Ehh. Boarding issues. Advice appreciated!!
First off, a little bit about my situation.
I'm entering my senior year of high school, and have two horses. One is 13, and is pretty big (16.1 hh) so he eats quite a bit (in the summer he is perfectly fine on just grass, but in the winter loses some weight if he only eats hay, so I supplement a bit with grain I buy myself). The other is a 1 1/2 year old filly, and she obviously doesn't eat a whole lot considering her age.
I show a bit in the summer, and have taken the filly to a show as well. The barn owner hauls in her trailer, and she knows we aren't totally loaded with money so she goes a bit cheaper with us.
Recently this year, she has been working a lot more and is constantly complaining about how busy she is. For this reason, as well as money issues, I have cut back on showing. I get a bit annoyed because the barn owner complains no matter what...if she didn't have more work, she'd complain about that, and in this case since she has a lot of work, she complains about that.
My issue is this: I have done quite a bit of work for her to make up for some of the hauling expenses, but even though I'm not really showing (and the small amount of showing I do is more than covered by what we pay her, considering the fairgrounds are just a few miles away), she is still expecting me to do all this work for her all the time. I don't get any discounts on board for the work I do, and with college next year, there's a ton of stuff I have to do otherwise during the day, even just for next year's classes.Usually this includes scholarship hunting, studying for the ACT that I plan to retake so I can get more merit aid, and working a job.
Anyway, this is where a lot of the problem is. With the prices of hay going up last winter, she pushed the board up more. For both horses, it ends up $450 a month. While for a lot of places this is cheap, this is by no means a full-care place, and other barns in the area are not charging nearly that much (which she doesn't seem to realize...she thinks we're getting a huge deal). While I understand she only really makes money in the summer because she has to buy more hay in the winter (mostly for her own horses...she breeds every year even though she doesn't have the means of supporting them and nobody buys them, and there are only about 7 boarders) I think charging $225 for my horses to be eating only grass 24/7 is a bit excessive.
It's to the point where I don't like going out there and sometimes catch myself making excuses to not go out so I don't have to deal with her constantly nagging at me that I'm such an inconvenience. This isn't fair to my horses, and it makes me feel horrible, but I still struggle with it.
My dilemma is that I only have a year left until I'm off to college, and my mom has pointed out that with two horses, she'll lose a lot of income if I don't board there. My issue is, she's supposed to be providing me a service, and though I'm paying for it, I don't feel like the service is exactly up to what we're paying for. A year is a very long time if I feel like this, and quite frankly, there is no way I can afford to keep both horses at that property at that price and go to college. I've tried to talk to her, and so has my mom, but she is one of those that won't change and doesn't want to compromise.
Part of me wonders if I'm just being stupid, but I want to know what you all think. Sorry for writing a novel, but I need some advice from horse people!
Wait why are you working there if you aren't getting paid or some sort of discount on board?
Agreed. I don't understand why you're working for free. Let her know that with all your college prep coming up, you're going to have less time to spend at the barn and won't be able to help her out anymore.
Second, if the place is expensive for your area (although $450 for 2 horses in my area would be a good deal) and you're unhappy, you should look into moving somewhere else. I don't see how her losing income is your or your mother's problem- she should be able to find new boarders, and if she can't then that should be a good sign that her rates are too high for what she's offering. Don't burn any bridges if you can avoid it, though.
I know she has a good heart, and while she'll likely be pretty PO'ed if we leave, I don't want to be guilted into staying. To put it bluntly, I'm a customer, not a charity. I know she's also tight on money, so I haven't made a big deal about being paid, but a bit of a discount would help. She isn't going for it, though. My mom and I have definitely noticed that she thinks of me as being younger than I am. While she does know I'm leaving for college soon, she forgets that I'm not just a 14 or 15 year old and seems to think that I'll leave the horses there in a pasture for 4 years.
well it would be nice to get 450 a month to pasture two horses. I dont know the area you are in, or the price of feed. If you are doing the work not getting discounts, not getting trailering, I would start looking for somewhere else. BE sure to really check it out, go out there and observe the other boarders.
see if they have issues with the owner or manager. see how the horses look. go out at random times. get a boarding contract. Then explain to the current place that it is to costly, sorry, but to costly , you cannot keep doing chores for free, you are going to college and need the extra time for school. sorry good luck . Hope she does not get vindictive. If you think she will be trouble , give her the notice she requires, say two weeks or whatever, and then move your horses immediately.
It sounds like you're overpaying for what you're getting and working for free. It's not your problem that she will take a loss in income if you move. Your obligations are to you and your horses. I say move the horses, even if it means giving up on showing until you can find a new hauling arrangement.
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This is always a difficult situation. Have you considered the possibility of finding a barn closer to your school where they might accept work for board/partial board fees. Personally I wouldn't stay at a barn with an owner like that...I am not an obnoxious sort and can put up with a lot and certainly understand when people are having a hard time they aren't always the friendliest, but, I always give, and expect, mutual respect. I would start looking for another barn then give her the proper notice; I would anyway even if it isn't required, again, just a courtesy there, and move your horses. She might be amazed at just how much she misses the help.
Jane, your questioning your situation is part and parcel of growing up. This woman complains to you because you enable her to. You need to learn to promptly change the subject or suddenly remember something you "forgot" to do and take your time doing it. How much work are the other boarders doing? Despite what your mother said, you are not this woman's keeper. She'll find someone else if you opt to leave. But, do keep in mind that board rates are calculated on a yearly basis, not summer and winter rates. If she hauls your horses to a show, then offer to exchange it for barn chores if she'd like to take a day off. You are entering the adult world and you need to have a conversation with this woman. Wouldn't you be financially better of working a part time job that pays?
If she continues to try and guilt you into doing barn chores when she hasn't taken you to a show recently, explain to her that between your two horses, preparing for your senior year of school, applying to colleges, AND taking care of your every day business, you don't have time to spend hours around the barn doing labor when you don't even have time to attend all of the shows that you would like to. If she tries to be snippy towards you then have an alternate arrangement prepared. TCalculate how much it costs her to transport your horse (gas money, as well as time compensation. Sit down with her like adults and tell her that you would like to discuss the arrangement that you have been using. Ask her if your family will pay for the gas, and that you will do one full morning (or two, or however many) of barn chores to compensate her for her time sounds reasonable. Maybe not that exact trade, calculate it and see what seems reasonable. Be prepared for her to want to negotiate those terms a bit, but don't take advantage of her or allow yourself to be taken advantage of. This way you can work out a deal that works for the both of you so that she gets some work lifted off of her shoulders in return, and so that you can get your obligations to her out of the way and be able to come and go from the barn without having to feel guilted into doing extra work.
If all of this fails and you can't come to some sort of reasonable agreement between the two of you, it may be time to look into another place. She should be compensated in some way for the help she does by hauling you, but that does NOT mean that she should take advantage of you and have you work for free when she has not provided you with any service recently. If there is nowhere else that you can board for a comparable price you may have to suck it up and deal with the situation, but if there is then I would not feel in the slightest bit guilty for moving my horses/money with me when you put forth an effort to come to a mutual agreement.
She is getting free labor.. and you gain very little from it because you already know how to care for horses so experience is off of the table.
I find it appauling that eventhough she gets free labor she is still complaining... ungrateful people you should stay away from.
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