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Tips for Dealing With Rowdy Kids @ Barn?

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  • Tips for Dealing With Rowdy Kids @ Barn?

    Posting under an alter so I don't hurt any feelings.

    There are several new, unsupervised kids at my barn. They belong to boarders who moved in this winter. Their parents are busy riding or sometimes they leave the barn and leave the kids behind for part of the afternoon.

    The kids are running in the barn, yelling, picking up items that do not belong to them, walking and standing too close to horses who are not used to kids, etc. When confronted, their mothers roll their eyes about the kids' misbehavior and give empty promises about how they will tell the kids to behave.

    I love my barn. I don't want to move my horse. My barn used to be pretty quiet and it runs itself with little intervention from management. I don't mind spending time with kids who love horses and want to learn more, but these kids are just bored and have little interest in horses and are full of energy.

    I would like to avoid these kids for the safety of me, my horse, and these children. The barn management is sympathetic, but will probably not do anything.

    Please share some diplomatic ways to deal with this problem. How do I address these children? How do I address their mothers? What are effective things to say to the kids to make them ignore/avoid me? It seems like some people are far more casual about kids in barns and I just don't want to be involved with any of them if I can help it.

    Thank you for listening and for any ideas you have.

  • #2
    If I were the BO I would be on this quickly. I have very little tolerance for rowdiness in a barn. Too many things can happen!

    In my years of visiting various barns I have seen unattended kids let horses out of stalls, be kicked, be stepped on, and the one that I thought was fitting was the time an absolute MONSTER was running like crazy and another rider yelled "don't run in the barn!" just as the little darling hit a fresh pile of manure and did a power slide on his keester. Mom enjoyed THAT ride home I bet

    Don't most barns have a "no unattended children" policy?!??!?!?
    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


    • #3
      What a nightmare. I believe it is a barn management issue. I think that you should express your concerns to the barn owner and let them know that it could potentially be a liability issue if something isn't said to the mothers. The barn is not a daycare. I would also hint that while you are very happy at the barn the fact that these kids are being left unsupervised is making you consider moving to another barn. Perhaps the thought of losing you as a client will make the management be less sympathetic.

      Good luck!
      Visit my farm at www.hiddenrockfarm.com


      • #4
        I'd take it up with the BM or BO. I have NO patience for packs of feral children running rampant in the barn.

        This coming from a person who owns a mare who was TERRIFIED of children (just the sight of them alone!) because her first real experiences with one included the child SCREAMING at her and RUNNING UNDER HER LEGS.
        Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


        • #5
          I have no mercy for unsupervised rowdy children around horses. And why the HELL are these kids there unsupervised in the first place?!?!?!? If it were me, I'd have no problem putting on my big girl panties and bringing my inner bitch out.

          1. See if management has a rule that there are no unsupervised kids there under a certain age. Management HAS to know about this, it's way too big a safety issue for them to ignore. If they dont have one, suggest that it might be a good idea.

          2. Let the mothers know that their children are not welcome near your horse without your supervision. Or they're never welcome near your horse, period.

          3. This doesn't fall under the "diplomatic" approach you'd like, but I've had great success with a very firm "if you don't get away from horse xyz, one of us is going to be killed and it sure as hell ain't gonna be me."

          4. If the mothers continue to leave their kids alone there, bill them for babysitting. Seriously.

          If all else fails......leashes on the kids and a little valium in their juicy juice.....just kidding.
          I love my Econo-Nag!


          • #6
            Agree that the BO needs to set the tone. And one would assume BOs would prefer not to lose boarders so with luck the BO will agree with you and jump on this.

            How old are the kids we're talking about? Just curious. If we're talking 8-10 year olds I'd have some strict words with the kids, too. Maybe it's the mom in me but I have no problem grabbing a kid by the coat and saying "HEY! There is no running in a barn!"

            Still, though, the BO needs to set the tone. The BO where I ride is very strict. She's very nice once. After that, all kids will be cut off at the knees if they don't behave. And guess what? They all do. Even the little ones.


            • #7
              I'd talk with barn management. Not only is it a headache for you, but it's a huge liability nightmare for them (make sure you explain it that way). I am sure little Suzie's mother will be suing their pants off when a horse kicks or bites her child.

