Barn Etiquette for Teen Rodeo Club Members

I run a modest boarding barn with an indoor arena. My neighbor, a school teacher, has started a Rodeo Club for the local high school and has my permission to use our indoor arena one evening each week for mounted meetings. Club members are either using the teacher’s horses or riding their own. My problem is that these kids have no experience with a public boarding stable; they mostly keep horses at their own farm or that of a relative. I need suggestions for a list of barn etiquette rules to give them to keep them all safe and on good terms with each other and my boarders. So far I have only told them they need helmets and they should pick up manure. So far there has been no conflict with boarders as most of the boarded horses are retired and owners don’t come out very often. What rules have you found helpful at other barns?

One problem we have is we had to put mats down and designate places to tie horses.
They were tying them in the arena, where horses dug holes and went to the bathroom where others ride by, or outside the arena right in the way, etc.

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Don’t use, touch, or move any animal, tack, or equipment except your own (and barn owned equipment, if applicable, which should be clearly located somewhere separate from boarders’ stuff.)

Leave all gates/doors/faucets/lights/etc in the same state you found them - if you open it, close it, If you turn it on, turn it off.


I would find out what rules the teacher has in place since this may be allied with the school?

I would say reiterate No Smoking. Clean up after self, leave no food or drink scraps which attract vermin.

Furlong47 is right about basic barn/farm rules particularly leave things as found and no touch.

If they practice sliding stops or spins ask that the surface be re-raked at the end of the session. Provide clear directions as to what equipment can be used for this and manure clean up.


Probably simple arena rules (pass left-to-left; don’t halt your horse on the rail and talk to someone outside (keep rail free); and so forth). If they are going to practice stuff like barrel racing, figure out the rules about arena entry: only one rider in the arena at a time? ok for everyone to be there? A local club where I live is super strict about this one: only one rider in at a time. No rider enters for a timed event until the previous one leaves, AND the gate is closed after that rider exits. THEN the next rider can go.


Very nice of you to offer your facility! I know that is giving these kids some great experiences.

In most board barns I’ve been in that allowed visitors from time to time, there were strict off-limits areas. At one barn, while visitors were on the premises, they put up one of those cheap wooden parade barriers at the beginning of the barn aisle, with a sign on it that said “Boarders Only”.

And, a sign goes on the tack room door “Boarders and Staff Only”. If boarders aren’t out at the time then the tack room is locked .

What you want to avoid is a boarder coming to you saying that something of theirs is missing, or something untoward happened with their horse (could be as simple as a visiting kid offering a treat to a horse whose owner believes treats are bad, and owner finds out). The easiest way to protect against that is to talk with the visitors in a polite way explaining the off limits areas, and why, and also put up the signs.

If I were a boarder, I would welcome the kids using the ring and having great experiences. But I would be very uncomfortable if they were also wandering around my horse’s area and if they had access to a tack room where I keep my stuff.


You didn’t say, but as something to consider just in case – is there some liability protection in place, should something unfortunate happen on your property?


Ditto all the above suggestions, AND do you really want a bunch of rodeo kids sliding and tearing around on your footing?

horses and kids, you really have little idea as to just what may happen. If OP goes forward they should limit the use to the instructor’s Rodeo club members only… no sibling allowed

Local horse trainer’s three old was nearly killed after seeing her mother in the arena then running into to her stepping into the path of horse who attempted to jump over her

A North Texas three-year-old girl is recovering from a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures after a freak accident with a horse.

Here, when 4H and Junior Clubs come practice, their club insurance has us and our premises as co-insured for the specific times they are to come.
Any other that may come any other time is not insured.
Be sure they stick to designated time and places.

Always remember, liability releases drafted by an attorney and for each situation are very important, but will not really help that much if there is an injury or lawsuits.
The reason, nothing covers negligence.
Insurances claims and lawsuits are about proving negligence and that is its own can of legal worms.

Life is just way more complicated today.

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Thank you all for the good suggestions. To answer some of the concerns, we do have liability insurance for those coming to our stable and we have all riders (or their parents) sign our Release of Liability and we post our state’s sign prominently (along with a NO SMOKING sign).
The teacher is our neighbor who is an experienced horsewoman and we are working together to give the young riders some ideas on what is expected when visiting a public barn.

These are the etiquette rules I came up with:

Always check if a Release of Liability is wanted before beginning activity. Do not approach any horses or facilities until it is signed.

