Thursday, December 22

Pet Peeve Day!

Today, I’d like to write about one of my personal pet peeves. We all know a rider like this- it’s most common with ladies who got horses as adults and they want everything to be special and perfect, but this also happens with kids and other folks who aren’t sure what the rules of engagement are. They love their horse a lot, so much so that they never want to do anything to make sweet, little Fluffy uncomfortable in any way. Even though they are doing what they think is best, it gives me heart palpitations watching this person handle their horse.
As they’re walking in from the paddock, Fluffy reaches down and starts to graze.
“No, Fluffy. Quit!” followed by a tug on the lead rope.
 Fluffy continues stuffing her face.
“Come on!” Big pull on the lead rope and Fluffy begrudgingly follows along munching on a large mouthful of grass. This whole sequence may repeat again if it’s an especially long walk to the tie rail or if Fluffy is a world champion speed eater.

Approximately 4 years later, Fluffy is tacked up and headed down to the arena. The grooming and saddling process has been lengthy and Fluffy is in a bit of a mood. Nice lady parks Fluffy at the mounting block and steps up on the top step to get on. Fluffy swings her hindquarters away from the block. Nice lady hops down, resituates the horse, and gets back up on the block. Fluffy takes two steps back.
“Step up.” Owner politely asks.
Fluffy says, “No”
“Step up!” Owner musters a little more enthusiasm this time.
Fluffy falls asleep.
“Come on, Fluffy, STEP UP!” and Fluffy obliges by walking straight past the mounting block, and now nice owner lady has to lead Fluffy in a circle to get her back to the mounting block again. I’m not sure how nice lady eventually gets on Fluffy because usually by this time I have left the arena in an attempt to let my blood pressure return to a normal and acceptable level.

But the fun doesn’t end here! Nice owner lady now proceeds to ride Fluffy. I use the term “ride” here loosely because Fluffy spends most of the ride wandering around the arena at a walk while owner lady fusses about this or that. When she tries to pick up the trot, Fluffy pins her ears and sucks back against her leg. Maybe owner lady’s instructor or trainer makes her ride with a crop. Maybe she gives Fluffy a few half-hearted taps on the shoulder, or maybe nice owner lady just kick-kick-kicks at Fluffy’s dead sides, but definitely there is lots of clucking, a few come on’s, and a plethora of trot!’s. After a lap or two, Fluffy picks up a half-hearted jog which she maintains for approximately five strides before breaking back to the walk. This happens over and over again.  Eventually owner lady ends the ride, and now it’s time to go up to get untacked and eat treats. This is Fluffy’s favorite part of the session.

If you ask this kind owner she will tell you how she is working on Fluffy’s “issues” and how they have such a strong bond and so on and so forth. If you ask Fluffy, she’ll give you the scoop, “I’ve got my owner so well trained. I can make her do all sorts of tricks instead of working me!”
This is an issue many newcomers to the horse world fight with, where is the line between being strict with a horse and beating them up? We’ll talk more about that later, but in the meantime, what are your barn pet peeves??


  1. Hmmm... barn pet peeves... where to start, well you said it very well in this post. I cringe at the new horse owner who says "fluffy won't listen to me and that's just how he is", "Fluffy stop spooking or I'll (fill in blank with some ineffective method generally involving treats and the rider dismounting...)", "Fluffy doesn't canter on the rail, nope he has to migrate towards the center and there's nothing I can do about it" or "quit, stop, now I mean it fluffy... one more nudge and no more treats for you, hey I said stop! Stop it already! Fluffy quit." Then they proceed to feed fluffy treats less than thirty seconds later. Or god help us all if fluffy spooks at something (which then becomes everything soon after he learns he doesn't have to work if he spooks!) and the owner stops fluffy, feeds fluffy treats and reassures fluffy for what seems like forever. Fluffy then turns this into a game and it's back to the whole "stop, quit... fluffy..." thing again. I have seen several times (more than I desire to have ever seen) owners ran over by their "dear fluffies who would never harm a thing" or other wise injured by their fluffy. It's painful to see, but sometimes it takes a really painful wake-up call for them to become a bit more assertive with their horse. Also the whole "oh isn't this cute look at how close fluffy is getting to your horse. Gee why is he pinning his ears and turning his hind towards your horse? Must just be a sign of affection." I just... run the helk away with horse in tow.

    One of the scariest moments of my experiences as a horse person (warning major pet peeve here) was when a boarder with not the tamest horse decided to just let her horse loose in the arena (to allow her horse a chance to roll) without warning me or asking if it would even be safe to do so, mind you this all happened when I was in the middle of a ride. Well now, things didn't go okay, they didn't go "better than expected", how it really went was quite unpleasant. Her horse never rolled, her horse didn't fancy my steed and vice versa, so it wound up being a rather hot mess. Thankfully nothing but my nerves and vocal chords were harmed in the process. The boarder's feelings were hurt and she was pissed as .... at me but I didn't care. Turning a horse loose like that in an arena is a major safety hazard and a no-no, of course along with being a MAJOR pet peeve of mine.

    I could go on and on about my pet peeves at the barn... but I will stop there.

  2. Another one of my favorites (possible upcoming post?) is the quarterly rider. The boarder you never see but once every three or four months when they come out to ride for around two and a half hours after running their horse in circles for forty five minutes to "take the fresh off". Gah!

  3. Some of mine are...breaking the rules of the barn/show we all follow them so should you. Or those times when somebody gives you really bad advice, and then you are expected to do as they say and in the end it is MY fault. And my own personal favorite are all the snide remarks about how bad and how gaited horses are worthless.