Barn drama - what to do?
   

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Barn drama - what to do?

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    11-20-2013, 11:23 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Barn drama - what to do?

Great... I think I might have to switch barns


I'm mulling things over but I'd like outside opinions please.

WARNING: This will be long!

I've been boarding at the same place for about a year and a half. It's a bit of a cheapie place with limited riding amenities.

They have:
- trails
- trailer parking
- 1 small arena with all weather footing (20x60)
- said arena has very poor lighting
- fenced off with 4 board wood fencing
- 2 grass arenas, one with jumps
- these arenas are fenced off with t-posts and paracord
- no lighting
- arena is not level
- round pen
- they didn't do the footing properly so the liner has come up over the sand and the roundpen is now closed
- brand new 8 stall barn
- unfortunately it's the only area for grooming and stuff on that side of the property so gets very full
- tack room, but cramped
- combinations of self, partial and full care board
- pretty nice hay
- wash stall
- they're going to shut off the hot water when it gets really cold
- field board
- the horses have shelter and free choice hay
- the horses have to choose to stay under the shelter or eat hay, and some of them kind of starve themselves when the weather is poor because they don't want to stand in the wind


In the spring/summer/fall I'm 'okay' with the place. It's not AWESOME, but it's not really awful either. It's also mostly because I'm a pretty hands on owner and am there daily. I would not feel comfortable letting my horse go unvisited for more than a couple of days.


Problems:
- She sometimes has this family who boards there take care of the horses when she and her husband are out of town. This is a family of beginner horsepeople. They're curious and very willing to learn, but right now they don't know things. I do not feel confident that they would see anything but a huge display if a horse was colicking. Their horse handling skills are minimal. When they have their horses are out, it's a hot mess because they don't know how to discipline their horses nor do they know the 'common sense' things to do (for example, one of their mares is food aggressive and charges and they keep tying her inside the aisle when there's horses in the stalls and feeding her, and she charges the bars). They also often make mistakes with feeding (I keep my horse's feed in little baggies so you can't mix his up). I understand it can happen but it can also cause problems with the horses.

- There's near constant construction going on on the property. They're leveling the ground for some reason or another - it's got something to do with the husband's hobbies. It's not for horse purposes. There's constantly trucks and beeping and things going on. Yea yea.. training opportunity. Sure. Sometimes I'd just like to not hear and see the trucks though, you know?

- People don't always remove the baling twine from the bales of hay and leave open bales in a buggy. People then don't check and feed the hay with string in it. I personally feed my horse, so he's never at risk of eating twine, however, I've pulled twine from stalls more than once.

- She does NOT do night checks of any kind. A couple of months ago, a horse colicked in the field and ended up dying because he wasn't found until morning. I didn't know she didn't do night checks until recently. She used to do them (or at least had claimed she was doing them).

- We've been asking for additional lighting in the outdoor arena since the summertime so we could ride and not be in near total darkness, but there's always an excuse as to why it's not done yet.

- We've had more than one incident where she and her husband just happen to be away and her husband's friends comes on the property and did stupid stuff. Once, someone was shooting rocket fireworks near the trails. He didn't have permission to be there and thought it would just "be okay". My horse FLIPPED OUT when a rocket went off nearby. I've also come across a group of drunk guys who thought it would be okay to hang out. Totally not safe! A lone female (unarmed since gun laws are strict) out on a trail with a bunch of drunk guys... what if they got bad ideas in there head and tried to yank me off my horse?

- There's a creek that's cutting across part of the property. The county is doing extensive work of some kind of the creek, which means that we can no longer cross said creek. It has reduced our trails by half because they've put up barriers so we can't cross.

- The round pen has been out of commission for several months. They laid down a black liner type material and then put the sand on it. They didn't put gravel on top so the vibrations from the round pen being used caused the liner to lift, the sand shifted under it, and now the liner is sticking up out of the sand posing a bad trip hazard, or a getting stuck hazard for shod horses.

- I fed one morning and saw that there were HUNTERS hunting in the field ADJACENT to my horse's pasture. They were bow and arrow hunting. We are supposed to know when the hunters are coming (we didn't know) and come on...hunting the next field over is way too close. I went to work late because I don't know those people and didn't want to turn my horse out, or the others, until they left. I also get nervous because if they're so close, a stray bullet/arrow could just as easily get me. Things happen.

- We're not notified of when the hunters are on property and when they've left, which makes the trails unnerving because you don't know if they're out there.

- She allows trappers on the property. Apparently, traps have been out for about a month and a half so far this season and she didn't notify any of the boarders. They're the clamp traps that grab an animals leg. My friend's (another boarder) horse stepped on a trap today. Fortunately, the horse was not hurt and failed in trying to kill my friend to get away from the trap. Yes, the trap was on the edge of a field where the horse's go. We don't know if it was right on the trail or just outside of it, but way too close. We also didn't know that traps were out there - that could have easily been someone's dog. My friend could have gotten really hurt. Had her horse's shoe got stuck in the trap, the horse probably would have broken her leg. I had my dog out not that long ago - she's a little purse dog and the trap could have snapped her neck! She emailed tonight about the traps after the incident.




