When I was a kid a neighbor of my grandparents kept horses in a pasture down the road from their house. I dreamed about slipping into that pasture one day, jumping on one of those horses bareback and going for a joy ride. I never did that but from what I’ve read on the Chronicle of the Horse Forum, there are other people who are not so restrained.
In an eye opening post last week several people shared stories of when they either suspected or found out that other people were riding their horses. The really scary part is that most of the time this happened with the knowledge and sometimes blessing of the barn owner or trainer. That’s right. The people tasked with caring for their boarder’s or student’s horse was using the horses for lessons or letting friends or family members take them for a spin.
Here are some particularly egregious examples.
a VERY similar thing happened to a good friend of mine. she was boarding with a friend (at the time) at her backyard barn, just my friend’s horse and the horse that belonged to the BO. she comes out to see the horse one day and finds him with a girth mark, her stirrup keeper on the saddle is broken, saddle is horribly dirty, her girth is wet and sandy, etc. it’s very clear that someone has ridden the horse, and things didn’t go well. she approaches the BO about it, BO denies it. my friend is still suspicious.
we found out later through a mutual friend that the BO had (foolishly) told about the incident that she had invited a friend over to trail ride. BO rode her own horse, and gave her friend my friend’s horse to ride. without ANY permission at all, which is totally unacceptable to begin with. but then as they were riding along the road my friend’s horse spooked, slipped and fell, dumped the girl and ran off. BO was apparently not planning on telling her any of this.
A local boarding barn opened here several years ago and the BOs really didn’t seem to understand that horses were individual PRIVATE property. He let anyone grab anyone’s horse and use it anytime. A friend of mine boarded there before everyone was aware of what was going on. She showed up at the barn one day to find someone else tacking up her horse. Her horse wore a new halter with a nameplate. The name on the nameplate was not her horse’s name. A similar nameplate was also found on her horse’s stall door. This person who was riding her horse when she was not around had RENAMED her horse and didn’t see anything wrong with it. Needless to say the situation ended then and there. Beginner kids were trail riding boarder’s expensive greenies because “he’s so pretty.” After a few rounds of people getting hurt on other people’s horses and lots and LOTS of angry boarders, the BO finally decided to change his tune.
I was paying full training board at a BNT’s farm and found out my AO jumper was being used in ‘lessons’ for another boarder….At my expense! The student wasn’t paying for the lessons I was. They thought it was good for my horse, I thought it was additional wear and tear and promptly left the barn.
I came out to see my horses on day 4 or 5 after the fall, and was planning to longe the mare for exercise, only to discover that some fellow boarders had her in crossties with some Mexican ‘charro’ guy getting ready to ride her. I am thinking WTF>!?!? Luckily I knew the man in question, not a bad or rough type, but definitely not the person I would have picked to help me with the young mare, had I felt the need for help. It gets worse. The fellow boarders were there, just beaming saying ‘We’ve had xxxx work with her while you were not able to ride’, as if they expected me to thank them or something. The barn owner (clueless newbie to horses) also thought that was just great. Another boarder, whom I thought had more sense also did not see why this was a problem. It gets worse still. I was told that the ‘trainer’ had also hauled her to his little ranchito for some offsite work. (can we say horse theft…and no one had a clue why this was not acceptable).
boyfriend of fairly BNT eventer (very high end barn; great care) had jumped my horse. I would not have known, except boyfriend innocently told me what a great jumper he was and how much he enjoyed riding him. I was pissed–not because the BF was a bad rider but because I wasn’t asked. Hello? My horse; my decision about who rides him.
Just thinking about it makes my head spin. First there are the liability issues. What if someone is hurt when riding your horse? Or perhaps your horse is injured? Or picks up some bad habits from a few bad rides? Who is responsible then? So, if you come and find your horse with girth marks, or even worse, arrive at the barn to find your horse being ridden by someone else, what should you do? In a word, leave. ASAP.
But it’s not a bad idea when you bring your horse to a boarding barn to make sure your barn owner and trainer know explicitly if you don’t want anyone else riding your horse. In fact it’s a good idea to submit that request in writing so there is no confusion over your feelings.
I once showed up at my co-op barn to find a woman I’d never seen before mounting another boarder’s pony. She didn’t look much like a rider — maybe it was the bright red plastic rain boots. Anyhow, I went over and introduced myself and asked if she had permission to ride. It turned out that she did. After that we made it a policy that all boarders needed to circulate the name of anyone authorized to ride their horse to everyone. Maybe it’s an idea that should catch on.