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This will probably be a fairly long post, I'm afraid. It's also my first post, and I'm excited to hear feedback from more experienced horse owners. To start, I purchased my first horse last year. I've always loved horses, but never had the financial means growing up to take lessons. I started taking lessons again a few years ago, and last year bought my first horse, an OTTB (which originally we had said we wouldn't do, but he's got a really great brain and not an emotional horse).

OK, so now my issue. My trainer owns a very small property, and the agreement was the horses boarded there have to be used in her lesson program. As some one who is still learning, I am actually comfortable with some one riding my horse that is at a higher level than me - I want my horse to be ridden correctly so that when I get to that point, he's already accustomed to it and it's not just still newbie me, teaching him bad habits. Trainer and I had an agreement that no one who had a skill level lower than me would ride him (he has a great brain, but is still green). None of of this was in writing, because trainer is also a colleague from work and we had been friends for years. First mistake on my part. This facility does NOT have a ring, so anytime we do lessons, he has to be trailered to a community ring (which I am responsible myself for doing). He is trailered out frequently for other lessons to. Thank God he is totally good with being trailered. However, I just found out he is being lessoned sometimes twice a day, back to back. That feels like a lot to me. MOST of the time it's just crossrails, but he is doing 2'6 sometimes, and I wasn't aware of that until trainer told me the other student jumped him that high. I mentioned I wasn't comfortable with that, and got the "well, remember if they're boarded here...etc, and also I would never do anything if the horse could be harmed." I trust my trainer in the sense of she does know what she's doing (she taught at a very prestigious barn before retiring here) but I also get the feeling that my horse is being used so she doesn't have spend her own money to buy her own horse. I was fine with him being used by the more advanced STUDENT (not studentS), but I'm not comfortable with him being ridden by several different people, which was not my original understanding. I am also never informed when he has been taken off property to lesson.

My gelding is typically in a very small lot, as the facility again is very small. Admittedly, he is fine with this. Like I said, he is super chill and was confined to stalls / small turn outs his entire life before I purchased him, so at this point it doesn't stress him out. But I didn't realize he would always be in the smallest of the lots. He does get ample hay and high quality grain, and I always have salt blocks for him. But I feel like he would be happier some where with more room.

Trainer also has several different people doing feeds. My guy has never had any colic (thank you Jesus) but I do worry about different people coming to feed, etc. I provide all grain, special hay, etc. Also hold him when the farrier is there and vet. When we lesson, I usually haul him and another horse that's being lessoned without any compensation or money taken off board / lesson. I also do cover feeds (for all the horses on site) without any money taken off board. Is this typical? By cover, I mean I DON'T pay for the actual feed, but I feed the horses / muck out stalls when owner is out of town or, there has been ties when she just doesn't feel like feeding that evening / morning so cover in the sense of I cover the responsibility of feeding

I guess I just don't know if this is typical in the horse boarding world or not. Is it typical for client's horses to be required to be in the lesson program? Is it typical that board is $400 when there is no ring on site for lessons? For horses to be kept on small lots with weedy grass? I'm in the rural south, so I've SEEN worse pastures, but I cannot attest to boarding facilities as I've never boarded anywhere else.

I LOVE riding and I love my horse, and I do feel like my trainer has the riding skills, but I'm concerned about her barn management skills. Or am I just expecting too much? I KNOW (hindsight, guys) that I should have put everything in writing from the start, but I didn't.

So, if that was WAY too long and you're just like, gimme the point of this all, here it is:

-Is it fair for a trainer/boarder to require use of client horses in training programs? With no compensation?
-Is it fair for trainer/boarder to request clients to feed the horses on site with no compensation?
-Is $400 a reasonable price when there is no ring on site and no large pastures with grass?
-Is it fair for trainer/boarder to request client trailer their horse WITH another client's horse to meet them at a ring so they can provide lessons? Otherwise the client cannot lesson.

Thank you all, hope that wasn't too terribly long to read, and feel free to tell me if I'm being too hardcore because I am serious about my animals, both dogs and horse, but I am still new to the horse world so I'm not sure what the standard is.
 

