Boarder Ettiquette - The No-Nonsense Guide to being a Responsible Horse Owner - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 156 Old 12-15-2012, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Boarder Ettiquette - The No-Nonsense Guide to being a Responsible Horse Owner

Okay, everyone - here is the place to share your "dos and don'ts" of being a boarder. Barn Owners - now is your chance - what is acceptable and what is not? Fellow Boarders - what do you wish your peers knew?

Please title your "Chapter" and discuss the whys and hows of your contribution, just so everyone understands your perspective.

Chapter One: The Basics

You own a horse. You don't own a barn - whether it is by choice (too much work/too far of a commute/whatever) or by lack of funds (you can't afford to buy a farm, much less one with an indoor arena, etc). As such, you have to seek equine care facilities and services (yes, these are two different things).

As a horse owner, it is your responsibility to do your homework on everything from your horse's dietary needs, to riding lessons/basic horsemanship skills, to actually investigating the locations you think might be a good place to keep your hooved family member. Your horse is solely your responsibility - financially and otherwise. A good place to start when considering the care and keeping of your horse is to research feed prices... then, expect to tack on at least $150.00 (that is a minimum that includes a bare-bones "pasture board" facility in most geographic locations) in facility fees. Facility fees will vary drastically based on geographic location, size/quality/amenities of the facility, and the type/amount of labor provided for caring for your horse.

Start by listing the amenities and services you'd like to have at the facility you board your horse. This includes, but is not limited to:
  • Grass Pastures
  • Stall
  • Run In-Sheds
  • Hot Running Water available outside or in the barn (for bathing)
  • Indoor arena (what size, footed for what type of equine sports?)
  • Outdoor arena
  • Access to trails (state park nearby, private property, etc)
  • How many times daily are horses fed?
  • What types of concentrate feed (if any) are included in board?
  • What type of hay (if any) is included in board?
  • How are horses handled, by whom, and how often?
  • How often are stalls cleaned?
  • Is there a trainer available (for your discipline of choice)?
  • Is there a surveillance system?
  • What do BO's/Barn Employees do in cases of emergency?
  • ... the list goes ON and ON and ON into eternity.
If you can't afford to build it yourself, now is a GREAT TIME to understand that the likelihood of finding a conveniently located facility, with a great staff who does EVERYTHING according to your dreams/standards, with every amenity you could ever want, with a price tag you can afford is pretty slim. Okay... impossible, really. On that note: you can't be a jerk every time something isn't done your way - no matter HOW MUCH you are paying. I can't emphasize this enough... by boarding at a location, it is important to remember that you aren't buying stock in that farm or in the people who run it.

Okay, now that everyone is clear on that, we can move on

Now the fun part: exploring your options! Find barns on google, in your local yellow pages, by word of mouth at the local tack shop, wherever you can... then start calling. Find out what is offered, and ask questions specifically related to what you have determined you and your horse need.

What will you find? Crap barns. Crappier barns. Rude people. Poor horsemanship. Horses that are too thin. Horses that are too fat. Horses that don't have enough shelter. Horses that don't see the light of day.

Then, with diligence, you will find a barn with nice people, who have a few of the things on your list who may be willing to compromise with you (or not, depends on the barn and how demanding you are). You will find a different definition of what your "board fees" include at each and every barn you contact. But, with patience and diligence, you'll find something great. Emphasis on GREAT.

Keep in mind that most horse farms make their profits giving riding lessons or training horses. They don't make a killing in profits charging to care for your horse. Actually, the barn probably doesn't charge you enough to pay themselves minimum wage for the time spent caring for your horse. The horse care-takers don't get paid holidays or sick days, nor do they get paid even minimum wage. Am I being redundant here? Okay - Remember this at all times.

