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Need Advice About a Local Barn

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I've been researching all of my local barns to help me find the best place to start riding again, and I found one that looked promising. A little smaller than the bigger ones, seems like a nice atmosphere. And they also have goats. Who doesn't love goats?

However, on their Facebook page, there are several comments making allegations about horse neglect/malnourished horses. One person claimed to have boarded horses there and they came home malnourished and abused; this person says that a friend had a horse "ruined" at this stable. Another review from late last year says there's an ongoing investigation. A third claims to have personally witnessed several malnourished horses on the property.

I've googled the facility and the owner, but I can find nothing in the news about an investigation or an arrest. In fact, the articles that I did find were complementing the owner on adopting horses in need. The horses shown on their website all look healthy to me (but of course they wouldn't put a sick horse to put on their website).

The facility has a very similar name to an abuse case in the news from a few years ago. I would chalk it up to a case of mistaken identity, except one review lists the owner by name. But people can be horrible, y'know? It wouldn't be the first time that a small group of people slandered someone on the internet. I feel like, if someone hurt my horses (I do not own any horses, but hypothetically) I wouldn't be complaining about it in a Facebook review, I'd be talking to my lawyer and/or the cops.

...But people can be horrible, y'know? And I want nothing to do with an animal abuser. Obviously.

I don't know whether to consider this a red flag and cross this facility off of my list, or to give the place a chance because I can't substantiate the bad reviews. I like to think I'd be able to recognize signs of abuse, but what if they keep any sick horses away from the public on purpose, so I don't see something that really is there?

Also, and this is just occurring to me now, do I have an obligation to followup with law enforcement? "I saw a bad review on the internet" probably isn't actionable, but shouldn't someone look into it?

I just don't know what to do. Please advise?
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· Super Moderator
18,490 Posts
So, FB is what it is, but I would go look, see, ask questions and listen to the answers..
You don't have a horse being boarded, you would be a lesson rider so honestly no true stake in the place as you can walk away easily from any lesson barn to go to another.
You have only some time to lose, much to learn if the place really does rehab of what is involved to go from rescue to thriving rehabbed now ready for a new life and family...

So...have you been to the facility?
Have you in-person seen the animals?

Seen the living conditions and there is no way you would not see food either being eaten or waiting to be fed or animals eating....what did you think of what you saw?

I find it interesting that you say it is on the Facebook page yet there is no comments defending by the owner of said property...makes me think this may be something started by disgruntled ex-clients.

If you like the place portrayed, go look, visit and get a tour as a prospective new riding client.
You will be taken around, spoken with and educated about their lesson program if you ask questions...
Ask about what it is you make claim of seeing on Facebook and listen to the answers given.
If you see some skinny horses in various stage of rehab you may be looking at rescues...
If you see every animal is thin or not thriving then you have a issue.
ASK questions....listen to the explanation.

You know what a healthy horse looks like, you know what a barn and lesson facility should look like...
If you see differently, if this place raise suspicion then go with a gut feeling...
If the person who gives you "a tour" can honestly answer and explain what you see then and only then make your decision to move on to another or try a lesson or two here...
What you do with information that is not based on actual facts but from a observation is a call only you can make.

I can tell you that when I was looking for a new barn to take instruction at I went to several.
The barn I really liked had 2 horses in a pasture who looked terrible yet most of the rest I saw in a adjoining pasture appeared fine...
So I went and asked questions while touring the place...
Why do those horses look so bad in condition....
I was taken out to meet both those animals...
The answer came back one animal was 34 years old, had no teeth left and was a rescue who can not chew properly anymore...the animal is fed a meal of mush 3x a day, goes through the look of grazing yet quids and gets nothing from the grass, is under vet care and is living out his days in peace. He is not suffering but does look is the name of the attending vet for all the animals on my property.
The other horse had cancer advancing and a appointment for euthanasia made when he started to decline but still had a will to live... he was actually going to be put down the next week as he had lost the spark of fight and it was time..
If I had not asked I would of not known the truth.

If I had gone by hearsay or comments made on FB it would have had me miss riding with a good instructor who cares more about her animals than making a $...
Just something to think about...

· Registered
374 Posts
I agree that you should check things out for yourself. If you were boarding your own horse I'd be more hesitant to say try it out but since it's only lessons then there is less risk involved (unless of course their "lesson horses" end up being dangerous and then there is risk after all). While hearing what people say about the place can be informing the information can also be incorrect for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately barn drama happens and people will lie about things to make people they have beef with look bad, especially when it comes to FB. Drama and gossip is some peoples' favorite pastime for whatever reason.

Basically, is there evidence to back up their claims? Is there anything that happened in the past that would give them motive to have it out for the barn owner? Always question not just if what someone says is true but what reason they have for saying it in the first place. Especially over the internet.

If I were you I'd appreciate the words of caution but still checks things out for myself and keep an eye out for any red flags.

· Registered
291 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone! That's mostly the way I was leaning, but I have no horse people irl so I wanted to get some opinions from folks who know what they're talking about. And y'all make some very good points that I hadn't even considered!

I'm thinking it's probably a case of disgruntled client or employees, but wasn't sure I was quite qualified to make that judgement. But all of the things you listed here are definitely things that I can do.
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