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BarnBum 01-21-2013 11:29 PM

Am I over reacting?
So this is kind of going to be a novel, but this is what has been happening over the past month with this new barn we've just moved to. I was hoping to get your thoughts and opinions...

Some background: my mom is an Equine Veterinarian. She has been practicing for close to 20 years and has a thriving practice. I am a 19 year old who has been riding horses for close to 12 years. I've handled OTTB's straight off the track and warmbloods right out of Europe. I don't know everything, obviously, but I think combined my mom and I have a decent amount of knowledge.

To the story...
I moved to this new barn about 2 months ago, on my own to be with my trainer. I was with my moms mare getting instruction. I was working out there and everything was going good but I noticed my mare, Arin, changing. She was getting thin and a little lethargic. I thought that was because she was adjusting to the new barn and having 24/7 turnout which she didn't have before.
My mom moved down to the barn with our two other horses (my old retired OTTB, and my current competition gelding) they came and seemed to do well. Then we bought another horse for me (I outgrew my competition horse, and put him for sale). I was working out at the barn 6 days a week despite have 8 hours of schoolwork (I homeschool) when I got home and trying to find a job. And when I worked I wasn't treated very nicely, and was close to being abused. And when I got sad and exhausted I was berated that I didn't work hard enough. So I cut down my days to 3 days a week. (I was not being paid for this, except in lessons which I only got two a week)
After that the owners started to become very 'pissy' towards me. Very rude and straight, nit picking everything.
The barn was lovely so I tolerated it.
Then they stopped putting hay in the paddock because 'there was plenty of grass'. It's dead of winter. It's snowed repeatedly and there is hardly any grass, and its all dead! When my mom quietly, and respectfully, asked about it they got defensive and angry. Treating us like we didn't know best and that the horses were 'fat'.
My Thoroughbreds are NOT fat. Two of our horses have dropped A LOT of weight and muscle (we've weighed them). They are becoming lethargic and just seem very unhappy. When we expressed our concerns we got a 'our way or the highway' type of talk. so now they're going on about how we are bothersome boarders and 'we'll never be happy'. That's not true! We're just concerned that our horses are not getting enough to eat (the grain they feed is utter CRAP).
So we toured another local barn, which was perfect. We informed them we were leaving, which prompted a very nasty email response from them. We also told the lady who is interested in leasing one of our horses. She said she wanted to lease him and she was happy to move him and wanted them to be cared for. When we asked our trainer about the hay she said she was giving them baled hay at night. The owners said that no they didn't need it and they were running out of hay. So they're lying to me?
We then called a Equine nutritionalist friend who told us that grass in winter is dead and has no nutrition. Also, when grass freezes it gets high in carbs which is obviously bad, but especially for older horses they could cause issues with Cushings, so I worried about my older horse (almost 17 y/o).
The next day my trainer/barn manager calls me furious because the leasee told her we said we were moving because 'the horses weren't getting fed'. That's not what I said. I said they weren't getting ANY hay and the owners were treating us poorly. Our trainer said we were acting unprofessional and spreading rumors. We told ONE person because she had to know, as she wanted to lease our horse. And we told her it was mostly personal reasons, with the hay being a huge thing.
So now we are being treated horribly, blamed for all the problems, and all because our horses are losing weight and losing personality and such? My mother is a VETERINARIAN! She didn't go to all that schooling for kicks.

Am I over reacting? How else should we have handled it? Should we apologize even though we have been very cordial and professional even when others were not. We talked to our trainer and said we loved her and her style and want to keep her and she responded by starting an argument and calling us 'unprofessional'. They're the ones not feeding our horses!!

Anyway, what are you're thoughts. I know this forum is an eclectic mix of boarders, barn owners, horse owners and enthusiasts. Please speak your mind but be gentle, its been a frazzled few days for me!

AnneGage 01-21-2013 11:41 PM

BarnBum ... The barn owner, manager & trainer are the 'professionals'.They are operating businesses that provide a service to clients. You and your mother are the clients. You pay for the services of the 'professionals'. That means, they work for you. If your (and your horses') needs and expectations are not being met, you should do all the things you have done - ask about the feeding program, look out for your horses' welfare, look for another barn to move to. It sounds like you have given notice to the barn that you are moving your horses. You have done nothing wrong. In my humble opinion (as a barn owner, coach and trainer), the 'professionals' in your situation are the ones that are not acting professionally. You and your mother are looking out for your horses. Move on and don't look back.

stevenson 01-21-2013 11:49 PM

Why let them goad you into a tizz? Was your contract for hay to be fed, if so, then get out and dont look back.
IMPO .. you are still going to lease to the woman whose mouth started the problem? if so, you are probably just looking for more problems in the future

AlexS 01-22-2013 12:10 AM

Just move and have nothing further to do with them, you don't have to be friends with everyone in your life.

FaceTheMusic 01-22-2013 02:47 AM

I had a similar situation happen to me last year. There is a lot to the story and I'm not going to get into too much detail on here. It ended up being fine but the barn owners took me to court for "stealing", which I didn't. They didn't win the case either. The judge practically laughed them out of the court room. It was a complicated and stressful affair but I am now at a new barn where my I and my horses are happy.

Save yourself the stress and just move your horses now before things get any worse. Good luck!

DimSum 01-22-2013 08:03 AM


Originally Posted by AlexS (Post 1855475)
Just move and have nothing further to do with them, you don't have to be friends with everyone in your life.

This. Reminds me of a saying my ol' granny was fond don't have to accept every invitation to dance-or to fight. There is absolutely no reason to stay there if you feel your horses aren't being taken care of.

Wolfetrap 01-22-2013 08:04 AM

Let's remember that you are PAYING for this treatment!! Their behavior is completely unacceptable! Leave and have nothing to do with them again. Don't burn bridges since the horse world is VERY small. But don't put up with that kind of treatment!!!! There are plenty of wonderful barns/trainers!!!

Celeste 01-22-2013 09:22 AM

I think that the best thing to do in this kind of situation is to move the horses and then notify the barn. Even if you end up paying double board for a month during the move, you will avoid all kinds of conflict. The horses are not lying about how much they get to eat. If they lose too much weight, they are not being fed enough.

People that take people's money and then don't feed enough hay have a weird sense of economy. They have lost a good boarder with two horses to save a small amount of hay. Well now they should have plenty of hay as well as two less stalls to clean.

hemms 01-22-2013 10:12 PM

Barn owner, here. I take a lot of pride in the condition - physically and mentally - of our herd. It can be a balancing act, but in no way is anyone wanting in condition or pep! I'm leery of any professional getting defensive when care is brought up, most especially in a respectful manner. I am my dependents' champion and I feel more concern when anyone does not take that seriously, even if it may put my practices under the spotlight.

Chin up, elbows up and good luck!
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Breezy2011 01-22-2013 10:30 PM

I am a boarder, I say, move on, don't look back also.

The place I board at isn't even a boarding barn, it is my moms friend who owns a cattle farm. They have 2 horses and now mine. They get hay 24/7 in the winter, and in the spring, and fall. Once the grass is gone in the summer, they get hay. They are over weight (except for mine! she is healthy)

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