While many of us enjoy riding for riding’s sake, most people ride for more than just the health benefits it provides. We also ride to foster a sense of community and belonging with like-minded individuals.
But there are ways to become part of the pack, even when it might seem like you’ll never fit in. Be friendly and have faith! Soon it will be your turn to help new boarders find their niche at the barn.
Four Steps to Friendship
- Ask if group lessons are available with riders close to your skill level. Don’t be alarmed if the other members of the group are either significantly older or younger than you are—age is just a number, and good friends can be of any age. Keep an open mind!Riding in a group will ensure that you’re in the barn tacking up with other riders, and you may get to take a little hack outside the ring to cool down—this is a great time to find out more about the other riders and their interests.
- If your barn hosts events, anything from potlucks to clinics, make a point to go. Attending a party by yourself can be intimidating, but the great thing about barn events is you already have something in common with every single person there: horses!It’s especially important to go if the event is specifically catered to barn boarders and lesson students, as this will give you some extended time to meet multiple people in one location, instead of hoping you’ll run into someone while you’re out for an evening hack. So don’t make excuses—just go! You’ll be glad you did.
- Invite a few friendly boarders at a time out for coffee or dinner after a lesson or hack at the farm. While it might seem odd to do this with someone you haven’t known long, if there is one thing horse people like to do (besides ride), it’s eat! So chances are good that you’ll have at least one taker to grab a bite after a strenuous ride.Mention going out after a ride, and if your they can’t go that day, schedule a specific time and place for the following week (and don’t be offended if people can’t go that day—just because they can’t go that night doesn’t mean they aren’t interested). Just be sure to follow up with a text or reminder when you see them again so they don’t forget!
- Friend your new barn buddies on Facebook or Instagram. Looking through their photos and seeing what they post about can provide fodder for upcoming conversations, not to mention allow you insight into their lives away from the barn. You may find out you have a lot more in common that just horses!
Making friends at a new farm can seem overwhelming, but with some concerted effort on your part and a friendly demeanor, soon you’ll have an extended farm family.