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How to Handle Discrimination at Your Equine Facility

If a client or employee expresses that they feel discriminated against, would you know how to respond?
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In this article we offer five tips for understanding and responding to unfair or prejudicial treatment of customers or staff in your stable.

Here are five tips for understanding and responding to unfair or prejudicial treatment of customers or staff in your stable.

  1. Be educated on discrimination. It is management’s responsibility to be well-educated on various legal issues involved in the area of discrimination, according to Adam D’Agostino, an American Quarter Horse Association and American Paint Horse Association Professional Horseman and advocate for underrepresented riders. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a great resource for this. Furthermore, having an understanding of what discrimination is and how it affects various groups will help a stable owner or manager navigate delicate situations that involve discrimination.
  2. Have a zero-tolerance policy. If a stable owner or manager makes it clear that discrimination is not welcomed in the barn, it is their job to enforce that. “Sometimes this can be difficult, especially if the act of discrimination is coming from a good client of the barn,” D'Agostino said.
  3. Take the situation seriously and “uncenter” yourself from the situation. “Often, when dealing with discrimination, we can get trapped in the feeling of how that act makes us feel, and this can distract us from supporting the victim,” he said. “That does not mean you’re not allowed to have an emotional reaction, but try to be sensitive towards the people involved in the actual discrimination.”
  4. Consider preventative measures. Use community-building exercises and group activities that put everyone on a level playing field and help them get to know each other. “For example, I know of one barn that does a monthly horse-related team trivia in the barn and encourages different teams at each game,” he said.
  5. Plainly ask a new client, service provider or business how they view discrimination and inclusivity. This might seem personal, but stable management must establish this concept at the start of a relationship to foster its continual growth throughout that person’s involvement with the barn.

Articles previously published in this series are:

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