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?