              I can't believe the parents just leave the children too....where are you, a daycare? Maybe the BM needs to start charging for "adult supervision" at like $50/hour for unattended children.
              "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


              • #8
                OMG that would drive me crazy!! Maybe the owner needs to be reminded that this is an accident waiting to happen and she could risk it all in a lawsuit!!
                The mothers really should be responsible for watching their own children-that is just basic politeness, really. I guess if no one wants to come forward and teach good parenting skills, then perhaps the moms should hire a babysitter to watch these kids while they are otherwise occupied. Having kids run free on someone elses property is just wrong!
                This reminds me of a township meeting when my neighbor was applying for a variance to put up a barn in which to store his landscape equipment. One of the new people in the houses behind his property objected, afraid that his son may be injured on the equipment. Hello-what is your son doing trespassing on someone elses property? What happened to watching your children? I honestly think some people need to be taught that just because you are in a country setting, it doesn't mean you can let everything go free without regards to property lines!! BTW- I had to rewrite this about 3 times to tone it down a little-and I have children!! I hope you find an answer soon!


                • #9

                  When I see unsupervised kids around the barn acting unruly I tell them flat out that they need to chill out.

                  I am super non-confrontational and very quiet typically... but for some reason, kids getting silly in a barn pisses me off to no end.

                  I don't get nasty, but I do say "hey guys, you are gonna scare the horses, take it somewhere else." And I will usually make a mention to the BO.
                  We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                  • #10
                    Unfortunately I have noticed that the number of people who think their kids are perfectly fine no matter how badly they behave seems to be increasing dramatically. The liability issue is terrifying, and I'm sure the insurance agent for the barn would definitely agree and probably cancel the insurance policy if they knew what was going on at the barn. Many people don't worry about their children until something horrible happens to them.
                    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                    • #11
                      There are a few kids at the barn where I board whose parents use the place as a free day care. They are sometimes put to work, but they can be pretty obnoxious if they don't have anything to do. I'm surprised our BO is not more concerned about liabilities... at least have the parents sign a consent form saying they know the risks of leaving their children at the barn with no supervision.
                      The worst family moved to a different barn recently. The parents were fairly wealthy, but they would just leave their kids there and expect someone to entertain them. The older girl (9-11ish) would ride the lesson ponies without permission and just canter around and around. Most of us figured that if the BO wasn't bothered enough to come out of the house and stop it, it was none of our business. Her younger sister would just follow boarders/employees/lesson students around and pester them with non-stop meaningless questions just for attention.
                      The new place they're at has rules about adult supervision of minors and we've heard that they are not all that thrilled about it.


                      • #12
                        Shoot them.

                        No no, just kidding.

                        You might spook the horses. If you run them over with the tractor (quickly, so they don't have time to scream), that should solve the problem with minimal disruption.

                        I feel your pain. We had a boarder who brought her young (maybe 4 years old) son to the barn, and set him loose. He erased important information off the whiteboard, stole the marker and wrote his name everywhere (mom was supposed to clean it off, but that didn't happen). He would stand in the arena while his mother was riding and jump around and scream (while I was riding a spooky horse). He would mess with things and pretend to stop when he was being watched but start again as soon as your back was turned. He stood by the outdoor rings swinging longe whips around. The child was a demon, and his mother just ignored him. The problem was solved when mom decided to move her horse elsewhere--THANK GOODNESS!

                        If you see the brats doing something they shouldn't, tell them to stop. Maybe see if you can get them to put their energies to something productive, like sweeping the aisle. Mention to the mom that gee her kid is a sweetie, but you're oh-so-worried that it might get hurt by one of the horses, and maybe she should give it a lesson in proper horse behavior. And definitely talk to the BO/BM about it.
                        Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                        Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                        VW sucks.


                        • #13
                          I agree with Flash Gordon. I'm usually nonconfrontational, but when it comes to being silly around where I'm riding I lay down the law. I do make it a point of speaking with the parents and the BO first, then if nothing is done, I take the kids aside and explain the situation to them...usually with a wicked warning of what I'm liable to do if they spook my horse while I'm working with him and I come off or get hurt. Same thing for handling horses or equipment that isn't theirs. In one instance, where another boarder's unattended child destroyed one of my saddle pads, I presented them with the ruined pad and a bill.

                          I tell the parents up front that I tolerate no "horseplay" in the barn or around my horses. I warn the parents that I will physically remove the kids if they are getting out of hand and have been known to physically drag the kids out of the area (usually to their parents). I know this could be courting disaster, but so far, since I gave advance warnings to all, the only thing I've received from the parents have been apologies.

                          Now, having said that, I'm not above putting the kids to work or directing them to a safe area where they can play. I don't mind the kids playing and being loud if they're not directly beside me or the area where I'm riding. The activitiy is actually good for my horse to learn to ignore...but there are limits involved and I enforce them. Guess that's why I'm known as the "mean old lady"
                          A poorly fitted saddle hampers both horse and rider.


                          • #14
                            I've boarded at barns full of kids. I don't mind horse kids. They're kinda cute and remind me of when I was starting out. I've been lucky that I've never really had a problem with poorly behaved kids.

