Fair compensation? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 05-10-2012, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Fair compensation?

I began feeding two nights a week for my trainer in exchange for unlimited lessons with her. Great deal, right?

I took lessons as I needed them, usually about 3 a week, for about a month, and then my vet advised I stop riding her and get her looked at by a lameness specialist. Other than her toe dragging, Amber appeared quite sound and was eager to work. Even the vet said she moving incredibly well for the issues she has...so that's why the lessons stopped abruptly.

I took a couple of walk/trot lessons after the vet deemed that was okay. But I have had maybe four lessons, one of which was on a possible second horse for me should Amber be unable to continue to compete, but he wasn't that good a mover.

In the meantime, I've continued to feed faithfully for my two nights a week. Including a couple of times in SEVERE thunderstorms, where I was muddy and soaked. Most recently the other day, which involved me chasing around her $25,000 pony who refused capture in a flooded pasture...alone. Sat there an hour waiting for it to "stop" raining before she decided to just tell me to bring the ones left out, in. Not really her fault, the weather said it would stop after about an hour and it didn't, but still...

Thus far, NOTHING has been said about compensating me for my time. I have been feeding for "free" for about a month and a half now. There is really nothing else for me to be riding, or that I really have the desire to ride there. I'm a little scared she will say I could have continued on some other horse. I really don't want to ride any horse but my horse, honestly.

I'm wondering if I should say something now, or wait until I am able to begin lessons again?

I'm also wondering what I should ask for for compensation. A discount on board for a month, perhaps, but how much? I also thought about maybe free coaching at shows (the same price as lessons), but frankly, I would go to one show a month probably. So by the time Amber is sound, or I have found something suitable to continue my lessons on if she becomes my pasture puff, I may have 2-3 months of accumulated feeding time. So that's a few years of coaching if you consider that my 2 nights a week were for unlimited lessons! That is seeming less reasonable to me at this point. Her husband is military, so it's quite possible, and pretty much expected, that she probably won't even be there long enough to pay me back those coachings, when you take into account the winter show break.

So I'm thinking the discounted board is fairer, I'm just not sure how much off I should ask for. My horse is really a "cash cow" for her as it is, because I provide my own grain because she can't be on the 14/6 that the trainer feeds, and don't ask for compensation because she only uses a bag every 2 months. Literally.

Her lessons are $40/hour. Unlimited lessons was about 3 a week I would have been using, so 3 days x 4 weeks is 12 lessons a month. 12 lessons x $40 is $480. That times two months is $960. Yeahh. Which is nearly 3 months of free board. I cannot possibly come out and ask for that. There is a girl who feeds every single morning for free board for just one month.

That $40 for lessons is time, not cost of supplies, especially since I'm a horse that I own. Board is less time and rather the costs. So asking for the full value of what my lessons would have cost in $ isn't quite fair.

So what exactly SHOULD I be asking for, and when, to sum that long post up?

Cinnamon Whiskey 11 y/o 15hh Chestnut AQHA mare, 2'6 Jumpers

Last edited by DressageIsToDance; 05-10-2012 at 08:16 PM.
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post #2 of 23 Old 05-10-2012, 08:47 PM
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I bring the horses in and feed one night per week and get $15 for it (so 4 nights a week means I get $60 off my board each month)

I think your trainer was actually over-compensating you - unlimited lessons is a heck of a deal!

I think I only made $6.50 an hour at college and $7.50 an hour at a camp when I worked in those barns (like 6 years ago?)
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post #3 of 23 Old 05-10-2012, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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How many horses are you caring for though? Basically, it takes me anywhere from 2-4 hours to feed, depending on what, if any, special requests my barn owner/trainer may have. It's a 20 stall barn.

I agree, it is an excellent deal either way. That's why I don't feel it's fair to be asking for 2 or 3 months of free board...but I am obviously owed something.

Cinnamon Whiskey 11 y/o 15hh Chestnut AQHA mare, 2'6 Jumpers
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post #4 of 23 Old 05-10-2012, 09:25 PM
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3 lessons a week is really good compensation for feeding twice a week. Like Acco said, you were probably being overcompensated.

