Questions on working off board and business ethics - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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Questions on working off board and business ethics

I am still very new to the world of horse ownership, I've had Kane now for about 5 months. I've been taking lessons for over 2 years now and he is currently being boarded at my trainers facilities. Me and a friend have agreed to help out to reduce our board rate and have had mentioned to us the possibility of a full time payed job out there.

I am unsure of average prices, and the amount of work most people do vs how much of a discount they get so I figured I'd ask those who've been around it for awhile. Board is costing us $400 (highest in the area). We are out there 6 days a week and roughly 25-30 hours a week cleaning, feeding, watering, scrubbing tubs, moving hay, and other heavy lifting. This is on top of our full time 8-12 hour a day job. In the end there is either no time or we are just too exhausted to enjoy our horses. If we work any less we have to make up the difference with what we pay, and with all that work we are getting about half off our board rate. Its just feeling like a lot of work to still be paying that much for full care services when we're the ones doing most of the care anyways.

The other side of things that's been happening, my boyfriend recently got a horse too and is boarding it there, who happened tostart showing signs of getting sick a few days after he got there. He was never put into quarantine (no horses are) and no boarding contract was ever given to be signed (me and my friend still haven't received one). A couple weeks later a few other horses start showing symptoms, and the owner blew up at my boyfriend about it saying things about loosing her business if people found out, being sued etc, then she went on saying she may make him pay for the vet bills of all the other sick horses, wanted him to come in to sign and post date a contract, which on it said of course that the business can't be held responsible for passing of illness, then started accusing him of not taking it seriously or caring enough because he isn't able to make it out there often (he's military, you can't just call in or skip out) even though he's paying for full care board. Meanwhile she says nothing about it to me, acting as if nothing is happening. The illness was mild, everyone got better fast, she hasn't brought up anything since.

Few months later I was able to drag him out there in the evening to go for a ride (he never wants to be out there due to the sour taste about the illness incident still there). We get out there and his horse is acting odd and uncomfortable. About an hour later is full blown colic. We get the vet rushed out, luckly he passes it without issue. Vet says the straight alfalfa that everyone out there gets fed is too rich for him and is a likely cause, even though he's been on it since getting there including when he was sick and inactive for a month. I ask her about it, ask her about the possibility of being fed a flake of bad hay since there's a new girl helping out. She says it could be for either and didn't say much more about the issue. Few minutes later I hear from my friend who works out there with me asking if I knew about the horses not being fed that morning when he coliced. I of course say no, was never told even when I was asking about possible causes. She then went on to say that she was being blamed for it even though it wasn't even her shift. Now I don't know the likelihood of a skipped meal causing his colic is, But I think it should of at least been mentioned to me. It's been about a week now and not a single word of it, everthing has just been happy sunshine and rainbows from her to me.

So here we are, my boyfriend is extremely unhappy about how he's been treated, my friend is hurt and upset by being accused, and I feel like I'm trying to be kept shaded from it all. On the plus side, I have enough land that in a couple of weeks will have temporary fencing and can move all three of our horses out here, I am really looking forward to having more time to relax and enjoy my horse, but I still want to continue taking lessons from her since I have seen nothing wrong with her as a trainer, and there really is no one else out here that I've found. I'm being made feel guilty about it from the other two though, and I'm having her being sweet and sugary trying to keep me out there to help.

So basicly my main questions are - Am I getting at least an average deal for what I'm working out there for a facility that I'm only getting an outdoor pen, outdoor arena, and no special amenities?

Should I continue pursuing lessons with her, or would that just keep the doors open for more conflict and drama even once I remove myself from the business part of things?

With my nature I just want to make everyone happy, and I'm being pulled in three different directions, so just trying to get as many different viewpoints as possible.
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post #2 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 12:49 PM
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Let me just run those numbers for you. Basically, you are being compensated around $2.69 per hour for your labor. (Based on 30 hours/week earning you $400 per month). Personally, I would want to earn at least minimum wage for my work. On top of that, you are "paying" top dollar for below average care (IMO) based on your story.

Does that help put it in perspective?
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post #3 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 12:52 PM
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As for lessons, if you like your coach and you think she will not hold it against you if/when you move your horses...then I don't see a problem with continuing your lessons. It might help lessen the blow when you pull your horse(s).
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post #4 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HorseMom1025 View Post
Let me just run those numbers for you. Basically, you are being compensated around $2.69 per hour for your labor. (Based on 30 hours/week earning you $400 per month). Personally, I would want to earn at least minimum wage for my work. On top of that, you are "paying" top dollar for below average care (IMO) based on your story.

Does that help put it in perspective?
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Yes it does! I never thought of putting it in money terms instead of 'favor' terms, but it makes sense physically how I was feeling with how little I was getting.
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post #5 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 01:20 PM
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It can be hard to find an objective measure...but when we "barter" for lessons or board, I always try to compare dollars to dollars. It makes it fair for everyone.

For example, my husband built 3 jumps for my daughter's riding coach. We kept the receipts for the materials and tracked his hours. We calculated his labor at $10/hour. When he was done, we were able to "invoice" her coach with hard data and we received that much in training time in return. It's fair and everyone is happy.
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post #6 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 01:25 PM
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Your completely getting overworked for your board payoff. Common problem in these situations.
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post #7 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 01:39 PM
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Just to put it into a different view...lots (most?) 40+ hour per week barn jobs have a salary AND free board for 1 and even sometimes lessons on top of that. When I was a barn manager at a nice barn (board was $700+ per month), I was paid $10 per hour plus insurance with free board for my horse and 5 lessons a week.
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post #8 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 03:03 PM
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A better arrangement is to have her pay you for hours worked and no less than minimum wage, then you write her a cheque for your board. The cheque is your record that your board is paid.
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post #9 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 03:29 PM
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My friend works off her board with my old BO. Her board is $300 per month. She cleans 60+ stalls and does waters every week, plus she leads dude string trail rides for $10 per ride (anywhere from 1 to 4 hour rides, usually multiple rides per day, but there aren't rides every day). She makes nowhere near minimum wage ($7.80/hr here in AZ).

I've noticed that smaller boarding stables (or ones in small towns) are more concerned about their bottom line than they are about being fair to those working for them.
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post #10 of 20 Old 08-30-2013, 03:48 PM
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Personally, I think it sounds like an increasingly bad situation and not worth your time.
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