Good parts:
- Cheap
- Close from home
- My horse is happy there
- My husband likes the place and will actually go with me sometimes, and sometimes even trail run while I ride!


The incident with the trap really upset me. People were nervous about the hunters so we had a little get together thing where they explained why they trap and how. It was supposed to be coyotes only and everything else was allegedly set free. Earlier tonight I expressed my concerns to another friend boarder there and she told me she saw the hunter carrying young dead fox a few days ago. The traps aren't strong enough to kill something as big as a fox, so he probably killed them for the pelts. What happened to trapping only coyote?!


SO.......am I overreacting by thinking it's time to start looking around for a new place to board? Share your thoughts please! I'm not really much into jumping board facilities often. And a lot of this is a "what if" scenario.

My husband is more forgiving than I am. He really likes this place and the BO/her husband and feels that mistakes happen, none of our animals were hurt, and so we should see if things improve.
     
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    11-20-2013, 11:28 PM
  #2
Foal
Ahhhh no. I would get my horse and I the heck out of dodge asap. Sounds way to unpredictable and dangerous. Good luck with whatever you decide!! :)
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    11-20-2013, 11:34 PM
  #3
Foal
I personally would RUN... not walk.. but RUN away from that barn. All that stuff that you said is going on there is plain and simple not acceptable in my mind. I would have been gone a long time ago. That place just sounds like a horrible accident waiting to happen, and its not a matter of if something happens to you or your horse, its when.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the best.
     
    11-20-2013, 11:35 PM
  #4
Green Broke
Move. You know these things are going on and what type of place it is. Horse cannot dial 911. If something happens, it is on you, because you are aware of it.
     
    11-20-2013, 11:35 PM
  #5
Trained
I was pretty ok with most everything you're describing for a low expense boarding situation until you got to the drunks and the traps. I could even handle the bottle rockets and M80's, I've ridden flag bearer at the Sheriff's Rodeo and we stood under the fireworks show, the horses learn to deal.

The other stuff is annoying but only you know if it's annoying enough for the money to make you move somewhere better/more expensive.

The drunks & and traps would all have to go for me to stay, and I NEVER took my dogs to the barn when I boarded but the idea of a horse getting hurt by one of those things.......shudder. And I have a ZERO tolerance policy when it comes to drunks. I'd already be gone.
     
    11-21-2013, 12:01 AM
  #6
Foal
Warning: long, opinionated response.

In my experience and opinion - forgiveness is key in every aspect of life. It's easy to pass up a good opportunity if you hold grudges, the place you're boarding sounds like it has potential. However, with forgiveness comes the responsibility to know when enough is enough and where to draw the line. If it were me, I'd have drawn the line the second time she failed to communicate with her boarders about those bow and arrow hunters.

It sounds like this BO has forgotten on many important occasions to contact her boarders - most importantly the hunters and the trappers. The first few times, sure. I could forgive that, but you have extensively described a lack of communication. I'd be asking myself if there were other things she wasn't communicating with her boarders.

The county doing things with the creek is beyond the barn owner's control, as far as I know. The best you can do when the city comes in is provide other amenities and try to get word on when the project will stop; in my opinion, that's not necessarily a reason to leave the barn and I don't see it as a demerit. I doubt the work on the creek will last forever.

Having the inexperienced family doing work there is great! If they're being supervised by someone with more handling skills. It's one thing for a beginner with common sense and a basic in horse handling skills to be watching the barn (good learning opportunity, still needs to be monitored); it's another when the people let their own horses get away with the naughty behavior and have no clue how to correct it. To me this suggests "cheap" in a bad way. It almost says, "I can pay them in experience! Therefore, I don't need to hire a barn manager." Especially if they're leaving town.

People not removing baling twine is more of a barn-policy that should be enforced (likely doesn't exist/isn't enforced if it does). Is that a demerit on the barn owner? Kind of, but she can't babysit all her boarders. If boarders are the ones feeding, they're in control of what they do or don't do.

Failing to address the lighting situation in the arena and the round pen being out of commission all pose problems for me. Both of these are boarder demands and valid requests. If a round pen is promised, it needs to be safe to use. Horse safety and consumer satisfaction should be this person's number-one priority, as happy customers = money. Giving excuses or failing to address these problems tells me that they don't care to any extreme extent about my satisfaction at their place of business. As for lighting in the arena, I hold the same opinion. Valid excuses (we don't currently have the money/running the electric can't be done at this point in time), I can understand. But excessive excuses in the place of an honest "we won't be adding that feature at this time" worry me. I don't want excuses, I want a straight-forward answer so I can use that information to plan.

Constant construction to satiate the husband? I can understand this to a degree. Boys like their toys and they sometimes want to play. But, I want to board my horse at a practical facility, not a construction zone. For me that would be reason to request reeling it in. I, personally, would ask for a line of communication that alerts boarders to the days construction will be going on so that they can plan accordingly. Is it a reason to leave the barn? Eh, personal opinion. (As are all of your points.)

