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how do you say no to people that want thier children to ride your horses and ponies

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  • how do you say no to people that want thier children to ride your horses and ponies

    I'm sure this question's been asked before but how in the world can i politely say no to friends, neighbors, and even people at work who think its ok to ask if their kids, or even themselves can just come out to my farm and ride.
    I own a few horses and breed some nice performance horses on a very small scale and have a couple of ponies (one of which is a shetland who is fantastic for babysitting my weaned foals) and i keep running into the situation time and time again where people think its totally fine to want to show up for half a day at my farm and expect their children or themselves to be entertained and want me to pull out the tack and give pony rides, or themselves free lessons. I don't have the insurance for it , i don't have childrens helmets, my large horses are green and in training, and worth way too much to get hauled on by a beginner rider, and i choose not have boarders. I've even caught the odd neighbor in my yard without my permission showing visiting relatives my foals, or pony, completely without my permission. I had a supervisor from work ask if she could just drop by and see the farm only to have her show up with her entire family with 2 small children and allow her youngest child to run around unsupervised despite my objections. I turn around to see the child slip under the fence and run up to my stallion. Thankfully my stallion did nothing and we got the child out of the paddock without incident but this was virtually the last straw. The word no just does not seem to register with people. What are your experiences?

  • #2
    You say - "I don't have the insurance for it , i don't have children's helmets, my large horses are green and in training, and worth way too much to get hauled on by a beginner rider."

    I am so sorry you are dealing with this... I know what you are saying. I get this on a much smaller scale. I would keep locked gates because nosy neighbor can be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    When I am asked I tell people my horses are competition horses. If you want to ride horses here is the number of a local trail horse place.....
    Live in the sunshine.
    Swim in the sea.
    Drink the wild air.


    • #3
      I say it "Sorry, no." If you feel you need to have an excuse, say "My insurance won't allow it". Hang "No Trespassing" signs on the fences, too.

      It's not harsh, it's reality.


      • #4
        You can just say no. Or if you are like me and would LOVE to share your horses with others if you had the appropriate horses, insurance, etc., you can let them know that your insurance won't cover it and you don't have suitable horses.

        Funny enough, I rarely had this experience (just once or twice) until my husband took a job where he's teaching and mentoring some graduate students. More than one of them have mentioned that they would want to come out and ride. The first one I kind of blew off and the second one I just told no after explaining that my horses weren't suitable. I DO take the students out to the barn when we have get-togethers and let them pet noses and such.
        Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

        Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com


        • #5
          Just Say No. Give them the name of a reputable lesson barn.

          If they persist, blame it on liability.
          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


          • #6
            Thanks for posting this! I appreciate seeing the other side of the situation, which I had honestly never thought of before. I assume everyone loves to share their horses, but I always ask my friends with horses when it is convenient to come over, even my girlfriend who entrusted me with foal watch and participating in her foal's birth. I would never show up unannounced, or bring anyone with me unless she knew and agreed.
            "Let's face it -- Beezie Madden is NOT looking over her shoulder for me anytime
            soon . . . or ever, even in her worst nightmares."

            Member, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous


            • #7
              "I dont have any horses that can be ridden/handled by anyone else right now but I do have some stalls that could use some cleaning...." Usually that will scare away anyone that isnt super set on the idea....and if not, well you might get a little bit of free stall cleaning :P
              Clancy 17hh chestnut Dutch WB, '99. Owned and loved since '04 and still goin'!


              • #8
                I use the insurance/unsuitable/liability excuse, then provide the name of a local barn with an excellent lesson program.


                • #9
                  Front gate with a lock.

                  When asked, "No, it's too dangerous. I don't have kid horses. And my farm isn't safe for children." Change the subject, don't let them keep asking and badgering. They are out of luck - your farm is not the one for a petting zoo.

                  Good luck. I can't imagine what these parents are thinking, they obviously know nothing about the dangers of large animals.
                  Last edited by OverandOnward; May. 21, 2013, 10:18 PM. Reason: spelling; site went offline while editing last night :)


                  • #10
                    There was a thread about this a while ago with a lot of good suggestions. I just tell people that my horse bucks, which is true - that really is the reason I don't let people ride him, but I'd probably say the same even if it wasn't true. In your case the liability issue should work with reasonable people. Or just "no".


                    • #11
                      I think it would be a lot kinder to steer them to lessons or trail rides or a short supervised time to look at a horse-when do most people even get to see a horse??


                      • #12
                        I tell them how I got my horse cheap b/c she bucked off someone & put them in the hospital.


                        • #13
                          I just say no No reasons or excuses. Might be unpopular, but there you are. I don't feel bad about it.

