When Non-Horsey Friends Lend a Hand at the Barn


As equestrians, we sometimes take for granted some of the basic horse-handling skills that have become second nature to us.

We automatically know how to halter the horse. We know how to safely alert the horse to the fact that we’re walking behind him. We understand why we don’t throw open an umbrella in the middle of the arena.

People Leading Horses

Our sweet non-horsey friends who venture to the barn or show grounds with us? They do not automatically know these things.

It’s only in hindsight (when they’ve done something substantially out of the ordinary and known to be less than ideal in the horse world) that we realize the knowledge gap. To be honest, the potential errors committed usually impact the non-horsey friend more than the horse.

Some examples:

  1. My friend held my horse while I went to fill my water bottle, and the horse stepped on her toe. I thought I’d shown her how to actively avoid this, but I forgot to give a reminder. At least she wore the closed-toe boots I had recommended and wasn’t seriously injured. Lesson learned? I should always remind someone how to properly hold a horse and how to be aware of where/how the horse might move his feet.
  2. My friend met me at the barn after work and wanted to bring the horse in from the pasture for me. I still needed to change out of my work clothes, so I happily accepted the offer. As I came around the barn aisle and saw her walking the horse toward me, I noticed the halter was upside down. My horse looked ready for the casting call for the next Gladiator movie, but no harm was done beyond some embarrassment on my friend’s part. She gave a good effort!
  3. Upside-Down Halter
  4. I picked up my horse’s boots and was just about to put them on when my friend offered to help. She was familiar with horses and how to safely conduct herself around them, but she hadn’t had many opportunities to ride. I gave her the boots and turned away to get my helmet. When I looked at my horse, I noticed the back boots where on the front legs and the front boots were on the back legs. She could tell something wasn’t right but she wasn’t sure where she’d gone wrong. I sufficiently embarrassed her when I wanted to take a picture of my horse’s face. My horse could tell something felt funny. I always remind my friend – it was an easy fix and is a good story!

I personally love when my friends commit these rookie errors. It reminds me that it’s my job as the horse expert to make sure my friends know how to be safe, and it usually morphs into a good story full of laughs.

Have you ever had an honest effort by a non-horsey friend go amusingly wrong?

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


  1. When I first started driving large draughts I hadn’t had any experience with the harnesses with those huge collars. I tried to take it off the horse without disconnecting it. Fortunately my horse was patient and just stood there with a huge collar hanging from his ears. His owner, laughing heartily, came to the rescue.


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