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Can we help me help a barn rat?

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  • Can we help me help a barn rat?

    We have a wonderfully sweet high schooler at the barn without a lot of parental support. She has a talented but green gelding. I'm going to have her try out my been there/done that seasoned campaigner tomorrow so that her first class at her first show doesn't need to be on a greenie. I live close enough to give her a lift to the barn when I go out. Anyone else have ideas for things that can help her out? Maybe offering to pay her for helping with things like grooming/tack cleaning to provide some extra lesson money?
    Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

  • #2
    There's also washing the car/truck/trailer, pet sitting when you're out of town, hacking or otherwise checking on your horse when you're out of town, passing down tack/equipment that you don't need but they can use, etc.

    You can also offer to take video or pictures when she is riding; it'll let her see her progress and give her something to look back on years from now.


    • #3
      As barn rat who received such help myself, yes, doing chores for extra lesson/horse/show money is absolutely helpful. However, be sure that the tasks are genuinely helpful for you - I had one situation where (in an effort to be nice and supportive), I was essentially given a little bit of money for total busy work and it made me quite uncomfortable.

      Also speaking from experience, these may also be appreciated:
      - Opportunities to exercise your seasoned campaigner if you can't make it to the barn

      - Being invited along to groom/spectate with you at shows she doesn't attend. Buy her lunch there as thanks for her help and answer her questions about judging, riding, etc. as they come up at the show.

      - If you have them, lend her books that may have helpful exercises for her green horse.

      - Mention casually if you see a good deal on something she needs. For example, I had older barn friends who would let me know if they saw a good deal on show clothes in my size or good prices on other useful items.

      Thanks for helping a "barn rat" out. While I'm an adult now and have moved ~2,000 miles away from where I learned to ride, I will always have fond and thankful memories of the "barn ladies" who provided me with opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise. I'm boarding at a pretty small, almost all adult barn at the moment, but I can't wait until I can "pay it forward" to another barn rat.


      • #4
        I love that you are helping a barn rat, she's so very lucky to have someone so caring looking out for her.

        I lenjoyed being a barn rat and happily did anything asked of me just so I could stay and hang out.

        Can you teach her to braid? You don't mention the riding discipline, but a good braider can earn some nice pocket change!

        I think taking videos is a wonderful idea and is something she will cherish for years to come.
        Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


        • #5
          How nice of you to do somthing like that! As an older barn rat who doesn't have any family support at shows I love it when someone else's parents or partners take pictures or video of my rides.

          As a kid, I often braided to make extra show money, and I would have rather earned extra money, than being given things.


          • #6
            I bought a darned good investment pony and am paying fees for my "barn rat" to be able to show. Pony was cheap, kid is having fun, pony is gaining value. She's a little younger and while her parents are very involved, they are doing it on as tight a dime as I am, so we're pooling our resources.


            • #7
              Love the photo and video idea, as well as lending books. If she can't drive yet and it's feasible for you to give her a lift every once in a while (or to special events like shows or clinics, even just to audit or if you're participating she can be your groom- usually results in a reduced or waived auditing fee) that night make it easier on the parents to not have to chauffer her to horsey activities.
              Thanks for helping her out!


              • #8
                I was on the other end of this delema 30+ years ago. I was adopted by several barn ladies. They offered advice to a young girl who had been given a 14 month old filly by her non-horsey parents. I had read plenty of books but did not know too much. One was always willing to take me along where ever they went that was horsey( lessons, small shows and tack shops). they shared their books and offered advice when I worked with filly. They loaned equipment and generally cheered me on. My first show was with one of their horses .They were the ones to encourage me after a year of ground work to just climb on filly and start riding her it went perfectly. i had filly for 18 years and did almost everything with her. I would not be the horse person I am today without supportive barn ladies.


                • #9
                  My own mentor was an 80 something year old man, a veteran of a mounted horse troop and I suspect a cavalry man in WWII who gave me my first riding lessons free in exchange for the promise that I would teach 10 other people what he taught me. I do endeavor to do that along with sharing other tools I have acquired in my toolbox and I agree that "paying it forward" is what helps to keep breathing life into the sport.
                  America dialed 911. Donald Trump answered the phone.

