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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I never thought I'd be the person to come on here and complain about my current situation, but here I am. When I was looking for a new barn last year, my priorities were high quality hay and riding arenas. I found a barn that produces their own hay (which is amazing!) and advertised having an indoor and outdoor arena. I toured in the winter so I only really saw the indoor arena and an outdoor arena covered in snow.

Note: The outdoor arena is much bigger than the indoor, and is better suited to my purposes. It also has grass footing while the indoor arena is sand, which could be deeper, IMO.

Well, when I finally moved my horses to this barn, a horse was turned out daily in the grass outdoor arena. I was new and this was during the start of the pandemic, so only one family was allowed at the barn at a time. The indoor arena was fine since I was riding alone or with SO, that's it. I didn't want to kick a fuss, so I rode in the indoor or along the roads, fine and dandy.

At the beginning of this year, the outdoor arena was open and usable. I got to ride in it maybe three times before arriving to the barn and seeing that they now had their cows turned out on it, making it unusable once again. I'm irritated. I'm someone who LOVES riding outdoors, even when the weather is less than ideal. I'm also very aware of the footing and if there is anything chance of it getting torn up from riding, I don't ride in it.

It wouldn't be such a huge deal but we are at the beginning of show season and everybody shows at this barn. I can only go after work (so 5pm) which is also the busiest time, so there is sometimes 5-8 horses in the indoor arena and it is TOUGH to get any real schooling done on my green mare. Once the summer arrives, the indoor arena will also be taken on many weekends for their barn-ran pony camp.

I love all of the people at the barn and have made friends. My horses are in great condition (well, the mare is round, again) and I work off a lot of my board fee here BUT I feel like my mare and I are being limited on our progression because we just don't have access to the space to work on things that we need to work on. It's one thing if there is only one or two other people sharing the arena with me, but when it's crowded it is virtually impossible to do very much more than a walk and a little bit of trot on my forward moving, discombobulated, green mare.

I don't know what to do because I don't think there is much I can do. I'd like to say that I am a great boarder - I consistently clean up after myself and others, I always lock the gates, I'm always available to do chores if they need help, I do more than expected. I don't complain or gossip, and I'm friendly towards absolutely everyone. I mind my own business, and only give my opinion if asked for it (and if it's appropriate and NOT about someone else). I want to stay at this barn still, and I want to maintain my current relationship with the owners and other boarders but I want what is written as included in board - access to an outdoor arena.

Is there anything I can do, or am I SOL?
 

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Were the facilities listed specifically in your boarding agreement? If so, did it include something like "access to outdoor arena"? If so, you could definitely point to that and bring it up with the barn owner.

If not, I would try at least once to let the barn owner know you'd really like to be able to ride in the outdoor and see what they say. There is absolutely no harm in that.

If they say, "unfortunately, we cannot use it as an outdoor anymore" - you have your answer and you will have to decide if this is enough of a dealbreaker to want to move. (For me, it would be.)
 

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Biggest thing you can do is go talk to those in charge, those that can make changes and have the authority to...
Being stated you are all of this and more...you are not the kind of boarder they want to leave..
You pay for amenities and would like to be able to avail yourself of them...
I don't think that is unreasonable...but go speak to those who can offer change you need and desire and as was represented when you came to board their.
🐴...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Were the facilities listed specifically in your boarding agreement? If so, did it include something like "access to outdoor arena"? If so, you could definitely point to that and bring it up with the barn owner.

If not, I would try at least once to let the barn owner know you'd really like to be able to ride in the outdoor and see what they say. There is absolutely no harm in that.

If they say, "unfortunately, we cannot use it as an outdoor anymore" - you have your answer and you will have to decide if this is enough of a dealbreaker to want to move. (For me, it would be.)
The owners listed it as included facilities when I originally inquired when I toured. They are actively listing boarding spots with the outdoor arena as included facilities. I will have to look for a boarding contract, since I do not currently have a copy at my house.

I wish moving were an option, even just for one horse, but this is the cheapest place with-in an hour of my house. SO and I will be trying to buy a property in the next year or two where I will have my own arena and facilities, so we are trying to save as much as possible. I've looked at some boarding possibilities elsewhere, but my monthly costs would increase drastically ($200-600 more, even more if I can't work off any board).

It could be worth asking if I can ride in the outdoor with the cows present...plus that would definitely help my cow-wary horses.
 

