For someone who only gets one day on the weekend to ride (Sunday), initially I was put out by the inconvenience of having the parking area overrun with trailers and being relegated to one hour of riding. But, I have come to understand that as long as LA has these very popular clinics, it helps keep the costs down for boarders; there has not been an increase in our board rates for two years, although I am expecting one sometime this year due to the drought-induced rise in the cost of hay.
Along with the popularity of these clinics comes, unfortunately, a lack of respect for boarders. It absolutely boggles my mind at how disrespectful "visitors" are and how entitled they feel because they are participating in a clinic. Here's a few examples:
A rider is not on time for their morning session, so they start late. They insist on their full hour, so that means that everyone behind them starts late. This means that the boarders that only have an hour to ride usually end up getting the short end of the stick. In the past, there were many times where myself and a few other boarders had to wait outside the arena in the cold for the session to finish before we could get into the arena and then could only ride for about 30-40 minutes so that the next session could start at 1:00 p.m.
While boarders are riding during the lunch break, clinic participants feel that it is completely acceptable to lunge their horses, warming up the the afternoon sessions. We have sometimes had TWO horses being lunged at the same time! This is not only dangerous, but it reduces the amount of arena space where boarders can ride.
Participants will bring in their "other" horse (yes, they will trailer two horses) into the arena to ride during break because they don't get to ride or practice much in the winter because they don't have an arena. Boarders have to accommodate their sliding stops, reining patterns, etc.
Participants will leave all of their grooming stuff, saddle stands and extra hay all over the aisle of the barn, making it next to impossible sometimes to maneuver around, particularly if you are guiding your horse out of the barn.
Participants will tack up and then leave their horse tied to a wall-post or in cross-ties. Then they will go watch the clinic until it's their turn, leaving the horse in the aisle for boarders to have to deal with and frankly, babysit.
There have been times when I have found a participant's horse left in Gem's stall because the owner has gone to watch the clinic. I really, really dislike this.
As the popularity of the clinics increased, LA had to deal with a number of complaints from boarders. She has reinforce old rules and introduced some new ones.
- Clinic participants are not to leave their horses unattended.
- No one is allowed to lunge while there are riders in the arena (this is an ongoing rule).
- Clinic participants are not allowed to ride during lunch break - the arena is reserved for boarders only.
- Trailers are to be parked off to one side.
- Barn aisles are to be kept clear.
- Clinic participants are not to touch boarded horses after handling their own without washing their hands and must bring their own water buckets.
- Stalls are not to be used by clinic participants.
- Sessions start on time; if the participant is late they will loose that time.
- Visitors have to clean up their horse's poop.
Me: (smiling) Hi there. Lunging isn't actually allowed when there are riders in the arena.
She: (snotty tone, trying to get her horse under control) I am participating in the clinic.
Me: Yes, I know. But the lunch break is the only time boarders like myself get to ride when there is a clinic on. Lunging your horse reduces our rideable space. It's also a safety issue.
She: (really snotty tone and red faced) I asked her (pointing to my fellow boarder) and she said it was fine. I am not asking for your permission.
Me: (getting bigger in my seat, looking down at her and her puny horse and in a very precise tone) These are LA's rules and they are posted in RED on the board next to the gate. You may want to read them and if you have an issue, please take them up with LA.
Things could have gone a lot nicer if she had just responded politely to my initial comment; after all she is a GUEST. But no. Bitchiness prevailed. She stormed off, put her horse back in the cross-ties and went to complain to the other regular clinic participants, who were sitting around having lunch. (Have I mentioned that I really hate barn drama?? Sigh.) I noticed a couple of them go to the whiteboard and take a quick look. I have to admit that I had my fingers crossed that LA's rules were still posted (they were)!! :-)
I had a nice leisurely ride on Gem, using the whole arena. Now, some of you out there may think that I was over-reacting to this woman lunging, particularly since there were only two riders in a fair-sized arena. Well, most of the clinic attendees are regulars and should know better. Clinic participants are told what the rules are, yet still choose to ignore them. Frankly, I am tired of the rude behaviour. Sunday's little kerfuffle with this woman will hopefully remind these visitors of the rules and that it's not all about them.
I told LA what happened before she went to the arena for the afternoon session. I didn't want her blind-sided by an angry participant. LA was supportive of my actions and indicated that she would work harder at making sure that the rules for visitors were enforced. I felt better. LA has a tough role to play. It's a fine balance trying to keep all of her "customers" happy. Boarders are her first priority, though, and I appreciate her efforts and support. :-)
Have a great weekend, everyone!