It's time we take back the term "barn brat"! This applies to you if you are 5 years old, or 50 (or more!).
If you are one of those people who spends hours at the barn, eagerly taking in all things horse, this one is for you. Not only is time spent at the barn well spent, but here are 13 reasons why barn bratting is good for us - and more importantly - makes us better not only as equestrians, but as all-around humans.
From grooming, to carrying feed bags, to walking between paddocks - you get a full body, cross-fit type of workout. It's completely organic. You don't have to count reps or buy any equipment. All you have to do is get things done! And voila! Your body moves and you feel better.
Fresh air - the country type of air that invigorates and leaves you pleasantly drained at the end of the day. For those of us who sit still whether at school or work, the barn represents a chance to not only move but also to breathe. And if you get on the horse and go for a ride, you might be huffing and puffing in no time.
- Natural Setting
Speaking of which - the natural beauty of most barn properties is another enriching aspect to our daily lives. Whether the barn is situated on rolling hills lined with oak board fencing, or forested trails beckoning exploration (or both), the barn provides us access to uneven ground, green grass, gorgeous trees and the smell of the great outdoors. The barn gives us the opportunity to trade off concrete sidewalks and wall-to-wall houses even if for only a few brief hours.
One thing you learn at the barn is that you have to do what you have to do, especially if there is no one else around to do it for you. The horses rely on you for feed, water, turn out, turn in and even exercise. Their needs can't be shoved to the side of a desk even if you are sick or tired or if it's too cold outside. You get up and go no matter what because they rely on you. And that is all.
- Social Skills
Barn brats tend to become socially adept even if they aren't naturally outgoing. When you spend time with fellow horse lovers, you can't help but to interact with the people who are there with you. The extra perk is that horse lovers come from all backgrounds, and in all sizes and ages. The barn is one of the few places that children can interact with adults on a mutually respectful and respected level.
Things don't always go right/as planned/well at the barn. Sometimes, you have to go through a situation that you'd rather avoid altogether. But the one thing you learn is that you can face those difficult times and even overcome them when necessary. And that makes you a stronger person in the long run.
- Be A Student
Hanging out at the barn sets you up to become a lifelong learner. Not only will you continually want to improve your riding skills, but you will likely appreciate how you can learn something from everyone. Thanks to the horses' individual personalities and abilities, each horse will give you different experiences to learn from. Even if you don't take formal lessons, I would bet that you will learn new things on a regular basis just by being at the barn.
- Being A Leader
Not only will you value being a learner, but you will also invariably become a leader in no time. Horses respond best to confidence. Clear and effective communication skills will quickly develop to keep not only yourself safe, but also your horse. Hang around regularly, and you might find yourself teaching others what you know.
- Empathy for Animals
This is almost a given, but you'd be surprised at how much your natural abilities will be developed. You will be able to understand horse language, and interpret horse-to-horse communication. You might even become good enough to know what they say to you! More importantly, putting yourself into another's "hooves" will make you better able to do the same with fellow human beings in any life situation.
- Team Work
Working together becomes a habit when you hang out at the barn. Even if you don't know the other person, you will find yourself gravitating toward helping each other, especially when it really matters. Four hands are better than two, two heads are better than one, and two people riding one horse is the best (one on the ground and one in the saddle)!
- Riding Skills
Riding is a full-body, intricate workout that involves the coordination of the core and body parts you didn't even know existed until you sat on a horse. It does get easier over time, but this is one of those sports that has layers of learning and never-ending self-improvement. Just when you think you got it, the next needed skill surfaces and you're on a new learning path all over again.
When you first hang out at the barn, your self-confidence might drop considerably until you know what to do and how things work. Certainly, the activities relating to horses and horse-keeping are sport-specific and not particularly common out in the "real world". Conversely, as you become adept at everything including riding, you become more confident not only at the barn, but also in your human interactions.
- Real Life (vs Screen Life)
I saved this one for last because of its pervasiveness in our smart-phone society. Everywhere you look, you see people hunched over their phones with thumbs flying.
Except at the barn.
Granted, when we are standing around, we might check for texts and whatnot, but interacting with horses requires our full attention. The pure physicality of even walking beside a horse as you bring him in to the barn, and obviously when you ride, requires your absolute attention. Being around horses is the one place that keeps us living "in the present". There is no other way.
Well, as it turns out, barn bratting is not so bad, and maybe even better than you might think! There must be so many other reasons why it's good to spend hours and hours at the barn. Write them in the comments below.
Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!
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This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.
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Read more here:
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7 Ways To Listen To Your Horse: The information your glean can inform everything from general health care, to training and conditioning programs, to your horse’s mental well-being.
Esmeralda Meets the Horses of Horse Listening: The timing was perfect as I was looking toward slowing down the hectic pace for a few days to have a short vacation.
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