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Barn staff allowing/encouraging bad behaviors

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  • Barn staff allowing/encouraging bad behaviors

    My own horse is currently livin' it up at my boyfriend's farm, getting some well-deserved vacation out at pasture with my boyfriend's "main" horse. In the meantime, we've moved his "back-up" horse to the boarding stable where I kept my horse for me to ride and do some tune-up work with on ground manners and arena work. We also have immediate access to about 50 miles of a park bridle trail system. My boyfriend's horse (the one I'm riding) is currently for sale; he just doesn't have the time to ride two horses regularly, and this is too nice of a horse to just stand in pasture all the time.

    For whatever reason, the staff at the boarding barn seems to have a dislike for using lead ropes when leading or handling horses. It's not limited to the barn workers, but the BO/M and her husband are the same way. I always leave my halter and lead rope attached, hanging from my horse's stall door. They always un-snap the lead rope, put the halter on and just hand-guide my horse from stall to turnout.

    It's not a matter of "well, eventually someone will get hurt doing that and they'll realize that it's safer and easier to just use a lead rope." There have already been plenty of "incidents" and "accidents" and injuries and trips to the hospital, but they still lead without lead ropes, sometimes two horses at once.

    Yesterday evening, the "main" barn worker (who experienced a total shoulder dislocation just a couple of years ago when a horse he was holding by the halter pulled back suddenly) told me that "my" horse was being kind of a pill when coming in from turnout earlier. He was last to come in, it was feeding time, and he was more focused on getting to his stall than listening to his handler. The horse is a TWH - generally known as a "light horse" breed, but he's over 16hh with a loooong stride and a wide, heavy build, and definitely not a horse anyone could expect to simply out-muscle.

    I asked if he used a lead rope (knowing already what the answer would be), and of course he said he didn't. He just bragged about how he "outsmarted" the horse by closing the stall door before the horse could go in, and made him just stand there for a few seconds.

    Of course, when he did open the stall door again, he just let go of the halter so the horse was able to charge into his stall anyway and eat. Lesson learned? Doubtful. More like bad behavior being allowed, then rewarded.

    This situation bothers me mostly because it is not my horse to begin with. My own horse is generally pretty docile. However, if my boyfriend's horse did manage to break away from his handler he could injure someone or himself. In the warm weather there are always kids and non-horsey visitors at the barn who just want to see the horses.

    As I said, I keep a lead rope on his stall and available for use at all times. There is no reason at all for them not to use it.

    Any thoughts on addressing this issue? I've considered leaving a note beside the hook where the horse's halter is kept, reminding staff that the horse MUST be led using a lead rope, not halter-only. Any other ideas?
    Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.

  • #2
    Easy fix, make it so the lead rope can't come off the halter. Or would they do something even more stupid like turn the horse out with halter and lead rope on?


    • #3
      I would talk to the BO, express my distaste for this practice, and explain exactly why you do not want your horse to be handled in this manner. The situation you described with the "helper" is one that is going teach your horse very soon to be bargy. If they won't comply with your request, you have no choice but to leave. That is one of the stupidest things I have heard in a long time, there is a reason there is a lead rope...it never ceases to amaze me how dumb humans can be...do they think they are cool b/c they can lead a horse with out a rope- really what is the thought process there- especially after a dislocated shoulder?


      • #4
        I don't have any advice but just wanted to say I think this is the weirdest thing...why would they prefer to lead just holding onto the halter, as opposed to actually using the lead rope? Its not like they're hard to use. Its kind of like walking a dog without a leash...sounds to me like these people are missing a few important IQ points.


        • #5
          Originally posted by JollyBadger View Post
          the "main" barn worker (who experienced a total shoulder dislocation just a couple of years ago when a horse he was holding by the halter pulled back suddenly)
          Some people don't even learn the hard way.

          Quite simply, tell the BO that you are concerned about the welfare of your horse and those who handle it and insist that a lead rope is used at all times. Period. Non-negotiable.
          Ridge Farm Inc.-full care retirement


          • #6
            can you ask them not to put the feed in his bucket until after he is in his stall? I think thats a bad idea to teach the horses that dinner is waiting and then they are anxious to get into their stalls. I know this doesn't address the main issue but it might help him be a little better for the help.


            • #7
              There is no excuse. We have 30+ horses, nearly 20 who come in and out and only two of us (my daughter and me) who manage to halter and lead, with lead ropes all of them, including the youngsters.

