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Important lesson from barn owners and managers

This is a discussion on Important lesson from barn owners and managers within the Horse Boarding forums, part of the Barns, Boarding, and Farms category

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        02-12-2014, 09:57 AM
      #11
    Weanling
    Thank you for the suggestions you guys! I can certainly see where we need to make some changes, at the moment, being such a small barn with only 4-5 boarders, it really is easy to kind of let the costs of the little things slide without realizing the toll it will take in the end. Especially if our barn gets more boarders, I'm seeing now that we need to clean up our act now before we get in over our heads.

    I'm quite happy to be learning these things as a stable hand, I feel like if I ever do step into a role with more responsibility, I'll have been a bit more prepared.

    It is quite common here for the barn to take ownership of a horse and sell them at auction in the event of unpaid board, it is in our contract to do so by following the legal process ( I think it's after 2-3 months unpaid board, then a formal letter has to be sent, and probably a few other things) that's in Alberta. This is (unfortunately) a problem we've already had to deal with. I think the BO will have to toughen up a bit, as she tends to treat horses like they're her own (something I'm not a huge fan of), so she often won't send them to the auction to get her money because she doesn't want to let them go. I'm hoping that strict personality is one that can be learnt over time

    On a side note - are there formal courses that cover the responsibilities and obligations of being a barn owner, or are there books on the subject that I can study up on?

    Thank you again! I'm really having a whole new appreciation for the BOs and managers of the stables I've boarded at previously
         
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        02-16-2014, 10:13 AM
      #12
    Weanling
    Perspective from a boarder;
    Personally, I won't board full care ever again as I have had very, very bad experiences with it. I am not particularly happy with my present partial boarding situation and if there were any other place to go, this barn would be empty, but at least I take care of my horses myself and know pretty much what's going on with them. You can limit a lot of your liability and complaints from boarders when you back off a bit from the "full care" idea.
    Make the boarders responsible their own worming, vet, blacksmith and dentist visits. That way you can't get blamed if one of those professionals make a mistake.
    We all supply our own hay and feed. If a boarder gets in the habit of not buying hay, the contract clearly states that the BO will supply a bale at a time and will be charged double the going rate per bale on their next board bill. Believe me, with an extra charge like that these people really wake up and never do it again! We don't have to fuss over shared feed bins, we all have our own 50lb bin to fill as needed. We all clean our own stalls so we are out there a lot-there are very few "absentee" boarders. Several boarders do the twice daily feed/watering in exchange for a little bit off their board fee.
    As a previous poster said, don't play favorites!! Our BOs have done that and those favorites have chased many boarders right out of the stable and caused others not to move in. The BOs arenít even aware that they have lost a lot of
    business this way.
    If you have an issue with a boarder, don't write a nasty-gram and put it on all the stall doors. (they do this where I board and it makes us all angry) Go straight to the one person you have a problem with and leave us out of it!
    Keep the "don't do this, don't do that" signs to a minimum. When adults feel you are treating them like children they become resentful.
    Fix and maintain the arenas, stalls and equipment! Replace what is broken. Pot holes too!! Our BOs refuse to fix the huge holes in the driveway and we all have had to replace shocks & brakes on our vehicles numerous times. Some people are so angry that they intentionally drive over on the tree lawn and leave big ruts in it. There are huge maintenance and safety issues where I board and the boarders are resentful and no longer bother to help keep the property nice. When the quality of your barn and grounds goes downhill, the quality and attitude of your boarders will too. Keep everything working well and your boarders will treat your property accordingly.
    Make sure you have a helmet rule for ALL riders under 18 and enforce it!! Our BOs always had western horses and donít have such a rule. I have seen little tiny toddlers out riding with a teenager in charge-thatís a lawsuit waiting to happen and your BO will not only lose the stable but everything else they own too!
    Instead of getting nasty about board fee payments, our BOs gives a $10.00 per stall discount on bills paid by the 10th. Virtually all the boarders take advantage of this and there hasn't been a problem. They unfortunately havenít been very pro-active about the 1 or 2 that have run up large unpaid bills-these boarders are also the ones who neglect their horses. On top of that, these horses would only bring $50.00-100.00 at the local slaughter auction even if seized.
    The one smart thing (and there are very few) that the BOs did was imply in the boarding contract that this is a "membership". That separates it slightly from the outside public thinking itís a business where you can come right in and wander around. Technically no one is allowed on the property unless they are a guest of a "member" or with specific permission from the boarder.
    Foxtail Ranch and TurkishVan like this.
         