Not doing night-check is a mild concern for me. Not every horse owner checks their horse every night. Some do, though. If this were a feature promised to me, of course I would be livid to find out that it didn't happen, but if not I can't really be upset about it. However, I know several ranchers that keep their horses on 15-100 acres of land and don't bother driving to check the herd at night. It's really a tossup in my eyes; for me, not necessarily a reason to leave.

Among your list of amenities, I don't see glaring problems. A cramped grooming area can be dealt with (even if it sucks.) Horses having to choose shelter or food will almost always choose shelter and eat later. Uneven arenas can be decent to ride in and can help the horse with its proprioception.

In regards to the drunks. I'd be packing a knife and letting the barn owner know my discontent with their "buddies" showing up and acting like they're entitled to be on and do damage to that property. It's dangerous and it's a liability, to you, your horse, other boarders and their horses, as well as the barn owners and their friends. It is NOT ok for people to be getting drunk around my horse and I don't want to have to be worried about the thought of them getting nasty ideas and taking it out on me. If the barn owner couldn't understand that, I'd be moving without any question.

If you're going to leave just based on your list of pros and cons, I see a lot of reasons to leave, but I also see some pros that would be difficult to find again. I think a lot of the problems you're faced with are the lack of communication and the seeming lack of care regarding their boarder's horse safety. Both of which can be big enough problems to justify leaving, and are most definitely big enough to justify red flags. Have you considered maybe bringing these concerns to light with the barn owners and everyone else? If they respond with concern (getting the hunters out there and telling them, along with the trappers, that being so close to the horses is NOT ok) perhaps they can be redeemed. If not, I would hightail it out of there based on your list of complaints. It sounds like you've given them enough of a chance to justify leaving.


But that's just my opinion.
     
    11-21-2013, 12:28 AM
  #7
Started
Sounds very much like a barn I left last year. I'd move.

NeryLibra, all very good points. But you forgot about the traps. That is what would push me over the edge.
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    11-21-2013, 12:40 AM
  #8
Trained
You get what you pay for and I am in agreement with Dreamcatcher here the drunks and hunters concern me. The rest can be dealt with if the price is really affordable.
I have never seen a horse refuse to eat because of the wind blowing. Horses evolved on the open plains so they are able to deal with windy conditions.
Night checks are not mandatory for most horse owners. I see mine only twice a day sometimes. A horse dying of collic can happen in any stable. Accidents happen and no one is around 24/7 at most places.
If you are that upset about the care of the horses there then by all means move to another barn.
Be prepared to pay more though for all the amenities you desire.
Good luck with whatever you decide. Shalom
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    11-21-2013, 12:45 AM
  #9
Green Broke
My little dog is excellently behaved and stays by my side (well she's a mini so its more like my feet). She's antisocial so doesn't try to crawl all over people for attention. She just scurries away. I lock her in my stall when I ride and she chases mice. She's not a barker either. I'd leave her home if she were awful.

No the family is not supervised at all when they feed. They usually text me and ask questions. A few boarders now text me when they know I'm there so I can eyeball their horse (they voluntarily send pics and status checks on my horse for me when they're there - appreciated but wasn't asked for but I know they're doing it to kind of even it out).

I'm mostly mulling things over right now. I didn't know a lot of this until today and I have reason to believe most of the other boarders, if not all of them, don't know either.

I'm pretty sure I posted the story about the two horses that got loose here. Hmm.

ETA: I did: http://www.horseforum.com/horse-talk/incredibly-frustrating-people-their-horses-vent-284018/
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    11-21-2013, 12:50 AM
  #10
Foal
I forgot to address the trappers? Well darn! And I thought I had remembered everything. ;-; Thanks for letting me know Amp!

In regards to the trappers and hunters performing their acts around horses at all? This gives me the impression that horse safety either isn't a concern to the barn owner, or that the barn owner didn't draw clear boundaries when they struck an agreement. Both of which are items of discussion that need to be brought up with the barn owner so that you can plan accordingly. The first question I would ask is if they (the barn owners) were aware of the fact that the hunters and trappers were getting so close to home and even going so far as to hunt and trap in fields adjacent to horse pastures, as well as placing traps within the pasture boundaries. This would do two things: first, it would alert the barn owner of the danger present and would provide the opportunity for them to remedy the situation. Second, it would let you know if they knew prior to your discussion of this going on. If they were aware of these events taking place and had done nothing to address the situation, I would, with absolutely no hesitation, leave the barn. It speaks loudly to a lack in concern and care on behalf of horse safety, not to mention boarder safety.

If the hunters and trappers have been going behind the agreements struck with the barn owners (perhaps your barn owners were only Told that the trapper would be hunting coyotes) then that is no fault of the barn owner until the barn owner is made aware of the breech in contract, whether that contract was a verbal or written. Every action taken by the barn owner after they've been informed of the breech is either a merit or demerit depending on how they handle themselves and that particular business. Either way, it's risky business and the barn owners at the Very Least should maintain those lines of contact regarding the hunters and trappers.

Ok. Now I think I've covered everything I meant to. I shall stop flooding this thread! :)
amp23 likes this.
     

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