I think that is a pretty good start... now, everyone else - fire away!
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post #2 of 156 Old 12-16-2012, 12:35 AM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Brandon, Manitoba Canada
Posts: 1,045
• Horses: 4
I have boarded horses here and now only have one boarder, his horse Starbuck has been here since he was 6 months old and he's coming up 5yrs.
I feed the horses once a day, usually supper time, water trough is always filled, free access to hay, run in shed and bush to go in also, outdoor obstacle course arena. In case of emergencies (which we have had with this one) I call the owner right away, if the horse has to go to the vets either I will load him up and take him or the owner does. A couple years ago he degloved his hind leg from jumping into the round bale feeder (we put another foot of legs on it so he now stays out of it), I took care of his leg for months with cleaning it twice a day, drove him to the vets once a week for the first couple of months, there are trails on private land about 1 1/2 miles from us that we have permission to ride on and we also trailer the horses to different areas for day rides or camping/riding trips......all I ask is that things get put back where you got them and clean up poop from the yard/round pen if your horse poops there.....I'm fairly easy to get along with.....

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #3 of 156 Old 12-17-2012, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Chapter 2: Tack Room

Haha - come on guys! Let us know what you think ALL people who board their horses should know! It could be a one-liner :) It doesn't matter what format you choose!

Chapter 2: Tack Room
  1. If it isn't yours, don't touch it... this can be broken down in many ways...
    • Don't "borrow" anything that belongs to someone else without asking. "Borrowing" without asking permission is stealing.
    • Don't take anything that you do not have express permission to touch/use!
    • Do not "use" any products that you did not buy.
    • LABEL your items, such as fly spray, with your last name/horses name. That way, there will be no confusion when 4 people have the same awesome product. Sometimes, you may forget to put your items back where they belong, and well-meaning people might put them in the wrong place - this will help prevent misunderstandings!
  2. Keep your area tidy.
  3. Make sure that any horse goodies (if kept in the tack room) are stored in solid, secure containers (think: cookie jars, etc). Leaving them in plastic bags, ziplock bags, etc. just invites rodents and critters to explore the tack room. I've heard horror stories of people's saddles ($$$$) being chewed by unknown vermin!
  4. If you knock something over, put it back. If you break it, tell the barn staff, or the owner of the item.
  5. If you track dirt in, sweep it up.
  6. Don't leave your garbage in the tackroom (soda bottles/cans, candy wrappers, etc)... find the garbage, recycling bin, or take them home and dispose of them properly.
  7. While the "Rules" vary from barn to barn, it is a good idea to keep in mind that at most, you should have one saddle per horse/discipline in the tackroom. The tackroom is NOT your personal storage space for all things horse related - it is for storage of items that you and your horse routinely use.
  8. Do not throw your stuff on top of someone else's stuff... scuffed saddles can bring some people to tears. Be respectful of other people's belongings.
  9. If you aren't sure about something, ask barn staff for guidance.
  10. If you see someone else taking/using other people's items, and you suspect that it is without permission, tactfully tell the barn staff.

It is no fun for anyone when the tack room becomes known as the place where hoof-picks disappear, fly spray goes AWOL, and tack gets unsightly and expensive to repair bruises from unknown sources.

Feel free to add on to this "chapter".

Last edited by sillyhorses; 12-17-2012 at 01:54 PM.
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post #4 of 156 Old 12-17-2012, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Somewhere in Wisconsin
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This is a cool idea, kind of a rant chapter/s. ;)

The barn should be a fun place to enjoy our time and our horses. That said there ARE rules that need to be followed. Pet peeves and boarders that do not respect rules or other boarders can make the barn stressful and not so fun. ):

Chapter Two cont....

*DO NOT touch anything that's not your NO EXCEPTIONS. ASK FIRST.
-That bottle of "shiny" spray as you call it is Cowboy Magic and is $20 a bottle if you don't know what it is and don't know how to use it don't think about touching it. Wow your horse horse is shiny after using a WHOLE concentrated bottle. Now replace what you used.

*(Exception in my book.) Use whatever you want if you really need it. JUST REPLACE IT if you use it. I understand things come up and if you don't have time to get something or need it at the time, that's fine.

*Like said saddles are expensive, when lugging yours out make sure the others are still on their racks and you are NOT scuffing or scratching them.

