Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tales of territoriality: Part II

In the last post, my friend Gail was having a mild conflict with a horse owner. She needed to move her trailer, his farrier's trailer was in the way...

The second encounter...
Forty-five minutes later, the friend arrives with the trailer. It's a gooseneck and there will be no turn in the driveway.   Gail is starting to feel desperate.  The clock is ticking away! She goes back to the barn to see if the farrier is done. Drawing a deep breath, she approaches the farrier and owner. She sees that all four of the horse's shoes were on -- surely they're finishing up! 

Gail:  "The driveway is full, so I need the driveway clear -- it looks like you're finishing up?"
Owner: "Not necessarily."
Gail: [exasperated] I need to leave in the next 15 minutes, and the farrier's truck is blocking the way.
Owner: [testily]It will take as long as it takes.
The farrier appears to be deaf through this exchange. At a loss,  Gail walks down the aisle. She hears the owner and farrier joking and chatting, clearly not in a hurry. Gail is seething inside, but she isn't the confrontational sort.

Clash of the titans
Gail returns to the parking lot. While she was gone, yet another hauler has showed up in his rig, and now that parking lot is really crowded. That hauler's client Kate (another boarder) runs a Manhattan real estate firm,  she has 7 horses at the facility, and she has serious social capital at the barn. When she hears what is happening, she marches away, full of purporse. Moments later Gail hears Kates booming voice in the distance. The three of them -- Gail, her friend, and the hauler -- share a chuckle.

Kate returns and announces tha  the truck will be moved out of the way. Her hauler graciously lets Gail and her hauler go first around the driveway. They're on  their way...

I guess my main reaction to this story is WHY?

Why not just move the freaking truck?  Why didn't the owner feel embarrassed and selfish for inconveniencing Gail? Why did the farrier pretend not to be a part of the situation?

I've seen instances of territorial weirdness at barns before. People park in wash stalls for an hour when others are waiting; Trainers lead a string of clients and horses through an aisleway where a vet is trying to take x-rays of a fractious horse; boarders "claiming" grooming areas as theirs.

Do you have a tale of territoriality? What do you think motivates this behavior?


  1. What do you think motivates this behavior?

    --I have no idea but I've also seen it more than once.

    Something about horses seems to attract the crazies. And not the harmless types either. The angry, nasty, verbally (sometimes physically) abusive, entitlement types. And they usually have crazy horses too. (Wonder why? LOL)

    Either that or horses who need something Sooper Special. "Oh well, he was starved, I know he's heavy but he HAS to have hay in front of him all the time!" *cue freak out if the hay pile in his stall covers less than a 3 foot square area!*

  2. People are crazy. It's that simple...

  3. I really don't know myself why people act this way - self centered beyond belief. I won't tolerate it at my barn. I don't have a problem giving rule breakers the boot, and one of our rules is to be considerate and polite. Yeah, "My Barn, My Rules."

    Imagine the scenario with horses instead of people. Horse C would like to go in the run-in shed, but horse B has planted herself in the doorway and won't move. Horse A approaches and lays her ears back, and Horse B suddenly decides she can stand somewhere else!

  4. Real "good" way for THAT "farrier" *coughcough* to run his "business" huh? Gail may bot be a client-- but she *could* have been. Anyone else seeing the exchange I bet will reconsider using an inconsiderate putz like that.....

    Our policy? Don't park in the darn way. ;)

  5. I haven't seen anything quite like that, but I also haven't boarded in very many places. (4 in my life, and 3 were when I was a teen with my first horse)

    Sounds insane to me. :/

    On a funny note, the photo you chose for this post is perfect. The one horse looks annoyed and like he/she is madly telling someone off to the other horse, who looks to be falling asleep. LOL.

  6. Some people live and breathe power. Every single interaction is a threat to their control or an opportunity to extend it. Different wiring. They typically respond very poorly to the passive-aggressive or indirect approach, since the nicey-nice "Hey, I have a trailer coming in about 10 minutes?" approach doesn't offer them the chance to conquer. You have to either bulldoze them or bow to them.

