Monday, December 20, 2010

Boarding Frustrations

I love where I board. It's out there. You all know it.

The problem is that I don't always love who I board with. I'm sure most of you who have ever boarded can relate.

For example: yesterday, I rode Izzy. Yay! Love that mare. For the second time in her entire life, I put a back cinch of the western saddle and I lunged her in a curb bit. (Note: I lunged her off the halter. She was wearing the bridle over it.) She was being really, really good, especially since Teri warned me that some horses buck on feeling the second cinch. Not Izzy: she was being fabulous.

I took her over to the rail to put away the lunge line and get ready to ride. Another boarder (who rides only dressage) was getting ready. She started talking about Izzy, so I mentioned that it was her second time in these accouterments and how proud I was of her. The boarder promptly informed me that the second cinch is the most useless piece of tack in the world and she doesn't know why anyone who is a non-roper would use one. Weird, but ok. Whatever. I didn't bother to mention to her that 1) my relatives own a working cattle ranch and I WILL find a way to bet the pony mare up there and 2) I firmly believe in getting Izzy used to just about everything so we never have an issue with new stuff. I mean really. She was giving me an unasked for opinion and I didn't feel the need to defend myself.

I got on Izzy and we rode around, mostly at the walk, just working on stopping, going, and turning, relying almost entirely on my seat and legs. If she didn't respond, I'd give a little 'bump' with the bit, but the point of a curb is to not use it, basically, and that was the plan. I want Izzy to be accustomed to carrying it and I want to be able to ride in it, but I have no aspirations to ALWAYS ride in it or anything like that. The dressage lady got on and went about her business. Now, our indoor arena is relatively small, so it can be a challenge to share. That said, we both have equal rights to ride in it, and I've never had a problem before.

Nonetheless, the dressage lady proceeds to ride around in n discernible pattern, constantly cutting Izzy and I off. I figure it's not a big deal; we're walking and working on stopping, so I guess that's as good an opportunity as any to put a stop in. I'm frustrated, but it's manageable.

The lady cuts us off again, but instead of going on, stops and says, "Izzy, you need to tell your mom that she's not backing you up right..." and goes on, criticizing us and my riding. I was floored. I was so shocked that I didn't say anything. I just moved Izzy around the lady and went on my way. Izzy to this point, had been lovely. She wasn't super-responsive, but it's a learning curve for both of us, so when she figured out the right answer, she would do it. I was/am very pleased with her.

Within one lap of the arena, I realized that I needed to get off, no ifs, ands, or buts. That lady had so gotten under my skin that I needed 1) to not be around her and 2) to not screw up the ride for Izzy. I dismounted (as out of the way as I could be), took Izzy's bridle off (no sense in leading by a curb and she was wearing her halter underneath), and led Izzy out of the arena with the bridle hanging on the saddle horn.

The lady rode up to the rail and halted. She then proceeded to berate me for (gasp!) using a curb bit on my horse. I looked at her, didn't speak, and took Izzy back to the barn. I was LIVID. Izzy is my horse and I'll do whatever I bloody want with her. I do not owe any sort of explanation to the other boarders for any reason. If I wanted their opinion, I would ask for it.

Izzy was (and is) fine. Throughout our entire ride, she was calm, relaxed, and soft. There was no head-throwing, tail-wringing, bit-chomping, back-hollowing or any other behavior that would lead anyone to believe she was anything other than comfortable and believe you me, she is a very expressive horse when she is not happy. I am willing to consider other options and opinions from people I pay to have them or people I respect who are equally respectable in sharing their opinions, but it just plain pisses me off for someone to butt in and give their (stupid) opinions unasked.

I don't think I have words to express how angry and irritated and upset I was. Fortunately, I am beyond wanting to just swear at the lady and tell her exactly what I think of her (not much). I know that it is in all our best interests to remain civil since we will continue to see each other on a regular basis. Yesterday, I tried the do-not-engage-and-let-it-roll-off method. Let's just say it failed miserably. I'm still pissed about this. Obviously, if this comes up again, I need to say something to let her know I don't want her opinion, but I need to say it in such a way (at least as first) that will not cause too many relational problems. I am not opposed to pissing someone off to get them to leave me alone, but I don't think it's a good first approach. You know. Peace and goodwill towards men and all that.