        02-16-2014, 11:01 AM
      #13
    Started
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chasin Ponies    
    Perspective from a boarder;
    Personally, I won't board full care ever again as I have had very, very bad experiences with it. I am not particularly happy with my present partial boarding situation and if there were any other place to go, this barn would be empty, but at least I take care of my horses myself and know pretty much what's going on with them. You can limit a lot of your liability and complaints from boarders when you back off a bit from the "full care" idea.
    Make the boarders responsible their own worming, vet, blacksmith and dentist visits. That way you can't get blamed if one of those professionals make a mistake.
    We all supply our own hay and feed. If a boarder gets in the habit of not buying hay, the contract clearly states that the BO will supply a bale at a time and will be charged double the going rate per bale on their next board bill. Believe me, with an extra charge like that these people really wake up and never do it again! We don't have to fuss over shared feed bins, we all have our own 50lb bin to fill as needed. We all clean our own stalls so we are out there a lot-there are very few "absentee" boarders. Several boarders do the twice daily feed/watering in exchange for a little bit off their board fee.
    As a previous poster said, don't play favorites!! Our BOs have done that and those favorites have chased many boarders right out of the stable and caused others not to move in. The BOs arenít even aware that they have lost a lot of
    business this way.
    If you have an issue with a boarder, don't write a nasty-gram and put it on all the stall doors. (they do this where I board and it makes us all angry) Go straight to the one person you have a problem with and leave us out of it!
    Keep the "don't do this, don't do that" signs to a minimum. When adults feel you are treating them like children they become resentful.
    Fix and maintain the arenas, stalls and equipment! Replace what is broken. Pot holes too!! Our BOs refuse to fix the huge holes in the driveway and we all have had to replace shocks & brakes on our vehicles numerous times. Some people are so angry that they intentionally drive over on the tree lawn and leave big ruts in it. There are huge maintenance and safety issues where I board and the boarders are resentful and no longer bother to help keep the property nice. When the quality of your barn and grounds goes downhill, the quality and attitude of your boarders will too. Keep everything working well and your boarders will treat your property accordingly.
    Make sure you have a helmet rule for ALL riders under 18 and enforce it!! Our BOs always had western horses and donít have such a rule. I have seen little tiny toddlers out riding with a teenager in charge-thatís a lawsuit waiting to happen and your BO will not only lose the stable but everything else they own too!
    Instead of getting nasty about board fee payments, our BOs gives a $10.00 per stall discount on bills paid by the 10th. Virtually all the boarders take advantage of this and there hasn't been a problem. They unfortunately havenít been very pro-active about the 1 or 2 that have run up large unpaid bills-these boarders are also the ones who neglect their horses. On top of that, these horses would only bring $50.00-100.00 at the local slaughter auction even if seized.
    The one smart thing (and there are very few) that the BOs did was imply in the boarding contract that this is a "membership". That separates it slightly from the outside public thinking itís a business where you can come right in and wander around. Technically no one is allowed on the property unless they are a guest of a "member" or with specific permission from the boarder.
    Another perspective: My barn manager refuses to do self care board because of a history of people not taking care of their business. She won't walk by a dirty stall and leave it dirty just because the owner didn't feel like coming out today. I see where she's coming from.
         
        02-16-2014, 05:15 PM
      #14
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DuckDodgers    
    Another perspective: My barn manager refuses to do self care board because of a history of people not taking care of their business. She won't walk by a dirty stall and leave it dirty just because the owner didn't feel like coming out today. I see where she's coming from.
    I was actually just going to ask about that - if I were a barn manager, I'd be wary about offering self care / half care, cause what if the care isn't up to my own standards?

