and health, happiness, soundness, etc. There are definitely some respected bigger name trainers who talk about the value of turnout - Carl Hester comes to mind. And there are studies and articles of a more scientific bent - even sort of pop science - that talk about turnout and soundness, fitness, mental wellbeing, ulcers, etc.


                                      I'm unclear now on what OP has or hasn't said. At first OP says she hasn't raised the point, then OP says she has been making the point continuously in a milder but distinct way.

                                      Honestly, while Friend may be loyal and ardent in personally supporting you in the past, it also sounds like Friend is rather one track, doesn't necessarily learn from experience, and is volatile or conflict driven in barn life, and by extension in personal life. This kind of person can be *fantastic* to have in your corner when you are having problems because they love taking sides, they will believe you implicitly, they don't get tired of hearing about your drama. And yes, we do feel we owe these friends something for their support.

                                      But things get tricky when you need to talk to them about something they are doing wrong or that bothers you. They aren't going to listen to you because of the same one track pit bull personality that made them so wonderful when you needed support.

                                      It already sounds like Friend is The Client From Hell for all her full board barns. She basically abandons her horse at the barn, won't pay for training rides, and has a meltdown over blankets and scrapes. And moves every 3 months. And is not able to put two and two together and see this isn't working. I'm sure the trainers and barn managers at these stables aren't thrilled to have a horse that never gets ridden and acts up for the owner. I'm sure other people have talked to her about this, at least about riding more if not about turnout.

                                      I would say, if she complains to you about the horse acting up when she rides, you can say the bit about the horse bring cooped up and refer her to a trainer who will probably agree.

                                      But otherwise, the general situation is that most of the time, even novice friends won't take advice from their peers. Even if their peers know much more than they do. Because first you as another ammie have no sanctioned authority, unlike a coach. Second, the novice friend has no knowledge base to evaluate what you are saying. So anything you say just sounds like "your opinion." Even if you are reading it word for word off the best most up-to-date research available. Even if it's something self evident like "Your horse is obese and can't walk and has flaming hot feet, I think you have laminitis and should call a vet," the response can be "huh. That's just your opinion. I'm feeding low sugar hay so it can't be laminitis."

                                      Also many novice horse owners ask everyone for advice and get overwhelmed and just do what they were going to do all along.

                                      You can't set people straight about their animals or their children because usually they are dealing with them in ways that meet their own deepest inmost needs, not in any objective way. And usually with no clear idea of the real welfare of animal or child in mind.



                                        Originally posted by Equkelly View Post

                                        We do, and I’ve offered so hopefully she takes me up on it. I think a lot of places operate like that out here especially when it’s a big training place where the horses are getting their exercise needs in training/ riding only she’s not doing the training/ riding part.

                                        trubandloki I think nailed it. I need to do a better job at listening to why she doesn’t want the horse turned out. I know the horse isn’t IR or anything but I think she just kind of wants to stick to whats she knows and she’s never been at a place that does turnout while she’s had it. I think she might be afraid of the horse getting injured or something so maybe she’s avoiding it. But I should l should listen because it could be an anxiety issue and not an ignorance issue. Or both.
                                        if its the barns in the area then that's an issue but it sounds like since you live in somewhat the same area you must have a place that has more turnout. There are some disciplines , even if the farm has plenty of acreage - horses are stalled or worked in the indoor or small outside ring. Sad actually. It seems odd that some of these places are letting her board without having horse in training or taking lessons. Where I am - there are a few straight boarding barns but many that have trainers require horses in training and/or regular lessons. Of course she could just be paying the training board and not having her horse trained,. Who knows.

                                        I'd have a casual conversation with friend and just chat about how glad you are that your horse has a lot turnout, how it's good for their gut (and mind) to be out as much as possible etc etc. Do so without lecturing. Hopefully she'll bring up how he's fresh all the time or something say you can say uh horse needs more turnout and since horse isn't grazing he's getting more grain which can get them hot etc. To your credit, it's wonderful that you take an interest in her and looking out for her horse, but you can only do so much. It's right up there with the client who says they have $5K for a horse, want bombproof has to have experience and the next thing you know they've gone and bought a 3 year old without a trainer.


                                          I would just be straight with her. "I'm concerned for your safety. Horses are designed to be moving around outside, not locked in a stall. When they are locked up for days at a time, they want to run, buck, and play when you let them out, and I think it is contributing to the behavior problems you are seeing under saddle. I don't want to see you get hurt. Please reconsider your boarding options and try to find somewhere with turnout."