I'd like to start off by saying that most of the barn hands where I board do an exceptional job at taking care of the horses, and I don't take that for granted.
However, one of them, we'll call him Joe, has been practically all over me since about a month before I bought my horse. He started out just being friendly when we happened to cross paths, so it wasn't an issue. Since then it's progressively gotten worse to the point where he's trying to help me with EVERYTHING. He doesn't follow me around necessarily, but any time I'm within sight or earshot he's there within seconds.
Again, at first it wasn't a problem. It was maybe once a day, opening a gate for me or just petting my horse for a few seconds then moving on. Now it's at least four times a day, but much more often on days that I work for my trainer. It's gotten so bad that he actually causes problems by holding me up when I'm busy, insisting on helping but doing it wrong so I have to spend time fixing it, or otherwise just getting in the way. I realize he means well, but his "help" is getting in the way of my job and personal time with my horse.
I was putting dressage boots on one of the training horses and Joe happened to walk by. He insisted on helping, so I agreed. He put the boots on his side on backwards, so I had to go back and do them over again.
I had just started training Sock to lunge again, and Joe was watching us from outside the arena. When I stopped Sock to send him the other way, Joe comes in, interrupting the session and entirely defeating the purpose of the exercise, which was to get him to focus on me. He stood there petting Sock for two minutes or so, trying to make awkward conversation with me, then finally left so we could continue.
Sock is just getting used to blanketing. As of a few weeks ago, he's been pretty good about it, but every now and then he balks a little. The other day he was putting up a bit of a fuss while I was trying to take it off, so I put his halter on as an aid just in case. Joe shows up, offers to help, I tell him we're okay, but he steps in anyway. He proceeded to grab the halter by the top of the nose and hold it fairly tightly, scaring my horse even more. I quickly got the blanket off and the ordeal was over, but I really wasn't happy about what had just happened.
Things like this happen on a daily basis now, usually a few times a day. My trainer has three new horses starting in January. I'll barely have time to do things the right way, let alone fix his mistakes after this week. I'm also not happy that he's interrupting my horse's training program and I'm sick of feeling uncomfortable at the barn.
So the question is what the heck do I do about it? Should I go to the BO or talk to him directly? If the latter, how the heck do you tell someone who's taking such good care of your horse (in the way of feeding and cleaning at least) that you don't want their help?
It sounds like he has a crush on you. If you want to do it the 'subtle' way, I'd start mentioning the words 'boyfriend' in your conversation, or talk about how you have a date and you're trying to get out of there as fast as you can. He'll get the hint real quick if he's not thick-headed.
I wouldn't drag the barn owner into it yet, it would probably be embaressing for him. If dropping hints that your social life won't include him doesn't work, you're going to have to talk to him face to face. "Hey thanks for all the help, but I'm trying to get this done as quick as possible and it's faster when I do it myself." Is a little blunt, but it gets the point across.
If he keeps inturrupting your training with your horse, I'd tell him flat out "While I'm working with Socks, please don't inturrupt. I'm trying to get him to focus on me." You can say it nicely and he shouldn't be offended (shouldn't be, however you never know.)
Oh, he has a crush alright! And thanks for the advice. I also just found out that a friend of mine wants to come visit for new years so maybe he can act as my boyfriend for the day or something. Hopefully that will do the trick! If not I'll definitely try your other suggestions. The most difficult part with those is the language barrier. :/
I would get a friend who's a Spanish speaker (guessing that's the issue) and have her translate for me and then I'd take him aside to a quiet space and let him know how much I appreciate his devotion to my horse and what good care he takes of it. I'd also let him know how nice it is that he so obviously wants to learn and improve his horse skills andthat I'd be willing to teach him the things he doesn't know, in my FREE time, but that when I'm working my own horse or working for the trainer, my time isn't mine and he's starting to cause problems for ME.
I wouldn't even address the crush issue at all for fear of embarassing him. Having a BF around for a day would probably be enough without hitting that subject head on.
Dreamcatcher, also good ideas. Fortunately for me he understands enough English for us to communicate about horses, but a translator would definitely be good. :) I don't want to embarrass him at all. I really like him as a friend and appreciate how much he cares about my horse, and I don't want to cause tension there if I don't have to.
Hopefully Sunday/Monday will work. If not, then I'll move on to plan B. Thanks for all of the great suggestions, guys!
I definitely believe that being direct with people (in a polite manner) is the best way to handle awkward situations. Being direct allows you the opportunity to KNOW that you are clear, and to gauge for yourself whether or not the person to whom you are speaking understands what you are saying. You may need to clarify some things if the person seems "confused"... you have the control to be reassuring and as firm or gentle about it as you want.
If you balk at being direct (seems like you probably do, since the guy is STILL bothering you), talk to the BO about it, and possibly have the BO discretely intervene on your behalf the next time the guy walks up. Like, make sure the BO is around, and have the BO wait until you move on (and the guy stays behind) and the BO can approach it in a manner that is "I've observed that you are interfering with 2BigReds time here, and what she is doing with her horse. I'd like you to stop doing this before it becomes an issue, from where I was standing she looked uncomfortable or like she wasn't interested in talking right now... making 2BigReds uncomfortable might make her reconsider keeping her horses here..." That way the guy won't feel like the two of you are ganging up on him... but he will still know that OTHER PEOPLE notice. Then, if it happens again, you can say something like "Hey, I appreciate the offer, but I'm busy and I'm here to work with my horse. Sorry, no time to chit-chat right now!" and then carry on with whatever you are doing. If he still continues after you BOTH have said something, then you should approach him together with your barn owner (to make sure you have a witness).
I hope you figure it all out in a way that works for you, and doesn't make the guy feel more like an idiot (or worse yet, DEFENSIVE) than being rejected outright would make him feel, haha. I wouldn't worry too much about his feelings though, especially if he seems dense when you DIRECTLY approach the issue, haha.
The BO could actually talk to him and request he leave ALL of the boarders on their own unless they specifically ask for help.
No finger pointing that way.
Well since I posted the last reply, he's actually backed off quite a bit for whatever reason. He still offers to help sometimes, but it's more like once a day and only when I could obviously use some help (i.e. I'm leading two horses and one of them decides to be an @$$ while I'm putting the other away. Dang Appys! lol) instead of practically trying to do my job for me. I wouldn't even mind if he stopped helping me altogether, but things have calmed down enough that I'm at least comfortable. It's a really nice feeling. :-)
Glad to hear hes backed of! Similar thing happened me once in a yard, this lad was working along with me breaking the horses...thing was this lad had a girlfriend that came down to see him days, really nice girl to. he was the biggest flirt, just thought everyone faniced him, I was going with my previous bf at the time and i tryed mentioning his name in converstations, but it didnt work and one day he actually groped me, said he was messing about.. some mighten result to violence but i hit him, brave and hard to if i remember right, he was that embrassed that a girl left him with a black eye he didnt tell anyone what happened lol said he fell of his horse.. i really felt like telling his girlfriend but i heard a few wks later that she had dumped him!
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