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: http://cha-ahse.org/WEBSITE_MAGAZINE/articles-pet-peeves/index.html
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!