I'm not quite sure where to start with this one... I know this will be long :(
A boarder brought an emaciated horse to us claiming that the boarding facility they had been at was only feeding her one flake of hay at each the morning and evening feed. VERY THIN horse. Apparently, the horse was "naughty", so that was how the people there (at that farm) chose to handle the situation. It has since come to light that the horse's owners think that swapping feeds is going to solve the horse's behavioral issues, and I suspect the other farm got sick of the demands to swap feeds around. It wouldn't be a problem, except that the boarders have no knowledge of horse nutritional needs.
I have sat down with these people 3 previous times, and said essentially "look; here is what we are feeding your horse. This is ALREADY not sufficiently sound, we are NOT going to reduce her anymore. The horse's behavioral issues are training issues that you should seek a trainer to assist you with. Here are some alternate feeds that I know are great for you to research, please let me know after you look into these (and any other ones you find), and we can further discuss it." I gave her a list with ration balancers, low starch feeds, etc... and explained that if the feed is actually what the horse's problem is (it is not, I'm quite certain), that the starch/sugar content is what she will want to look for when researching feeds.
Also, when we had a vet out (after the first 2 times they asked us to cut the horse's feed), the vet LAUGHED at them and said "Well, of course your horse will "behave" when she is too lethargic from not being fed enough to do anything, much less act up..." The vet then suggested they feed "omegatin", which I already had them doing!!!!!!!! Grrrr...
What happens while I am away? The boarder approaches my spouse and says "We'd like to cut her grain down... so and so does it and we'd like to try it..." My spouse told her we'd talk about it.
I'm thinking that we will offer to increase the horse's hay (at night... we turn out in herds during the day and can't guarantee the horse will get the extra, and I know the people won't pay extra for private turn out). I don't think they'll go for it because they'll have to pay the difference between our standard "maintenance" and the extra.
The best part? The woman disclosed to my husband that she feeds her horse upwards of 20 treats (just looked at the website to see ingredients) per day... this is over 1/2 lb of HORSE TREATS!!!!!?!?!?!??! And she thinks the grain/supplement is making her horse "naughty"?
To be honest, I am very frustrated with this situation. So, my thought is to tell the people that we will change their horse's feed after they have a veterinary consult (either in writing or us present) where the vet suggests feed. We have done this in the past with difficult boarders, and finally the "past" difficult boarders ended up coming back to what we suggested and being satisfied with it. My main concern is for the welfare of the horse... not to mention the fact that they SHOW this horse frequently, and take it out to trail ride off site frequently. We are well aware of how much "word of mouth" affects horse businesses. People KNOW where they board this horse. People don't always ask about it when they see a thin horse, they just form opinions... and without asking, they won't know the horse is thin (if she gets that way) because it is how the owners choose to feed her. After the way the horse came to us, and the story we were told, I don't think they'd own up to it even if she was thin... I just keep trying to throw the ball back into their court and make sure they know the responsibility is on them, and they back down... only to come back later and whine.
Opinions, experiences and thoughts? I know as the BO I have a right to flat refuse her, but I don't want to do that :/ I appreciate that it is their horse and they have the right to determine it's care, but I'm really concerned about the requests they are making and how the visible results will refelct on our farm! I'm know that whining here is the right thing to do, but I would truly appreciate opinions from other horse people... BO's and boarders alike :)