I will probably be writing a series about boarding barns and barn managers but for now I want to make a very simple and clear statement of the job of a barn manager (and in many cases the owner): the barn manager/owner’s job is to lessen the worry of the horse owner. PERIOD.
So why is it that at many places I’ve boarded the barn manager went out of their way to increase my worry? Instead the BM/BO caused irritation, uncertainity and disruption in my life. When I come to the barn I don’t want to be pestered, nagged or have what should be my joyful time with horses (after all I’m paying enough for it) be marred by these types of concerns.
Let’s look back over the last 15 years and my experiences:
GF – a small boarding facility with run in stall, attached paddock and separate grazing pastures where my horse was to be turned out 4 hours a day. 2 years.
When I come to ride my horse I do not need you to comment about my riding ability and give me an impromptu riding lesson when you are moving wheelbarrows of manure past the arena. If I wanted a lesson I would pay you for it.
I do not need you to tell me that my horse is sad because I have not been able to come out and visit. Especially when the average number of my visits is double to triple what other boarders do with their horses.
I do not need you to burden me with your own issues with your family. Use your friends as your personal confidante, not your business clients.
Do not provide advice/commentary about how I’m training my horse when it is not abusive or in any way concerns you. Yes, it is not the way you do things. Get over it.
VP – indoor and out door arenas, roundpen, riding pasture, stall with an attached paddock which was shared with another horse. Horse was locked out of stall most of the day. 6 months.
If I provide you something to feed my horse, I expect it to be fed to my horse. Don’t lie to me about it and then try to cover it up with shouting when I show you physical proof of your lie.
Who I use as my vet is my own business. The same goes for my farrier. If I wanted your advice I would ask for it.
Because I mind my own business doesn’t mean I’m a snob. It means I don’t want to join your elitist clique of half-decent riders intent on doing more gossiping then riding.
BTW only after I had moved my horse to the facility did I have several people in the community tell me that the BO had anger management issues. It was apparently a wide-spread, known fact.
MHF – 10 acre pasture with roundpen, stalls I rented, some with attached paddocks. Biggest drawback was no arena. I self fed twice a day. About 3 years.
Pretty much the best place I’ve ever been. If there had been an arena and he would have gotten his cat fixed (too many kittens killed by cars for me to continue putting up with the sadness) I would have stayed.
BF – only 5 miles from my house. No arena, no roundpen, barn with pasture. 90 days.
My horse caught strangles there because of the BO and his auction horses.
Taught me the very harsh lesson that do not put money into improving anyone’s place and HAVE A CONTRACT. Once we improved his barn, he tripled our board (went from $300 to $1200) and we immediately left (among other reasons).
Months later I ran into another one of his boarders and the amount of astounding lies and “stories” he had told were simply incredible (btw the place is no more – no surprise there).
TR – arena in the rough, pasture, shelter to be built. 10 months.
Manipulator, but mostly delusional. When I was there, 9 horses died due to neglect, disease and accidents. I only stayed out of desperation because I had too many horses and could not afford board at posher places. I wish at this point I had returned to MHF – it would have prevented many a heartache and disaster that was lurking right around the corner.
Hell Job – deluxe upper stable, 40 stall barn, indoor, two arenas, pasture/paddocks with no shelter (which flooded).
As manager, of course that wasn’t the issue – the issue was the barn owners. I won’t go into further details here, my tenure there was just what I’ve called it … Hell. I am surprised the stress of dealing with those two didn’t kill me. As it was the loss of Dear One, took me too my knees.
I started to wise up here and ended up sending Beautiful Boy back to his previous owner. Reducing the number of horses would make it easier for me to move them or pay for their upkeep.
DR – friends place, pasture only. I stayed at for 90 days after we did an emergency departure from HJ.
Don’t board with friends. Thankfully, I had learned my lesson and we had a contract and reciepts before this mess got started. It opened my eyes to just how incredibly lazy people can be. In 110 degrees weather a horse needs more then 2 inches of muddy water in the bottom of a water tank.
3HF – shelters with pastures, central storage shed for tack, rough riding arena, roundpen, biggest asset 10 miles from home. 2 years.
The BO was a former student. This situation was crazy due to personality issues. Some of it was extremely painful such as Big Guy’s fractured pelvis and the argument that happened re: the amount of hay he was not being fed when he was on barn rest for 3 months. Or maybe the time when she went off in a huff, leaving my colicking pony on the ground (I just pulled down the driveway when she left her).
And of course the ego-trip, pouting and temper tantrums wasn’t limited to me: DH got her fair share with the argument over paying for her dislocated shoulder due to an accident that the BO caused, or when the BO, due to neglience, got her Arabian injured, or maybe the tree whose leaves and pods were causing horses, that had never colicked before, to colic.
Overall, I liked the setup, though the arena needed some real work and enlargement. It was the attitude of the BO that drove me away… just like it has at many places I’ve boarded at.
Looking back, we’ve been at a lot of places and it’s why I do not plan on moving again. I simply want to enjoy my horses, stay out of barn gossip, and the next time we move, move my horses to my own place!