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The yard bully – no, I just don’t need her!

The yard bully - no, I just don't need her!

Do you need the yard bully?

Not any more!  I took a course and learned how to do it myself.

Lingfield Equine Distance Learning courses have helped hundreds of people become more confident and knowledgeable in their equine management skills. This has enabled them to handle their own horse, more confidently and to avoid and ignore the bully.  They have gained confidence in feeding, behaviour, handling and even their riding becomes more confident, and all of this they accomplish without their supposedly ‘helpful’ friend – the bully.

Most yards seem to have the bully or know it all.

Some are loud and like to let everyone know how much they know about everything horse related.  Others are quiet and can be quite controlling or manipulative.  Either way, they can make life an absolute misery for people at the yard and especially for the more novice or less confident owner.

We at Lingfield, hear about bullying time and time again – as coaches we have all seen it for ourselves.  Bullying comes in various forms but one of the most common situations we hear about is this:

A fairly novice or less confident owner moves in with their new horse.  A more experienced owner at the yard takes them under their wing and provides valuable, help and advice. 

They are definitely more experienced than the less confident or novice person – but as a novice, anyone who has owned a horse for even 6 months or a couple of years might seem very experienced.

The situation develops however and the novice/ less confident person becomes the ‘experienced’ person’s protege.  They rely on the more experienced person as a kind of mentor for advice and guidance in just about everything to do with their horse. This works well if the mentor is genuinely experienced but if not it can become a difficult situation.

Others at the yard may well be aware that the mentor is not quite as knowledgeable as they appear, but try not to get involved in yard politics so don’t interfere.

What happens next? 

Imagine you were that novice or less confident person – once upon a time you probably were.

It may take a while, because you are still learning about your horse and horse care but you gradually come to realise that this ‘more experienced’ person (your mentor) is not quite as knowledgeable as you believed.

Others at the yard seem to do things differently and you have a feeling that they way you are being taught and the things you are doing could be affecting your horse or it’s behaviour or welfare.  However, when you try to do something differently it is frowned upon or positively denied by your mentor who seems now to be somewhat controlling – in fact they are controlling both you and your horse.

Life becomes more difficult for the less confident or novice at this stage.

The less confident person does not come to the yard as often as they used to, or they come at times when they know the bully wont be around – very late or very early. This will often be the first sign at the yard of the bullying effect of the ‘experienced owner’ on the less confident person.   It is difficult for them, but they need to extricate themselves from the situation. Their problem is that they are still not sure that they have enough knowledge to care for their horse properly.

It is at this stage that many decide to take a home study course in equine management. The Lingfield Level 1 course is a good example or for the motivated person the Level 1 & 2 combined programme,  or the similar Intermediate Diploma

They learn how to do things properly or in their own way, and can either ignore the bully or simply say – I hear what you are saying and thank you for your advice, but I’d like to try it this way first.

Suddenly more and more often, the bully finds that their advice is quietly being ignored and their protoge is doing things their own way.

If you are new to horse ownership, do take care.  Ask around tactfully to see who is considered to be the most knowledgeable on the yard – it may not be who you think it is.

Sometimes the yard owner is more knowledgeable but not as assertive as the bully so is also under the control of the bully.  This makes for an unhappy yard with little that can be done by the liveries. The only way out and to a happier life in such situations is to move yards.

Remember however, that everyone is entitled to their own ideas on how to look after their own horse.  What works for one person and their horse, may not work for another.

Always remember, Many Roads Lead to Rome.

Try not to take sides with one or other person on the yard – bullies love this situation – they play one against the other or totally exclude one person altogether by their tactics. Many find it easier to give in and fit in so the poor person being bullied is left out completely.

If a person on the yard starts bullying you, try not to get too involved with any conversation they have with you.  Just because you have not had your horse as long as the person who is bullying you, does not mean you are doing things incorrectly.  Do some research and find out – but research in the right places. Email us here at and we will try to help or answer your questions.

When the ‘experienced’ person suggest you are doing something wrong – try not to disagree because this will only start a longer and probably more intense conversation.  Instead why not try saying something like   ‘thank you for your advice – I know there are different ways of doing things – perhaps I will do some research on this’.

Just step back and gain more knowledge as quickly as you can. Then you will have the confidence to do it all on your own and can ignore the yard bully altogether.

  • If you are on a yard and see what you think MIGHT be a bullying situation, try to talk to the person you think may be being bullied, they could be having a really hard time.
  • Mental health can be seriously affected by bullies.
  • Don’t ignore it.
  • Make a point of being there for the person who is being bullied – talk to them and support them.
  • You could save a life.

We are here to help so drop us an email with any equine management questions – even if you are not on one of the Lingfield’s courses we will do our best to help

or ring 01984-656339 and in confidence speak to Paula our admin and tutor


Next we have some text originally via TROTON.COM – it is Copyright material.  Lingfield finds Tina Bettison’s words hit the spot. Visit for more details.

Dealing with the yard bully

“Livery yards can be great places for moral support, but they are also hotbeds of moral pressure. I cannot tell you the number of stories I’ve heard from riders and horse owners who have felt pressurised into doing something they weren’t comfortable with because of peer pressure on the yard; or who felt inadequate because the yard bully was being snide about them or their horse.

When I was in junior school, I was bullied by one of the other girls. The usual stuff, ‘I’m not going to be your friend today’. And because it was a tiny village school with only six girls in the junior class that meant the other four girls weren’t my friend either.