Do not handle anyone else’s equipment or horse without permission. Do not use anyone else’s resources such as their stall, tack, equipment holders, etc. unless invited. Be sure to leave any item you are invited to use in clean and appropriate condition.

Tie horses only in designated locations. Do not allow horses to paw footing while tied.

Keep a “social distance” between your horse and other horses. This applies both unmounted and mounted.

Space is limited in this barn in stall area. Do not mount until you are in the arena riding area. Put helmet on before mounting. Dismount before exiting riding area when returning to stall area.

In riding area, observe these rules:

Wait to enter the riding area until those already mounted are clear.

If riding in opposite directions, pass left shoulder to left shoulder.

Faster riders should keep to the wall; slower riders toward the middle.

If a horse becomes fractious or a rider falls, ride to the opposite side of the arena and halt. Dismount and wait quietly if a horse is running out of control or riderless.

Not entirely sure about this.

All riders should HALT. Is there a speaker system? Riders should follow instructions of judge/ring master in event of prolonged loose horse scenario.

And I would never direct them to dismount. I never expect people to have advanced ground handling skills.


What rules do you have for your barn in general? Those should be what you share with the kids as well. Obviously each barn will be different based on layout, etc. Things to think of…

  • Do you want horses/people in your stall area that don’t live there? My barn does strict quarantine, and haul in horses are NOT allowed in our stall areas. Period.
  • What are the expectations for cleaning up manure in the arena? If you have a muck bucket/pitchfork, state that.
  • Where do they park trailers? What is the expectation of how they leave that area?
  • Where can they get water for their horses?
  • What safety rules do you enforce? Helmets? Boots? Something simple such as “helmets and boots must be worn at all times when mounted” works fine.
  • Where is it ok to tie horses? Do you have tie rings? Cross ties? Are you ok with them being tied to fencing?
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I would think most people would be tying to their trailers and not using the barn’s fencing or cross tie areas.

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Another thing to add to your list is to make sure they leave everything clean (cleaner than they found it). No leaving manure or shavings in your driveway or the tie areas. If you want piles picked from the riding ring and not ridden into the footing make sure you say that. Carry in/Carry out with their manure and their garbage.

State up front if you are providing water, for drinking or bathing, or if they need to bring their own.


Coggins & vaccination docs must be provided before any horse unloads from a trailer. If they don’t have it, they don’t unload and are sent home.

You can keep a record of visiting horses/owners so that you know their docs are in order until the next year-month (Horses X, Y and Z from Owner Jane have Coggins/vacc papers good until Jan. 2022, for example). Those horses can unload without a doc check.

One way to help control this is to require the trailers of new visitors to come by the main barn first, before finding their parking place for the day. That will discourage them from randomly unloading somewhere before you know that their Coggins/vacc docs are in order.


I have to say, if I were a boarder, and this activity were about to be introduced for the first time, I would be very keen to know just how the barn owner intends to handle the behavior of the people, and the potential for strange horses to bring in illness. Even what water troughs the outside horses are allowed to drink from, and where they might be grazing and leaving spilled hay and feed.

If everything were handled well and I felt comfortable, I’d be glad to see the kids getting this experience. Without barn owner cooperation these opportunities are hard to come by these days.

But if I had serious concerns, it could easily lead to my leaving that board barn. My horse’s potential exposure to germs and chaos coming in from the outside, as well as the exposure of my personal property to misuse and theft, would be alarming.

I suggest checking with barns in your area who regularly host shows and other activities with outside horses, and ask them about their experience, and how they handle things. If they know the local horse community then they will have a good idea how people will respond to some rules and controls.

Good luck for a great experience with this! :slight_smile:


Only adding this because of the post above.

Having boarded at a lesson barn, barns that host shows, and going to various horse things myself - the only part about a barn where I board hosting something like this that would worry me is my loss of ring use time, but I assume from what has been posted here that this will not be an issue.

I assume if there is an outbreak of something contagious where the OP lives they would not be inviting anyone onto their property.

I did board at a barn that hosts shows and for the most part, everything was run well and the participants stayed out of the barn and sat upstairs in the viewing area. The loss of ring time and the traffic outside the ring was a little bit of a hassle, but they had a large outdoor arena that could accommodate schooling and boarders if they wanted to ride at that time. Finding a place to park was a bit of an issue as they were very well attended shows. All in all, not too much inconvenience and it was just a one day show.


WAY too wordy. Even adults hardly read through directions. Kids? Even less likely. Clean it up to one line directions, crisp and clear.