A New Home

 

Some of you who may follow my Facebook page may be aware that recently I moved house and yard to a setup that will fit my own needs and wishes as an equestrian business owner. I’m settling down in a new place. In the midlands of Ireland. Just outside Mullingar.

At the new place, there is an arena, scenic roads for hacking, paddocks for turnout and plenty of room to build stables for my own personal use and for business use.

For now, Barnes Equestrian as a business yard is closed. Meanwhile freelancing services are still available.

 

The Future

 

In the coming weeks and potentially running into the next month or two, I will be setting up the facilities in such a way I wish to represent myself and my business. The biggest part of my plan is to build stables, a tack room and a hay shed. These will be fundamental to the future of Barnes Equestrian as a business and for myself and my livelihood. With that comes setting foundations and investing in extra pieces. Therefore I  not only wish to make the yard more functional but also more homely to anybody who may be keeping a horse there or visiting.

Even more than that, a lot of the work will be presentation. Maintaining and painting fences, setting fields into paddocks and adding other pieces that I feel will benefit the yard in the long term.

I’m really looking forward to setting out my vision for the premises and being able to reach out to you. I can’t wait to get it all done and dusted!

For now, I want to thank anyone who has read this and supported Barnes Equestrian along the way.

Happy riding folks! I’ll be around as I keep settling down in the new place and making the place my own!

 Settling Down was written by Scott Barnes

 Barnes Equestrian

Bullying in the equestrian world

 

Bullying in the equestrian world is a very real problem. It’s something I’ve seen first hand. Even today I continue to witness such cases. These aren’t by immature children, but grown adults who really should know better.

 I really want to share my views on this as there are many misconceptions on the topic. 

 

Bullying in the Equestrian World: The Stereotype

 

 There’s a stereotypical situation – One we can all imagine. Think of the bully on a yard or at a show. Typically, you imagine the bully being the one with money, having a clique of friends and being a snob to the highest degree. We can all imagine that and in some cases it is very true. 

 It’s also not hard to imagine the bully being the successful competitor who acts like they own the place. Let’s face it, we’ve encountered that at some stage too. 

 

The common reality may surprise you

 

 People imagine the bullies being the guy or girl on the big fancy competition horse. We can stereotype all day about the bullies in our industry but the real bullies may often surprise you. 

 

The real bully seeks validation

 

 In my personal experience, the real bullies are insecure about how the world perceives them. They want to be viewed as the better people, the most knowledgable people. They can do no wrong and often feel as though they are always being dealt lifes hard hand. These people feel like they have so much untapped potential but the potential never shows because the system is rigged to keep them down. Or that life is against them. Or the horses they have are never easy or throw them event after event of pure misfortune. The bullies are the ones that seek validation from those around them – both in real life and online.

 I’ve known instructors to openly mock and complain about clients and their inability to ride. Instructors who question “why do they own that horse and do/don’t do x, y or z with it?” Again validation is sought and given by those around them. 

 I’ve seen people vocally cry out with distress when a rider that’s being taught can’t do the exact right thing at the exact right time. Those people typically threaten to get up and do it better. It isn’t about helping, it’s about feeling like they’re more competent. 

 I’ve seen spectators stand by laughing and mocking a rider in the arena as they go about their business. 

 The simple truth is, the bullies could literally be anyone.

 

The addition of social media

 

 Social media is a wonderful tool for businesses and people alike. It gives us a platform from which we can easily vocalise beliefs and discuss the realities of life – Much like I am doing here. Social media is a marketing tool. Each and every one of us promotes ourselves on social media. We might not all be a business, but our personal brand is always on display. Like with businesses, our name can and will be judged by those viewing what we post and how we react. 

 

Nothing is quite as it seems 

 

 Social media also has a dark side that aids bullying in our sport. As users, we invest in the brands that interest us and who engage us through posts. As such, especially with small businesses, you may feel as though you know and can trust people behind the page. In many cases, we see business pages as “official” brand pages. When we think “official,” our minds tend to view them as being correct or even trustworthy. We often forget that there may be individuals with alternate agendas behind them.

 Remember, publicity is marketing. When dealing with your brand image, it’s easy to present a persona of being blunt and not caring as a way to market yourself. It’s easy to stir emotion and pity. People love controversy. It does work! A page that says things that even a minority may think will attract a vocal following who want to put the spotlight on that logic. Arguably this can be seen in other areas in other walks of life such as Trumps often controversial acts in the US. It often validates the controversial thoughts of others and gives them a stage from which to act from. 

 Facts can be manipulated. Those who scream loudest are often more commonly believed due to having the larger audience.