  7. Our barn officially has 4 trainers. One of them has both her sister and her son train and teach lessons, too. They have taken to blocking TWO arenas on Saturday mornings (of 4) just to stake a claim and their territory. Never mind that there are other trainers trying to give lessons and boarders wanting to ride.
    We have all taken to riding wherever we want without worrying about staying out of the way of their lessons for this reason, even when they're not trying to take up half the arenas.

  8. Some people are accustomed to being waited on. The real staff bends over backwards for them; meanwhile treat other boarders like "help" - even if those boarders technically spend just as much to be there.

    It is an attitude. While some of us are used to having to compromise, others are accustomed to being catered to.

    We ask nicely, maybe too nicely. They march in and demand.

    It happens. It isn't just a "horse thing" either. I'm pretty well acquainted with that lifestyle. And it helps to remember that they are human too, and just demonstrating the weakness of their own humanity. Their poo smells too.

  9. This is why I refuse to ever board again. I don't know what it is but there seems to be something that pervades barns called "Equestrogen". Maybe it is all the women packed in together.

    We all have to be slightly crazy already to ride 1,200lb prey animals ... so it only goes to show what happens when you put a bunch of us together!

  10. "Equestrogen"

    I will never board again ... it doesn't seem to matter where you board, the drama always follows.

  11. IT happens everywhere, unfortunetly and I cant wait until my horse can come home in a year.

    The worst problem where I am at is use of the covered arena. There are lessons at the barn non stop and three trainers. While lessons are taken place the arena must be yeilded to the lesson taker, this means you can ride at the trainer's discretion. Which usually means a ten foot circle in the corner, and than yeilding to the center whenever the trainer says so. Its very frustrating to try and get any work done. And here in WA, the covered arena is a necessity! If Im a paying boarder, I have a right to use the arena.

    But fortunetly, where my horse is at, farriers, vets, etc are pretty good about their vehicles, and there isnt a whole lot of "claiming" by boarders.

  12. In general, I don't "claim" space... its not my barn, I just board there. However... at a previous barn, the horse I was then leasing was in the first stall on the left as you entered the barn. We all kept our tack trunks in front of our horse's stall. So my trunk was therefore just inside the entry to the barn.

    But why did everyone feel like it was ok to leave all their crap and equipment and cigarettes(!!!!!) and half-consumed snacks an dirty feed buckets... and THEIR BIG FAT FANNIES (its NOT a bench)... on my trunk!?! Everyone treated my trunk like it was a hallway table, just some place to drop their stuff when they got tired of holding it. Annoyed the crap out of me. Especially since I didnt know what belonged to who... so I couldnt even be nice and put THEIR items on THEIR trunk.

    I asked everyone to kindly NOT leave things there. Several times. When the behavior continued, I started tossing things up into the loft, or throwing things away (and I *did* get the ok from the barn owner to do so... she asked folks to stop on my behalf).

  13. The barn I'm at has people that are rediculously territorial.At our barn we have a system where we have a board where boarders can schedule time for lessons to give people the heads up and so there is no confusion. The rules are simple: Must be posted a week prior to lesson, no jumping during a dressage lesson, be considerate of the trainer and student. A particular lady reserves the indoor arena for over an hour EVERY day for her to handwalk her horse. Bring your horse in during that hour and die... And here in Langley, BC - boy do we need our indoor... The same lady has ALL her crap infront of her stall and refuses to let anyone use the cross ties near it. Ugh.

  14. I ran into this yesterday. I'm part of a club that shares a huge outdoor ring (~200x400). I showed up and there were two other people riding. I wanted to lunge before getting on, so went over to the far corner. No sooner do I start than one of the 'ladies' started giving me crap for taking up part of the ring :(. It's really a huge ring with no jumps or anything set up, so I don't know why we can't all share, especially when we are all paid members and no one 'owns' it. Needless to say, I ignored her and did my thing while she made a point of riding into my space. Silly people.