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It's probably most convenient to ride after work (5pm) but could you change your time for later when the ring is not so crowded? I know this is not the best answer as you really do want to ride outside, can't blame you there, and i guess this would be something to discuss with the BO and see if there is something you can work out together that suits you both, but the outdoor arena was something that was advertised as a place for boarders to ride in. If the cattle are there could they move them for a few hours in the evening so the arena is available to boarders?
Since this is a good place and you like it there i hope you can come to some agreement.
 

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The owners listed it as included facilities when I originally inquired when I toured. They are actively listing boarding spots with the outdoor arena as included facilities. I will have to look for a boarding contract, since I do not currently have a copy at my house.

I wish moving were an option, even just for one horse, but this is the cheapest place with-in an hour of my house. SO and I will be trying to buy a property in the next year or two where I will have my own arena and facilities, so we are trying to save as much as possible. I've looked at some boarding possibilities elsewhere, but my monthly costs would increase drastically ($200-600 more, even more if I can't work off any board).

It could be worth asking if I can ride in the outdoor with the cows present...plus that would definitely help my cow-wary horses.
It must be a huge outdoor arena if you could ride IN it AND have cows in it. Cows bring a lot of flies. It's best if they are not near the horses, IMO, but I know that's outside of your control. Could you come later? is the indoor lighted?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It's probably most convenient to ride after work (5pm) but could you change your time for later when the ring is not so crowded? I know this is not the best answer as you really do want to ride outside, can't blame you there, and i guess this would be something to discuss with the BO and see if there is something you can work out together that suits you both, but the outdoor arena was something that was advertised as a place for boarders to ride in. If the cattle are there could they move them for a few hours in the evening so the arena is available to boarders?
Since this is a good place and you like it there i hope you can come to some agreement.
Sometimes the arena is crowded up until 8 pm. I think the barn technically has a 'closing' time at night, but I haven't determined that for sure (I am gone by 10 pm at the latest as courtesy, BO has young kids). I would come later, but coming later makes it so I can only ride one of my two horses.

It seems like the outdoor arena is becoming a permanent cattle place. Before they only have 4 growing calves in the arena, and the other day when I went they had another 4 little calves in those little plastic shelters next to the outdoor arena. It seemed like the intention is to raise more and stick them out in the outdoor arena once they are big enough. I have no idea what they are doing at this point. Months ago there was only supposed to be 2 calves as 4H projects and now there is 8.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It must be a huge outdoor arena if you could ride IN it AND have cows in it. Cows bring a lot of flies. It's best if they are not near the horses, IMO, but I know that's outside of your control. Could you come later? is the indoor lighted?
The outdoor arena is huge, I would guess it's 200' x 300' at least. The cows currently congregate around their shelter and the gate, so over half of the arena isn't being used.

The arena is lit, but coming later makes it so I can only ride one horse rather than both.

I feel like I'm completely out of luck in this situation.
 

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If you’re going to be purchasing your own place within a year or two, I think I’d just accept the status quo for now. I know it’s not the situation you’d hoped for, but a year goes by faster than one might think!
 

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I think you CAN have a conversation with the owners. It is a matter of (a friendly) approach. write a script and practice it. Just a short one. Something like "Owner, when I was looking for a barn last year my top priorities were quality feed and care, and riding arenas, especially an outdoor arena. I really love this place. When I decided to move here, I had anticipated being able to use this lovely outdoor facility, but I find I cannot because of the cattle. I wish I could work in the indoor arena, but it is too crowded, especially for my green mare. Is there some way the cattle can be confined when I come to ride if you know when I will be here? If you were to create a temporary pen inside the arena, I would be glad to pen them up myself and then turn them loose when I am finished." (or any other solution that may be palatable to the Owner).

If you really don't want to approach the owner, can you ride both of your horses for half the time you usually do each night or ride each one every other day? Does the arena empty out in the evening soon enough you can ride for at least a half hour alone? I totally understand the frustration, something similar happened to me when moving to a new barn last September regarding arena use and etiquette and I struggled with adjusting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think you CAN have a conversation with the owners. It is a matter of (a friendly) approach. write a script and practice it. Just a short one. Something like "Owner, when I was looking for a barn last year my top priorities were quality feed and care, and riding arenas, especially an outdoor arena. I really love this place. When I decided to move here, I had anticipated being able to use this lovely outdoor facility, but I find I cannot because of the cattle. I wish I could work in the indoor arena, but it is too crowded, especially for my green mare. Is there some way the cattle can be confined when I come to ride if you know when I will be here? If you were to create a temporary pen inside the arena, I would be glad to pen them up myself and then turn them loose when I am finished." (or any other solution that may be palatable to the Owner).

