Saturday, November 28, 2009

Equestrian teen angst: What barn drama does to us

Take a look at this Youtube all-text video. I can well imagine the kind of personal slight that must have prompted this video. The author/video creator bemoans disciplines in the horse world criticizing other "preformance styles." I don't know it's a teen for sure, much less a girl, but I'm willing to make a bet. Bless her heart...


  1. Sad, but, I fear too true. Having had my own score of training/riding problems, I try to be the last to negatively criticize someone else, but it has taken me years to learn that lesson.

    I will, however, attack dangerous riding, poor care, cruelty, and any practices that harm horses mentally or pysically.

  2. I did barrel racing and western pleasure for seven years before I did a year of hunter jumping and then took up dressage (funny, huh?) so I have no room for criticizing other riding styles because I've sampled a nice amount. Some I don't like as much as others (the politics in hunters was insane) but I don't really think any of them are stupid or pointless or better. They all ask for different things and are all equally hard. So go whoever-that-person-was-making-the-video for saying that! So true!

    That doesn't mean none of them have their faults, God no. Each one has their fair share of abusive riders and techniques. THOSE are what we should be criticizing, so long as well know what we're talking about, that's the key (i.e. a western rider bashing a dressage rider because of how the horse carries themselves and accepts the bit. Well, honey, the rules in dressage are different than western!)

  3. I have only been into the horse world for a few years, and yet I have seen many many barn drama issues. I don't know why when horses can bring out the best of many; it can also turn many into vindictive awful people.

  4. Hmm...the same could be said of religion....

  5. To borrow from Clint [Eastwood], I have seen "The Good, The Bad, and The U-G-L-Y" in all of the disciplines. I have learned (and unlearned) so much about horses over the past few years, but the biggest lesson of all was to exercise extreme caution before sharing anything... 'cause a lot of those horse folks will HURT you.

  6. Barn drama is absolutely my least favorite part of having boarders. And there really isn't much difference in teens and adults, unfortunately.

  7. Truth be told, there are less than admirable aspects to EVERY horse pursuit. I shake my head in wonder at riding disciplines other than my own, but a critical look at my own horse sports reveals shortcomings. Politics can be found in every and any equestrian activity.

    Yet, I've also seen competitors go above and beyond to help each other out at shows.

    Regrettably, the only way some people can elevate their own self-esteem is by trying to bury others'. The teen years are definitely angst-ridden as we struggle to form our individual identities while at the same time trying to fit in with the crowd.

  8. I run a small riding school, focus on childrens hunters. In my barn I have posted a "Discrimination Free Zone" sign. It bans any type of discriminatory action in regards to gender, faith. human/horse breed or color. partner preference. riding dixcipline. or language. It has caused a few startled breath intakes, but the barn runs smoothly. This includes all clients, family of client, visitors and staff. It was posted prior to any client ever stepping foot in yard, so maybe that is why it works....

  9. It's amazing how much influence even one person can have on the tone of a boarding barn, for the better or worse.

    The barn I'm at isn't perfect (what world is?) but the majority of folks refuse to talk about anyone, in any way, behind their backs. If there is an issue, most people take it up with the person, and then thoughtfully.

    Occasionally we all need to have a trusted friend to run a concern by, before we speak to the person we need to talk to. And generally, because we're talking horse issues, a horse person is the right person to help us get perspective. That's not gossip. Running it by everyone at the barn, or someone you know will pass it along: bad manners, and creates a bad environment.

    So much is attitude, and the way in which we approach any topic. Do I really want an outside opinion to work something through, or am I turning to someone who will simply rubber stamp my already set-in-stone opinion?

    I remember a comment from a former boarding barn: "it's a lot like high school, only worse." Sad statement.


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