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HI Spy: How do you Deal with the Local Know-it-All?

The horse world is full of people who think they know everything about horses and horsemanship. What???s your strategy when you???re bothered by busybodies?


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How do you handle the equine know-it-all?There’s an old saying that free advice is worth what you pay for it. In other words, it’s often worth nothing. But there is a lot of advice freely offered in the horse world. In fact, nearly every boarding facility has its resident know-it-all. They’re more than willing to advise you on how to saddle your horse, train your horse, feed your horse, trailer your horse and doctor your horse whether or not you actually care to listen.

In all fairness, sometimes an experienced horseperson will offer unsolicited advice as an intervention in order to prevent a potential tragedy. For example, perhaps they notice that a cinch isn’t tightened or a horse is missing a front shoe. But we’re not focusing on these kindhearted individuals. We’re concerned with that one person you try to avoid at the feed store because they can’t help but counsel you on which grain, pellet or supplement to buy. We’re also interested in the one rider who constantly informs you that your horse is counter-bent, over-bridled, too fast or too slow. You know the type.

While we don’t want you to mention any names, we would like to hear how you personally deal with the ubiquitous know-it-all. What do you do when you’re given advice that you didn’t ask for? How do you react when you know that the advice is completely contrary to what you know in your heart is correct? Do you instigate a know-it-all smackdown and put them in their rightful place? Do you remain diplomatic, smile politely, and then continue with what you were doing on your own, anyway? Do you respond with something blunt like, “Thanks, but I’d prefer to follow my vet’s advice”? Or do you run and hide behind the tack room whenever you see the busy body approaching?

This is an opportunity for you to share your wisdom. Just click on Submit a Comment below and share your best tip for handling nosy know-it-alls. Some of the responses may be featured in an upcoming issue of Horse Illustrated.

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HI Spy: How do you Deal with the Local Know-it-All?

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Reader Comments

Melissa    Springfield, OR

6/29/2016 10:31:29 PM

I say that there are certainly wrong ways of doing things. But, there is more than one way to do anything

Eliza    Ipswich, MA

6/22/2012 3:59:46 AM

I actually use all the tactics mentioned depending on situation. I do appreciate some information but I've met a lot of people who would cripple you from ever progressing beyond walking around a paddock if you let them too. I think some of the best progress I made in relationship building with my horse and riding was mucking about on my own and having to work through a problem with my horse on my own. I recently had some problems with one of the workers at a stable I was leasing at. She was always fussing over me for some reason. Did I need help tacking up? I say no thanks and she'd still come check and cluck if she found a little piece of straw still in the horse's mane. If I was adjusting my stirups in the saddle she would come running over and say she'd fix them for me. I did the avoidance tacit until one day I was taking the horse to spray her legs off and she refused to go by the trash bin. This person was there and when my horse shied she said to put her in the stall and she would wash her legs down later. I decided I needed to take a stand at that point. I said no, thanks that I think its important to work through that now myself with this horse. I used several taps and encouraging voice to get the horse by and it went fine although she was still a bit keyed up at the wash place. The employee told the stable manager it made her uncomfortable to see me whipping the horse and working her up. I never 'whipped' the horse, the use if the whip was true taps that made no sound and left no mark. I've never whipped any horse aside from the normal sort of small smack you give while riding if they are nonresponsive to leg sometimes. Luckily when I explained the stable manager sided with me but after that she would constantly nit pick and complain about things. She noticed that my bit didn't look rinsed, my horses boots didn't look tight enough to her, etc....Ugh! Ultimately you have to think if there is any merit in the advice and otherwise ignore it. Most of all, while you need to use common sense and be safe, you can't let others over protect or smother you from becoming comfortable and competent to handle your horse yourself. You also can't ever take all the risk out of riding and working with horses and you can't make that choice for others either. People aren't truly being helpful when they do this but rather bolstering their own sense of superiority. I agree to that its often humerous when we go trail or cross country riding with some of these barn know it alls and they can't control the horse or handle a true gallop.

maria    vandalia, OH

4/5/2012 7:58:21 AM

i go out riding. most know it all can't keep up.;)!!!!

Mattie Jenkins    Tolar, TX

2/29/2012 8:02:38 PM

For me, being a know-it-all is a sign of immaturity, meaning they'll probably grow out of it. If they don't, my suggestion is to just POLITELY let them know it's annoying. When dealing with the know-it-all, don't be the know-it-all back. Either let them know they're being one, or, if you're not that kind of person, happily go along with it, who knows, they may know something you don't.

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