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That sounds like a difficult situation. I've never even been in what people who stable horses call, "a barn." Just want to make sure you know that before I give an opinion. I've been riding Arabians on trails for over 30 years. Maybe it is the breed; maybe it is me. But I'm a deep believer in forging a deep bond with your horse. I have never met anyone who I would feel comfortable riding my horse. People do things differently. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. I believe my horses are used to the way I do things with them. I don't want them getting confused.
 

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OK let me answer your questions with my perspective
  1. "Fair" is sort of a loaded word. If my fat Pony could consistently be ridden by someone who's better than me, I'd be happy with it, because he's fat and needs the exercise. I don't think that "only crossrails" is a good phrase. Crossrails are still a lot of work and a lot of stress on a horse's joints. Someone said something like, "A horse only has so many jumps in him," meaning that every time he jumps he's damaging his joints just a little, and the more frequently he does it the sooner he will be unable to jump any more. I think using him in back to back lessons where he's doing crossrails is completely unacceptable. Some of the lesson horses where I board are used for back to back lessons, but it's typically one easy lesson (walk-trot with beginners on the flat) and then maybe one jumping lesson or one crossrails lesson.
  2. Wait, you pay for feed for ALL the horses at her barn?
  3. That seems like a lot, but you'd have to look around and see what things are going for in your area. I pay $550 a month for basic pasture board. My horses live in a "pasture" that is turning into a dirt lot because it's overstocked. There are three arenas, one of which is covered, and a round pen. Barn provides hay and would provide feed as well but my guys don't need feed.
  4. No. Have you thought about the liability here? What if something happens? The trainer is going to blame you and tell the other horse owner to get compensation from you. You haul someone else's horse free as a wonderful favor when you really like that person and it's maybe a one-off thing and you trust them and their horse implicitly. Otherwise no, no, and no.

I wouldn't stick around in this situation. The whole thing where she's turning your horse into a lesson horse for jumping lessons, without compensation, is unacceptable IMO. I mean, basically she's half leasing him from you for free. Maybe if you could talk to her and get it in writing and make her promise to not do that any more, I might stick around, if my horse was otherwise happy, but I wouldn't trust her, I'm afraid. In her mind, she's doing you a favor, and I suspect she will continue doing this "favor" for you.

ETA: OK to be fair, I do pay a trainer to ride Pony once a week, but I'm happy with this situation because I'm 100% comfortable with the way she rides him and how slowly she takes things. If someone who was better than me wanted to ride him another once a week, just to help him lose weight, I'd be fine with it as long as I knew the person and was comfortable with how they rode. I wouldn't want some random people to just be riding him all the time, esp in back to back lessons.

ETA #2: I just re-read your post. She has taken him off property for someone else to ride in a lesson and not told you??? I'd be out of there. He is NOT her horse to use how she sees fit. I don't care how a prestigious trainer she is.
 

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Without knowing a typical cost of boarding for your area, one will find it hard to say if your situation is 'ok' or nor. I would not be worried about several diffeent people feeding. That is something you will run into in most places. As to you not getting a reduction in board, is it possible that that is considered when calculating your total board? Again, without knowing what comparable places charge for sraight board, alone, l I couldn't tell if you are being cheated or not.

I do think you should be compensated if you are trailering someone else's horse to an arena.

I do not think it is a big issue to have lessons back to back occasionally. A lot of a lesson is taken up by the rider standing and listening to the instructor. The thing to do would be to observe these lessons and see if they are physically demanding onn the horse. really,, horses are a lot stronger than we give them credit for.
 

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@ACinATX, do you pay $550 a month for three horses or each?

Board prices can vary greatly from area to area. If south means California or Florida, prices can be very high. In my area for $400 you would expect to have hay included and full care, meaning fed twice a day, manure cleaned up and daily turnout.

If someone was using my personal horse, I'd expect that I would know the exact schedule each week, who would be riding the horse, and I would need to be able to come and watch whenever I wished to check and see how the horse was being used. If I thought a certain rider or use was not acceptable, I would say no.

