Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Miss Mannerisms on Barn Etiquette

Dear Miss Mannerisms:
The barn workers where I ride are a pain. They act like they own the barn with their big, noisy tractor. They complain if I leave my horse cross-tied in the aisle -- as if it's their business. What's their problem?

Clueless in Cleveland

Miss Mannerisms feels that to understand the problem, one must first grasp the nature and the essence (so to speak) of barn work. In its purest form, barn work is simple. Progress is measured in discrete units -- by the quart, by the flake, for example, or in certain other tasks (pictured left), by the pound. Sadly, barn work does not take place in a vaccum, but in that hotbed of drama and intrigue, the boarding stable. Barn workers must navigate this social world with a cumbersome tractor and spreader. Miss Mannerisms will elaborate...

  • The workers use a tractor with spreader in tow to empty the stalls of, er, detritus. The tractor/spreader must progress forward down the aisle as each stall is completed.
  • The boarder has a horse that must be tethered. Cross ties are accoutrements used to hold the horse stationary in the aisle. The horse cannot move beyond the confines of the cross ties. To do so would break the ties, which is naughty.
  • Boarders who do not grasp the forward-moving nature of the tractor/spreader may cross-tie a horse directly in its path. This positioning is sufficient to halt all progress of said tractor/spreader. The deposit of tack boxes and equipment next to the horse creates an additional impediment to forward motion.
  • This next part is essential to understanding the fundamental issue, Clueless. It is the death blow to barn productivity. The owner/boarder vanishes from sight, while the horse remains stationed at the cross ties.
  • With the boarder nowhere to be found, barn workers must cease their work. They have three choices. They may wait, which is inherently annoying. Secondarily, they may seek out the missing boarder and request that they move the horse. Usually the boarder can be found
    1. speaking or texting on a cellphone.
    2. arguing with one or both parents.
    3. sulking in the car or the bathroom.
    4. smoking behind the tool shed.
    5. gossiping with another boarder about the trainer.
    6. gossiping with the trainer about another boarder.
    Thirdly, the worker may attempt to remove the horse and equipment. Boarder reactions to this are uniformly negative. Permission has not been given to touch their horse. Unless it is to put on or remove bellboots. Or change blankets. Or dab antibiotic cream on a scrape. And oh, yeah, could you apply fly spray to his sheath before turnout? And could you bring him in early so that.... Oh, never mind.

Stated succinctly: Give the tractor in the aisle the right of way. People have work to do, on behalf of your horse. Make it easy for them.


  1. You have been given an award over at my blog.

  2. Miss Mannerisms tractor etiquette is fantastically accurate and well-written. You have captured the essence of every large boarding barn everywhere. :)


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