The love of the horse is what draws us into the industry. Many of us are captivated by the gentleness that can come from such an immensely sized animal. We see their beauty and want to learn more about how to gain their respect, trust and partnership. However, an often-overlooked part of the love of the horse is the community that is formed from it. Not only does this community enhance the experiences we create with our horses, but some could also argue that having a community is essential to the longevity of our presence in this sport.
Building your tribe that will support you through the ups and downs of horse ownership isn’t as hard as you may fear. Horse lovers are eager to share their passion with fellow horse enthusiasts. Forming these relationships will help you get through a tough day at the barn by offering a friendly ear or even sage advice. These relationships will make victories with your horse that much sweeter, because they will be there cheering for you as you accomplish a dream. Below are some easy tips that you can implement the next time you go to the barn or a show to help build your tribe.
A simple hello with a smile can go a long way when building your tribe. If you see someone walking by, simply smile and say hello to them. This is a great way to break the ice if you are new and quick to implement even if you are in a hurry. Take this one step further by asking them how they are doing. However, be sure to listen to their answer. That might sound silly, but so many times we are in a hurry and don’t listen to how the other person is doing. It might take an extra minute, but it will be worth it for a fellow barn mate to know you care what they have to say.
Pay a Compliment
We all love our horses beyond measure. We take pride in grooming them, tacking them up, and even training them. It is so nice when the hours we put into our horses are appreciated, especially by a fellow enthusiast. If you see a potential friend, give them a compliment. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, something as simple as “Wow your horse’s coat really shines,” can make someone’s day. It will help to establish rapport and they will be more inclined to reach out the next time you meet.
Offer to Film
Filming a ride or performance in the arena can be such a huge gift to a person. It will only take you a few minutes to do, but it will mean the world to whomever you are filming. Whether you help them capture a winning ride or help them to be able to see something that they have been trying to work on, offering to film someone is an act that won’t go unappreciated. Who knows, they may even offer to film you the next time around, we can always use that!
Share a Meal
No matter what time of the day you go to the barn or show, there is always an opportunity to share a meal with someone. If you are a morning person, offer to bring a muffin or a cup a coffee to your fellow barn mate. If you come in the middle of the afternoon, bring a bag of trail mix or chips or even an extra bottle of water. One of the best ways to share a meal though is to head to dinner with your new horse enthusiast friend. Bonding over shared obstacles with your horses that day while eating tacos is second to none. You will be amazed at how easy conversation will flow and how it can add to your excitement of going to the barn the following day.
In closing, building your horse community is the simplest way to add joy and inspiration to your riding journey. Horse friends are like no other, they can understand things that you are going through sometimes better than a spouse and definitely better than most coworkers. The horse industry can be tiring and challenging, but you don’t have to go through it alone.
By Lauren Stanley