 Social media enables us to have a platform to put forth our preferred reality. Facebook reality and actual reality could be completely different things for all we know. In many cases, people twist things to better suit the version of themselves that they wish to present to you and I – The audience. 

 

First hand experience

 

 Try not to side with social media spats and arguments. In many cases, the bully may take a “woe is me” approach. They’ll discuss personal experiences but that’s not to say they’re true. They may not be falsified either, but be aware that the truth can be spread thin. Don’t take one persons presentation as fact. Whether they’re more qualified than you or not. There are no qualifications for being a good and decent human being. 

 There are two sides to every story. Do remember that things can be very easily twisted and morphed to better reflect the person at the centre of it all. 

 

 The mob mentality

 

 This is another reality made all the easier by social media. It’s our job to use critical thinking and personal first hand experience to determine the truth. Don’t take someones presentation to you as their reality. If we believe one side of a story without knowing the other, we encourage the bullying and isolation of others only to validate the personality at the source. We become enablers. From that, we encourage that person to continue to be horrible. We allow the ugly side of humans in our industry to shine.

 On social media especially, drama attracts discussion. Drama gets likes and shares. Calling some drama a “Gate” is a lot more common these days. You see it creep up everywhere. It’s a fun way to throw shade at people while validating the small drama that they’re now going to make into a mountain. It validates the drama further while mocking it, belittling it but also dragging it out. Through that, a page can grow. The audience grows. Discussion grows. The more people who join the discussion, the more ears they have to present their fictional reality. 

 

The personality you’re dealing with

 

 If someone’s reaction is to complain and rant about others, they won’t hesitate to do so about you too. These people are abrasive. They’re toxic. Bullies in our industry are often opportunistic and narcissistic. Therefore, they exploit people and situations in order to further their own agenda and market themselves in a particular way – Whether that be for attention, validation, power or popularity. When you don’t agree with the bully, or better yet, you see through them, you become disposable. You become their target. 

 In cases of real bullying, there isn’t always a good guy and a bad guy. In reality those lines are blurred. It’s easy for us to be dragged into an unfolding drama. Especially when we invest and trust in one side of the story. It’s also easy for that someone to present their side as fact. It’s easy for them to twist and change the story to suit their image of themselves. 

 Stop and think about the person you’re dealing with. If they’re always hard done by, are they really that unlucky? Or are they presenting an image to market themselves?

 Remember that everything you see and hear may not be what it seems. 

 Bullying in the Equestrian world is real. It just isn’t the stereotype we like to believe. 

 

 Bullying in the Equestrian world was first published on https://www.BarnesEQ.com/ by Scott Barnes of Barnes Equestrian. All views expressed here are my own and come from first hand experience with bullying and the types of people who I think are most likely to be bullying in the equestrian world. For more information on bullying.

 

 If you are a victim of bullying in the workplace, please visit the HSA website for support or the mental health support website for other useful information.

The fuss of the Charlotte DuJardin elimination is unreal!

The Fuss of the Charlotte Dujardin Elimination
Charlotte Dujardin, 2012. Source: Horse & Hound

One of the big issues here, is that people put her on a pedestal. She can do no wrong in many eyes. That’s not me saying she is harsh as a rider. She isn’t. Likewise nor do I even think she did anything wrong. I do believe that her and Carl work for the interest of the horses. Above all people simply forget that mistakes happen all the time. They happen at all levels, even at the top. It can take a split second of a wrong movement and that’s it. A split second is all it takes for something to go wrong!

 

What is a simple mistake will now be judged by the court of public opinion

 

Charlotte Dujardin is a good role model and I sympathise with her greatly. What is probably a simple mistake will now be judged by the court of public opinion… This small thing will be amplified. Certainly not because of WHAT happened. In contrast because of WHO it is. The fuss of the Charlotte DuJardin elimination is overblown!

Since this is Charlotte Dujardin, I’ve seen people excusing it. For reasons as simple as she’s won the country gold. On the flip side I’ve seen others blame her for carelessness and being cruel to her horse. Just because she’s competed at the Olympics, she isn’t infallible. At grass roots or Olympics, mistakes happen.

Charlotte isn’t the villain of this story

 

She was eliminated for this. As a result, she doesn’t mean that she has to be vilified. Rules were broken but rules were upheld. That’s great! Charlotte isn’t the villain of this story. We have two huge camps in industry who are debating this out; Those who idolise her and Carl, and those who hate their hype. Where is the middle ground?

Neither are correct. The truth isn’t an extreme. Horses and riders have a lot of grey areas. It isn’t always black or white and good or bad. It doesn’t mean she’s terrible and it doesn’t mean she can do no wrong either. She’s human!

It simply comes down to human error. She is a human being and not a godly being.