If you really don't want to approach the owner, can you ride both of your horses for half the time you usually do each night or ride each one every other day? Does the arena empty out in the evening soon enough you can ride for at least a half hour alone? I totally understand the frustration, something similar happened to me when moving to a new barn last September regarding arena use and etiquette and I struggled with adjusting.
This is a great idea! I have no issue catching and penning up the cattle if I want to ride out there, so that's a good middle ground.

I really wish I had the ability to go to the barn every single day, then I'd definitely alternate which horse I'm riding each day. Unfortunately the barn is 35 minutes away, so if I want to go the barn the entire evening is used up. I've tried decreasing the length of each ride if I want to ride both, but I really prioritize riding until I hit a good point to stop and we all know how long that can take sometimes... Typically when I do everything I want, I: groom my gelding, tack up, practice showmanship, get on and ride, untack, groom, turnout, groom my mare, tack up, lunge, get on and ride, untack, groom, and turnout.

If only there were more hours in a day...
 
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This is a great idea! I have no issue catching and penning up the cattle if I want to ride out there, so that's a good middle ground.

I really wish I had the ability to go to the barn every single day, then I'd definitely alternate which horse I'm riding each day. Unfortunately the barn is 35 minutes away, so if I want to go the barn the entire evening is used up. I've tried decreasing the length of each ride if I want to ride both, but I really prioritize riding until I hit a good point to stop and we all know how long that can take sometimes... Typically when I do everything I want, I: groom my gelding, tack up, practice showmanship, get on and ride, untack, groom, turnout, groom my mare, tack up, lunge, get on and ride, untack, groom, and turnout.

If only there were more hours in a day...
Wow that’s intense! Sounds like you are very committed and organized. I hope they can work out something for you. Best case, maybe the cattle are only there short term.
 

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ClearDonkey---I see your riding routine has a lot of grooming before and after. When a person gets established in a routine, it can be hard mentally to modify it, but what if you just brushed the saddle/girth area and picked out the feet before a ride and saved the detailed grooming for after the ride. I am assuming the horses sweat during training so you need more grooming time then. How much time would you save? Do you need to work on showmanship before every ride? Maybe by tweaking your routine a bit you could find more time for the riding part. I think prioritizing your time spent and dialing down on the parts that are not really that necessary for riding/training, you might be able to squeeze more riding time out of your sessions when you have to come late to avoid traffic in the indoor arena.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
ClearDonkey---I see your riding routine has a lot of grooming before and after. When a person gets established in a routine, it can be hard mentally to modify it, but what if you just brushed the saddle/girth area and picked out the feet before a ride and saved the detailed grooming for after the ride. I am assuming the horses sweat during training so you need more grooming time then. How much time would you save? Do you need to work on showmanship before every ride? Maybe by tweaking your routine a bit you could find more time for the riding part. I think prioritizing your time spent and dialing down on the parts that are not really that necessary for riding/training, you might be able to squeeze more riding time out of your sessions when you have to come late to avoid traffic in the indoor arena.
The gelding's grooming routine is actually pretty quick because he is body clipped, but my mare is still shedding so once that done and over with things should go quite a bit quicker. Neither horse actually sweats very much during riding. My gelding takes a lot to sweat, and my mare we are still building up to harder, longer work. Usually after riding grooming is a quick soft brush and apply thrush buster on the hooves that need it.

Showmanship isn't usually a huge part of my routine, but my siblings are actually going to show my gelding a couple times this summer (hopefully) so I'm giving him a tune-up in everything we used to do (since I'm mostly just a casual rider on him now). The gelding's work is probably split 50/50 on showmanship and riding, since I'm only working him walk/trot for now since that's what they'll be showing in.

I think I will definitely prioritize saddle time with my mare from now on, and if anything ride the gelding bareback on the days that I'm running out of time. Plus, once school is out for BO's kids, I will feel a lot more comfortable staying later.
 
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