Chapter Three: Your Horse, You and Drama

Your horse is yours for a reason. They are your responsibilty. Just because you board does not mean the barn staff and barn owner are completely responsible for your horse. YES, we have responsibilities, but so do you.

You are supposed to groom, come out and visit, check on, and generally take care of your horse. You are supposed to be there to scheduled vet and farrier visits WITH money. We are not responsible to hold your horse or cough up money when you don't show up.

Your horse will be schooled and dicisplined when misbehaving. If you don't like correction for the naughty behaviors, why don't you spend more time and fix the behaviors yourself. They do not fix themselves overnight, it takes time!

As a full time student and employee I do not have time to go catch your horse after she jumped a stall wall and is now letting others out. This is unacceptable and starts my day off horribly. This goes for all boarders and horses with bad habits, including any BO's horses as well. These behaviors need to be addressed and worked with. If not fixed then everyone at barn needs to be aware of said behavior and how to correct it.

Overall, if you have a problem with your horse and are unsure of what to do. Bring it to your barn owners attention or the staff within the barn.

DO NOT cause drama or unnecssary fights at the barn ever. The barn is my solitude. I come home from a rough day at work to my horses, to the one place I always belong. Cleaning stalls is therapy for me as well as grooming my horse. I do not want to come to the barn to hear all the gossip and nasty things some boarders and girls have to say. Another said rant, but the barn is for us to enjoy our horses and ride. Girl talk is fun, but not when you're bad mouthing the BO and other boarders. Learn the boundries and keep within them. Sometimes talking about yourself and hearing all your sappy problems and isn't necessary. Your board is an amazing deal and if your going to complain all the time and not help out, then find somewhere else. Trashing the BO because a branch broke off on the trail and little things like that are not necessary. Pick up a fork or a hammer, maybe an ax if you know what that is and help out.

OKAY, that was kind of a chapter and kind of a rant. ;)
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Last edited by Annanoel; 12-17-2012 at 03:38 PM.
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post #5 of 156 Old 12-18-2012, 08:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: michigan
Posts: 361
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Totally agree on the "Drama" issue. I do not come to the barn to have to worry about whether I am being talked about, I come to spend time with my horse. It is not high school.
Dont hog the space... the tack up areas belong to everyone. When others spread their stuff out, block the aisles and generally make it hard to get in and out of shared space, it is inconsiderate.
Remember that, most of the time, your horse is not the a)only or b)most important horse in the barn. If you are concerned that your horse is too fat on round bales, and prefer to have them fed twice a day, remember that the other horses who share the pasture may be perfectly happy with the round bales. And may not WANT to change to twice a day feeding to accommodate your horse. Likewise, you may want your horse pastured with your BFFs... dont just go asking the BO to move horses to accommodate you.
If you have special requests of the BO ( soaking a foot when you are not available, for example) offer extra $$. They may not take you up on it, but you offered and that can go a long way.
Be considerate about 'visitors'. Bringing your whole family for pony rides can crowd common areas. Small children especially can be an issue. ( had a small girl kicked when she went running thru an area where anothers horse was in cross ties. Please keep small children ( or clueless adults!) supervised or away from areas where they can be a distraction or danger.
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post #6 of 156 Old 12-20-2012, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Chapter 3: The Weather and such...

This chapter is inspired by the cruddy weather affecting most of the Mid-West and North East today...

Whether you pasture board, or full-stall board, it is necessary to recognize that horses are large animals with small, sharp-edged, hard feet. When it rains, and horses go out on rain-softened ground, they sink, they skid, they squish... and they tear out the grass. There WILL be mud at horse farms - probably more so at various points throughout the year.

