by Karen McConnell
Dear Lovely Liveries,
Golden leaves crunching under foot, cool but clear autumnal days, smartly clipped horses, a stack of freshly cleaned rugs, an equally fabulous wardrobe of cozy yard clothes to co-ordinate and wear, the smell of bonfires in the air, a warming mug of hot chocolate after a ride and for a lot of you, the novelty of having a stable to muck out each day again and the promise of it staying super-clean and perfectly presented – this time of year is my favourite and I know I’m not the only one who thinks so!
Our excitement for the new season is often short-lived however. The fallen leaves become soggy, the days become darker, your horses rugs become caked in mud and by the end of each day are sodden, mucking out becomes the chore it really is rather than the novelty it was at the turn of autumn and you’re so wet, tired and miserable by the end of your ride, you can’t be bothered to make yourself that hot chocolate. I see it every year – everyone is initially energised for the colder months ahead, but as reality hits and the winter creeps in, we all lose that flush of energy, excitement and joy.
Practical things on the yard become more difficult due to the weather, the darkness and so many people all sharing the same space at the same time of the day. This can leave tensions a little frayed and you become irritated by your fellow liveries thinking thoughts like,
“They never clean up after themselves”
“I wish they’d stop helping themselves to my equipment”
“They’re always in the arena when I want in”
In your frustration, you might choose make a little passive-aggressive comment to someone who always seems to be using your stuff, decide to avoid eye contact and therefore a conversation with someone who is rubbing you up the wrong way, or discuss how annoying or rude someone is with one of your fellow liveries.
Before you let your frustrations get out of hand and you end up deploying one of these tactics, I would ask you all to consider the following…
- Is this really the best way to deal with my frustration? Will it do more harm than good?
- Can I speak to the person who’s causing me trouble directly, in a non-confrontational way? Maybe they’re unaware of the issue…
- Would it be useful to speak to the yard manager/owner about the situation and ask for their help in sorting out the issue?
Some of the biggest fall-outs I’ve had to manage on the yard over the years have started from silly things like someone moved a piece of equipment without asking the owner first, or someone told another person what a fellow livery had said about them (probably with arms and legs added), or a misguided comment has offended another livery or people feeling like others have ignored them.
When people fall out on livery yards it doesn’t just affect those involved. Every single person who shares the space is affected by the negativity and it makes what should be a welcoming and happy place for all liveries, cold and uncomfortable. Remember, this includes the yard owners who are sharing their home with you. The good news is though, that most of these issues are very quickly and easily resolved when people communicate and empathise with one another.
Make sure you have your own equipment so that you don’t have to borrow other peoples, clean up after yourself in the stable block, yard and arena, smile and be courteous to your fellow liveries, don’t talk about them behind their backs and if you do have an issue, discuss it like grown-ups and ask your yard manager to help if you need it.
So my advice and plea to you all, while we’re all still in the hot chocolate making autumn bubble, is let’s acknowledge the winter months are hard for us all, we’re all going to have moments when our patience is tried, but we’re all in the same boat and if we can all be considerate and compassionate to one another, and make each other the occasional hot drink, we can help warm the iciest of atmospheres.
With The Kindest Regards,
Your Appreciative Yard Owner x
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