Horse showing is supposed to be enjoyable, therefore eliminating any connection with negativity is a beautiful opportunity for growth. Photo © Kirstie Marie Photography

Five Tips for Eliminating Barn Drama Heading into the New Year

American basketball coach Don Meyer once said, “It costs nothing to be nice to people.” Kindness is entirely free and makes horse showing much more enjoyable.

Competition can bring out the best in all of us. And the worst. Being sweaty and covered in dirt and rhinestones at the same time can bring training programs closer together, and it can also create some awkward situations that drive them apart.

These situations may be rivalry, jealousy or financially based, and are often fueled by gossip. Regardless of the reason, drama can be the outcome, and if not handled correctly, it can cause some major issues within the barn.

Horse shows for many exhibitors are an exciting escape from reality. They are supposed to be fun, exciting and positively challenging. Not everyone has the same interests or gets along personality-wise, but that’s okay. Every exhibitor has their strengths and challenges and respecting other people’s opinions is essential.

Here are five tips on heading into 2019 to avoid drama with your barn mates.

1) Keep emotions in check

There is no reason to start drama in your barn. The key to maintaining an open atmosphere is acceptance. Politely convey your thoughts, but do not disrespect others. If there is another exhibitor who you have a significant problem with, gently make your trainer aware of the situation. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, that is how horse showing works. There is no need to act hostile towards another merely because they beat you in the show pen that day. That creates unnecessary drama.

2) Be kind and helpful

American lawyer, Bob Ingersoll once said, “We rise by lifting others.” It never hurts to lend a helping hand. If you see someone in your barn who needs help, offer your assistance. Even if you grab your barn mate a bottle of water. The little things do matter. The way to become a close barn family is by supporting one another. Kindness is key. Take time to get to know the people who you are showing with. Be sure to ask them questions about their horse, job, etc. and avoid talking about yourself too much.

3) Communicate

Communication is critical to avoid drama. This means being honest with the source of drama, your trainer and yourself. Talk to your trainer and tell him or her about your thoughts on the matter. If someone in the barn is acting rudely towards you, say, “Please do not speak to me that way.” It is better for everyone when feelings are expressed in a respectful, open manner. When these feelings become bottled up, even more drama ensues.

4) Think about the big picture

You have probably heard this before, but do not sweat the little things. Life is too short to worry about what others think or say about you. Focus on your horse and your goals. Set a plan to achieve your dreams, then work hard toward achieving them. Do not allow opinions to overwhelm you. Channeling your energy into drama is not conducive to success in the show pen. Hold your head high and remember the big picture.

5) Get rid of toxic relationships

Sometimes barn relationships become toxic. Just like a bad piece of food or a drink – attitudes can also be dangerous. Make sure to be polite and courteous, but do not go out of your way to be overly friendly. Set boundaries as to your contact with that person and stick to those guides. Do not feed into any drama that may arise. Realize that it is not your job to try to make every relationship work out. Talk to your trainer and discuss how you feel about the situation. Horse showing is supposed to be enjoyable, therefore eliminating any connection with negativity is a beautiful opportunity for growth.

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and a senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She has been riding horses for almost nine years and has loved every minute of it. Cat started and runs her successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. She expanded her business last year and started to dye show tack. Her favorite classes are equitation, showmanship, and trail. She hopes to attend Michigan State University in the future to study veterinary medicine and possibly also study business. Cat is excited to show the all-around classes with her new horse, Zippos Kat Man Do aka Teddy.