                            In the OP's situation, rolly-eyed parents would result in me keeping a squirt bottle of water handy or perhaps getting out the hose if I was really cranky.

                            I'd think one soaking with freezing cold water on a cold, windy day would be enough to get the point across to all that I'm NOT KIDDING about proper behavior in the barn.
                            I'm not arguing, I'm just explaining why I'm right
                            Violence doesn't end violence. It extends it. Break the cycle.


                            • #15
                              I have to chip in, too. DD is 6, and she's been riding for 2 years now. We spend A LOT of time at the barn, and she has pretty good horse sense for a kid. That said, she is NEVER unattended. If I'm riding and she isn't, I do ask one of the "big kids" to keep an eye on her, or she's in the clubhouse or out on the swingset.

                              You have a responsibility to your horse to keep them (and yourself) safe. If the unattended children are being unsafe, you are totally within your rights to tell them they can't be there doing that because of safety. I would also talk to your BO about your concerns.

                              Are there other kids who DO follow the rules? If so, why is it that they think they don't have to? Each barn has (or should have) posted rules that are agreed to by those who board there and it is the responsibility of the management to make sure they are followed for the safety and sanity of all.
                              A proud friend of bar.ka.


                              • #16
                                The funniest version of this I've seen is two different mothers with unruly 8-10 year olds who disrupted their *moms* own attempts to ride spooky horses. Mom trying to work horse, child entertaining self by playing around in arena, mom constantly calling out "stop that" "don't knock those over" "don't climb on that" "put that back" while horse shied and spooked. Didn't stop them bringing the kids along, though.

                                I've found 90% of kids will respond well if a stranger says "hey, take that outside" or "kids, stay over by the swingset" or "don't run in the aisle". Their mom's are usually far less receptive and less effective.

                                We have several resident toddlers and puppies at the boarding barn, and though they are always supervised they do run around and shriek, and the horses have gotten used to it and don't react.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Bootylicious Alter View Post
                                  . They belong to boarders who moved in this winter. Their parents are busy riding or sometimes they leave the barn and leave the kids behind for part of the afternoon.
                                  free day care?

                                  Seriously, I would think the the barn management would be concerned about liability...if these unattended children get kicked, bit or hurt in otherways - this is a potential law suit.

                                  You have every right to complain.


                                  • #18
                                    Haha, I like how you described them as "belonging" to some of the new boarders = )

                                    So, my grandmother is a horse trainer and is VERY strict. Horses, kids and mothers all respect her and she's a very soft spoken 5'1" most of the time... I have not yet seen the child that can resist her quiet and very stern reprimand. I guess it's that calm assertive energy Ceasar Millan talks about, hahaha. If you can master it, then the kids will not be a problem. She simply will not put up with bad behavior and gets the point across quickly to both mother and child.

                                    If the barn owner/manager refuses to do something about it (which is ridiculous), then I don't think any parent can do anything to you for yelling at their children except be snippy. A LOT of kids will behave better for strangers that scare them a bit than they will for their mothers.

                                    So certainly, use a stern voice and pretend like the child is a misbehaving horse/dog/pet/whatever. Simply tell them your rules in a disciplinarian-like fashion, and I bet they at least start behaving when you're around. If that's not the case (kids these days! haha) and they just say, ha ha, my mom doesn't care, ha ha, well, then you should go talk to the BO/BM in a similarly stern disciplinarian-like fashion.

                                    Obviously this should not be your problem at all, so first try sitting down the barn manager with at least a few other boarders and tell them in no uncertain terms how unacceptable and unsafe this is. If nothing changes, try the being stern with the kids tactic. If that's not really your style or you can't sufficiently scare them, I don't know, leave? I can't imagine that kind of behavior being allowed in a barn, at the very least for insurance purposes... The parents sound like they'd be the type to blame kid damages on you.

                                    I suppose if any of them look to have an interest in horses, you could try teaching them how to behave properly by giving them mini horse care lessons/jobs. That's kind of obnxious though if that's not really your thing (not mine at all...) So yeah, stern discussion with all involved parties is my vote!


                                    • #19
                                      Complain loudly to the management. This is a liability issue for WHEN (not if) those kids get hurt and BO gets sued. On your part- there is no problem with telling them to cut it out. If parents get mad, tell them that it is a safety issue. OR- just lock them all in a stall


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by S1969 View Post
                                        How old are the kids we're talking about? Just curious. If we're talking 8-10 year olds I'd have some strict words with the kids, too. Maybe it's the mom in me but I have no problem grabbing a kid by the coat and saying "HEY! There is no running in a barn!"
                                        Just liked the grabbing the running kid by the coat image. Totally something my grams would do, she might even add a swift kick in the bottom if the behavior is repeated. She's a little old school, but the boarders will either behave or LEAVE, haha.