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.
The path is different for you and me, but the journey begins in the heart.
Last edited by NeryLibra; 11-21-2013 at 12:09 AM.