Whether I would let someone else use the horse would depend on some things. I'd have to trust the person a lot. Also it would depend on if the horse was one that had a physical state where light use was better, or if the horse needed more exercise. If I thought the horse would benefit from more exercise, then I would be grateful to have the horse exercised. If the horse had any physical issues or weaknesses, I'd want to only exercise the horse myself.

Something to consider if you are having riders use the horse at a higher level than yourself. With some horses it is better to not use them beyond what the owner can handle. Meaning, if another rider has the ability, they may let your horse develop bigger gaits or take jumps that you are not prepared to handle. You'll not want your horse to become too sharp, doing lead changes you weren't ready for and etc. I like my own horses to move out nicely, but if I am on a friend's horse that jogs along, I'll be sure to keep the horse slower so they understand that is the pace their owner wants.

If you have agreed to have your horse used in a lesson program, it should be explained to you how this reduces your board. For example, the board would cost x amount but for each lesson per week it is reduced by so much. For trailering another person's horse, that other person should be compensating you for using your trailer. If someone takes my horse along for a trail ride or to an arena, I usually pay $10 for a drive of 30 minutes or less. A trainer used to charge me $30 for driving my horse 5 miles down a rural road, so the horse was in the trailer ten minutes.
 

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@gottatrot $550 each, then more for lessons and for the trainer to ride Pony once a week. I wish we had the "faint" emoji here. It is so much money.
 

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This will probably be a fairly long post, I'm afraid. It's also my first post, and I'm excited to hear feedback from more experienced horse owners. To start, I purchased my first horse last year. I've always loved horses, but never had the financial means growing up to take lessons. I started taking lessons again a few years ago, and last year bought my first horse, an OTTB (which originally we had said we wouldn't do, but he's got a really great brain and not an emotional horse).

OK, so now my issue. My trainer owns a very small property, and the agreement was the horses boarded there have to be used in her lesson program. As some one who is still learning, I am actually comfortable with some one riding my horse that is at a higher level than me - I want my horse to be ridden correctly so that when I get to that point, he's already accustomed to it and it's not just still newbie me, teaching him bad habits. Trainer and I had an agreement that no one who had a skill level lower than me would ride him (he has a great brain, but is still green). None of of this was in writing, because trainer is also a colleague from work and we had been friends for years. First mistake on my part. This facility does NOT have a ring, so anytime we do lessons, he has to be trailered to a community ring (which I am responsible myself for doing). He is trailered out frequently for other lessons to. Thank God he is totally good with being trailered. However, I just found out he is being lessoned sometimes twice a day, back to back. That feels like a lot to me. MOST of the time it's just crossrails, but he is doing 2'6 sometimes, and I wasn't aware of that until trainer told me the other student jumped him that high. I mentioned I wasn't comfortable with that, and got the "well, remember if they're boarded here...etc, and also I would never do anything if the horse could be harmed." I trust my trainer in the sense of she does know what she's doing (she taught at a very prestigious barn before retiring here) but I also get the feeling that my horse is being used so she doesn't have spend her own money to buy her own horse. I was fine with him being used by the more advanced STUDENT (not studentS), but I'm not comfortable with him being ridden by several different people, which was not my original understanding. I am also never informed when he has been taken off property to lesson.

My gelding is typically in a very small lot, as the facility again is very small. Admittedly, he is fine with this. Like I said, he is super chill and was confined to stalls / small turn outs his entire life before I purchased him, so at this point it doesn't stress him out. But I didn't realize he would always be in the smallest of the lots. He does get ample hay and high quality grain, and I always have salt blocks for him. But I feel like he would be happier some where with more room.

Trainer also has several different people doing feeds. My guy has never had any colic (thank you Jesus) but I do worry about different people coming to feed, etc. I provide all grain, special hay, etc. Also hold him when the farrier is there and vet. When we lesson, I usually haul him and another horse that's being lessoned without any compensation or money taken off board / lesson. I also do cover feeds (for all the horses on site) without any money taken off board. Is this typical?

I guess I just don't know if this is typical in the horse boarding world or not. Is it typical for client's horses to be required to be in the lesson program? Is it typical that board is $400 when there is no ring on site for lessons? For horses to be kept on small lots with weedy grass? I'm in the rural south, so I've SEEN worse pastures, but I cannot attest to boarding facilities as I've never boarded anywhere else.