Picture of Izzy being cute for good measure.


  1. thats the worst!
    I hate others....
    good luck girl. i never have the guts to tell people my mind. i just ignore then vent.

  2. Good for you for biting your tongue...this time. I agree, if it happens again, stand your ground. No need to be ugly, unless she escalates it. But honestly, if you aren't abusing your horse, she has no business sticking her nose in YOUR business...and I would tell her that...and maybe a few other select things :) Cheer up, there's at LEAST one at every boarding facility!

  3. Ohhh I would be pissed!! The "you need to tell your mom..." comment would have pushed me over the edge. Not only was she insulting you but I feel like she was talking to you like you are an idiot. UNACCEPTABLE- I'd be pissed lol. I'm like pissed for you hahaha! Definitely stand your ground next time...don't be ugly but firm. If she has any brain she'll get the picture.


  4. Some people have no sense - the best thing is just to think of her as someone whose mind is closed and leave it like that. Not much point in engaging with her - you did well to not loose your temper - perhaps next time just say "I'm sorry, but if I wanted your opinion I would have asked for it" and just leave it at that. Yuck!

  5. First of all, all you need to do is go back and read the posts since you've been doing this little western experiment to know that you're not doing anything wrong, and your horse and you are benefitting from the work you've been doing (which is all that really matters). If it were me, I'd approach the woman the next time you see her and say something like "I didn't want to make a big deal about this, but I have to tell you that I've been thinking about the things you said to me while I was riding and it really bothered me. You may not agree with my methods but it's working for us and I'm happy with my horse's progress." Something like that. If she apologizes, great. If not, then tell her something like "I don't mean to be rude, but I'd really appreciate it if you kept observations like that to yourself from now on." That ought to shut her up. I doubt you two will ever be friends, but it doesn't sound like you're headed in that direction anyway!

  6. Sigh. There's always at least one, isn't there? Though she sounds AWFUL...really, I would be feeling the same way.
    If she's doing it to you, though, rest assured she's done it with others. Maybe you and Izzy are just "fresh meat" for her to take out her issues on (and it IS all about her, for sure. She must be terribly insecure to actually comment on your riding). Izzy is so lucky to have you.
    Dressage Lady sucks. Sorry you have to deal with her.

  7. Oh my goodness. That got MY blood boiling just reading it! How incredibly rude (not to mention passive aggressive - talking to your horse like that!).

    I would suggest a chilly, polite tone. Next time she says something like that, say "Excuse me?"

    Then, if she's a reasonable human, she'll shut up. If she's as bitchy and insensitive as it seems, she'll repeat herself.

    Then you can say something appropriately civil and dismissive, like, "I would appreciate it if you would stop criticizing me and my horse when I have not asked for your opinion. If I want your feedback, I will ask."

    Period, full stop. In my experience if you use modifiers (I don't want you to take this the wrong way, I don't really think, thanks for your input but, etc), they just grab the bit and keep going...give an inch, take a mile sort of.

    Yuck. Good luck with that woman, I'd have snapped at her by the end of that ride.

  8. Oh, boy, another thing I don't have to deal with anymore. Had to laugh a bit about her riding around in "no discernible pattern." I used to spend most of my riding skill trying to figure out where the other riders "seemed" to be going when I rode indoors. I'd plan my figures to avoid them, but trying to read their minds was always a challenge as there hardly ever seemed to be much logic in what they were doing. *G*

    Another response that might work with the DQ..."Thanks, but I'm already working with a really good trainer on this." If she engages in conversation after that, go with the flow. Maybe you could educate her towards what you're actually doing and why.

    Trouble is, her perception of what you're doing is obviously skewed. It would be one thing if Izzy were visibly distressed or in some kind of danger. She's just one of those people who knows enough to have an opinion and too little to deserve to have an opinion. *sigh*

    I'm really pleased at how well you kept yourself under control under the circumstances. She was out of line and you managed to bite your tongue. Well done.