                          I have young horses, an entire, a couple of grumps, and overall they are just big...
                          It's great if people want to go and pet some horses, but there are more suitable horses/ponies out there for them to go and visit.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Tehzebra View Post
                            "I dont have any horses that can be ridden/handled by anyone else right now but I do have some stalls that could use some cleaning...." Usually that will scare away anyone that isnt super set on the idea....and if not, well you might get a little bit of free stall cleaning :P
                            SO many great suggestions!
                            The stall cleaning is a fabulous idea!
                            The insurance reason is indeed very valid as I trimmed all the frills off my farm policy this year due to no longer having boarders, and lessons and novices are not covered at all on my farm.
                            And i did certainly get my shetland for a song as he gained a talent for bucking children off and periodically needs a small adult to school him prior to any children getting on. However as a companion pony he is worth his weight in gold.
                            After yesterday with the little boy running up to a stallion my nerves were shot and I wanted to dig a moat around the property
                            But i have some great ideas and will definitely use them.
                            Thanks Coth members!


                            • #15
                              I simply tell them the story about how my husband broke his back falling off the most docile horse in the barn (which is true). That usually does the trick.

                              Or I add that any children must own a safely fitting riding helmet (none do) and riding shoes.


                              • #16
                                Don't you love it, had a picnic at our farm and even though told people we would be happy to accompany them in small groups if they would like to pet the horses, even had carrotts and apples at the ready, had one Mom/Dad/DD go out into the field, loose horses and throw the kid up on a horse to get a picture, no halter, no nothin'. Idiots. Of course mom "rode when I was a kid, know all about horses, can you give lessons..." she had it all planned as to how my DD was going to give her DD lessons. Um, "NO".

                                Now since I have to work with her Father, I just let it go for that day, but later in the week, I approched him and told him we don't have any beginner appropriate horses, which was very true, and gave him two numbers, our trainer who only does private lessons, and a local barn that gives group lessons to young girls about her age so that would probably be the more appropriate barn. He is very reasonable and thanked me. They never did get lessons, they have been to our farm since then and I have never heard any more about it.

                                Honesty is the best policy if they have a problem with it so be it.


                                • #17
                                  Just say "No, I do not have any horses that are appropriate for children or riders who aren't very experienced." That's it. If they persist just smile and change the subject. No means no in any situation.


                                  • #18
                                    I don't own a farm but board my horse, and I get pestered all the time with
                                    people wanting to come out and ride, to bring their kids, etc.

                                    I just tell them that my horse is not safe for beginners and that the farm does
                                    not allow anyone except the owners to ride the horses for insurance reasons.

                                    Then I give them a list of local lesson barns, including phone numbers. Luckily
                                    there are a lot of them around here.

                                    My old BO had a great plan. She did have a couple of horses that were very
                                    beginner friendly, and as a boarding stable she had insurance. When she got a request
                                    to come out and ride, she agreed and told them to show up on Saturday at 8am and
                                    plan to be there for several hours. Then she put them to work - picking fields,
                                    scrubbing water tubs, cleaning stalls, stacking hay ... she told them that that was
                                    all part of it, and the chores always came before the riding. IF they ever made
                                    it to the riding part (most left after maybe an hour of work), she would put them
                                    on her sweet old mare bareback and give them a lesson in the ring for maybe
                                    15 minutes. She never got asked about riding again.


                                    • #19
                                      I ask them how much they like their kids.

                                      Seriously, I just tell them my horse is not suitable for non or novice riders and the pony is not broke to ride.
                                      Horse is a 17h+ WB and can be reactive - he is not now & will probably never be a babysitter.
                                      Pony is a Hackney - a breed not noted as child-friendly.

                                      When I had my BTDT TB I'd put the "rode when I was a kid" claimants on him on the longe.
                                      Most wanted off after the first jogtrot.
                                      If they still wanted to ride after that, depending on ability shown, I'd longe them or if they had what it took, let them off the longe.

                                      One (Swiss) fellow I worked with was so good he was off the line in 5min and jumping a small course.
                                      Some people aren't fibbing about their ability

                                      I got my start on loaned horses and as long as I have one suitable to share I am glad to.
                                      *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


                                      • #20
                                        Do you have a perimeter fence? If not, you sorely need one. I have never had neighbors come in uninvited. I would be pretty ticked off if they did. Lock the gates, if you have to.

                                        Now, our farm is child friendly because we have a young child, but it took a lot of extra work. Sometimes using the terms "working farm" or "breeding farm" around co-workers gives them a different impression. Make sure they know you have a stallion. It sounds funny, but it might just click in their minds that their children may be exposed to horse sex and scare them away.

                                        I would also politely tell them that your farm is not child friendly (clearly this is the case if a child can get into a stallion's pen) and refer them to the nearest reputable rental stable or children's farm in your area. Mention something about the rental stable having reasonable prices (even if they don't) because then you are alluding to the fact that visiting farms is something people pay for. Subtle, but these methods should dissaude all but the rudest folks.
                                        “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                                        St. Padre Pio