Beating the winter blues

I don’t know about you guys, but I currently have a day off work due to a storm that’s about to drop 6 – 8 inches of snow on New Jersey – as if we needed that. This winter has been brutal. Tons of snow storm, bitter cold, and not much riding time.

Guest writer, Alison Kennedy, came up with some tips to help us beat those winter blues and make it through the last of the winter freeze.

The arctic has descended onto central Ohio, making it extremely difficult for me to find the motivation to do just about anything except for sit on my couch in my pajamas. I want to ride, don’t get me wrong, but the idea of layering enough clothing on me to face the below-zero windchill just does not sound appealing. By the time I put on several layers of insulating clothes, I’m pretty much ready to crawl back inside.

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It’s definitely not easy to stay motivated through the depths of winter, but I’ve found a few strategies that have helped me keep working hard even in the cold and get me pumped up for spring’s eventual arrival.

Knock out spring cleaning early. Take a day that it’s too cold to ride or even sometime before or after a ride, and give your tack trunks a good cleaning. I find that if I organize everything before show season starts, I’m scrambling less once I’m trying to show. Going through everything in my trunks gives me a chance to inventory what I already have, rehome what I no longer use, and come up with a list of what I need for the coming season with enough time to find it all. As an eventer, I have a lot of tack and equipment. I have two saddles, multiple bridles, boots for different phases, and I’m going to be honest, I’ve lost count of the number of saddle pads I own. It takes some effort to keep it all organized, and the end of winter is the perfect time to jumpstart that organization.

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Mark horse show dates on a calendar. One of the best motivators for me is to see a visual reminder of what’s to come. As soon as horse show dates are posted by various organizations, I add them to my calendar. I have two – one basic one, and one Passion Planner, a specific goal-setting organizer that I’m trying this year. I like to plan my show season as early as possible so that I can start setting money aside for entries. I know which of the shows are the most expensive and which ones I would be okay skipping if I couldn’t afford them. When you’re on a tight budget, planning far in advance is essential. Plus it’s fun to look how great the spring and summer will be! Currently, I have something going on at least two weekends most months and every weekend of July – bring it on!

Set at least one goal for the show season, and create a plan to work towards it. I’ve been working with a trainer for the past six months, something that I haven’t been able to afford for a while. Taking lessons regularly has reinvigorated my desire to constantly improve and to settle for nothing less. As part of my winter motivation, I like to set goals for myself and for my horse. Make sure that when you set goals, they are achievable. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to make showing at 4th Level my goal when my mare and I are about to make our Intro debut this spring. Be honest with yourself, and get the advice of others. While I initially had the goal of training level this year, I looked at the tests and saw the stretchy trot circle. Tess, my horse, and I are finally figuring out contact; we’re definitely not ready for the stretchy trot circle. My trainer has been a great influence on my goal-setting – we’re taking the time soon to try out some of the movements in my lessons and work from there. My goals this year are to successfully debut at Intro Level dressage, to compete at all of the mini trials in our local series, and to win a 4th consecutive series championship of our local hunter paces. To achieve these, I plan on staying in weekly dressage lessons with my trainer and adding conditioning rides in the spring. I also checked out a few books from my local library. 101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider had some excellent exercises that I’ve been able to incorporate into my rides.

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Invest in something warm! It’s so much easier to handle being outside when you’re toasty warm. If you’re looking for a serious investment, I suggest the UnderArmour ColdGear Leggings. I wear these every day under jeans and breeches, and I can’t recommend them enough! They’re compression, which makes breeches look and feel great, and they keep me warm without making me too hot. They’re flexible and comfortable enough to wear all day long. Scarves are another great way to stay warm and looking cute too. My girlfriend bought me the official Baker scarf for Christmas, and I love it! Super warm, it’s the perfect accessory for any Baker princess, like myself. For the quick and cheap way to stay warm, I buy the single-use Grabber hand and foot warmers. They cost about $1.50-$2.00 a pair, but they are incredible. I wouldn’t have survived working at the barn in winter without them! For feet, I like the ones that are specifically made for toes – they have a sticky patch on them so you can attach them directly to your feet. Nothing is worse than hopping off after riding in the winter and feeling like your feet have shattered because they’re so cold.