Like the horses we ride, riders aren’t robots. Even the top riders make mistakes.

The Fuss of the Charlotte Dujardin Elimination was written by Scott Barnes

Barnes Equestrian

Riding with Emotion

Should we be riding with emotion? Let’s read on and allow me to share my thoughts on this.

‘People ride with too much emotion, you need to let that go!’

I’m paraphrasing that quote but i initially heard it from George Morris as I watched a master class of his. He was giving young riders a lesson in the Simmons Court arena at the RDS Horse Show back in 2011 at the time. All these years later I think back on that as one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard!

 

If you keep adding tension to tension, something will eventually snap

 

The fundamental basics of working with horses is to establish rhythm and relaxation throughout everything we do. Those are the first two steps of the training scale and we often only attribute those to the horse. However the very same goes for the rider. If we ride without relaxation, we are adding tension. That may be physical, mental or both. When we are tense in either aspect it will often ‘feed’ to the horse we are working with. If you keep adding tension (human) to tension (horse), something will eventually snap.

 

We are emotional beings

 

As much as we humans are smart and as much as we can act off logic and intelligence, we are also very emotional beings. Riding with emotion is very normal for us. You can see this emotion come out all the time around horses from both amateur and even professional riders. Whether you get frustrated during a session or even in some cases I’ve seen, getting angry, it really has no place in our work with horses.

It’s no easy task and it won’t happen over night. We’ve all been there when it feels like nothing is going right whatsoever – Even though we know it can go right! That makes it even more than frustrating! It’s how we act in these moments, whether good or bad, that can leave a long lasting mark on a horse.

As riders and trainers, it’s vital to be level headed and not let things escalate. It is easier said than done but it’s not impossible. It isn’t even that we have to be emotionless, but we have to learn how to control that emotion while on horseback.

 

The next time things don’t go right for you, instead of being flustered or angry about it, try the following

 

Breathe! Let’s try not to be riding with emotion for a second. That thing that just went wrong 5 seconds ago is now in the past. It went wrong and you can’t change that. Take a deep breath and have a think about what happened. Think about what you did or didn’t do. Think about what the horse did and move on to the next step.

Try again. Think about what went wrong initially and keep it simple in the correction. Don’t overreact or over ride, focus on giving clear and firm aids. Sometimes we get complacent with our signals when we need to be clear. Horses aren’t robots and we should never assume they’ll just do the exact thing we want them to. We are riders, not passengers.

If it still goes wrong, take another breath and think about what else you can try. Don’t revisit the same method over and over because that will only frustrate both you and your horse. Look at what happened, assess what you did and look at your options. Even if it means thinking outside the box, it’s important to find relaxation and calmness again before continuing. Avoid adding tension to tension.

 

Don’t be afraid to take a break from the troublesome task

 

Work on something else in the meantime. Find that happy place again. You can always go back and work on the issue once you find that relaxation again. We all try not to leave an issue unaddressed but sometimes you have to step away and establish the basics before trying to ask for more.

Working with horses is extremely trying at times. It is frustrating and when you’re passionate about it, it can be emotional. The foundation of everything we do is rhythm and relaxation. Just remember it’s not only for the horse, but it’s vital for us as riders too – Rhythm and relaxation.

 Riding With Emotion was written by Scott Barnes

 Barnes Equestrian

The Sensitive Cob

Throwback to a lovely cob called Benson that I got to take for a spin once. The sensitive cob isn’t a special kind of cob, they are most cobs.

Cobs are really unfairly stereotyped. People see a big chunky cob and don’t attribute any sort of suppleness or softness. There’s no real expectation of them and when they do go well, surprise is often the reaction on people’s faces. The sensitive cob is actually misunderstood.

They’re reliable, adaptable and surprisingly impressive when you get on their side.

I’ve worked with a few cobs through the years and the one thing that I’ve always taken away is that cobs are some of the most mentally sensitive horses out there. They’re big softies! They worry and they stress. Furthermore most of all they’re misunderstood. They may not always look pretty going around but they have a lot to give – Especially if you take the time to work with them rather than make them fit the mould of every other horse. Like every horse, cobs too are individual.

The sensitive cob is smart. They feel you up there but even when they don’t know something, they’ll try to look after you.

Cobs aren’t big clunky plods. They don’t need to be whipped or spurred to move. They don’t always need muscle and strength, it’s quite the opposite. They’re not the old banger from the scrap yard of the equestrian world. Cobs are the Volkswagen Golf. Hence theyre reliable, adaptable and surprisingly impressive when you get on their side.

Never underestimate a cob…Even if they don’t sound “just like a Golf.”

 The Sensitive Cob was written by Scott Barnes

 Barnes Equestrian