After nearly four decades as a rider, trainer, clinician, barn owner and dressage judge, I’m rarely surprised by the questions and demands that come my way. But that was not always the case. When I first began my professional career, I was sometimes knocked off my feet by certain appeals—especially those I categorize as either hilarious or mind-blowing or both.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have answered such requests with a little more humor and a lot less anxiety. So here are some of my all-time award-winning actual inquiries about boarding and training, and the answers I wish I had given:
Question: May I have four white water buckets hung in my stall in addition to the automatic waters?
Answer: Sorry, no. Our extra water buckets only come in pink and chartreuse.
Question: Will you please turn out all my horses at 5 a.m. every day with one flake of pure alfalfa? Then I would like them brought in before noon and fed one flake each of timothy hay. After this I would like them all turned back out around 1:15 p.m, and each horse should have one flake more of timothy with one quarter flake of alfalfa. When they are brought in at 5 p.m., I would like them all to have two flakes of orchard grass with 10 percent alfalfa.
Answer: I know there are doctors who can help you.
Question: Can we ride until midnight in the indoor with the lights on?
Answer: No. Do you see how beautiful your horse is? That’s because I insist that every horse get his beauty sleep.
Question: Is full training included in the board fee?
Answer: In your dreams.
Question: May my horse have his own radio in front of the stall?
Answer: We’re fresh out of extra radios, but we can install a baby grand in his stall. How does that work for you?
Question: Can my horse wear his heavyweight blanket from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., the medium white blanket from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m., his heavy sheet from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., and the light fly sheet from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.? Is this included in the board fee?
Answer: Would you like turn-down service as well?
Question: May I come to the farm at midnight each night to pick out my horse’s stall?
Answer: Sure. On second thought, why don’t we put a cot in the stall for you
Question: May I have only shavings imported from Canada for my horse’s bedding? No American shavings?
Question: My horse hates men. Do you have any blonde girls who could clean his stall?
Answer: Would a brunette suffice?
Question: I have a 15.4-hand horse who needs work.
Answer: I believe it would be best to wait until the horse is 15.6 hands before beginning training.
Question: How long will it take to teach my horse not to go to the bathroom when I ride him?
Answer: As long as it takes pigs to fly.
Question: How long will it take to train my horse to put his travers in?
Answer: The travers section of a horse’s anatomy is difficult to find and exceedingly difficult to “put in.”
Question: Can someone cut up six Fuji apples for my horse each morning?
Answer: No. We only provide Gala, Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples.
Sue Curry Shaffer is a USEF “S” dressage judge and an FEI 3-star Para Equestrian judge.