Those two things - people feeding the horse without permission and the BO sneaking around behind your back - would prompt me to move.
Regardless of the shavings thing, which, whatever it's her barn, I don't like people doing things with my horse without authorization. This is why, although people call me snobby, among other things, I choose to use my money to pay for board at an excellent facility with great people. And yes, it is expensive.
However, that being said there are expensive places which also give poor care. But paying lots of money IMO does give leverage to ask a bit more of the facility and people than a mom and pop, at cost operation.
Good luck on your barn search and even if you do have to look at more expensive places to make it work, sometimes they do allow you to work off board - ask when you are talking to the BO. Lots of places are happy to have someone to clean stalls for a few hours on a Sunday for reduced board.
ETA to answer your original question, unfortunately yes it is the norm in boarding to deal with sneaky crap. It's also unfortunate that a lot of people don't notice, or choose to put up with such behavior, instead of demanding change or leaving. So it just continues.
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Last edited by ~*~anebel~*~; 07-11-2013 at 02:43 AM.