When I wasn't at camp, growing up I spent almost every day of summer at the barn (usually Coursebrook Farm in Sherborn, MA). My dad or a babysitter would drop me off in the morning after breakfast, and then pick me up again in the evening before dinner. A whole crew of us hung out at the barn all day, riding our horses, ordering pizza delivery to the barn for lunch, going on trail rides, exercising other horses. Despite a few questionable choices (swimming in the mud pond comes to mind), we were extremely responsible and careful with our horses. We organized the tack room, cleaned the grain room, mucked stalls, set up jump courses, organized winter blankets, we "secretly" groomed boarders horses we thought were too dirty, we cleaned and repacked tack trunks. We harassed the vet and farrier. We watched every single lesson, even the "boring" dressage lessons taught by 80-year old Germans to 60 year old arthritic women. We were not being paid, and generally our efforts were self-directed.
With a few exceptions, I can't help but notice that most of the kids I have run into in barns lately would never dream of spending the whole day cleaning, organizing, and picking stalls/paddocks.
At the sake of sounding like a crotchety grandma: Kids these days....Cleaning their own stuff --only on special occasions! Noticing the other horses on the farm and seeing if they need anything ---absolutely not! Checking their own horse's water/hay --that's what they pay for board for! If any extra time is spent, it's only so they can take a cool picture to post somewhere.
I recently had someone come out to ride one of my horses --she barely brushed the horse, it literally had mud clumps on various parts of its body when she showed up in the ring to ride. When she was done riding she didn't even rinse the bit on the bridle she used, and the horse was put back in its stall without even remembering to latch the door!
I have had a lot of parents tell me how much their kid would really love to spend all day at the barn with the beautiful horses, but from what I've seen most kids would rather be somewhere comfortable with AC and an iPhone.
Has social media and smartphones destroyed the sense of boredom that would provoke a 14 year old to wash 43 feed buckets on their own accord? Is the next generation so entitled that they can't even clean up after themselves or maintain their own or borrowed equipment?
I recently read that every generation feels that the next generation feels this way about the next. Am I really getting so old that this is happening to me? I certainly don't want to generalize and disparage an entire generation. I know there are definitely still some hardworking barn brats out there, and I've been lucky to come across a few.