Whether you win or lose, every experience in the show pen is an opportunity to better yourself as an equestrian. Photo © Kirstie Marie Photography

Tips on Creating a Positive Barn Atmosphere

Why do we horse show? All the late nights, early mornings and hours of tireless work…horse showing is not for the faint of heart.

At the end of the day, many exhibitors can become irritable due to exhaustion. This sometimes spins out of control and sets the stage for drama. And drama makes horse showing much less enjoyable.

However, there are ways to make these long days easier. A positive barn atmosphere is essential to a successful and enjoyable season. It does take a village to accomplish your goals; no matter how big or small.

Creating a fun, friendly atmosphere may seem challenging, but it is easier than you think. Follow these eight steps to make your equestrian environment more positive.

1) Show gratitude

By showing gratitude, you celebrate the present. Too often we, as humans, focus on the negative of things we do not have. By being grateful for every person, horse and opportunity, we embrace all life has to offer. Showing gratitude allows you to become more involved in the moment, rather than worrying about the past or future. This is a quintessential aspect when trying to create a more positive barn environment.

2) Motivate others

Everyone wants to do well at shows, but do not forget to motivate your teammates. You are stronger as a show team, a show family. Encourage others to perform in the pen to the best of their ability. Even a simple “good luck” or “good job” can make a world of difference. You will only become stronger as an exhibitor by encouraging your barn mates. Sportsmanship is essential.

3) Celebrate victories and learning opportunities

Whether you win or lose, every experience in the show pen is an opportunity to better yourself as an equestrian. It is easy to celebrate the victories, but more challenging to be thankful for our failures. Often, we learn best from mistakes. It is important to celebrate every chance we get in the pen. By celebrating every moment in the show pen, we learn to be more positive and build a happier environment.

4) Random acts of kindness

Chances are that you have heard a story of someone involved in a random act of kindness. To make your barn more positive, try your hand at random kindness. This does not mean that you have to demonstrate an over the top, grand gesture. This can be as simple as wiping off your barn mate’s boots before they enter the pen. Or even just grabbing your teammate a water bottle on a hot summer day. By putting one small positive action out into the world, the chain reaction continues.

5) Communicate

Communication is key. If you feel bad about something your barn mate said or did, simply talk to them about the matter. By bottling up your emotions, you allow the negative energy to muster. Make sure you approach any situation respectfully and politely, otherwise, it would not be conducive to making your barn a more friendly, relaxed setting. Do not be afraid to communicate with your trainer as well. Better communication leads to a more favorable environment in any context; whether this is your barn, home or workplace.

6) Team mentality

We have to remember that as an exhibitor in a program, we are all part of a team. Sometimes you will win. Sometimes you will lose. That is horse showing. However, having a team mentality is crucial for a positive environment. It is wonderful to have healthy competition, but do not lose sight of what is essential. You are on a team, after all, therefore try and support everyone that is a part of your barn family.

7) Eliminate drama

Drama is not conducive to a welcoming barn setting. Horse showing, for many exhibitors, is comparable to a vacation. Horse shows are supposed to be fun, exciting, and positively challenging. However, barn drama can destroy this environment. Respecting other opinions and practice kindness is essential. Acting kindly towards others costs absolutely nothing. There is a delicate balance required when curating a positive barn environment. A friendly atmosphere is crucial to success in and out of the pen.

8) Be positive

An unknown author once said, “A negative mind will never give you a positive life.” This is the quintessential concept of creating and maintaining a positive barn atmosphere. No matter what the situation is, if you look for the good in everyone and everything, you will be successful. Life is too precious to spend your time worrying, fighting or being negative. Practice the power of positivity.

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. Her favorite classes are horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She plans to attend Michigan State University in the future to study veterinary medicine and possibly also business. Cat is excited to show the all-around classes in 2019 with Zippos Kat Man Do aka Teddy.