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What’s Your Pet Peeve?

About ten years ago, as I was walking through my barnyard, I came across a stray piece of baling string on the ground and it prompted me to start a new column, “Pet Peeves Around the Barn,” for the CHA magazine, The Instructor. We have a pretty strict rule around my barn that when you open a bale of hay, the very first thing you do is pull the strings, tie them up and throw them away. It’s not an unreasonable or anal rule; it’s because I like things to be neat and tidy and I hate seeing strings being chewed up by horses, which could cause health problems. Now, some 10 years later, pretty much all my pet peeves have been published, plus dozens from other instructors, trainers and barn managers.

The rules for the pet peeve column are simple: it has to be about something that is either a safety issue, a monetary issue or for practicability and effectiveness. It can’t just be a whiny complaint. My thinking was that if horse people could know about the things that bothered professionals, they might learn something, have a greater awareness of good management practices and stay on the good side of the boss. You can see the archives of past Pet Peeves, written by myself and others here:

Just when I think I’ve reached the bottom of my stack of pet peeves, another one rears its ugly head. This week, I wrote about using metal snaps on the reins to connect to the bit for the upcoming issue of The Instructor. Although the metal snaps are highly convenient for the rider, they are not so great for the horse. The metal-to-metal connection causes a sharp clinking vibration to the horse’s mouth and it interferes with the rider having a good feel of the horse’s mouth. To me, the convenience is not worth the irritation to the horse and the lack of feel for the rider. Plus, there are many reins out there with a quick-connect to the reins that is not metal—all the reins I sell, both rope and leather, are quick and easy to connect and still comfortable for the horse. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use snaps, I’m just saying why I wouldn’t use them, so that you can make an informed decision yourself.

What are your pet peeves when it comes to your horses? Remember, it can’t just be a complaint about something or someone—you have to substantiate it with good reasoning. Is there something at your barn that you think should be done differently or something that really bugs you? If so, let me hear about it. It would be great to have some fresh new ideas for the column!

Enjoy the ride!




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  1. One of my huge pet peeves is people who tie lead ropes to the fence in a very intricate pattern while the horses out. Several times I have needed a lead in an emergency and had to stop and untie it which takes up a lot of valuable time!

    Another one is when people do not keep current information close to a horses stall. If I am working at the barn and your horse is sick or hurt and I am not able to reach you I need to have easy access to the number of the vet you would like me to use. I keep an info sheet on my horses stall with his picture, vitals at rest and all the current contact numbers needed.

    A third pet peeve is when people with a horse trailer leave their hitch in the back of the truck. That is only a pet peeve because I saw an accident a few years ago where the hitch did a lot more damage in comparison to just a normal bumper

    A fourth pet peeve is people leaving important notes on white boards. Every barn I have ever boarded at has had a white board. Over time they get icky so when someone writes a note it might be hard to read to begin with, and people are always rubbing off part of a message when they make a new note or bump in to the board. It shouldn’t be up to the person working at the barn to decide if that half rubbed off number is a 6, 0, 8 or 9 when it comes to giving your horse the correct amount of medication.

    That is all I have. I am actually impressed that I could think of four things that bothered me so quickly. I am not usually one who complains…clearly I had it all pent up 😛

  2. One of my HUGEST pet peeves are people who let their horses run around on the lunge line like an idiot. Not only can it be harmful on the horse’s joints, but it’s dangerous & teaches the horse NOTHING!
    Letting the horse “blow some steam” is no excuse. It’s bad training & drives me up the wall!!!

  3. Baling twine is a big one for me also. I think there must be twine gremlins that come around at night. My biggest pet peeve would be simply lack of respect for others’ belongings and way of doing things.

    Of course the fox that keeps slipping in the barn to eat the cat food ranks right up there because it doesn’t just eat the food in the bowl. We have to put a bag of salt on top of the garbage can we keep the food in to weight the lid or there’s a big mess in the morning.

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