Treat yourself to something new for spring. Maybe it’s a new show coat or a helmet. Maybe it’s something smaller like a new bridle charm or monogram. Keep yourself excited for spring by treating yourself to something new. I recently found a great deal on a pair of Equifit D-Teq hind boots. They had been personalized by someone else with the name Tessa. After finding them for sale on a Facebook Tack Trader group, I realized that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have them. D-Teqs for $80 that already had my horse’s name on them? Too perfect! So I invested in them. I’m pumped for show season – now I just need to find the fronts! Make sure whatever you decide on, it gets you excited to work and ride even in the cold weather.

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These are certainly not the only ways to keep motivated during winter, but they’re ideas that I’m currently using as I fight the bitter cold and wind. If all else fails, I just keep telling myself that spring has to be on the way because one of the horses where I work is already shedding!

Post some of your winter motivation ideas in the comments! What are your goals for this year?

Alison Kennedy is an adult amateur in graduate school. She is working hard to balance her budget with affording her horse and opportunities to show. She likes to invest in quality products without breaking the bank. To her, the thrift store and equine consignment shops are the best places to find a bargain. You can find Alison on Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr.

Horseback riding: Sport vs. hobby

Guest post by Lindsay.

Kent Farrington. Picture Credit: NoelleFloyd.com

A few months ago, before teaching a lesson, I heard a a six year old boy teasing his sister, “Riding isn’t a sport- the horse does all the work!”  I very calmly corrected him, in defense of his sister and myself.  His mother responded, “He’s only teasing his sister.”

For over 20 years, I have been defending my SPORT.  I have been teased, not only by my own brothers, but by gym teachers and other “sports” or “athletic” people.  Many people classify riding as a hobby, where the horse does “all of the work” and the rider is “just along for the ride.”

I guess, for some people riding can be a hobby.  I have never looked at my sport that way, but for argument’s sake, I will try.  There are plenty of people in the horse world that are much more casual than I am.  (A nice way of saying that I am incredibly intense.)  Even at show barns, there are people that breeze in once or twice a month, putter around grooming, and perhaps take a lesson if the weather is nice.  For those people, riding is just one of the many things that they do.  I have met many people that just want to enjoy time with their horse, do some work in their lesson or on the trail, and get a little better each time they ride.  (I would like to be very clear- if this is the type of rider that you are, the more power to you.  I know you truly enjoy your rides and your horses and I do love seeing you around the barn.  As a super intense person, I need to learn from you and remember that I am in the horse world because I enjoy it and it is fun- sometimes, I forget that.)

Georgina Bloomberg.

Some people prefer horsemanship to riding.  (I cannot stress the importance of horsemanship!) They prefer to come see their horse everyday, groom, care for, and pamper their animal.  I do know people who LOVE and prefer ground work with their horses.  There are also people that prefer to be spectators; they love to audit clinics, watch horse shows, or even hang around the barn and watch lessons.

Okay, so for some people, this might just be a hobby. (Maybe.)

On the other hand, there are many people that treat riding as a sport.  I am one of those people.  The horse, for me, certainly does not “do all the work” – quite the opposite, in fact.  I am an athlete.  At 1/10 (or less) of the weight of the horse, it is up to my body to control this animal that will eventually become my partner, my teammate.

Lillie Keenan. Picture Credit: The Chronicle of The Horse.

For those that don’t think riding is a sport, I ask: how does a horse know what to do when you ride it? Magic?  As some one who has been the first person on a few horses, I can tell you, it is not magic.  It’s strength and skill.  It is knowing where exactly to put you left calf muscle, while knowing what to do with your right pinky.  It is having control over every single muscle in your body and knowing what to without watching your body work.  (We all know what happens if you look down!)

