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Things your barn does (or you wish it would do) that helps promote sense of "family"?

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  • Things your barn does (or you wish it would do) that helps promote sense of "family"?

    I would love some input on things that your barn does (or things you wish it would do) that help promote a sense of "family" among customers?

    I am looking for ideas to get customers "more involved" and feeling a part of things - particularly the once-a-week lesson students.

    Conversely, things that are done that make you feel excluded would be good to hear just for the sake of knowing that as well!


  • #2
    We go on trail rides together. Boarders only. When we were into the 4h we used to get all the kids (siblings) interest but that's a lot of work. Husbands usually don't show too much interest no matter what, lol.


    • #3
      I ride at a very small place, so feeling like a family isnt hard. And we're mostly female adult "re-riders" which helps with the camaraderie, too.

      But even still, we have cook outs every few months, we had a barn beautification day where everyone got a project (and even HUSBANDS came and chipped in!). A couple of ladies that ride but do not show come to the shows to cheer everyone else on. Our trainer also encourages everyone to attend clinics as auditors in which other barn-mates are riding. Its not only a learning experience, but its a time for us to hang out with one another.

      Another barn where I once rode had "ladies night" on the last Thursday of every month. Again, there was a good number of adult riders, and our schedules often didnt match up to ride together. So we would get together once a month after lesson hours and we'd bring stuff like crackers and cheese, dip, etc etc and some wine and we'd just hang out for a couple hours.

      I think for the once a week riders, a "clean up day" or "work day" would get them involved with other, more regular students. Assigning them to little projects together, etc. Cook outs are also an awesome way to get everyone together... kids will be drawn to other kids naturally; you just have to get them in the same place at the same time.
      I have Higher Standards... do you?
      Apalachicola Native (Alfie), '02 TB Gelding,
      Wild Man of Borneo (Hank), '03 Redtick coonhound,
      Augustus McRae (Gus), '01 Bluetick coonhound


      • #4
        I don't really live at a boarding barn, but: we have cookouts every other weekend, and we trail ride all the Green Fuglies together every Sunday morning. For the cookouts, we also invite our barn's equine professionals - vets and farriers - as a "thank you". They usually do show up and bring the family!
        "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


        • #5
          Well...now I'm at my BF's house...and am one of only 2 boarders and she and her hubby and little one ARE my family up here....

          But in the past, my favorite barn ever...we did a lot of things that made it "family"....it was kind of a coop barn so some of this may not apply.

          1) We had barn "work days" where everyone showed up to repair fence, clean out cobwebs, etc. Then we'd grill out and have beers afterwards. Many hands make light work and we usually had fun.

          2) We scheduled little trail rides about once a month to get everyone out and doing something other than schooling.

          3) When we went to shows, we always did a potluck style thing.

          4) We had once a month "outings" non-horsey related--we'd got a movie and dinner or we'd go to a craft show or out to dinner...something non-horsey that the rest of the family was welcome to do as well.

          5) We had "tack cleaning days" where we'd all set out on blankets and clean tack and chat and drink beer...roast hot dogs...stuff like that.

          6) Decorating the stalls/barn for holidays....and having holiday parties.

          Basically...a lot of the types of things you'd do if you were at home by yourself...but instead, we did them together.
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


          • Original Poster

            I should mention that for years we did an "Easter Egg Hunt" where all customers as well as their non-riding siblings and/or children were welcome to participate. We ended up not having as many kids doing it in recent years, so we ended up changing it to a "Easter Treasure Hunt" for borders. It was a scavanger hunt of sorts that they had did collectively. They had to answer clues (required some "horsey" knowledge to find the clue - "Look under Sophie's skirt" and the clue would be hidden under a skirt on Sophie's saddle. Others were just fun - like an anogram of a horse's name and the clue would be tucked under his stall sign.)

            I would really like to do something that could involved a variety of ages and levels. I know that is not always possible. Sometimes we do "movie night" where we watch horsey videos. The older and more experienced kids love watching videos of past medal finals, but those without that level of knowledge do not seem to appreciate the details involved to lay down that trip.


            • #7
              I boarded at a barn for a while that had a sign posted in the tack room that said, "CLIQUISH BEHAVIOR WILL NOT BE TOLERATED"

              ...I should have recognized it as a BAD sign, and run. away. fast.


              • #8
                Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                For the cookouts, we also invite our barn's equine professionals - vets and farriers - as a "thank you". They usually do show up and bring the family!
                That's a great idea!
                "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch


                • #9
                  At my previous barn, boarders got lunch on weekends included in board. d; It was a small barn and the barn owner would make us lunch--hot dogs and hamburgers, pasta, etc. We'd also do a lot of trail rides together where boarders just informally got together and went for a ride.

                  At my current barn, it's similar; we have a lot of cookouts and stuff, and go for trail rides together. When someone has a birthday we'll have a little party for them. People all chip in and help with chores. Both of these places were small barns though, with only a few boarders, all mostly adults, and everyone got along really well.

                  A big barn I rode at as a kid had "paint a stall" day, where everyone came in to give the stalls a fresh cleaning and coat of whitewash, and then there was a big cookout.
                  "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                  Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                  • #10
                    It's hard to feel a sense of belonging when you are only around 1 day a week. Unless you are very outgoing you don't know very many ppl and they don't recognize you.