    As a boarder, there are a few things that are important to me.
    As someone else said, know your clientele. Do you want to be an affordable place that offers pasture board and caters to trail riders (i.e. No arena needed)? Or do you want to be an upscale sports facility? If you want to charge more, what is it you're offering that peoople pay extra money for?
    #1: TRANSPARENCY and proper communication! Make sure boarders know what you are offering and what is expected of them in return. Doesn't need to be in a mean way, but e.g. Give every new boarder a well-written info sheet with the rules (board payment, liability, cleaning up after yourself, arena use times etc). In return, make sure to let your boarders know e.g. Who is working on which days. There's nothing wrong with the barn manager taking a day off, or people working casually. But it's no fun to come out to the barn and play a guessing game whether e.g. My horse has received his supplements / medication yet. Make sure that there is ONE person (BO/BM) to approach in case of problems or questions, and that all your boarders know who that is and have been introduced in person. Post the phone nrs of emergency contacts, farrier, vet etc in a well visible spot.
    Being a barn manager doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself, or that you shouldn't have free time. But it does mean that you have to be the person in charge and be able to direct boarders and other workers. It needs to be clear who's responsible for what.


    Horse care: ties in to the previous point. Make sure the people working and the boarders know what has been done and who has done it. E.g. Get a big white bard for the feed room that has all the feeding instructions on it, and have people mark it on the board as they work off their chores. That way there's a lot less confusion and things will not get missed or one double.
    One thing I really like at the place I am right now is that the girls are very attentive. They look at every single horse every day, even the pasture boarded ones, and they call right away as soon as something's wrong. Better call once too many that once too little, gives boarders a lot of peace of mind.
    It sucks to get the feeling there is a difference in care between the BO's/BM's horses and the boarder's. It also sucks to get the feeling the BM is more interested in riding his/her own horses, showing, attending clinics etc than doing what s/he is paid for.

    Arena / riding area: If you have an arena, make sure the footing is well taken care of. That includes e.g. Watering and raking on a regular basis, and making sure that people pick up poop after themselves. Also, as a dressage rider, it's pretty annoying to remove the jumps that the previous riders have left. Especially when it happens every.single.ride. If jumps need to be re-used e.g. In later lessons, it would be nice if these lessons could be maybe once or twice a week and not every day...
    Chasin Ponies likes this.
         
        02-16-2014, 05:41 PM
      #15
    Started
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Regula    
    Arena / riding area: If you have an arena, make sure the footing is well taken care of. That includes e.g. Watering and raking on a regular basis, and making sure that people pick up poop after themselves. Also, as a dressage rider, it's pretty annoying to remove the jumps that the previous riders have left. Especially when it happens every.single.ride. If jumps need to be re-used e.g. In later lessons, it would be nice if these lessons could be maybe once or twice a week and not every day...
    Well, leaving jumps up would depend on what sort of facility you're trying to run. If you're catering to folks that jump, then it would be more of a pain for the administration to cater to the two people that exclusively ride on the flat than allowing the other 10 to leave the jumps up. If you're a dressage or western barn, then the jumper may have to just haul their stuff out before and after rides. In a mixed facility barn everyone needs to give and take a little. Maybe leave a couple of jumps up off centered in the arena so that the dressage riders can ride around easily, and the jumpers always have them up. At my barn we have a mixture of people that ride exclusively on the flat, a couple running barrels, and a couple that jump. I've never had a problem doing dressage tests around a couple of jumps, and if set up properly the barrels and a couple of jumps can be set up so they don't interfere with each other.

    I think that this issue falls under your category of "making rules clear in the beginning". If you want the rules to be "nothing left in the arena when you're done", then put it in the barn rules. If you want it to be "Designated jumps can stay, everything else must be removed", then put it in. If it's "Do not remove or rearrange jumps without BM's permission", then put that in there. If you're fortunate to have multiple riding spaces, consider designating one as a "jump area" and the other as a "flat area". The BO at my barn cleared a nice large area in the back pasture to use as a jump field. My friend brought her jumps and set them up as she wanted, and it means that she can jump full courses without having to tie up the arena with them. My old barn had a big outdoor and indoor arena. The outdoor always had a full course up and you weren't allowed to rearrange the jumps and leave them. The indoor was mostly flat, and you had to take down anything that you put up. Know who you're catering to, and plan your barn policies around keeping people happy. You can't please everyone, but develop the policies around what suits your farm's needs best.
         
        02-16-2014, 08:11 PM
      #16
    Green Broke
    Left hand Perch.. is correct, You need to have the agisters lein in the boarding contract .
    You cannot keep a horse that has an agisters lien, it Must go to auction to be sold for the money due.
    If you wish to keep the horse that has 3 months (what is legal here) past due board, then put a clause the owner will sign the horse over to you in lieu of back board.
    Have it written that the owner does Not have first right of recovery and the owner gives up
    All Rights of ownership without undue stress or pressure. That the horse is signed over with a clear and free title. If the horse is registered, you may also ask in the contract that you can purchase the papers for $$ . They are not required to supply the registration papers.
    I would not hand over my registration papers, and would write deceased and mail to the registry.
         