The statement I often hear is, “Okay, well riding is a physical activity, but what about competition?  You can’t have a sport without competition!”  I am no stranger to “typical” sports.  My family boasts college and semi pro athletes in baseball and football, my grandfather is even a Major League Baseball Scout.  I have been involved in “typical” competition from a young age.  Horse shows are more competitive than any other sport I have played or watched.  Our athletes put tremendous mental pressure on themselves and their competitors.  Riders and horses push themselves to their physical limits.  Blood, sweat and tears?  You will certainly find all of those at a horse show.  Under a seemingly cool and calm demeanor, you find men and women that expect nothing less than a perfect performance from their horse and rider team.

So, what is left to prove?  Riding’s physical difficulty?  Take a lesson with me, and of course your upper thigh will hurt, but your abs will hurt for days.  Try to lift up a horse, set him on his haunch, keep him straight – only using your legs, and then squeeze the dickens out of him to try to get him over a jump.  Ask professional equestrians about their injuries; the list will be too long for most people to remember.

So if riding is not your hobby, if riding is your sport and some one makes fun of you: Smile.  Remember, you are an athlete.  You have a coach.  You have a teammate.  You sweat, you work, and you have a game day strategy.  You wear a helmet for a reason.  Then, ask them if you can have a piggy back ride… and try not to break their ribs.

#RideAboveHate: What happened?

In July, Horse Junkies United launched an equestrian anti-bullying campaign called #RideAboveHate. It quickly gained popularity on Twitter with many equestrians tweeting the new hashtag – even those that engaged in bullying themselves.

However, like every new thing, #RideAboveHate slowly lost momentum, and bullying was back in full swing.

Everyone was so gung-ho about it, preaching acceptance and non-judgment, saying how equestrians shouldn’t be judged on what they can afford, whether they show, what their tack or horse looks like.. and then, just like that, it went poof.

An example of hate I've gotten personally in my ask.

An example of hate I’ve gotten personally in my ask.

Bullying happens every single day whether it’s at school, work, in other social environments, the barn, or online. In fact, I would venture to say that bullying is at its worst when it’s online because of the ability to say vicious, mean things to someone without revealing one’s true identity.

There is a difference between stating your opinion and being downright mean. There is a difference between teasing someone and taking it too far. There is a difference between constructively criticizing someone and being incredibly hurtful.

I, and others, see it everyday on Twitter. Riders are attacked for their horse and its jumping ability. Riders are attacked for their appearance. Riders are attacked for what they can and cannot afford. Riders are attacked for their attire, their tack, the breed of horse they like, their barn. It is literally rampant. If Twitter goes a day without having some type of drama, it’s a miracle.

I have not been immune to bullying either. Ask.fm, which is a popular way for people to ask anonymous questions of others, is also a huge medium for bullying. I’ve received tons of hateful and, quite frankly, hurtful comments on Ask.fm. Below are just a few:

  • “i don’t think your horse is high enough quality to be considered an actually show horse he will never take you past schooling level in reality”
  • “I don’t really think your horse qualifies as a “show horse” sorry”
  • “god your horses look fresh off the slaughter truck…. you seriously need a job to get some better horses hun, thats pretty embarrassing XD”
  • “we all know your family’s broke as f*ck, but 5k is freaking hilarious, even for your situation #thirstyAF hahaha XD”

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I’ve been called ugly, had my horses called ugly, and also been told I spend too much money on myself and not enough on my horses and because of that, my horse looks malnourished (Note: My horse was underweight and had zero muscle tone when he came to me on lease last year. It took a long time to get his weight and muscle tone up as we had to experiment with different food/supplement/forage combinations. Additionally, I lost riding time due to him having two injuries in three months that both took at least a month of stall rest to heal. His muscle tone, that we had built up over the spring and summer, suffered as a result. I acknowledge that my horse looked, in my personal opinion and my trainer’s personal opinion, terrible. But, we were doing absolutely EVERYTHING to get his weight up and muscle tone increased. Just because a horse doesn’t look his greatest doesn’t mean the owner/rider isn’t taking action to fix the problem. Also, some horses are just hard keepers and will never have adequate weight/muscle tone due to health issues or disorders it may have.)