  9. Why do people always feel the need to interject their opinion even when NO ONE has asked for it? That was so rude of that lady. It's too bad she ruined your ride. I bet her horse was looking at you and Izzy and saying to himself, "damn, I wish *I* could be having fun, too!"

  10. Damn, I wish I was there to make her cry with my sharp tongue! LOL!
    No, you did the right thing by being the better person BUT there may come a time when she does this again where you need to put her in her place, calmly and cooly to end it.
    Maybe something like "Until I pay you for training and your thoughts, zip it." ;)

  11. Wow, what a rude and insecure little dressage queen!

    Honestly, like others have mentioned, horse people tend to be all kinds of crazy and there is always at least one boarder who has no filter between their brain and their mouth. At my old barn, there was one girl who had four horses, one of whom was stabled in the stall where my horse Mac had died. One day she said to me, "Remember how your horse died in that stall?" and then proceeded to tell me how she thought that stall was haunted and it was why her horse had been having loose manure. She called it "The Death Stall" and insisted that her horse be moved. At the time, I was completely shocked that she would be so incredibly rude and insensitive that I just stood there with my jaw on the floor, staring at her in disbelief. Later, after I had time to reflect, I thought I should have answered her with something like, "No, I really DON'T remember how I watched my horse suffer horribly and die an excruciatingly painful, violent death in that stall. I don't remember being covered in his blood or totally alone and helpless as I watched him repeatedly rear up and fall to the ground, and finally dropping dead right before my eyes; thanks for reminding me!!" *rolls eyes*

    I hate conflict, but you can't just let this lady keep walking all over you. Be calm and polite, but definitely put her back in her place and let her know that her opinions are neither welcome nor appreciated.

  12. I would have said something snarky. Polite but bitingly rude and to the point.

  13. Ooh, I'm good at this, phrases like these can shut people down without being overtly rude:

    "Oh really?"

    "that's nice"

    "I'm glad you feel that way"

    "It's nice that you feel so secure in your opinions"

    You know you're being snide and sarcastic but the person you're talking to usually doesn't.

  14. I hate hate hate when people do stuff like that. There's one couple at my barn who do that to EVERYONE. The only thing that's worked with them is doing it right back, which is low, but whatever. One time the wife scolded me for smacking Cruizer on the neck. I did it because he pinned his ears at another horse. This behavior is never acceptable as far as I'm concerned, especially since there are a lot of kids at the barn, and Cruizer is HUGE. I can't let him do anything that could be dangerous to the kids, or anyone for that matter.

    I responded back with "yeah and he'll never do that again, unlike your asshole of a horse who pins his ears at people on a daily basis." She shut up and hasn't said anything since. Now she just asks my advice on everything.

    If it were me, I would make a comment back, like "(Horse's name) You should tell your mom to learn some proper ring etiquette!"

  15. I almost couldn't finish reading your post because on your behalf I was so mad at all that unsolicited advice that know-it-all was giving you. I do not like people like that. I want to punch them. I really hated it how she pretended to be talking to your horse, but she was really talking to you. That is a sign of cowardice! Grrrr. Besides, who is she to tell you what to do? You aren't telling her how to do her dressage. I think Frizzle is right--there are some crazy horse people out there who seem to think that just because they have a horse, they have the right to make comments (helpful or not!) to anyone who has a horse in their care. I like Smazourek's idea to say "it's nice you are so secure in your opnions!" That is a good thing to say. Remember that everything that woman was saying is merely a projection of her own lame reality. It has nothing to do with you. And that comment about the bit is just plain ridiculous. Still, it is so maddening to be near a person like that. SO MADDENING.

  16. Oh, I really like manymisadventure's "I would appreciate it if you would stop criticizing me and my horse when I have not asked for your opinion. If I want your feedback, I will ask."

    I personally might go with "If you dislike following proper etiquette in sharing a riding ring, why don't you buy your own facility?" Snarky, but true. Because as many of us have seen, boarders of whatever ability need to know unless the horse is abused enough that you can call the ASPCA, someone is in true imminent danger at that moment, or you are asked by the rider/handler for help, SHUT THE H*LL up is the only correct response. Unsolicited advise is rarely desired (or useful).


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