ground work · safety · stupid human tricks

What are your barn rules?

A few nights ago, I had to grab something quickly from inside the barn that I’d forgotten. I was in a hurry, and frustrated that I’d been forgetful, and I had a length of barn aisle to go get it. I sped up and jogged one, two steps.

And then I stopped and went back to a fast walk. I realized in that moment that “no running in the barn” is a rule that has been physically ingrained into me. I cannot take more than one step of jog anywhere near the barn – not even out near turnout, not even on the driveway. Can’t do it. At some impressionable point in my past, an instructor imprinted that rule deeply into my brain.

Then I got to thinking: what other unconscious rules do people have for the barn? What is so anathema to you that you can’t even imagine doing it?

Many of these are rooted in safety and common sense, I’m sure, but there are plenty of other rules I break without thinking about it, especially around Tristan. So why did these stick so firmly?

Here are a few more of mine.

Wearing sandals in the barn. Can’t do it. No way, no how. I get nervous just thinking about it. Tender toes and horse hooves do not mix.

Wear a helmet every time, every ride. I have mounted exactly twice without a helmet in my life and both times within a few strides felt a strange disorientation, like I’d never been on a horse before, or like Tristan had suddenly changed size or shape. It was the absent weight and feel on my head.

Always use gloves to handle horses. I can remember the precise moment I learned this one, and the incredible pain from all the rope burn blisters. Now, I never, ever, ever, EVER hold a rope or a rein that’s attached to a horse bare-handed. NEVER.

7 thoughts on “What are your barn rules?

  1. Do you really put gloves on to lead? I never noticed!

    Gloves and helmets to longe always, always, always. I exist in a happy bubble of helmet-wearing riders, but most folks that I know seem to longe sans helmet and I can barely stand to even watch. Makes my skin crawl. And noooooo ropes trailing on the ground while attached to a moving horse! Ground-tying, yes. Longing with the end trailing, nooooooooooooooo.

    Can't bring myself to run in a barn, either.

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  2. I am pretty flexible on my personal barn rules. I never wear gloves, I wear flip flops occasionally, etc. I won't get on without a helmet though, and our actual barn rule is to sweep out the cross ties when we're done so I always do that.

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  3. I have maybe once or twice led Tris from his stall to cross-ties barehanded, but never ever ever a strange horse. I even keep gloves on the seat beside me when hauling and put them on as soon as I am ready to get the horse. Someday I'll write up the story of how I learned that lesson. Not for the faint of heart.

    I don't longe with a helmet, though Pony Club says to. But yes – never ever let the lead trail! Who does that!

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  4. Aaaaah, yes! Even if you're stepping out of it for five minutes.

    My corollary to this: leave doors and gates as you found them, open or closed. (Except in the case of a feed room door or a stall/field with a horse in it, those should ALWAYS be closed.)

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  5. Flip flops! You are making me cringe. I can just picture all those delicate tiny little foot bones…eeeeeeeek!

    Funnily, I my first boarding barn was very, very strict about sweeping, but that good habit completely deserted me when I went to a barn where no one cared. I'm trying to get back into it.

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  6. Definitely no running in the barn! Always wear gloves when longeing, and a helmet while riding. We also have a strict “No swearing” rule at my barn. It's like magic when I'm there because I have a censor, but as soon as I'm off property it's a free for all.

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