              We in fact lead all of them into their stalls, they are to stand, we remove halter and then they can turn to the right and get their feed. They all know and the new ones learn the rules.


              • #8
                Originally posted by gloriginger View Post
                That is one of the stupidest things I have heard in a long time, there is a reason there is a lead rope...
                Ditto. It doesn't even make sense
                \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River


                • #9
                  First, I'd put a sign on the door saying, "PLEASE USE HALTER AND LEADROPE WHEN HANDLING THIS HORSE".

                  If that doesn't work, talk to the BO.

                  If THAT doesn't work, try something like this:


                  The leadrope doesn't come off.
                  Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for all the responses so far.

                    I grew up always using a lead rope with a halter. That was simply part of basic barn safety, horsemanship 101, or whatever else you'd want to call it. I know that things like lead ropes do tend to "wander off" in boarding barns, or they are "borrowed" and never find their way back home again. I think I'm one of the only boarders who even leaves a lead rope out, because even some of the boarders just halter-walk their horses to cross-ties, hitching posts, etc.

                    The horses are all turned out with halters on, so yes, the basic idea is that staff just walks them out to the gate and lets them go (again, NOT a safe habit to encourage). Depending on who brings the horses in, sometimes the halters are also left on them in the stalls, which I find irritating and I'm sure the horses do, too, when they've been out playing and sweating and rolling in the dirt all day. I consider halters something to be used when handling/leading a horse, not something for them to wear 24/7.

                    The rope-halter with the attached lead rope is a good idea, and I actually have a couple of them around. I may give it a try, and I know the barn staff will probably be annoyed at having to take the "extra" time to put the halter on and take it off. Assuming they can even figure out how to put one on in the first place. . .
                    Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.


                    • #11
                      Welcome to my world.

                      There are a lot of good things about my barn, but unfortunately they are very, very lax about turnout safety. Many horses are led out with just a leadrope around their neck. At least one is led by his fly mask.

                      They also do not turn & face the horses when turning out--just unsnap lead rope/pull rope off neck as horse goes through gate.

                      Apparently my horse has figured this out and subsequently learned she can bolt through pasture gates. I didn't find this out until recently (I almost never catch my horse/turn her back out due to my schedule) but recently, I had to put her back out after riding. She blasted through the pasture gate and almost ripped my arm off. Thank god I had my speshul Parelli loooong lead rope on, or I would have lost her.

                      I promptly addressed this with the BO (who saw the whole thing happen, actually). I just very politely told her this was not acceptable, that this was an incredibly dangerous behavior, and if I had to pay extra $$ for them to change the way they turned out my horse, I would.

                      She argued with me a bit but did agree to have the barn workers make my mare turn & face when they put her out.

                      Safety has always been PARAMOUNT for me in my years of working with horses. I am always shocked when other people do not have the same perspective.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JollyBadger View Post
                        The horses are all turned out with halters on, so yes, the basic idea is that staff just walks them out to the gate and lets them go (again, NOT a safe habit to encourage).
                        This irritates me to no freaking end. One barn I used to board at, one of the trainers worked on Mondays when the barn was closed. That barn has a small second indoor ring often used for turnouts. This particular person found it too time consuming (or something) to walk horses into the ring, turn them and make them stand politely, and unclip the lead rope. Instead she unclipped the lead rope (or just didn't use one), led the horses to the gate, then clucked so they'd run in. My horse turned into such a beast about being turned out I couldn't even do it myself for awhile. He'd bolt through the gate and I couldn't hang onto him. Very uncool situation.

                        Now, after being turned out correctly for a very long time, he is perfectly manageable and polite to turn out.

                        I really do not get why your barn's staff is anti-lead rope. It makes no sense at all. I only lead my horse by the halter if I'm walking him the 2 steps from his stall to the cross-ties. Any further and on goes the lead rope. Leading around and turning out a horse with no lead rope is just asking for crunched fingers, arms ripped from the sockets, and/or loose horses - as they obviously should have figured out by now!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sublimequine View Post
                          First, I'd put a sign on the door saying, "PLEASE USE HALTER AND LEADROPE WHEN HANDLING THIS HORSE".

                          If that doesn't work, talk to the BO.

                          If THAT doesn't work, try something like this:


                          The leadrope doesn't come off.
                          Agreed, but they probably won't even know how to put on a rope halter.


