Most of the time, as horse people, we are fairly adept at holding our tongues…and that’s typically because we hear so many opinions, suggestions, dramatic barn stories, etc., on a daily basis. Here are a few things that most of us can probably relate to…
- You walk into the convenience store at 8 am on the way to the barn wearing your breeches or your jeans, boots and baseball cap and someone says, “Hey, do you have horses?”
Typical response: A smile, nod or “Yep, I do”.
What You Want to Say: “Actually, no, I’m trying to start a new fashion trend…how’s it working out?”
- You get to the barn and you’re trying to tack up your horse, and someone says, “You’re going to use that bit?”
Typical Response: “I sure am, it’s the same one I use everyday.”
What You Want to Say: “Actually, I was planning to ride bridleless and just loop this over the saddle horn for decoration” or “Mind your own business and leave me alone”.
- You’re making up your horse’s supplements and the resident “barn nutritionist” says “You know, you really shouldn’t be feeding that. *Insert Supplement here* is a lot safer and better for your horse.”
Typical Response: “Thanks, I’ll have to look into that, but I’m really busy so I’ve got to finish this up.”
What You Want to Say: “I’ve been feeding my horse for ten years and she hasn’t died yet, so I think I’m okay, but thanks for the input” or “Why don’t you worry about your own horse, I notice his coat looks a little dull”.
- You’re at a cocktail party and someone says, “I heard you show horses, don’t you think that’s kind of cruel? I mean, don’t horses just want to be horses?”
Typical Response: “I actually take very good care of my horse, and in fact, if the majority of the ‘domesticated’ horses you see around today were suddenly turned out into a huge field and allowed to live like wild horses, they would probably die.”
What You Want to Say: “Are you an idiot? Is it cruel that you keep a dog and a cat as a pet? Wouldn’t they be happier if you just dumped them off in a field somewhere so they can be ‘wild’?”
- You’ve just got done with a great ride and are walking your horse back into the barn when someone says, “You know, I noticed that you were riding a little ahead of the horse, and don’t you think it’s cruel to ask your horse to carry her head so low?”
Typical Response: “Thanks for the input, but I already have a trainer.”
What you Want to Say: “The last time I saw you riding, I noticed that you were on the wrong lead half of the time and that you had a death grip on reins every time you did anything other than walk…do you want to chat about that?”
- Your horse has a mild soreness after being turned out in the arena and running around like a wild banshee, but after a few days off and some DMSO she is doing fine again, and someone says, “You know, you should really have your horse tested for Cushings, Laminitis, and you should have the chiropractor out, and maybe have a PSSM test done while you’re at it.”
Typical Response: “I appreciate your concern, and I’ll think on it.”
What You Want to Say: “You know, not every horse in the world who has an occasional soreness is suffering from some kind of extreme health condition. I think I’ll wait on invasive veterinary testing for now.”
- You’re getting ready to leave the barn and you are throwing a day sheet on your horse when someone says, “You know, it’s healthier for horses to be left unblanketed.”
Typical Response: “Thanks, but she’s worn a blanket all of her life.”
What You Really Want to Say: “How much time do you really have on your hands? Don’t you have something you could be doing with your own horse rather than telling me what I should do with mine?”
- One of your barn mates asks you for a referral for a good vet in the area, and you list several of your favorites. They respond with, “Oh, I’ve tried her and didn’t like her, I’ve heard that he’s a jerk, to be honest, I wasn’t happy with any of the vets from that clinic, etc.”
Typical Response: “Hmm…that’s unfortunate, because I love my vet, but maybe ask a few of the other people at the barn who they use.”
What You Really Want to Say: “If you’ve gone through 5 different vets and you can’t seem to get along with any of them, then maybe the problem isn’t with them…just saying…”.
- You’ve left the barn and are starving, so you stop off at a local sandwich shop for a quick lunch in your “horse clothes”, and the person behind the counter says, “Oh, you must be one of those ‘horse girls’…it must suck to have to be in dirty clothes all the time.”
Typical Response: “Well, I’m just coming from the barn.”
What You Really Want to Say: “Actually, I prefer my ‘horse clothes’ to almost anything else I own. By the way, nice yoga pants.”
- You’ve just been to the feed store to stock up for the month and one of your “non horse” friends says, “Geez, you sure spend a lot of money on your horse. Don’t you think it would be easier to not have one?”
Typical Response: “Maybe, but I love riding…it’s my thing.”
What You Really Want to Say: “You’re right, they are expensive, but I spend money on my horses instead of on shopping sprees, clothes I will only wear once or make-up that will sit in a bag for a year without getting used. By the way, how much do you spend a month on your Starbucks habit?”
You know we’ve all been faced with these kinds of situations, and normally our responses are given kindly, humbly and with a smile, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t think about what we’d really like to say to people who just can’t seem to either employ the art of tact or who think that it’s their job to tell other people what they should do with their horses.