I would be lying if I said these comments didn’t hurt my feelings. I know that I shouldn’t put stock into anyone who is saying something to me without revealing their true identity, but when things get nasty, it’s hard not to take it personally.

My question is – why do we do this to each other? What is it that makes a person able to be so mean, rude, and hurtful to another? Some would say jealousy; others would say boredom. There’s probably a million different theories as to motivation and the ‘why’ of bullying, but we need to stop.

An example where I was accused of putting my physical appearance and interest in nice clothes over my horse's well-being.

An example where I was accused of putting my physical appearance and interest in nice clothes over my horse’s well-being.

As equestrians, we should be supporting each other. Our sport is known as one of the most dramatic. Every non-horse person I have spoken to thinks that the horse world is too dramatic and that horse people are crazy.

And to be quite honest, I can see where they get that opinion from.

Horse Junkies United had an amazing idea, and it really worked… for about a month. Why did we forget so quickly? And what can we do to get that support and sense of community back?

We cannot keep bullying each other and tearing each other down whether it’s on the internet or in person. We can constructively criticize each other’s riding. We can state our opinion without tearing down a person’s looks, character, or horses. We can tell someone they are wrong without attacking them to where they are driven off of Twitter or contemplating suicide.

I challenge all of you to speak up when you see someone being bullied. I challenge all of you to show your support to someone who is being torn down. I challenge all of you to think before you tweet or speak. Bullying is a huge problem in this sport, and we shouldn’t judge someone based on their discipline preference, access to money, horse(s) they own, or anything else save abuse or neglect really.

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Many will say the best way of dealing with hate and negativity is to ignore it. While that may be true, what kind of example are we setting if we don’t speak up? By ignoring it we are letting the perpetrators get away with the behavior, and that isn’t right. We need to stick up for ourselves and for fellow riders. Bullying can be severely detrimental to one’s self-confidence and enjoyment of this sport, not to mention it gives the rest of us riders a bad name. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that think equestrians are crazy. While we may be to a certain extent, some of this stereotype is due to the bullying and mean behavior that occurs more often than it should (though I would argue it shouldn’t happen at all).

So I’m asking all of you to take the time to do something about bullying. Even the smallest gesture helps. Stick up for those being bullied. Do your best to avoid perpetuating the negative behavior. It may be scary to stick up to a bully as they tend to turn on those who oppose them and start to cut that person down, but you absolutely will have supporters – me, for example.

I want #RideAboveHate to come back and not be some fad we all follow just because it’s popular at the moment. It should be an all-the-time trend.

Let’s strive to get that going.

Got other ideas to combat bullying? Let me know in the comments below, find me on one of my social media pages, or send me an email.

The Legal Equestrian’s Health Routine

I posted a tweet asking how many of you would be interested in my health and skincare routine, and it was extremely popular, so I’ve decided to follow through! I am starting with my health routine, which to be honest, is not all that complicated.

First, I drink a TON of water. If you’re going to do one thing off of this list – drink water! Staying hydrated is super important, both in the winter and in the summer. Since I am prone to migraines, drinking water also has another benefit for me: helping to prevent them. It’s not foolproof, but I am certainly less likely get migraines if I am well hydrated. I also get super dry skin in the winter so making sure I drink enough water helps keep my skin hydrated and fights off any dryness that may occur. The daily recommended amount is 8 glasses of water a day, but only you know you best. I admit that I don’t always meet that daily limit. If you’re thirsty, make sure you drink water! If you’re not, then don’t. I personally also hate the taste of water, so investing in something that flavors water (but doesn’t have a ton of sugar) or drinking something like Vitamin Water can hep you stay hydrated too. Just make sure what you are using to hydrate yourself doesn’t have a lot of sugar because that will have a detrimental effect on your health. Seltzer water is another huge addiction of mine. I love Pellegrino and Perrier. They also sell seltzer water in a ton of flavors, so find what tickles your fancy (or tongue) and drink up!

