I was at a barn recently, talking to the manager about a client who would be hauling her mule in. A rider standing by wanted warning ahead, her horse (or someone riding her horse) didn’t like mules. A couple of weeks later that same rider told me that my music spooked her horse. She said at first she thought it was coming from a nearby correctional facility, since it was heavy metal but no, it was coming from my boom box. At my age, I’ll take that as a compliment. (It might have been Springsteen. He can’t really be considered more than medium metal, can he?) She got me thinking about barn rules.
We all like a good list of Barn Rules; it’s our chance to control the universe, one horse and rider at a time. I took a look at Infinity Farm’s barn rules and to tell the truth, they are obvious, or feeble, or sound like something a pious hall monitor at a catholic girls school might say. The rules are all negative knuckle-rappers and don’t inspire what I want to inspire!
Then I looked at other barn rules on-line and did some research. Really, it’s no wonder folks don’t read them. Very dull writing, describing arrogant and nitpicking barns that are welcoming to only the most boring riders. And nearly every rule has the word responsibility in it, like that was ever anything we could legislate.
Maybe the Golden Rule is enough. Beyond that, it’s time to breathe some life into these stodgy old rules and get a little more real.
Infinity Farm New Barn Rules.
Forward is always the answer. Get happy.
Put the welfare of your horse above other concerns.
The helmet rule does apply to you, every single ride.
More direction, Less correction.
Long ears welcome. All breeds and tack, welcome. (Small minds, not so much.)
Give your very best to your horse, and expect the same in return.
Reward often. You be the treat.
Children must have adult supervision. Also true for adults behaving like children. (Of course it’s always acceptable to behave like a Horse-Crazy Girl.)
Let the music play. Let the horses dance.
The barn should look like you love it.
Be consistent. Change things up. (Bill Dorrance rule.)
When the donkey brays, go scratch his ears.
Sometimes the answer is Shut up and ride.
Praise more, Criticize less.
Yes, you should pick up poop. You can’t expect Walter and Tomboy (dogs) to get all of it.
Don’t even think about smoking.
Riders with HDD (Humor Deficit Disorder) must wait in the truck.
Forward is still the answer. If it isn’t working, stop pulling on his face and try again.
~Above all else, love your horse.~
What did I leave out? Is there a barn rule you want to add? Is there a rule you break with joy and abandon? Can you even remember any of your barn rules, if you read them in the first place? Chime in!
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.