So I’ve been working at the barn on occasional Sundays for a few months. You know, to help pay for my lessons and keep my husband from murdering me because of the cost of this daggum hobby/lifestyle/therapy/whatever.
So in the course of working at the barn – feeding, turning out, mucking stalls, giving meds – I’ve gained a new perspective on being a boarder. Barn work is hard work, yo. And dammit, I’m sorry for all the asshole things I’ve likely done in the past. So I wanted to share with you all how not to be an asshole boarder. OK, maybe asshole is a bit strong. Maybe how to be a polite, pleasant boarder whom your barn manager and trainer are thrilled to have around. And this isn’t to pick on anyone at my barn or others. Just things I’ve noticed or realized that would be helpful – and hey, I’ve been guilty too – and that will make the barn run more smoothly… and not make anyone want to take a pitchfork to your ass.
First of all: Pick up after yourself. Pick. Up. After. Yourself. Pick. Up. After. Yourself. Yes, that warranted saying three times. Don’t leave your supplies out. If your blanket falls off the rack, put it back up. If you spilled it, clean it up. If your horse left it, clean it up. All of it. Yes, we all accidentally leave things out from time to time. But try to do a walk-through before you leave to make sure no man or brush is left behind. And make sure you’ve turned off the hose, etc. Please don’t flood the barn, K?
Put everything in the RIGHT place. If your farm equipment gets clogged by horse hair, don’t put it in the muck bucket. Put it in the trash. And don’t put your trash in the muck bucket. Easy peasy.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHANGE THE TOILET PAPER ROLL IF IT’S OUT. You know where the spares are kept. Don’t tell me you don’t. If you put the new roll on top of the old empty roll, I will hunt you down. Also, think about perhaps donating some towels/paper towels/toilet paper sometime. That shiz gets expensive, I’m sure.
Be helpful. If your horse is about to be turned out and you’re done riding, spare the extra five minutes if you can and turn your horse out yourself. And maybe even take his buddy with you! It may not seem like much, but those five minutes times a gazillion horses adds up. Or, if your barn staff didn’t hang your horse’s morning hay net because you were having a night lesson, go ahead and hang it for them before you leave the barn. Maybe the barn workers can get to some extra projects that will benefit you if they have a few minutes shaved off each day. Or maybe they just won’t play darts with your photo next week.
If your horse is on stall rest, offer to muck his stall while you’re there to see him. Or better yet, just do it! Those 24 hours of poopfest add up to a lot of shiz to muck, and often several times per day. This goes doubly for those of you with total and utter pigpens. (I get it, I’ve had one before. It’s not your fault.). Yes, you’re paying to have your horse looked after, but it’s just a nice courtesy to do if you’re already there. Certainly not 100% necessary or expected, but it will probably just take you a few minutes. And hey, exercise! If you smell a little bit more like poo, it’s OK. You probably already smelled bad anyway. Hey, horses. This section brought to you by Ollie’s recentish stall rest that gave me guilt-o-rama.
If you see someone’s water is out – including your own horse’s – top it off. Or maybe just top off everyone’s if you have ten minutes before you leave the barn. This is really helpful in warm weather. The ponies will thank you. Especially that one who likes to play in his water and spills it all.
Check over your horse’s stall from time to time to see if anything is loose or in need of slight repair. Checking it over might save some headaches later for a more intensive repair later. And, after all, it’s your pony. And he may try busting out at some point. I wouldn’t know anything about that.
If your horse has special needs or is receiving meds, be sure to label the meds/supplies clearly with your horse’s name and dosage and perhaps leave a note on his stall door – or some other way so that everyone is on the same page. That way the barn manager won’t get umpteen frantic texts from your weekend help asking where the F are Dobbin’s meds and how much does he get, because I don’t want to kill him. And this is brought to you by my anxiety that makes me think I am always doing something wrong, and I don’t want that something wrong to be any horse’s meds. I’ve had to give meds to many horses, and I die a little each time I have to do it because of my pea brain. Please, think of my anxiety.
Just be appreciative. Your barn owners and workers work hard for your literal tens of dollars of profit that you bring them each month (in a good month). Say thank you, bring random bottles of wine or small tokens, offer respite and just be generally pleasant.
It’s easy to NOT be an asshole boarder. With these few helpful hints, you’ll be on the road to Favorite Boarder status in no time.