                    I've never seen this tried, but most ppl can get online during the week--what about a barn blog? If people find their names mentioned (in a good way, "Gratz to Susie for rocking the sitting trot in her lesson on Wed! B*ttbuster isn't easy to sit, as some of you know. Then hopefully others chime in w/comments, "Oh yeah sitting Buster's trot is no joke.") it not only gets them involved but other ppl see their names. Pics would help put names to faces (and to horses.) Could start with a photo of every boarder pair and each student on their usual lesson horse, add video and pics, etc.

                    It would be important to include everyone, though and not just announce show results, etc.

                    Hey, I think this is such a good idea I may suggest it for my barn!
                    Ring the bells that still can ring
                    Forget your perfect offering
                    There is a crack in everything
                    That's how the light gets in.


                    • Original Poster

                      Many of you have some great ideas. Most of the customers are kids not adults however. I have also found that many families are so busy with crazy schedules (especially if they have other children involved in other activities) that they don't mind leaving the kid off to do something, but they don't want to have to take the time to be involved as well. This is not true of all of my parents, but the majority.

                      I love the wine/cheese once a month idea. I do have a small collection of adult riders (4!) that three at least all seem to be "on the same page" so maybe between them and a couple parents of kid borders there might be some interest?

                      I even thought of a book club. But again, more of an adult thing and I have more kids.


                      • #12
                        Trail rides, games on horseback, barn fun shows, cookouts/picnics/potluck, camp out overnight at the barn, holiday parties, (or just for no reason parties ) work/cleanup days, jump painting/building, horse costume contests...


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by MelantheLLC View Post
                          It's hard to feel a sense of belonging when you are only around 1 day a week. Unless you are very outgoing you don't know very many ppl and they don't recognize you.
                          So true!

                          Exactly once of the reasons why I would like to try to do something. So many of the great kids have no idea who the others are because they ride on different days. I think "barn friends" are important.


                          • Original Poster

                            Any ideas for indoor winter activities that do not involve riding? Can use a horse, but without riding it. (Often the same kids would need to ride the same ponies so activities on horseback don't always work for those without their own critter).


                            • #15
                              We truly have a barn family. We're a very mixed bag otherwise, in terms of gender, choice of careers, political leanings, backgrounds. But we all support each other during difficult times and encourage each other during trying times, and celebrate with each other during happy times.

                              I think it helps that we are small. It also helps that if you don't "get" our trainer's vision, you won't be sticking around. I don't mean to imply by this that she forces her ideas on everyone. There's no prosyletizing.

                              The emphasis on our barn is on the horses, first. And everything else comes from that.

                              But we have gatherings, we have parties, we have clinics (and parties!).

                              This is the first barn I have ever given out gifts at the holiday to everyone.
                              a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by MelantheLLC View Post
                                . . . what about a barn blog?
                                In general, I like this idea! My concern is that I would not want anyone to post anything negative about another person. Monitoring it could be tricky.

                                They all know that I will NOT tolerate any "nastiness" between one another and if I catch it happening, the offender is spoken to. That does not mean that it doesn't go on behind my back. Especially now that they all have cell phone and text one another. They are middle schoolers/jr. high schoolers that are the offenders usually in my barn. One day Suzie and Sophie are best buddies and they "hate" Sarah. Two days later Sophie and Sarah are best buddies and they "hate" Suzie! Drives me nuts! But other than MUCH easier access (cell phones, text messages, computers) with which to distribute their nasty child behavior, I don't think things have changed in decades!


                                • #17
                                  Holiday Parties have always been a ton of fun, as well as in house schooling shows. Now the barn does a Halloween party and Christmas party that include stall decorating contests and costume/ obstacle course contests and used tack sales. Lately the jumps have been looking a little run-down, so all the students who take jumping lessons have donated a few bucks to a fund to buy supplies, and we are having a painting party next weekend.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho" View Post
                                    This is the first barn I have ever given out gifts at the holiday to everyone.
                                    My borders all give gifts to all of the other borders. They range significantly (One who can afford to do so is often very generous (gifts often range from $35 to $75 per person. While another who is struggling financially makes horse cookies and gives those out.) Everyone is appreciative and respectful.

                                    I as well give a holiday gift to each border.

                                    I thought this year, where people's finances are tighter, of offering to organize a Secret Santa with a dollar limit? I thought that might include the lesson students as well.


                                    • #19
                                      My new barn has a "Ladies Day" outing coming up. They're going to a cross-country course at another location. After the jumping lesson there is going to be a short trail ride and then a picnic lunch. I'm thinking of taking a vacation day and going -- sounds like so much fun and a nice way to meet other adult riders (and especially nice for someone like me who doesn't know a lot of people up here and am only at the barn once a week, at least currently).
                                      -Debbie / NH

                                      My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by seeuatx View Post
                                        . . a Halloween party . . . that include stall decorating contests
                                        Oh, I like that idea! Everyone would have an opportunity to get involved!

                                        Borders do put stockings up at Christmas if they want. And the generous border puts stockings on all the lesson horse stalls.