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Etiquette Among Horsemen - The Mystery Explained

Mar 17, 2008
Horseman in general are the most congenial, the most helpful group in the world, but don't like and won't accept phonies. Everyone wants to have the feeling of belonging whenever they join a horse group. A rider may become obnoxious, without meaning to, by the manners he displays and the way he manages his horse around others. To get "off on the right foot" is important.

In this first conversation your new acquaintances will know what knowledge of horsemanship you have. "Horse talk" is like any other "trade talk." An engineer can tell another engineer; a plumber, by jargon, knows another plumber, and so on. You can't fool experience. There are definite patterns of behavior you follow with horse people.

You never ask to ride another person's horse, you wait to be invited. It is poor taste ever to ask for anything personal, and a horse is most personal. The fact that an animal can be ruined by poor handling makes an owner cautious about who is allowed astride his horse. If you are in need of an extra horse, rent him from a stable. If you are well known by your crowd, you may be invited to use a friend's horse. But your ability and your respect for the animal will come first.

By the same token, don't borrow tack. This includes lead and tie ropes that some owner may have left at the rail while riding. He will expect to find them there when he returns. If you are offered equipment to use, be sure to return it in the good shape in which it was loaned. Defective tack is dangerous, and keeping it in repair is necessary not only for the condition of the equipment but for safety also.

Always tie your horse securely when you leave him, and ask permission about where to tie him. If your horse has droppings, when you return you should clean them up. Even if you are astride, perhaps talking to a group, the droppings should be cleaned before you leave. This is a matter of courtesy.

The stable owner has his own work to do, and horsemen, casually dropping in, can make a lot of work. If you clean up after your horse when visiting, you will always be welcome. Don't be afraid to ask permission about everything you do.

Even on neighborhood trail rides ask permission to accompany a group. Should you have an ill-mannered horse, stay well away from other horses. Don't come to meet new friends "duded up."

For every sport there is proper clothing. You wouldn't think of going swimming in a suit of red-flannel underwear, so don't go riding in a pair of shorts. Western clothing, as other sports clothes, is designed for comfort, for protection, and for style. Don't make remarks about tight-fitting riding pants. Should you ever go on a trail ride with a loose-fitting pair of pants, every wrinkle will form a chafed spot and you will be miserable on the ride and painful for some time afterward.

Spurs are an important item for every horseman. However, one must learn to walk in them and when to use them on the horse. Cowboys wear them for quick action with a horse. A spur-broken horse rarely needs the use of spurs. He hears them, knows they will be used if necessary, and works accordingly. They are used as aids, training and punishing an animal. No one should be allowed to wear them without thorough training in their proper use.

Western clothing is attractive and comfortable. In choosing apparel, fit it to the need. Don't buy extremely fancy clothing unless it is for a specific purpose. Trick riders go in for sequined shirts and riding pants and flashy colors to glamorize their act, but these have no place with the ordinary rider. Somber tones, matched colors, tailored and well-fitted outfits, and last but not least cleanliness in dress, will put you in the right category of the western horseman.

Follow the above guidelines and you will be most welcome among any group of horsemen. Happy riding!
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