This went on for some months until I told my big sister about it. She gave me the best advice ever. I forget her exact words but I remember the gist of it was this:

People only bully other people because they feel inadequate themselves, so they make themselves feel big by making others feel small. BUT they can only make you feel small if you allow them to do that.

I decided at age 10 that I was not going to feel small in response to this girl. She was the one with the problem, not me. So the next day I told her I wasn’t bothered whether she was my friend or not and I didn’t need friends like her. Funnily enough she stopped her bullying behaviour, not just with me but with all the girls.

And that advice is as true today as it was then. The people who seem the most confident are quite often the ones who really aren’t. The ones who make the really snide comments are the ones with the lowest self esteem. The ones that seem to know it all – and make sure everyone knows they know it all – are usually the ones who know the least.

The ones who quietly keep themselves to themselves, say little, don’t join in the bitchiness and keep their noses out of other people’s business are the ones who are usually the most self confident and knowledgeable, and their ego doesn’t rely on belittling those around them. You also find the bullies almost always leave them alone.

Why? Because they know they won’t get the response they want, and they’ll probably be ignored.

Bullying is hard to handle, whether it is the school yard or the livery yard. If it’s going on at your yard, my best advice is to realise that the bully is the one who lacks confidence, who has low self esteem and needs you to be in fear of her or him so that they can feel good. Knowing this how does that change the way you view them and their behaviour?

You can decide, right now, that you are going to feel compassion for this person rather than fear. That you are not going to feed their needy ego by cowing to their snide remarks or their peer pressure. That you are going to rise above it and focus on what you want to do with your horse and how you want to enjoy your relationship with him. That you are going to ignore their bullying behaviour and let it pass by you – and that you are going to encourage your friends on the yard to do the same.

That word compassion is important here. Having compassion means you have empathy or understanding for the suffering of others. And believe me the bully is suffering. They may not recognise that, but they are. From somewhere they will have learnt that bullying is the only way to get the attention and response, the love even, that they desperately seek. Poor buggers! Fancy feeling that crap about yourself that you have to behave in that way to feel good!

So give that a try – realise that the one with the problem is the bully, not you; have compassion for their internal suffering; rise above it, don’t engage with them and go about your own business, your way with quiet determination and authority. You might find the bully tries a bit harder a first to get a reaction from you – just let it go. Only you can give your power to them, they can’t take it from you without your permission.

Amazingly, you often find that if you stand up to a bully by doing the above, they develop a new respect for you and want to be your friend. Of course, whether you decide to befriend them is your choice.

Now if you are reading this and you are the bully… go get some help from a life coach or a specialist in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You are not your behaviour; and there is a much better way of behaving to consistently get the attention and love that you deserve. A behavioural expert will help you find your way through.”

Tina Bettison is author of a number of books – including:

  • 100 Ways for a Horse to Train its Human;
  • 100 Ways to Live with a Horse Addict;
  • 100 Ways a Horse is Better than a Man;
  • Bombproof Your Human – An Equine’s Guide to Teaching Confident Riding;
  • The Fizz Kit – a self-coaching guide for building confidence and riding success (available from; soon to be available on Kindle).

Visit for more details.


More articles from Troton


I never ever forget that I’m lucky enough to have my own yard.  If I need help or the odd kick up the bum then my friend Fi is happy to oblige.  I haven’t always had my own yard and as Mr. Dazzle was a member of the British Army for more years then I care to admit, I have moved to and from more yards than I can remember and not all of them bring back happy memories.
One particular yard seemed absolutely ideal, it only had 8 liveries, great turn out, amazing hacking and a premier competition centre only 30 minutes away.  Second day there, I started to steam my hay and was instantly set upon by the ‘head livery’. She told me it was just about the worst thing you could do, she had never heard of steaming hay, in fact in her opinion and very knowledgeable opinion it would make the hay rancid!  After that I was banned from being spoken to because I’d ignored her advice and kept on steaming my hay.  About a month later one of the other liveries would have the briefest of conversations with me but only if the other liveries were not around.  She was worried that if she was found talking to me she too would be next in line for trouble.

Bullies love to ‘exclude’ someone and even better get other members of their gang to reject you too. Bullying can come in many forms, the obvious name calling, shouting, insults, intimidation and threats to more subtle digs and rejections. There may be little incidents you can’t account for- sometimes your tack suddenly goes missing or your horse’s made up feed bowls ‘accidentally’ get tipped over.  It’s all designed to sap your confidence and make you feel stupid and unwanted.

* you are not the problem, they are-it’s not acceptable to be bullied at any time or place.
* Do not accept uncalled for criticism and start to think they are right- being made to feel scared and frightened is definitely a form of control.
* Don’t feel you’re alone or feel ashamed and do talk to someone even if they are not involved with horses, you should not keep your worries to yourself.
* Don’t see yourself as an a weak person or incompetent owner/ rider, if you were then you wouldn’t be a threat to the bully who is after all, insecure, jealous, envious of what you have and have little confidence themselves.

You cannot change a bully but you can stop them from bullying you. The way to cope with these bullies is to never argue or trade insults, once a bully finds your soft spot they love nothing better than to constantly pick at it.  Remind yourself that this whole situation is childish and they are after all supposed to be adults.

When advice is constant and unwanted, respond with a sickly sweet smile and say ‘thank you for your help’ and ignore it.  This is deadly to a bully who only lives for a response.  So if you constantly smile and don’t answer back then you are no longer an easy target as there is no reaction from you.

Remember you are not to blame for this situation and never let anyone make you feel you are in the wrong for having an apposing idea or belief.

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