Take Away Lesson 1: Don't complain to the Barn Owner about something that is beyond their control (you know, like MUD!). Unless of course you are willing to split the cost to haul in top soil with other equally concerned boarders... at a cost that will likely exceed $1000.00. No? You don't want to pay that? Okay then... keep your complaints about the weather/mud/etc. to yourself instead of directing them at the barn owner as though it is a situation that they need to remedy. P.S. If you are willing to pay for top-soil, it'd likely be an expensive mistake you only make once - the horses will tear it up and turn it into a mud-pit in no-time flat after a few rains :p

Take Away Lesson 2: Learn about your barn's "weather" policy before you even move in - do they put horses out in "inclement weather"? If so, what do they consider inclement? Do NOT come out to a barn where the Barn Owner works 365 days/year and decide to complain on a cold, windy, snowy or rainy day that your horse is in its stall. Especially if the facility is not equipped with run-in sheds and relies on the stalls. Alternately, if you pay for pasture board, and your horse is standing out in the rain/snow/cold/wind, don't complain either - maybe ask about switching to stall board if it is available, but definitely don't complain.

Don't have a chip on your shoulder, either... any intelligent, socially conscious individual will pick up on it, and you will look like a massive turd to anyone within your vicinity. Not a nice, grainy-smelling horse turd, but a nasty, stinky, stepped-in barn-cat one.

In fact, perhaps you'd like to grab a pitch fork while you're there and clean up your horse's stall a bit. Being inside always creates more work for the barn owner, even if they seem to be getting a "day off" because of the crappy weather. Chances are pretty good you aren't being charged extra for having your horse inside, even though it is more work, wastes bedding and likely requires multiple water-bucket checks/fills throughout the day.

Feel free to add on to this miscellaneous bit of what it means to be a good boarder
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Last edited by sillyhorses; 12-20-2012 at 12:41 PM.
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post #7 of 156 Old 12-20-2012, 12:43 PM
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Location: MN
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Originally Posted by sillyhorses View Post
Take Away Lesson 1: Don't complain to the Barn Owner about something that is beyond their control
This also applies to "Pooky is always being picked on".

I've invited boarders many times to stand and watch the herd interaction. EVERYONE picks on EVERYONE. Sometimes it's the low man egging on a boss horse and getting kicked or bit for the effort - but it still qualifies as picking.

Horses are not childern. You cannot say 'no no' and expect them to stop what they are doing.
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post #8 of 156 Old 12-20-2012, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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P.S. If you ever have owned your own farm, and all you had was your one or two horses with access to multiple paddocks, of course you are going to have less mud :p The "My barn didn't have this much mud!" argument won't fly.
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post #9 of 156 Old 12-20-2012, 01:05 PM
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Gee....need to print these out and post em! LOL!

I like the drama part......our drama queen finally got the boot for gossiping and causing issues with other boarders......good riddance!

Also....if you have a white board or chalk board hanging outside your horses stall please don't not write a whole pile of demands all over it without or before speaking to the barn staff.....we are receptive and don't like honey-do lists....thanks! Your horses name and your phone number are quite adequate.
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post #10 of 156 Old 12-20-2012, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Muppetgirl View Post
Gee....need to print these out and post em! LOL!

I like the drama part......our drama queen finally got the boot for gossiping and causing issues with other boarders......good riddance!

Also....if you have a white board or chalk board hanging outside your horses stall please don't not write a whole pile of demands all over it without or before speaking to the barn staff.....we are receptive and don't like honey-do lists....thanks! Your horses name and your phone number are quite adequate.
WEATHER;; AGREE so much with the weather statements. You should be aware of your barn's weather policy! ALSO, read the message board if you have one. If it's right next to the door when you come in it shouldn't be hard to miss. Important messages are left here and especially in nasty weather if you can make it out and be safe extra help is always needed! Make sure you leave supplies for your horse IF they want / need them, meaning blankets, stall toys or collars if they crib in a stall. Again, my chapters have turned to rants. BUT I don't want to be tearing around the farm at 3am with 40mph winds in a BLIZZARD to find your horses cribbing collar when you are safe and snuggly in your bed. I mean yes you pay for board, but you get a **** good deal for no work. Granted I'm barn staff and the BO gets the say but if you were in my barn in a case like this you'd be booted for not helping...
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"Every person you will meet will have at least one great quality. Duplicate it and leave the rest." --Clinton Anderson
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