Co Q-10, good for heart health & energy.

Second, I take a lot of vitamins. Some of them are for migraine prevention, but they all have great health benefits for my body. The vitamins I take daily are:

  • Co-Q-10
  • Vitamin B Complex with biotin, folic acid, and Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Probiotic

The benefits of these vitamins are as follows:

  • Co-Q-10 is the supplement I take to prevent my migraines, as clinical research has shown it helps to prevent migraines in those that get them chronically. However, Co-Q-10 is great for: the immune system; increasing energy; reducing cholesterol; treating high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Vitamin B Complex is essentially for basically everything our body does. I take it to keep my immune system strong, and it also apparently has energy properties as well as prevents migraines. My Vitamin B Complex also has biotin in it, which is good for strong hair and nails; folic acid which is good for your digestive system and if you’re pregnant (which I am not, thank god), and Vitamin C is good for the immune system.
  • Vitamin D is a vitamin I recently started taking because my mood absolutely sucks during the time change and the winter. By the time I get out of work, the sun is basically setting. I don’t get to spend as much time outside or with my horses because of the weather. Vitamin D is able to help the immune system, absorption of essential minerals like calcium, and supposedly improves your mood! That’s why it’s known as the “sunshine” vitamin.
  • Vitamin E is another recent addition to my vitamin regimen. Vitamin E helps keep your skin and eyes healthy, and it also helps your immune system.
  • Probiotics are great for horses and great for people too! I get an upset stomach pretty often, especially when I eat breakfast early in the morning, so I take this just to help with that.

Third, I get enough sleep every night. This is sometimes really hard, especially if you have a horseshow the next day, have a ton of homework, or work a night shift and then have to go in early for a day shift. Getting enough sleep is imperative to your health though, so every effort to get it should be made. I also use a sleep app to track my sleep habits. My favorite sleep apps are Sleep Time and MotionX 24/7. Basically, the apps track your sleep patterns and will wake you up within a certain time period, that you specify, so that you aren’t jolted out of REM sleep which is why we tend to wake up groggy and not feeling rested. I highly recommend either app. If you have iOS 8, MotionX will input everything into your Health App for you.

Fourth, I don’t really exercise aside from horseback riding. However, since I work full-time, I am often sitting down for almost 8 hours a day. To counteract this, I do the following:

  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator whenever possible. This is a great way to get some exercise and active time in (not to mention some cardio).
  • The parking lot for my office is not near my office, so I do have to walk a block to get to it. Doing that twice a day (and sometimes more if I have to go to a doctor’s appointment) is great!
  • When I go out for lunch, I walk! No use in driving anywhere when there are good places to eat right around where I work.
  • Believe it or not, heavy cleaning is a workout too. I hate cleaning, but I try to do a thorough cleaning of my room once a week. This includes dusting, vacuuming, and washing my sheets (Have you tried putting a fitted sheet on a queen sized bed by yourself?)
  • I’ve also taken to doing the 30 day ab challenge and the 30 day squat challenge. However, I have removed the sit-ups from the ab challenge as those are not good for your back. Crunches are also not too good for one’s back, but they are less harmful than sit-ups (at least, that’s my understanding). Working on your core is a great way to help your riding. Squats are also super helpful for developing a good position over fences.

