When you are finally lucky enough to make the purchase of your own horse, get a part share or a full loan of a horse, you will discover the peculiar world of ‘the livery yard’. There are many of these places in all areas of the country, all with their own quirks and rules. Some of these points I am about to make may also apply to ‘the riding school’ as well, I find they are one and the same, full of lunatics with one thing in common, they love their four-legged friend more than anything.
Now what I am about to list is not aimed at any one person, I’ve experienced a few yards in my time and have found the same sort of characters, some more extreme than others I’ll admit, but I am speaking generally as a whole rather than any one individual. I too have strange quirks, that be the equestrian world in a nutshell. Nutters.
Firstly, you have what I like to call, ‘The Sensei’. There is always one person at the yard that everyone looks up to and asks advice. “What shall I feed my fizzy horse to calm it down?”, “I want to teach my horse to change its canter lead” or just the simple “what rug shall I use tonight?” ultimately the answer to all these questions will be to consult ‘The Sensei’. This person is usually the yard manager/owner that’s also a qualified instructor or the one that is always out at shows coming home with red ribbons and their horses are well mannered and have a floaty magical movement, everything about them makes you look on with awe wanting to learn the art thy have so clearly mastered. They are usually the most unassuming and down to earth people you will meet down the yard. They tend not to interfere, just quietly observe and get on with their day and will only comment or help when you ask them specifically. A yard simply isn’t a proper yard without this fountain of knowledge and advice at hand. My ‘Sensei’ probably dreads the sight of me as I am a needy person and always have a question to ask. ha!
Next we have ‘The Ghost’. This person you will probably only see at the Christmas do… if you’re lucky. Their horse is always immaculate and in the field by the time you arrive (if they’re DIY) and now and again you will find the horse has a small sweat mark on their forehead and a few objects have been moved. You will never see them, most likely because they have a job up in the city or they are just generally busy people on full livery and will come to ride and leave. These people are generally more ‘normal’ to the none-horse person as they manage to have a life outside of horses. I partially fit this category as I don’t come up the yard until well after everyone has put their horses to bed because I don’t finish work until 6pm. However, unlike the ghost, I will appear again during daylight hours when I have a day off work and the yard girls know who I am.
Next up is “the detective”. These people are the resident busy bodies, somehow they know everything about everyone and their horses… or at least they think they do anyway. Always well equipped with a dramatic tale about so and so who has a horse bred out of the same stallion as Valegro that’s too much for them or how they left their previous yard due to some scandal. Always take their stories with a pinch of salt and beware what you confide or even say in passing to them, these people are like a sponge when it comes to collecting information and love to share it with the masses (usually with a few added twists and turns). Generally these people are harmless and they can be amusing to listen to, however, these people will always be the centre of malicious gossip or any yard dispute, conveniently avoiding blame. Keep at arm’s length.
We also have ‘Mother Hen’. This person is pretty self-explanatory, they seem to have a good relationship with everyone on the yard, no matter what age or experience you are. I’ve been lucky enough to reap the full benefit of the resident ‘Mother Hens‘ at almost all of my yards due to being a part of this world from a young age. (side note, horses bring together any age or gender, generally we are all equals all wanting the same goal and I think that is awesome) ‘Mother Hen’ might not even be horsey, they could be the mother that tags along to support their children in their equestrian endeavours. These people will give you the shirt off their back and make you feel like you can talk to them about anything, relationships, horses, something that bugged you during the day, anything. They listen intently whilst you natter away at them, probably just brushing your horse off or tacking up, and they always have advice. These people are also your biggest fans, be it you posted a cute picture on Facebook, you finally managed to get your horse on the correct canter lead or you won that big show, they’re right there giving you the encouragement that makes you all warm and fuzzy regardless of the outcome. No matter what they’re going through they want all of their fellow liveries to be happy and do their best. I salute the ‘mother hens’ they are amazing.