I haven’t done a Barn Owner Confessional in a while, so I thought it was high-time to air some of my resentment on the world-wide web.
With the semester starting back recently, it’s the perfect time to observe college students in the throws of stressful academic life. I know how stressful it can be! I went to college, too! So, I sympathize during mid-terms. I’m no longer surprised when the barn is deathly quiet on game days. I even understand how much break-ups hurt and take up your emotional space.
You know what I don’t understand?
Forgetting about your horse.
That is just something I cannot get on board with. I don’t care how stressful your life is, your animals come first. Which brings me to Barn Owner Confessional #5: I cannot stand it when boarders put themselves before their horse. I know that sounds harsh, but lets call it like it is. When you choose to spend your money on booze and party clothes instead of trimming your horse’s feet, that’s called selfishness. When you accidentally “get too busy studying” to come out and clean your horse’s stall, that’s called carelessness. Plus. Come on, you weren’t REALLY studying that long, were you?
There are two types of selfish college-aged horse owners:
Category A: Boarders who simply cannot time manage well, are over-extended in their extra curricular activities, or simply don’t care.
Category B: Boarders who generally follow the rules, but occasionally allow life circumstances to consume the place in their heart otherwise spoken for by their horse.
I’ve become pretty talented at reading into other people’s lives based on how they care for their horses. You know the ones who bother me the most? The Category B boarders who are usually extra dedicated horse-owners. The girls who ride daily, take pride in their horse’s turnout, and always make a way to care for their companions to the best of their ability. And then something happens in their lives, and POOF! The horse gets second-rate care. Hello, college boyfriend…
I’m not one to stand by and simply watch things like this happen. I also don’t want to meddle, at least too much. If I have a Category A boarder, I will reprimand them once and give them a free pass. If it becomes a regular pattern, I just start doing the work myself and charge them. I let all my boarders know before they arrive that this is normal Rocking E protocol. I have a wait list of potential boarders who would love the opportunity to board here, so there’s no reason for me to put up with bad owners. I absolutely will not allow horses getting second-rate care. In severe circumstances, I will ask them to leave Rocking E.
Now, Category B boarders are a little different, and require a more sensitive approach. First, I’ll ask them what’s going on in their life. I might say that I’ve noticed they’ve been distracted and want to know if they’re doing okay. I did this already this semester and one of my close friends said, “Geez, Allie, you’re not her mom!” No, I’m not, and I don’t want to be! But. If I don’t ask, who will? For most of these girls, I am the only adult-type (HA!) person in their lives they see every day. Most of their families are miles away. What if something really is wrong? They might need someone to talk to.
The bottom line is, it’s my personal and professional responsibility to care for the horses entrusted to my barns, and if I have to rock your college boat to make that happen, I will do it.