Need some advice - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 06-17-2009, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Need some advice

Hi everyone!
I'm new to this forum, and am seeking some advice. Just a little background on me: I'm 40 years old, have owned horses for over 20 years. Am down to only one 12 year old pony now (from a "herd" of seven assorted horses and ponies at one point). I kept my horses on my property for 15 years. I have a bacheolor's degree in pre-vet medicine with an equine minor. In short, I think in all this time I do know a little bit about horses.
Anyways, my horse situation is such that I no longer own horse property, and keep my pony at a very nice lady's house about a mile away from where I live. This is in the city, and she is about the last horse property left (although she has no horses of her own, much less horse experience). my pony has a nice half-acre dry lot (there is no grass here in southern California), and a covered stall at night. I take care of my pony 100% (feed/clean 2x daily, buy my own hay, etc). My last big horse, and my pony's companion, died this past January. Since he is the only equine within about 10 miles of the vicinity, I was left with three options. 1)move my pony to a boarding stable (not what I wanted to do), 2) buy another horse or pony (at present not a good option due to financial considerations with this down economy), or 3) contact the person who had approached the owner of the place recently to bring in her daughter's pony. What a great and ideal sitation that would be, I thought! So, that's what I did. I talked to the mom of this 14 year old girl, and found out they didn't actually have the pony yet, but both she and her daughter have been riding for years. We talked extensively about how we could mutually help each other out. I was very clear with her that this place was not a boarding stable, but a do-it-yourself backyard situation. I said since I'm used to feeding and cleaning anyways, it would be no problem for me to continue to do this and include her pony as well. But if I needed help at some point, we would share the work. She was completely agreeable to this, and kept emphasizing what a great worker her daughter was and she'd be helping out all the time.
Well, it's now 5 months later.....not once have they offered to help out in any way with feeding or cleaning -even just her own pony's stall. The girl comes to ride almost daily (and this pony is not even friendly - she pins her ears and makes nasty faces at everyone. The mother - who is supposed to be a good rider - is afraid of the pony). I asked them a month ago if they could feed and clean for one week while I'm gone at the end of June, and the mother's reply was "We'll (meaning her and her daughter) have to discuss it. We'll get back to you." Right then I thought forget it. There's no way I'd trust them to actually come by twice daily to at least feed. She did come back and say they would do it, but I told them nevermind. I have asked the girl to start cleaning out her pony's water bucket at least on a weekly basis, something I had been doing for her for months. When I told her she needed to do it, it didn't get done until the property owner finally said something. THe bucket was overgrown with algae and teeming with mosquito larvae. On one hand, I feel I need to do it just so it gets done, and the poor pony has clean water to drink (during the day when both her and my pony are turned out together she has access to clean water), but on the other hand I think if I keep doing it, she will never learn.
Anyways, I feel completely taken advantage of. I have loaned this girl tack and equipment, I charge absolutely no money for anything expect the cost of the hay (which my husband and I drive 40 miles roundtrip on a monthly basis to bring in and stack). The only benefit I get out of this is not having to buy another horse or pony myself - which lately I've been really missing my horse and riding. The property owner knows how I feel, but she doesn't want to get involved. She has her contract with the people and gets her monthly money from them for letting them keep the pony on her property, and everything else (care of animal) she left up to me. It was me, afterall, who asked for this arrangement.
What would you do in this situation? Next week is the start of summer vacation, so she will be out of school. Should I insist that the girl help out by at least cleaning her stall on a daily basis. But then again, if she doesn't do this, which I'm sure won't get done daily, the flies will be horrible, and my pony is in the stall right next to her at night. (we split one 12x24 corral into two 12x12 stalls - again with no help from them).
I know this turned into a vent, but I also need some advice. I'm a very non-confrontational person, but I feel I need to say something to open up their eyes to the fact that they are getting all the benefits from this deal, and I'm stuck with all the work.
otterific is offline  
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-17-2009, 01:58 PM
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Location: Alabama
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I am little confused about your post. Does the pony (the 14 year old's pony) partially belong to you? Did you put any money toward the original purchase of the pony?
Harley4Blizzard is offline  
post #3 of 12 Old 06-17-2009, 02:16 PM
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Location: SE Kansas
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You need to get mad and tell this mother daughter pair to either take care of their pony's needs or it won't get done. If they do nothing the pony will just have to suffer.
Or......Your only other recourse is to suck it up and just do what is best for the animal. screw the people. Stop doing for them (tack loans etc). Just do for the pony.
Whichever you decide to do, stick with it and don't let your emotions get in the way of what is best for you and your mental health
I get the feeling you will take care of this pony no matter what Its too bad some people can be such dolts. Fortunately most of the work is stuff you would be doing anyway for a companion for your horse. As long as they are paying for the hay (I'd up the price for the drive time) its all good.