I wish I could say I have a strict diet, but I don’t. I’m a firm believer in eating what you want in moderation. It’s okay to have a donut once in a while! The above four things are really what I do in an effort to keep myself healthy. If you believe in eating clean and not veering off a diet, then that is perfectly fine and what works for you, but I can’t limit myself like that, so I don’t even try. Am I eating donuts or french fries every day? Of course not, but I don’t think I should have to completely cut them out of my diet to stay healthy and fit.

Riding facilities & social media policies

Can a barn tell me what I can and cannot post on my social media account(s) about my riding, horses, training, and other things pertaining to the barn?

Social media limitations. I have to admit that I had never heard of this type of limitation until last year due to someone I follow on Tumblr. She stated she wasn’t allowed to post much about the barn at which she rides because of its “social media policy.” I thought this was quite interesting as it was something I had never experienced in all my time riding.

Last year, I took some videos of my trainer riding my horse and riding my old barn manager’s horse. My old barn manager’s horse threw several bucking fits during the approach to a small oxer, and I got them all on video. My trainer was never unseated. In fact, it looked like her ass had superglue on it. I posted the videos to my Facebook page as a way of showing just how badass my trainer was. My Facebook was, and is still, completely private. In fact, it’s so private that you can’t even find me if you do a search for my name, so there was really no risk of the video being seen by anyone other than my friends.

I received a text from my old barn manager a few days later asking that I take the video down as she did not want it “all over the internet.” Aside from the fact that there was no possible way it could be all over the internet given that my Facebook was private, and that was the only place I had posted the video, I was a bit taken aback. Was she really trying to dictate what I was allowed to post to my private social media account? I told her that a. my Facebook is private and that no one who wasn’t my friend could see it and b. I didn’t really appreciate that she was telling me what I, an adult, could place on my Facebook page. I did oblige and take it down, mostly because I said to myself “would I rather be right or be happy?” Since I was already having issues with her, I decided I would rather be happy, and I removed the video.

I also pointed out to her that other riders/boarders at the barn had made videos in the past and published them to public YouTube accounts. These videos didn’t just show them riding but also showed things such as bad behavior of lesson horses that they rode and some falls by other riders at the facility who were also riding lesson horses. My old barn manager’s response was that I was more associated with the barn since I ran their Facebook page, website, and worked for them (on a free, as needed basis – I was never actually employed by the barn).

When I moved barns, I moved to a place that was originally built private facility, no boarders at all. However, the owner decided to start a very small boarding/lesson business, and he opened his property to, for all intents and purposes, complete strangers that wanted to keep their horses at his barn. On the rule sheet that is handed out to each boarder, there is an explicit rule stating that boarders/riders are not allowed to take photos of the owner’s house. This is understandable. When I decided to move there to get away from my old barn, I saw the rule and asked the barn manager if I was allowed to take photos in and around the barn. I asked this question because I love taking photos of my horses and having videos of myself riding. Additionally, I often posted those photos/videos on my social media accounts – some of which are public. The barn manager said yes. Additionally, she followed me on my public Instagram and was friends with me on Facebook, so she saw me frequently posting photos/videos I had taken to those accounts.

Not once was anything said to me about this.

I published a post a few weeks ago about fancy barns and how sometimes they are not functional or suitable for horses. (Editor’s Note: I took that post down due to the events that transpired below. I have decided not to republish the post. See below as to why.) The post was mostly inspired by what is now my old barn. I used photos I had taken in/around the old barn as part of the post. Not one photo contained a picture of the house. I truly believed I was well within my rights to post the barn photos as I had never been told otherwise. However, I received a text from my old barn manager who was tipped off about the post from a friend of hers who reads my blog. She told me that the barn owner would not want photos of his barn on such a well-known site, and she asked me to take the photos down.

Now, I was under no obligation to take the photographs down. She was well within her rights to ask me to remove them, but I was also well within my rights to post them. I ended up taking the post down because, to me, the post was not worth the potential trouble and drama I would have to go through if I said I wasn’t going to take the photographs down. However, my taking the post down was not, in any way, admitting I was wrong – because, to be frank, I wasn’t wrong.

