Don’t Disrupt the Barn Routine


The sports world is full of habits and rituals. I’ve heard of players tying their shoes a particular way before a game, of players refusing to hold a trophy until a championship is officially won, and of teams only agreeing to play if a certain player or coach says specific words before the entering the field.

I am not accomplished enough to have a superstitious ritual that someone would discuss. ESPN is not going to interview my family and ask them to talk about my particular habits. However, as I’ve continued my 3-rides per week half-lease, I’ve noticed that I have some pretty specific barn habits, and when I don’t follow those habits, I feel off – off my game. If I miss a step or do something out of order, my inner balance disappears.

Here are some of the things I’ve caught myself missing in my normal barn routine.

Billet Keeper
  • I forgot to put a billet through the saddle pad keeper before tightening my girth.
  • My first thought should be: Easy solution. Loosen the girth and fix it.
  • My actual thought: Now I have to either:
    1. Let my saddle pad slip back while I ride (not a real option) or
    2. Loosen the girth and watch my mare get angry with me when I tighten it – again (not an appealing option).
Hind Boots
  • I put my horse’s back boots on before I put on her front boots.
    • My first thought should be: As long as she has all four boots on, all legs are adequately protected and supported.
    • My actual thought: I’ve put on the back boots. Where are her front boots? If I haven’t put them on her … where are they? Oh man. Now she’s going to feel off balance. (Rational thought? Perhaps.)
    Picking Hooves
  • I picked out my horse’s hooves in a different order.
    • My first thought should be: Order makes no difference. There is no reason to believe otherwise.
    • My actual thought: Dang it! Which hoof have I already picked out and which one still needs attention? Is she being stubborn about her back left because I already did her right and I normally do her left first?
    Cleaning Tack
  • I put my horse away and then cleaned and oiled my tack.
    • My first thought should be: Today was a good barn day: a good ride, a healthy horse and clean tack.
    • My actual thought: What was I thinking? Why did I already put her back in her stall? I always clean my tack while giving her some extra time to cool down in the cross-ties.
    • What regularly happens when I mix up this particular task? I get in the car, turn it on and prepare to leave the barn only to realize I haven’t cleaned my tack and I didn’t even put it back in the tack room.

    Have you ever noticed any quirks that throw off your barn game?

    Allison Griest is a freelance writer based in Texas. Follow her on Twitter: @allisongriest.


    1. I do have a routine that I follow, out of years of habit, that I stick to religiously. I know I’m OCD so if I Veered from it, it would drive me nuts and ruin my day for sure.


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