Welcome to the Forum by the way

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
Vidaloco is offline  
post #4 of 12 Old 06-17-2009, 06:56 PM
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Wow, that's quite a situation.

Since the daughter is going to be out of school, I would remind them of the original arrangement. Maybe phrase it like: "Since your daughter will have more time with school out for the summer, she can give more of a hand with her pony. I don't mind doing her a favor while she was just starting out with the new pony and still in school, but she has the time and responsibility to be here herself." If it were me, and this tactic doesn't work, I would again bring up the original arrangment, and ask if these people would be willing to pay you at least the going rate for a stable hand or groom in your area, since you have apparently been unilaterally demoted from co-manager. Unfortunately, I don't see any way you can "evict" them if they don't agree to compensate you in either labor or funds. I totally understand your not wanting to be confrantational, but these people need a serious wake up call. If tactical and firm diplomacy doesn't work, follow Vidaloco's advice and do only what it takes to keep their pony in good health and safety, and call it lucky to have a buddy for your boy. If you have to lock up your tack to diminish the perks to these people, do it. Make it worth their while to show up and work; no help (financial or labor), no borrowing equipment.

I'm a college student, fortunate enough to be enrolled an hour from home and able come home most weekends to tend to my horse. My sister cares for her horse and mine while I'm gone, and I take on both horses during my weekends and vacations. I'm lucky to have that arrangement, and I count my blessings with every shovel I lift and bucket I fill, lol. If it weren't for my sis, I don't know if I could have kept my boy through school.

Good luck with this sticky wicket, and welcome to the forum!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
Scoutrider is offline  
post #5 of 12 Old 06-18-2009, 05:38 AM Thread Starter
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than you guys for the advice. I knew I could count on fellow horse peopple! And thanks for the welcome. Hopefully I'll be able to contibute to the forum in the near future. I will probably follow your suggestions, and recommend that she help by cleaning her stall during vacation. I already know that this won't get done every day, and I will just suck it up and continue to do what I've been doing. I definitely won't let the pony be neglected (even though she is just not a friendly or even likeable pony. She was given to them free by people they know who run a pony ride business. There was definitely a reason why this pony wasn't well suited for that job and they were giving it away!) To answer Harley's question - I have absolutely no financial stake in this pony. And yes, the truth is that if I had my own second horse/pony, I would be doing this work anyways. It's just a bit different, though, since it isn't my pony, and I'm also angry at myself because I'm the sucker who is doing all this for these people.
I'm going to also quietly start removing some of my tack. After 5 months, it's time they get their own stuff.
Thanks for allowing me to vent. I think you all "get it" where I'm coming from.
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post #6 of 12 Old 06-18-2009, 06:47 AM
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its always good to just be up front and honest. I too am a person who is easily taken advantage of and then I resent it. You have to give them them chance to step up to the plate. You have made it too easy for them. Yes people like us think well they ought to know how much I do and they ought to be falling all over themselves to make up for it such as caring for your pony while you are away. But they are not the same type of people as you are. They are content to do the minimal for their own pony and let you do as much as you are willing.

First off get them in a neutral environment. Maybe away from the barn, invite them over to your house or meet for coffee, lunch, whatever, something that doesn't seem too odd but that makes it so you are talking and not distracted.

Be pleasant and kind but let them know that you feel that you are being taken advantage of. Say something along the lines of what scoutrider said, but be very CLEAR.