After speaking with some of my Twitter followers, I found that some other barns have these social media policies in place as well. Some of my followers were completely okay with them while others found them to be unnecessarily limiting. What struck me the most was that no one was asked to sign anything stating that they agreed not to post anything regarding the barn on social media.

I hate to break it to these barns, but the social media policy they have in place, that their boarders/riders have agreed to, may not be enforceable without a signed document. I know that a lot of times the horse world operates differently, but when it comes down to it, say I wanted to challenge the request for me to take down the photos of my old barn… I could simply say that I didn’t agree to not post photos of the barn; I was told that I could take photos of the barn; I posted photos of the barn previously and was not told that wasn’t allowed; and, most damning of all (in my opinion), I didn’t sign anything.

So, if you’re a barn, and you want to limit what a boarder or rider can post on social media, you need to think carefully about putting that request and policy into a writing that must be signed by the boarder/rider. Otherwise, you may one day get one that wants to challenge you – or a lawyer, like me – who says, “well, I didn’t sign anything with that policy on it, so I’m under no obligation to honor your request.”

The reason you will need a signed writing is because you are essentially asking your boarders/riders to give up their right to post things on social media regarding one’s horses, riding, lessons, and showing. To me, memorializing this in a signed writing is the best way for both parties to be clear on what’s expected, on both ends. It can also minimize or even prevent any misunderstandings in the future.

So, if you are a barn that wants to implement a limitation on what someone can put on social media, what should you do?

  • Outline the policy in writing. This is the number one reason that boarders and riders could dispute a request to take down a photograph – it’s not in writing. You must delineate the policy in writing including what it covers and what mediums are covered. You may also, if you wish, state why you have this policy in place. It may help your clients understand why you are limiting their right to post things on their social media account(s).
  • Get a signature. A written policy taking away or limiting someone’s right to do something is useless if it is not signed by that person. If the person is under 18, you need to get the signature of a parent or guardian. If the person is over 18, that person’s signature will suffice. Without a signature, the written policy really is useless if the individual chooses to post anyway.
  • Recognize that some clients will fight you on this. Some clients will take great offense on being told they can’t post certain things to their personal social media account(s) especially if those account(s) are private. As a result, be prepared to experience some pushback, and be prepared to explain why this policy is beneficial to both your business and to the client. You should also be prepared to lose clients over this. To be perfectly honest, if I visited a potential facility that had a policy where I could not post things about my horses on social media, I would put that facility at the bottom of my list and only go there if I was really desperate. But again, that is just my own feeling on the situation.
  • Get the advice of legal counsel. You are limiting someone’s right to free speech and freedom of expression here, so you may want to get your policy reviewed by an attorney. That way, anything that may end up being completely unenforceable in court will be modified or made enforceable. Are clients guaranteed to take you to court? Of course not – but, you want to be prepared, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Be upfront about the policy. You should always be up front about any policy your facility has. That way, a client can’t turn around and claim they were unaware of what they were signing when they signed it. Additionally, your reputation for honesty will stay in tact. You will also get a chance to explain the policy when the client isn’t angry that you said “hey… we have this policy… and you violated it.” Emotions won’t be high, and the situation is less likely to turn volatile and unable to be fixed. I personally think it’s best to always explain any contract you are having a client sign. Even though the client may be “reading” the policy, doesn’t mean they are actually reading the policy.

I have not heard of many barns that have social media policies, but they do exist. If you are considering joining the ranks, following the aforementioned tips can save you some unnecessary trouble and legal fees if a client decides to challenge the policy in court (yes, this can happen).

If you are unsure of how to word your policy or other steps to take, the best thing to do would be to hire legal counsel experienced in this type of policy limitation. The above post should not be construed as legal advice. It is legal education, and it does not form an attorney-client relationship.