Equestrian Pet Peeves


I’ve often seen the “What’s your biggest equestrian pet peeve?” posted as a daily question on IG and with too many responses to list and plenty of my own opinions, and also seeing how nasty things can get, I thought the topic deserved it’s own blog post!

Dictionary.com describes a pet peeve as
noun, a particular and often continual annoyance; personal bugbear

Which also begs the question, what’s a bugbear? I went ahead and listed a few of my greatest equestrian pet peeves below along with a few of my friend’s biggest pet peeves:

My Own

  • When I see other people getting to make the same mistakes I used to, but my trainer drilled them out of me. Not fair. Why do I have to sit up and support to the jump?

  • Rain. Enough said. Oh and WIND.

  • When people don’t get to buy the horse they want. It actually stresses me out to hear about friends not being able to have all the horses. I just want everyone to have their horse and for them and their perfect horse live happily ever after.

  • When people fall off and somehow have an absolute death grip on the reins. I don’t even know if this is a pet peeve or I’m just impressed? When something goes wrong when I ride the FIRST thing to go is my reins. Horse trips? Fingers magically open. Long spot? Reins gone. Bad chip? Reins have been deemed unnecessary without my consent. Maybe I’m just jealous… but the horses never looked pleased to have their previous rider now attached to their head and mouth.

  • Nastiness on social media. There have been times when I see something that I gasp don’t approve of! And guess what? I say nothing. Not because I’m some amazing person, but think about what is really going to happen if you say something, even with good intentions. They don’t know you, why would they listen to your suggestions or criticism? Their only response is to become defensive. Just unfollow!

  • Witch Hunting on social media. Watch this video to see why it’s both unproductive and a scary change to our culture. Just unfollow!

  • Having a GoFundMe to pay for a horse/vet bills/shows/etc.

  • Anything else that could be relevant to boarding or the barn experience, I have no right to complain about because I’ve probably been guilty of it at some point and no one knows everything. If you see someone committing a cardinal barn sin (like leaving poop in the cross ties) kindly say something (hopefully a different response in person than online, right?). This is especially true for safety issues! When you’re kindly saying something in those cases, also mention the safety aspect because these barn sins are almost always committed out of ignorance and not malice.

Friend Responses

- Arena etiquette, especially in the warm-up arena. There is nothing more infuriating than playing a game of chicken with the person coming head on at you when they don’t respect the shoulder-left rule. It’s also maddening when people pass extremely close. There is a special place too for the people who clearly lack horsemanship skills and common sense and do things like cutting you off after a fence or smacking their horse as they pass you. Lastly, don’t tailgate other riders!
- Caroline L. (@clurie.eq) [I’m so guilty of that last one, Leo’s got a big stride and loves to chase!]

- Putting off a persona that you’re the perfect rider and horse owner, we all make mistakes, be transparent. Also, not patting your horse after your round. They just tried their heart out for you, give them a reward, even if it’s as small as one pat.
- Olivia M. (@remarkablemare)

- My biggest pet peeve are riders who don't listen to their horses or care for them with compassion. If your only goal is to get on your horse and make them do exactly what you want, then I don't think you are a great horse person. Also, there are few more annoying things than someone else besides your trainer giving you suggestions on how to ride your horse. Don't listen to the peanut gallery!
- Connie F. (@connieincolorado)

- When people blame their horse for their poor performance and when people don’t attend to the other riders in the ring. Even if the horse is acting up, it didn’t choose to be ridden so it’s not his fault.
- Claire C. T. (@mdadultammy)

Barn Wisdom

  1. Life is better when your schedule is fluid. Returning to riding has brought a whole new meaning of roll with it to my life. Things happen at the barn, horses happen. Lessons run long, trainers have to squeeze in an extra ride, but can also be understanding when you should up half an hour early for night lessons.
    I found out early it's best to not plan something immediately after barn time. If you're in a rush, the horse notices, the trainer notices and your anxiety level becomes apparent and manifests itself, usually in missed distances and forgetting to clean your bridle. I stopped stressing about timelines at the barn a long time ago and it's made a world of difference. Taking the time to give Leo a good groom and graze session after a lesson brings me just as much, if not more, joy than a kick-ass jump school.
  2. In the same vein, the barn is a place of escape and calm, so don't ruin it for others. I go to the barn, and I think most people do, for a break from real life. When I'm riding, it takes every tiny brain wave I have to focus on the situation at hand: piloting a 1,500-pound animal over jumps while trying not to meet dirt. Is there time to worry about shitty co-workers or bills or my to-do list when I get home or that asshat that cut me off this morning? Nah. Also, respect that other people think of the barn as their haven—don’t bring yo drama to that environment! 
  3. Don't take it personally. People and animals have off days. Trainers and barn mates can have bad days, and unless they explicitly tell you you’re the problem, assume you’re not (good rule anywhere in life). Animals being naughty also aren’t always a reflection of your personality or actions. This lesson was best taught to me by my wild child dog, JD. There’s only so much training and exposure that can change the wiring in his brain. He’s just a talker. He will probably always have a meltdown upon seeing a dog that’s also excited to see him. I don’t take his “misbehavior” personally anymore and just deal with the situation as quietly and kindly as possible. Same with horses. There are times when you can do everything right and still have things go wrong. That’s life.
  4. You are your own competition. I ride at a pretty nice barn and, especially growing up, envy was something I struggled with. I’ve since turned my “benign envy” into admiration. There’s a lot of respect to be had for people who’ve had desires, turned them into goals and accomplished them. It’s also impossible for me to objectively compare myself to their achievements. It’s been said many times before, but I feel like it’s particularly true in horse sports. Horses have different personalities, strides, heights, jump-styles, fitness, struggles as with their riders. The only person you can compare yourself with is you.
  5. You get what you put in. Call it intentional thinking, mention skill refining, sports psychology, or whatever you want. Planning a time to positively think about schooling rides, lessons or show classes is so worth it. Also, keeping in my mind what I most need to work on most (collecting that giant stride, mostly) keeps those thoughts in the forefront of my mind. Taking the time to mentally prepare yourself before riding, especially when jumping makes it that much easier to get yourself focused in the moment.
  6. Horses are basically giant, expensive dogs that you can ride. Just needed to be said.
  7. Buy quality and only cry once (but for a long time). If you try to cheap out, safety and comfort are the first things to go! No further elaboration needed for my husband’s sake.
  8. Don't dwell on the mistakes! Distances get messy, lead changes get missed, shoulders drop in, rails get knocked. When you try it again, work to correct it but also don't assume that it'll go wrong again. And focus on what went well. Maybe you totally chipped the vertical, but your position wasn't thrown out of whack. Positivity.
  9. If you're thinking about returning to riding, just do it. Riding has brought so much joy back into my life, I’m only disappointed that I waited so long!

Lesson Update - February 2018

My lessons have been going pretty damn well since I decided to not get sick again, so I finagled my husband into coming out and videoing a lesson. My lesson was the day before a schooling show started, and I wanted to get a good video of us doing the hunter course perfectly.

But now I kind of realize why Leo doesn't do a lot of shows. He was so interested in everything going on, as told by our inability to jump the cross-rail towards one end of the ring because a horse was being loaded into a trailer. He literally did not see the jump either time until the last minute...

After settling from being distracted it was a constant struggle between not running down each line and keeping him from trotting in the corners. Combine that with being sore from a no-stirrup, no-spur lesson on Wednesday (complete with cantering) annd it was hot and there was a ton going on... I'm just glad neither of us had a meltdown. He has just the best expressions though and I'm so glad he puts up with me. I was told he bucked a girl off last weekend, so he's not beyond being a v. naughty horse!

When my husband decides to become the artsiest horse photog ever.

When my husband decides to become the artsiest horse photog ever.

New Boots, Who Dis?

New Boots, Who Dis?

Technically speaking, these aren’t new boots, just newly fitting! I purchased these beauties back in May (happy birthday to me!) while they were on clearance and in preparation for my return to riding. I knew they would be a bit snug when I purchased them but it feels like it took forever to get my calves in shape. After seeing the pictures from my lesson a while back, it looked like my old boots were too dropped in the ankle. It took me years to get my beloved old Ariats to fully break in and achieve second skin status and now they're TOO BIG. I was half disappointed, half excited. This meant that 1) I was finally getting into proper riding shape and 2) I could try to get my new Ariats on properly. And it worked! They actually zipped up!

Read More

Lesson Barn Reviews

Barn 1

I think I took my first riding lesson ever at Barn 1 (when I was like 5) and I rode there on and off all the way up until 10 years ago. And damn, I forgot about the luxury.

All the horses, besides being fantastically expensive, are so friendly and well taken care of. I got to ride a really nice IHSA mare, and it's really unfair to compare her to Mikey, but she was a really nice horse just incredibly balanced, responded to all my aids even though I suck, put up with my lack of jumping ability. The lesson went pretty damn well and I even got to jump a tiny course, though I'm sure it wasn't pretty. Because there are so many horses there, they had like eight that I could possibly half lease. But the trainer that gave me my lesson didn't know any exact prices as they would all range based on the horse price. I'm pretty sure if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it. They do have a surprisingly cheap lesson package though, cheap being price per lesson, but you have to buy in bulk and use all the lessons in one month. I would love to ride at this barn as I like 1) luxury, the setting is great 2) fancy things, aka the horses and 3) lessons would mean that someone is always around when I'm riding, as opposed to leasing.

They also have pastures for horses which I'm thinking would be great for when I *eventually get my own horse, but that's probably thinking way too far ahead.

Barn 2


I didn't think it would be so hard to choose a barn, but I'm pretty torn. I had a Saturday morning lesson and I forgot about the glory of being at a busy barn on a weekend morning. The trainer that I rode on and off with when I was young was the other trainer at the barn though and so that was pretty damn awkward. I rode a potential lease horse whose this gorgeous ex grand prix horse and was about 17.2, so a moose. And I have a feeling I won't get a better workout anywhere else, I've never felt so weak! He's a great jumper or eq horse, which is kind of exactly what I wanted to do. Puts up with rider mistakes when jumping, which is exactly what I need. I'm kinda smitten.

Also, the trainer at Barn 2 kicked my butt in the lesson and critiqued my eq so much, which I need! I'm totally confident in him helping me become a better rider, as opposed to other trainers who might just be interested in working with bringing along horses.


Because I am so torn, I'm going to bring my husband to a lesson at each barn to help me decide. I was going to try two more barns in the area but at this point I feel like it would cloud my judgment too much and I would end up making an emotional decision (but I probably am anyway).

Also, Mikey's SmartPak order arrived, so I'll be taking out his goodbye gifts tonight. Giving them to him early because he kind of needs them, poor thing. Pictures to follow.