For one thing start by telling them that the tack loan was temporary and after this long you really feel they need to purchase their own tack, if you want maybe offer to sell them yours if you don't need it or its extra stuff. Next work out a fee schedule. Since you are getting an advantage out of it and obviously feel like you would be there anyway you can lowball it and be reasonable. However you should charge them for cleaning the stall, that is worth at least $100 month, so let them know that and maybe say but I will do it for $75 (or whatever is reasonable) Charge them for the drive time/gas/etc to pick up the hay. Explain horses need clean water buckets, offer advice such as using bleach to scrub it out now and then, etc. Basically you just have to say it very nicely and in a non confrontational way but just be firm and honest and nice. If you don't you have two options to just keep doing it all and stop resenting it or just ask them to leave and find a new boarder who you don't let take advantage of you. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

you are sweet to care so much, but trust me being sweet is not all its cracked up to be (I know :)

Last edited by lovemyponies; 06-18-2009 at 06:50 AM.
lovemyponies is offline  
post #7 of 12 Old 06-18-2009, 10:55 PM
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My mom always said that people will take advantage only as long as you allow it.

Are you absolutely sure you wanna mess with my carrots?
Joshie is offline  
post #8 of 12 Old 06-19-2009, 02:48 AM
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well you definately have a situation on your hands...

I see your personality and I think that is going to be your biggest difficulty here. So this is my suggestion.

Make a list and keep it with you....oh wait, I am doing it for you....

Goal: By end of summer girl is responsible for her pony, equiptment and health.

cayuseranch is offline  
post #9 of 12 Old 06-19-2009, 02:59 AM
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Crud...something happened there....

1) Find a "great" deal on equipment for her and recommend that she go and look at it for purchase. This may take several times...I found this great halter...great deal on saddle...etc...

2) Or offer to sell them yours...

3) Or Hide yours...

4) If by now they are still a nuisance and you are feeling nasty...maybe you just disable a few parts ;p

Care of the horse:
1) It is getting to summer...start asking for help on paying for fly spray, worming medicine, etc. Explain the importance of a clean stall. Express concern on the horses health..."Doesn't he look thin...better hope he doesn't get worms" How young is the girl? Maybe you can scare her with ring worm stories...

2) for summer vacation, maybe you can ask them to take a morning shift, where she cleans out the water buckets and stalls and you come in in the evening and follow it up. (You always want to do the second...if she cleans stalls like my boys, she is going to miss atleast half)

1) Up the price, if they don't like it, they can go get it.

Promise yourself that you will express concerns about the care and welfare of the horse if it is not properly cared for. Where are they going to take it if you don't do the work on it? If they leave...well you said you missed riding ;p

Good luck
cayuseranch is offline  
post #10 of 12 Old 06-19-2009, 01:48 PM
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I agree with most of the above. I think definitely get a tack locker of some sort and lock up your tack and other things that have been borrowed. If the girl wants to borrow after that, she'll have to ask you and you will have control over what to/not to lend.

For the chores, I agree that you either need to talk to them and insist on extra fees for the chores you are doing, or that they take care of their S*** (no pun intended!) and not dump their responsibilities on you. Tell them that you cannot continue as before and that if they want a full board situation, they are going to have to pay extra for the privilege or move elsewhere.

Another idea, if you are willing to do the work, but want not to be taken advantage of, is that maybe you can go to the owner and ask her to tell the people that you are no longer able to provide barn services for free. Since she wants a safe, clean environment (this is afterall, the same land where she lives?), they either need to take care of their own chores or pay an additional fee per month to compensate you for your stable hand duties. That extra money could then go toward your own board, putting a little extra money in your pocket. Maybe you could even get prices from other barns that do full board so that she can show them what a good deal they would be getting and how it is very unreasonable to expect you to do such work for free. Make sure she is firm and on board however, that if they are going to do the work themselves, they have to do it and, if they don't, they will have to go elsewhere.

It sounds like you are a great, responsible tenant. Your barn owner should be willing to stand behind you in this and take your part. After all, it is just as much in her interest as it is in yours to make sure that pony is well taken care of and the barn is kept in an orderly manner. I understand she doesn't want to be "in the middle," of a personal matter, which is why I thought simply presenting it as an amended contract/business arrangement is a very reasonable, non confrontational possible approach.
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