Barn Rats

Future Barn Rat
Future Barn Rat

I was recently criticized for using the term “Barn Rat” I called myself (and others) barn rats in a blog post about about the woman who taught me to ride. I didn’t come from money, in fact I grew up rather poor. I got a job when it wasn’t even legal for me to work in order to buy a horse of my own. The barn rat route was what was available to me to learn everything I could about horses and maybe earn more ride time. I was kinda stumped at why offense would have been taken at the term barn rat and let me tell you LOTS of offense was taken. In an effort to educate those who might be clutching their pearls that one would deem to call themselves and others barn rats I give you Denny Emerson….If you don’t know who Denny is do yourself a favor and Google him. You can thank me later, hes awesome. Excerpt from Tamarack Hill Farms Facebook page:

Barn rats are the horse crazy kids who don`t want to be anywhere else. Not the mall, not the fast food joint, not even(sometimes) the Junior Prom, if there`s a horse show the next day.

Some barn rats get paid, but many trade work for the chance just to be in the general vicinity of horses. The parents of barn rats can`t be the obsessive kind who drag their kids from piano lessons to French lessons to figure skating lessons to soccer practice, because implicit in the definition of “barn rat” is is that they spend most free moments after school, on weekends, and on vacations, at the barn.

Barn rats are not the kids who arrive at the stable, take their lessons or ride their horses, get back in the car and disappear.

What barn rats get in return, although they may not put a name to the concept, is that they learn by osmosis. By spending so much time with horses, and not just on their horses backs, they gradually learn what makes horses tick. They learn what horses eat. They learn what constitutes a clean stall. They learn about turn out, blanketing, and how to do it without getting kicked, about grooming, braiding, hoof care, supplements, medicines, tack care, types of bits, helping the farrier, the vet, the myriad small and large details that make up “horsemanship.”

Theres more read the full post, its worth the effort. It is about the clearest dissertation on what being a barn rat is and means that I have come across. Denny hit the nail on the head. Yeah, I was a barn rat and proud of it. I still am in lots ways. I will hang out at the barn all hours holding horses for the vets and farriers, watching lessons and riders, asking questions when I see something new. Being a barn rat is in my blood. Its part of who I am and i’m well over the age of consent.

So i’ll take the whole barn rat thing and wear it like a badge of honer, I followed my passion, I wasn’t given anything i worked for what I had. I never had the best tack, the fancy horse trailer or breeches in every color but i had the passion to learn and learn i did… just like the barn rat i am.

2 thoughts on “Barn Rats

  • Maybe it’s a generational thing? Like we had mall rats growing up (okay, a little older than me), but that wasn’t necessarily a derogatory term. I don’t think “barn rats” is, either. I think it’s a show of dogged determination to be there all the time, everywhere. People are silly.

    • myexracer

      The offended ones were all pretty much my age and from my geographical location growing up, so i dunno. It might be they were just looking for a fight to pick. I found that criticism really odd though because i’ve seen riding programs called “the barn rat program” its always been such a common term and never a put down *shrug*

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