I volunteered to help feed at my barn, more so I could learn how to do it than for compensation and worked with the regular feeders a few times and fed on my own once or twice. There are 75 horses at my barn, and it takes about 4 hours to feed them all grain, hay and mash. Even doing that twice a week, I wouldn't expect $120/week of compensation.

For your situation, I'd definitely talk to the trainer about getting a discount on board until your horse is sound again, but I wouldn't expect an equivalent value to what you were getting for lessons. I think 1/3 of your board off would be the most I would expect.
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post #5 of 23 Old 05-10-2012, 10:20 PM
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You were def getting a screaming deal.

I'm hiring a working student now that will muck out 3 stalls, feed (feed 3 horses hay & grain but also make up 3 hay nets for the morning), lightly groom, switch out blankets, fly spray, fly masks, sweep out the barn and grooming area, and compact manure with the tractor, 5 nights a week, (plus other duties durring showing season durring the high summer) in exchange for 1 lesson and 2 unsupervised rides.

I realize a show barn working student maybe different than your situation, but I would never expect to compensate any of my Working Students, mostly because its in their contracts as I only "hire" Working Students who want to keep their Amature Status.

But also because if they did ask for financial compensation, I would let 'em go as I have a long list of girls who call, stop by or email about wanting the job and are willing to do it on my terms.

Most of the barns I know of, do something similar simply because horses are expensive and there are kids (not just middle and high schoolers but college kids who have NO money) who are willing to do it for free just to be around horses. Last year I had a weekend girl who did everthing without lessons or riding time. She was scared to ride, and while the offer was always there, she really did just want to come out and groom the horses and actually offered to PAY ME for the privledge. I of course declined and offered to let her ride any time but all she really wanted was a "horsie fix".

To help compare, the lady next door pays an undocumented immigrant $20 a day for 4 horses but he does all of this in the AM & PM before and after his other job.
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post #6 of 23 Old 05-10-2012, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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When i horse sit for other barns its usually $ 25 a feeding and that is with almost half the horses though at most. And many have an easier setup for turnout.
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post #7 of 23 Old 05-11-2012, 01:42 AM
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If I feed and turn out at the barn as well I get one $40 lesson. If I do all the stalls I get the same. Here's the way I see an unlimited deal...sometimes it's good for you, sometimes for her. Right now you are in a good for her slump. I'd ask to take lessons on a school horse.
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post #8 of 23 Old 05-11-2012, 01:48 AM
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Actually, it sounds like you owe her, so unless you want to ask for lessons on a school horse or quit feeding altogether and pay for your lessons when your horse is sound, I'd just keep feeding and hope for the horse to get better quickly. It's not her fault you don't want to learn on any horse but your own. If she has horses available and you're not taking advantage, it's on you. IMO of course!

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post #9 of 23 Old 05-11-2012, 06:19 AM
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As a businessman, you had an agreement (work for lessons). If you want to change it (work for boarding) feel free to discussed it with her, but don't try to make it retroactive...that's just not going to work in any business regardless of whether it may seem fair or not.
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post #10 of 23 Old 05-12-2012, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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I don't feel I owe her, to be honest. SHE is the one that made the deal with me. If it's worth more than she has asked, that is not my issue. I have done my part.

I can learn on horses besides my own, but the point is, my focus has been training MY mare. The main reason I have been taking lessons with her is to improve my performance with my own horse. I really don't have much a choice of horses to ride, either. Her "school horses" are mostly small and medium ponies, because most of the teens and adults own horses. Pretty much all the horses she has are resales, and I can't think of one of them she would allow me to ride. I have asked, she has brushed it off.

As I've stated...I'm not trying to get the value of "unlimited lessons" off my board...but I don't think it's fair either that I am not compensated in at least some small way for my time when I haven't received my lessons due to my mare's lameness. I should not have to ride green horses for her that I have no real interest in riding, or forfeit having something in return for the work I've done.

Cinnamon Whiskey 11 y/o 15hh Chestnut AQHA mare, 2'6 Jumpers
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