When you keep your horse at a boarding barn there may be times that you wish you could keep your horse home in the backyard, and vice-versa. The advantage of a keeping your neat, modular barn spic and span, running your own schedule and adopting your own horse care methods are many and can indeed be pleasurable. But many horse owners either have no alternative but to board or make a choice to keep their beloved equine partner at livery. This option offers a great opportunity to make a new ‘bestie’ of the human rather than horse variety.
It is always a challenge to find as much time to spend at the barn as most of us would like and enough time to actually ride versus the other necessary duties of horse care. When you partner up with a great barn buddy, it can not only increase your level of enjoyment it can also mitigate any worries you have over your horse’s care or indeed, his use, when you are not present. A barn buddy can also help to free up valuable extra time in your schedule.
But are you a good barn friend to others? Here are some tips on how to become the ‘best barn buddy ever’.
Talking and Walking
The social aspect of boarding at a barn can be a great way to learn more about horses as well as a super chance to bond and make lifelong friends with those that share your ‘horse crazy’ interest. But don’t be the barn gossip or give an ear to salacious reports on others. It is not only a waste of valuable horse time to stand ‘chatter boxing’ in the aisleway with folks that like to spin fairytales, it also serves no positive purpose for the harmony or ambience of the barn. So, walk away from the drama and don’t give gossip the ‘legs’ it needs to travel. Please, don’t be ‘that’ person that likes to create it.
It is a much better use of your time to spend it chatting with a good friend riding together out on the trail. There is plenty to discover on the trail, and much to enjoy. Sharing the adventures and scenery nature has to offer with your compatriot, comparing horsey experiences and building a human bond with your friend as a loyal listener who can keep confidences and provide support is an invaluable emotional asset.
A Different Kind of Joining Up
When we use the term joining-up around horses it usually means spending time in the round pen, training our horses to trust and listen to us. However, in the case of being a good barn buddy, joining up is joining in with barn mates to share expenses.
Recurring costs such as farrier and vet visit fees to come out to the barn, occasional trailer expenses to events such as shows and clinics, buying provisions in bulk such as extra bedding or hay together to save money (if provision of such supplies is part of your boarding arrangement), can all be shared to offer mutual savings. Don’t forget to always pay your share on time without being asked. There is nothing worse than having to chase down money you are owed when you have been gracious enough to front the expense.
Sharing Is Caring
There are many opportunities you can share that can help you become a good barn buddy. As we all know, sharing is also caring.
Time is an immeasurable one gift, partly because it cannot be bought, and we all wish we had more of it.
Set up a shift system so there is a fair exchange of time with your barn buddy for duties such as holding the horses for a farrier or vet, turning horses in and out, taking turns to visit the barn for horse checks to ensure the horses are where they are supposed to be when, doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Unfortunately, there are cases where barn owners have secretly taken boarders’ horses out for rides without the owner’s consent, even marshaled their charges for use in their lesson programs. Other boarders may develop an attachment to your horse and take it upon themselves to feed it treats, groom or handle it and this attention may not be welcomed. When you have a trusted ‘extra pair of eyes’ keeping your horse’s welfare at heart with full knowledge of what you have given permission for use wise and where you have drawn a line, or a barn buddy that has knowledge of the nuances of your horse’s individual preferences and needs, you can rest a little easier during your times of absence from the barn.
Between you and your buddy you can ensure the horses you each own and are being properly taken care of both health and maintenance wise. The commute time to the barn adds up over a month and splitting some of these visits with someone you trust can alleviate much stress for both of you when you have other more pressing needs from family or work.
If your barn buddy is on vacation or falls ill, offer to take on barn visits, grooming and riding etc. of their horse if it is wanted. When you know that your horse’s needs are in good hands, it can significantly diminish the stress of an illness, provide valuable support and increase the enjoyment and relaxation of a well-earned vacation.
A good barn buddy can also help save dollars and cents for their partner on a variety on tack, equipment and supplies. For example, if you both only need a pair of horse clippers a few times a year, go halves on a quality set and share them.
Alone Time Matters
While it may be tempting to become joined at the ‘riding’ hip with one particular person, remember not to be pushy or deny them the opportunity to liaise and spent time with others. Don’t self-invite yourself to conversations or rides/events. It is better to wait to be asked, or if you do ask then don’t be offended if your involvement is politely declined.
Horse owners enjoy spending time alone with their horse. Don’t forget not to allow others and yourself the freedom to do as they please. Not every day or hour needs to be spent together with your barn buddy to forge a good relationship.
It’s also wise to remember that your horse also needs to be out and about with a variety of his herd members, otherwise you may have an issue with your horse becoming overly dependent on the presence of a singular horse.
Two Way Street
As with any relationship work is needed on both sides in order for it to be maintained in good health. There must be a balance with who does what, when, and how much.
Don’t hog the conversation and talk endlessly about yourself or constantly offer unwarranted or unasked for advice to your friend.
A great partnership requires both parties to share equally the physical duties of the horse care and to follow through with promises that are made to fulfill a specific task at a particular time. Reliability, loyalty and integrity are all cornerstones that cement a good foundation for being a good friend.
As most folks would agree, being a good friend to someone is an incredibly valuable contribution to make to others in life, the positive ripple effects of which can be far-reaching and completely unknown to the contributor. If you’ve been lucky enough to have a friend that you are conscious has been instrumental in helping you along the path, don’t forget to let them know. Life is short. Play kind and live it!