Monday, August 10, 2009

The Bare Essentials: Interpreting Guest-speak

No matter where you work there are some constants as a wrangler; one of them is guest-speak. These phrases and their interpretations never change. In addition to these oft-quoted phrases, guests will over-rate their riding ability on the waiver and, in fact, will be appalled that they are required to sign a waiver of liability. After all, they are only going for a short ride on a “trail nag”. What could possibly go wrong?

Guest: “I ride all the time.”
Translation: “Each year I go on a one-hour trail ride (and haven’t fallen off).”

Guest: “I’m an experienced rider.”
Translation: “Each year I go on two one-hour trail rides (and haven’t fallen off).”

Guest: “I’ve been riding for years.”
Alternative: “He/she’s been riding their whole life.”
Translation: “I’ve been going on a one-hour trail ride once a year for two or three years (and haven’t fallen off).”
Alternative: “This 8-year-old has been doing pony rides at carnivals and circuses once a year for two or three years (and hasn’t fallen off).”

Guest: “No, really, the four-hour ride is fine for my 5-year-old, she just loves horses.”
Translation: “I want to go out for four hours and I’m dragging my 5-year-old along who will lose interest after the first hour and whine and cry for the next three hours and since my child didn’t have a good time, you won’t get tipped (from me or any of the other guests on the ride).”

Guest: “I grew up showing horses.”
Translation: “I’ve never ridden a horse outside of a groomed arena and I’m going to panic once I realize that we’ll be going up and down actual hills, over actual rocks and across actual streams.”

Guest: "My horse ran off with me!"
Translation: “My horse broke into a trot for a couple of steps on its way to find greener grass to eat.”

Guest: “I want a fun ride.”
Translation: “I don’t want to follow the rules; I won’t stay in line and I’ll argue every time you tell me we won’t be trotting or galloping. When I realize you’re serious about not trotting, I’ll hold my horse back and innocently trot to ‘catch up’ to the others.”

Guest parent: “She’s just a little afraid, but she really wants to go.”
Translation: “She’s terrified and will scream the whole way, but I want to go on the ride and I’ll be damned if I let my child ruin my vacation. Oh, and since you didn’t do anything to shut her up so I could enjoy my ride, you won’t get tipped (from me or any of the other guests on the ride).”

Guest: “Do I really have to go out with a guide?”
Translation: “I don’t care about the scenery or the horse, I just want to run until the horse is lame or I fall off, in which case I’m suing you.”

Guest: “I want a horse with energy, not a trail nag.”
Translation: “I’m trying to impress my date, but I’m going to freak out when the horse so much as shifts its weight once I’m mounted up.”

The flip side are the guests who you can tell at a glance know their way around horses; they may be in jeans and tennis shoes or even shorts and tennis shoes, but you can tell by the way they quietly watch the horses and other guests that they’ve probably forgotten more about riding than you’ll ever know. These guests won’t tell you they ride; when they fill out the waiver and are asked to rate their riding ability, they’ll check “poor” or “fair”. These are the guests to fight over – they understand horses, they understand the rules, and – more importantly – they know what they don’t know about horses. They will listen quietly and attentively to the safety lecture and directions and won’t give their wrangler any trouble at all. These guests are truly experienced horsemen and –women and are a pleasure to ride with; by far my favorite type of guest. When I get back from a ride with these rare diamonds in the tourist industry, I feel as though I should tip them, and often refuse (or try to) when offered a tip. It is an amazing gift to be able to ride with guests like them.

1 comment:

Allenspark Lodge said...

Out of the mouth of babes...