  15. I kept wondering where the Southern gentilism was on behalf of the farrier.

  16. Many years ago, I leased a cute little thoroughbred mare and I caught a glimpse of what your post describes.

    The lease was free, mostly because the horse had a bucking habit and no one else would ride her. The mare took to me pretty quickly and I assume the owner realized that this was her best chance to keep the mare in work. The owner told me that I could take lessons or show the horse as long as I did not take a lesson with so-and-so. I explained that I did not have a budget for lessons or showing (hence the free lease), so not to worry, but I filed this odd comment away under "childish". A few weeks later, the owner gave me "shooting-dagger" looks for speaking to said trainer so-and-so. I think she thought that she owned me and immediately gave me the silent treatment. It was very bizarre and sadly, I decided to quit the lease agreement right then and there. I really liked the horse, but I smelled crazy in the water and I was getting out! If I were her horse, I would have bucked too.

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  18. Sounds familiar Val. When Harv was in his salad days I met a very nice woman at a large barn where i boarded -- "Carol." She lost her lease on one horse and I offered Harv to her -- for free -- for a couple of rides/week. She was apparently persona non grata with one of the three trainers at the barn -- I suspect the trainer was jealous of Carol's riding ability. She promptly reported to the owner that I was taking LESSONS with Carol and that she was riding Harv in exchange for lessons. This was absolutely false, but the owner told me I could not let Carol ride my horse any more. Carol was so gracious, I was embarrassed and angry on her behalf. Life is not fair.

  19. I imagine that people who are territorial at the barn are territorial jerks in their regular lives too. That said, I've been at barns with outrageous rules and unspoken petty feuds, and I've kept my horses at home too. I'm currently boarding again (mainly because I got kind of lonely), but luckily the crew at this barn tends toward courteous and easy-going. Most of the folks are new horse owners or older re-riders, and I've wondered if that makes a difference in attitude. We're all trying to get along and help each other through the trials and successes of horse ownership, and that sense of community is a big reason why I like my barn so much. (Watch, I just jinxed it by writing that. Ha ha.)

  20. Amanda-
    I hear you on the tack trunk. My horse is in dead center right by the tack room, office, and wash rack. Therefore, when horses are in cross ties thats where they are and EVERY SINGLE DAY there is stuff on my box. People didnt even have the courtesy to remove it when seeing Im trying to get into my box. And people would put their coffee crap on it so its got stains all over the white maple now...

  21. Wow, Stacey. Same bum setup. Thankfully, I ended up leaving that barn and found the therapeutic riding barn where I now work. The people here are some of the most supportive, wonderful individuals that I have ever met. Working with handicapped riders definitely has a positive impact on barn atmosphere.

  22. Boarding barns: usually reverts to some form of high school element. I've been at many over the course of 30 years as my needs changed.

    My favorite barns have rules posted, both expected etiquette and arena/facility usuage rules. Cuts down on a lot of problems. Power tripping is a huge problem.

    I feel incredibly lucky. The barn I'm at now has none of that. Very low turn over. Some people have been there for 30 years, but do not feel more entitled than the person who arrived yesterday. (Or if they do, they stifle it.) Most people go out of their way to welcome the new person and help them feel included. Barn is a bit scruffy in appearance, not fancy. But wow, the feed is incredible, and the care excellent. Good fencing, good upkeep.

    Yesterday a shoer was present, had a whole lineup of horses to do. No choice about where to do it. Due to people getting ready for shows, there were trailers and horses everywhere. When someone needed to get out, everyone hustled cheerfully, including stopping their own preparations to hike up to the gates so the driver wouldn't have to get in and out on the hill with a trailer attached. When the shoer had to move, people moved in to help him move his stuff out of the way. I'm spoiled. Lots of joking, little "I am SO much better than you".

    Only one or two toxic personalities. Since the barn owner is not one of them, the toxic people tend to burn themselves out due to lack of oxygen, and leave. Such a rare barn.


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