        02-17-2014, 06:38 AM
      #17
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DuckDodgers    
    Another perspective: My barn manager refuses to do self care board because of a history of people not taking care of their business. She won't walk by a dirty stall and leave it dirty just because the owner didn't feel like coming out today. I see where she's coming from.
    Stall cleaning when horses are neglected is done by the BO or another boarder and then a substantial fee is charged directly to the owner on the next bill. Having to pay extra usually gets these people's attention and they straighten up! (At least until next time)
         
        02-17-2014, 08:30 AM
      #18
    Started
    But if you're going to have to do it and charge anyway, then why not just do that? That's the logic that she has presented to me, and I tend to agree. The "until next time" is what would get me- the type of person to neglect their horse is the same type that would cause problems with billing, and then cause the same issue I'm the future.
    Posted via Mobile Device
         
        02-18-2014, 07:12 AM
      #19
    Showing
    Turkishvan, you have the wrong idea about horse auctions. A horse that's worth much more than the low slaughter prices will not go to slaughter. An auction brings many potential buyers. Think of it. If you were looking for a horse, wouldn't it be easier and less time consuming to be able to look at 25 at one place in one day, than running all over the country for weeks or months?
    stevenson likes this.
         
        02-26-2014, 12:17 AM
      #20
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
    Turkishvan, you have the wrong idea about horse auctions. A horse that's worth much more than the low slaughter prices will not go to slaughter. An auction brings many potential buyers. Think of it. If you were looking for a horse, wouldn't it be easier and less time consuming to be able to look at 25 at one place in one day, than running all over the country for weeks or months?
    I've been to many a horse auction here in Iowa, so I KNOW how they go. Auctions are not the place to go when you want a good horse, pure and simple. They're usually places people go to pick up a few, ride them out, then make a quick sale on. Anything that doesn't look even remotely possible of riding gets sold to the packers. Private sales are much better for the horse.

    I will tell you that good horses (worth thousands!) WILL go to slaughter, regardless of breeding, training, etc. I've seen it happen. We had a nearby auction selling some very, very nice, very well bred Egyptian Arabians. Papered, nice conformation, been handled extensively, etc. They even had their own GROOM. Guess how much they went for? $25 a piece. Seven nice, nice horses. The groom bought 2, but didn't have room for more. He was devastated. But the owner said to sell, no matter how low the price. I heard several people joking about them being "cheaper than a bag of dog food", so you know what they were going to do with them. (I unfortunately I knew some of the slimeballs frequenting that auction, so I'm sure they did go and slaughter them for their dogs.)
    Around here, an auction brings mostly packers. People wanting more than $1,000 for a horse usually don't get the horse sold. The auctioneer really has to work for a sale like that.

    Personally, I try to avoid buying a horse from an auction. We never have, and we own 8 horses. (I only attend to buy cheap tack items, or see what the horse market is like.) We only buy through private sales. Auction houses are just rifled with disease, and I'm always extra careful to wash my hands so I don't bring something home to my own horses. I've seen wayyyy too many horses at the auction with obvious cases of strangles, bad injuries, etc. They're pushed through and sold, regardless of this.

    Where is the vet in all of this, you ask?
    Unfortunately there is not much the vet can do sometimes.
    My cousin is a vet, and worked for two sale barns on two separate occasions, and told them she'd never come back afterwards. Being a very responsible vet, she demanded Coggins tests and health certificates for every horse, with thorough inspections and notes to back everything up. At first she wanted the buyer to pay for it, but they complained. Then she asked the sellers to pay for it, and they complained. No matter what she did, the buyers, sellers, and auction employees complained like crazy. She was met with quite a bit of animosity from random people, and got backed into a corner more than once by a yelling buyer/seller. Her male friend had to come defend her. When she contacted the state vet, he told her, "Oh, it doesn't matter who it goes for." The state vet was very wishy-washy about the entire affair, and although she filed complaints about situations at one barn, nothing ever came of it.
    The problem is that none of the higher-ups care.

    So no, I don't have the wrong idea about horse auctions. I would never subject my horse to one, even a horse that I didn't care for.
    Chasin Ponies likes this.
         

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