                          • #14
                            I was at a private barn for a while and happened by during feeding time. What they did was open all the stall doors and then opened the pasture gate so all 10+ horses could come stampeding in at the same time. I thought I was going to have a coronary and had no idea which way to go to get the hell out of their way.

                            We left not long after, and at the new place I had to warn them about her new trick. They weren't idiots, and my mare learned patience and started coming in like a lady again.

                            Some people have no damned sense at all.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by Lou-Lou View Post
                              Agreed, but they probably won't even know how to put on a rope halter.
                              That's my concern. They may just end up wrapping the lead rope around the horse's nose and neck, only to turn him loose and let him take off through the gate without having to stand and be patient while the halter is removed, and then we're right back to the problem with teaching him that it's okay to be bargy.

                              The one guy (the "genius" who "outsmarted" the horse by closing the stall door) seems to think that leading a horse with just a halter, or simply by throwing a lead rope around the neck, is a way to show off his own superior horse-handling abilities. This is the same guy who, just a couple of days ago, tried to lead two horses in at the same time in this manner, and he spent the whole time (a distance of about twenty yards) fighting with them both and getting pulled in all directions.

                              I will definitely put up a sign beside "my" horse's halter, stating that the horse must be led and handled with both halter AND lead rope at all times. And put the rope halter up in place of the standard buckle halter.

                              More than anything, I just don't want to see someone get hurt - but I'm also working on trying to get this horse SOLD and don't need to be "fixing" a behavior that could so easily be avoided in the first place.
                              Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.


                              • #16
                                The barn I am at does not use halters or lead ropes. They open the pasture gate to the barn at dinner time and the horses come in. The horses are ALL polite and well-mannered. They each go one by one to their own stalls, which are designed so that when they turn to their dinner bowl, they shut their doors. It is a delight to watch them come in - like a mini parade. Most of the horses have been there ages, so know the routine, and when there is a new one, the owners take great pride in teaching this expectation.


                                • #17
                                  I seriously don't think your going to get anywhere with a note. This is how they do things and the harder you try to fight the testosterone the harder they will fight back. Let's face it, these guys are trying to out smart an animal with a brain the size of a baseball.

                                  Are you capable of turning him in/out yourself? Maybe a separate field you could use? If nothing else I would show up as much as possible to bring him in/out so he learns he can't get by with that behavior with just anybody. Other than leaving I don't know what else you can do.


                                  • #18
                                    Wow, some of these barns described are really run by rocket scientists!! I mean really, how much extra time does it take to lead a horse into a paddock, turn it to you, and unclip a leadrope? Or, do the same, and removing the entire halter? Maybe 5 -10 seconds per horse? Don't these folks realize the terrible behaviors they are teaching/causing? I think the OP's only recourse is to move. I'm sure the workers will turn out the horse with the lead-rope/halter combo attached, attached to the horse Idiots.... Then you are going to have a horse getting hung up, rope burned, or worse. Of course, when these losers get injured, I'm sure they will come after the horse owner...And, if the horse gets hurt, there's a nice big vet bill, too!!


                                    • #19
                                      Come Shine, my barn in California did their turn out/come in routine that way and it really was a thing of beauty. My horses now will do that in the winter, and I love it. In the summer they're out 24/7 so it's not part of their current routine. It only works with placid and well-behaved horses, though.


                                      • #20
                                        I never turn out horses with headcollars on, unless it's a new horse that's known to be difficult to catch. Indeed it's considered to be bad practice over here.

                                        I always bring them in with headcollars and leadropes if they're youngsters or horses undergoing training.

                                        But with my own I also most often don't bother to turn them out or bring them in with headcollars and leadropes. I've 4 paddocks that are immediately adjacent to the stables and with horses going in and out of those I just open the gates up and let them out and when I want them in I just go down and open the gates and up they come and into the yard. They go into their stables themselves and the most I ever have to do is get hold of the mane and guide one into the right box. Very occasionally if it's a windy day and they can't hear me shout to get them in I may have to walk down and walk with them to bring them in. But no headcollars or leadropes.

                                        However VERY different if a horse is being trained or is generally not doing what it ought to be. Then it's headcollared and lead roped and led.

                                        I personally don't understand why anyone would want to risk accidents to staff if horses aren't properly behaving. I'd be inclined to ensure they were properly brought in.

                                        Why can't you just tell them you're concerned that your horse is taking advantage and you want him properly led in and out.
                                        Last edited by Thomas_1; Jun. 2, 2009, 06:59 PM.