                  Stop pumping money into colleges and start getting ready to earn money in the projected tradesman shortage of 2024. Make Trades Great Again!


                  • #10
                    Very nice thing you are doing! We have a terrific barn rat at our barn - all of 12. She's a very good little rider! I took her with me last year to our very first Paso show and as it was two days, I rode novice (and AO Pleasure) the first day and she rode Novice the second day. I called her my spare brain - she was a huge help. And we BOTH won our novice classes! Taking her with me again this year and this year she can show junior. She's also free-half leasing another boarder's retired racing standardbred and doing a good job with him, too.
                    What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


                    • Original Poster

                      I'm teaching her how to pull manes and braid (forelocks, tails, running braids, scallops, knots, and hunter braids) a little bit each week. This week, we went over how to put a tail up saddlebred style. I'd love to get her in a position to take a working student/groom spot over the summer next year if she wants to go that route. I hadn't even thought of taking her to audit clinics. I'm taking my gelding to Bernie Traurig this fall, so that would be a great opportunity for her! Jeremy Steinberg usually has a dressage clinic every other month or so out here, so I can probably take her to those as well.

                      She works her butt off for everything, and never complains at all about how hard any of it is. She cleans out auto-waterers with a smile (even when the waterer belongs to one of the worst hay-dunkers in the barn). And she's great about taking feedback.
                      Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique


                      • #12
                        All of these posts made me tear up. You guys are awesome.


                        • #13
                          Get her to photo and video you too. Then, if you can, sit with her and critique your own riding. I've had quite young (11 year olds) video me. It doesn't take them long to develop their technique once they see what they have recorded. Then, once she is good, she can video other riders for a fee which could lead to her buying her own camera.

                          If she sees and hears you critiqueing your own riding, she will be more open to hearing other people's critques of her - won't take it personally.


                          • #14
                            You've gotten excellent suggestions here. I don't have anything to add, except a big "thank you". The horse world could benefit from more people like you and less of the "what's-in-it-for-me?" crowd. Bless you.


                            • #15
                              Wonderful of you! I hope you know how much you are changing this girl's life for the better. She will always remember you and I am sure she will pay it forward one day. I don't have any extra ideas to add except my first pair of breeches as a kid were a gift from someone like you in my life at the time. Does she have show clothes or can I scour DD's closet to see if anything we have would fit her? Since I can't afford for DD to ride and show anymore, I would be thrilled to see her nice gear go to another rider who could use it. Do you know her sizing? Are you in my area by chance? If you are I would happily donate photography services for her too!
                              If you love me let me go....


                              • #16
                                As someone who absolutely would not have been able to be involved with horses at a young age without the kindness of others, thank you for what you're doing. You truly have no idea what kind of impact you're making here.
                                To be loved by a horse should fill us with awe, for we hath not deserved it.


                                • #17
                                  How old is she and what size riding clothing might she need? I have several Charles Owen (The Rider) helmets-----NWTIB-----bur we need to be sure what size in that brand she would need----I would send her one


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by alittlegray View Post
                                    Wonderful of you! I hope you know how much you are changing this girl's life for the better. She will always remember you and I am sure she will pay it forward one day. I don't have any extra ideas to add except my first pair of breeches as a kid were a gift from someone like you in my life at the time. Does she have show clothes or can I scour DD's closet to see if anything we have would fit her? Since I can't afford for DD to ride and show anymore, I would be thrilled to see her nice gear go to another rider who could use it. Do you know her sizing? Are you in my area by chance? If you are I would happily donate photography services for her too!
                                    We're not local, sadly. I'll check her sizing and see if she needs anything. Thank you so much for all the help! It's been absolutely wonderful to watch her develop as a rider over the last several months. Hopefully I'll be able to help more than one barn rat
                                    Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique