Equine Isn’t Fine

| USA | Working | March 14, 2017

(It’s my first time riding a horse, and I’m more excited than nervous. The instructor makes me fill out a sheet.)

Instructor: *glancing at my sheet* “So, this is your first time?”

Me: “Absolutely! You take beginners?”

Instructor: “We take beginners.”

Me: “Great!”

(We go into the paddock and she helps me get on to a horse. It’s bigger than I thought, and I’m very nervous. The horse looks nervous, too. It keeps sideways glancing at me as though unsure.)

Instructor: “Well, there you go! Pull on the reins to steer. Dig your heels to stop.”

(At this point, she moves away to help someone else.)

Me: “But? Uh?”

(I do my best, but the horse takes off, heading straight for the low wall as if trying to jump it. I pull and dig my heels, but it does not stop. I scream, and some people look over. They leap in front of the horse to stop it.)

Instructor: “What’re you doing?! You were about to go through that wall!”

Me: “I told you, I’ve never ever ridden! I tried with this horse, but it didn’t listen!”

Instructor: *rolls eyes and sighs* “That’s the tamest horse we have. Fine, you’ve better get down, then.”

(I’m more than happy to, but when I try to throw my leg over, it somehow gets stuck.)

Instructor: *impatiently* “You HAVE to get off. What goes up must come down. So. Get. Down!”

(I managed it after a few more tries. I handed over the reins and helmet, than walked away to my car and sped out of there! I’ll never be back. Later, I heard on the news that a lady got thrown off one of her “tame” horses and broke her leg.)

Pitching It Is Horseplay

| Saratoga, CA, USA | Working | September 2, 2016

(When I was younger I had a period of severe depression. When I start going back out into the world, I ride horses regularly. My parents support it as a means to get me out of the house and interacting with the world again. I have a favorite horse and the staff know me well, so when I come they know to put us together if he isn’t otherwise occupied, which he generally isn’t as I usually ride during off-peak hours.)

Guide: “You know, the owners are looking to sell some horses. If you wanted, I’m sure they’d be willing to sell [Favorite Horse] to you.”

Me: “Well… as you know considering the times I’m here, I’m not exactly consistently employed.”

Guide: “You could talk to your parents about it; I know they support your riding.”

Me: “I’m also not sure I want to commit to the crazy amount of work it takes to care for a horse.”

Guide: “Well, you know that’s not a problem; we have full-service boarding here.”

Me: “So… basically right now you guys own [Favorite Horse] and take care of him, and I ride him when I want. But you want me to talk to my parents about spending money to buy him, so we can pay more money for you to take care of him… so I can ride him when I want?”

Guide: “Well, I wouldn’t pitch it to them THAT way!”

In The Same Aisle As The Spit-Polish

| AB, Canada | Working | June 18, 2016

(I’m working in a stable with Arabian show horses. My coworker and I are grooming some of the horses.)

Coworker: “The last show I went to, there were some horses there that looked just wonderful. I asked the owner how she got their coats so shiny.”

Me: “Uh huh.”

Coworker: “She said she just used lots of elbow grease.”

Me: “Mmmm…?”

Coworker: “You should have seen the looks I got in the drug store when I went in and asked where they kept the elbow grease.”

He’s Horsing Around

| NY, USA | Right | June 2, 2016

(I help out at a friend’s riding stable. It’s not uncommon for people whose only experience with horses is watching Bonanza reruns on TV to then claim to be experienced riders.)

Me: “Have you had much riding experience?”

Customer: “Yeah, I know all about horses! Bring me a good, fast one.”

(I saddle a decent horse and bring him out for this guy.)

Customer: “How do I get on?”

Please Do Not Be Fed By The Customers

| CA, USA | Right | September 5, 2015

(I am a senior barn helper/junior instructor at a riding stable for children on the autism spectrum. One rider’s mother is dropping off her daughter and brings some food for the horses, including a large bag of apricots, which are bad for horses, and gourds, which are also not good for horses.)

Mother: *to daughter* “See, you just give them the apricots like this!”

Me: “Um, I don’t think apricots are really good for horses. Especially the pits.”

Mother: *gesturing to stable owner* “But she said it was okay! They’re just apricots!”

(The stable owner is talking to the senior instructor about the lesson schedule for today at this point.)

Me: *seeing I can’t do anything to stop her, since she’s already fed at least four apricots to one of the horses* “Just take the pit out first. And don’t force the horses to eat them. They’re sensitive to acidic foods.”

Mother: “Oh, okay!”

(She proceeds to take the pits out, but drops them on the floor outside one of the horse’s stalls. We have a dog at the stable, too, so I pick up the pits before he can eat them.)

Me: “Can you also put the pits over in the compost heap so the dog doesn’t get them, please? He could choke on them.”

Mother: “Oh, sure. And what about these gourds? My friend gave them to me and said the horses would love them.”

Me: “Well, horses don’t eat gourds, but maybe the goats will be interested.”

(Our goat appear rather fat from grazing constantly, but are actually quite agile and can get through tight spaces if need be, a fact the mother doesn’t seem to grasp.)

Mother: *trying to whack open a gourd against a wooden tack trunk* “Ugh. This thing won’t open. Do you happen to have a knife somewhere around here?”

Me: “Um, no, we don’t. Try that lemon cucumber. My goats like those.”

Mother: *breaking open lemon cucumber* “Oh, wow! This looks like a cucumber but…” *sniffs* “…it smells like a lemon!”

Me: “That’s why they call it a lemon cucumber. Here, I’ll offer it to the goats and you can just leave your gourd there on the trunk.”

Mother: *not paying attention* “Here, goat! Eat this!”

(She waves the lemon cucumber in the goat’s face. The goat, understandably, backs away, towards a gap you wouldn’t expect it to fit through. The mother goes to the other side of a shed to find the other goat, who also backs away. She comes back to the first goat, which is now gone.)

Mother: *looking around* “Where’d it go? It couldn’t have gone through that gap! Or under the shed! Where is it? Why’d it leave?”

Me: *to my co-volunteer* “Maybe it went through the gap because you’re shoving food it doesn’t want in its face?”

Co-Volunteer: “And maybe she should trust us when we say not to feed something to an animal?”

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