I LOVE riding and I love my horse, and I do feel like my trainer has the riding skills, but I'm concerned about her barn management skills. Or am I just expecting too much? I KNOW (hindsight, guys) that I should have put everything in writing from the start, but I didn't.

So, if that was WAY too long and you're just like, gimme the point of this all, here it is:

-Is it fair for a trainer/boarder to require use of client horses in training programs? With no compensation?
-Is it fair for trainer/boarder to request clients to feed the horses on site with no compensation?
-Is $400 a reasonable price when there is no ring on site and no large pastures with grass?
-Is it fair for trainer/boarder to request client trailer their horse WITH another client's horse to meet them at a ring so they can provide lessons? Otherwise the client cannot lesson.

Thank you all, hope that wasn't too terribly long to read, and feel free to tell me if I'm being too hardcore because I am serious about my animals, both dogs and horse, but I am still new to the horse world so I'm not sure what the standard is.
Wow, I feel you are being taken waaay advantage of. I'm not even sure where to begin so I'll just throw it out there...

Feeding horses with no compensation, your horse being taken off property without your knowledge, you hauling your horse plus another person's with no compensation, and yes, I too would be irritated about the back to back lessons--simply because of the jumping. I would not want my horse jumped, and jumped and jumped some more, which is most likely what is happening. He's a TB so his stamina is fine, but I would be concerned for his future soundness. The dismissive way she handled your concerns as well--no, just no.

I've never boarded, but I've been in the horse biz for awhile. I will say, it's her barn, her rules. She can have a policy that states boarded horses are used for lessons. That's okay. Sometimes it works out perfect. The fact that you are uncomfortable with the situation is when all of this starts to matter.

Am I right that the hay and grain isn't included in your board? If not, yeah, $400 way steep. I live up north, but I too live in a very rural, non horsey area. $400 here gets you turnout on pasture, 12x12 stalls, indoor arena, grooming/wash rack, tack room.

If it were me, I'd be planning my exit strategy.

Good luck to you!
 

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WOW. For pasture board...I hope your hay is gorgeous for that price.
Actually I wish it were old and stemmy, and then maybe Pony wouldn't be so fat, LOL.

I will say that they do have dedicated stalls too, but if I make the decision to stall them then I am the one feeding, watering, and mucking them. Which is fine, because I don't pay for that service and I almost never stall them anyways. She also let me convert one stall into a private tack room.

I live in an expensive city and this place is a 20-25 minute drive from my house, which I guess isn't bad. The board was $100 less two years ago but she keeps raising it. It's still pretty in-line with what other places around here charge.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Something to consider if you are having riders use the horse at a higher level than yourself. With some horses it is better to not use them beyond what the owner can handle. Meaning, if another rider has the ability, they may let your horse develop bigger gaits or take jumps that you are not prepared to handle. You'll not want your horse to become too sharp, doing lead changes you weren't ready for and etc. I like my own horses to move out nicely, but if I am on a friend's horse that jogs along, I'll be sure to keep the horse slower so they understand that is the pace their owner wants.
That's a really excellent point that I never thought of. It's been so drilled that it is in my benefit to have someone more advanced ride him that I have never considered if it's not. I thought I was being a little silly, because I loved the idea of being able to grow with my guy and was being selfish by feeling odd about having other people ride him and take him to more advanced things. I am glad that this wasn't me being crazy LOL. I've just parroted what I've heard that it's a great thing.

I've considered moving him to my personal property once I finish having it cleared off, however it would only be one acre (with a stall). But that's more than what he has now so shrugs Then at least I would be the only one trailering him and would have more control. At this point, I think it may be the only thing I CAN do, other than move him to another barn, which would cause our friendship to end and I would not have a trainer any longer. But I am glad to hear your feedback that these are unreasonable expectations.

m I right that the hay and grain isn't included in your board? If not, yeah, $400 way steep. I live up north, but I too live in a very rural, non horsey area. $400 here gets you turnout on pasture, 12x12 stalls, indoor arena, grooming/wash rack, tack room.
Yes, exactly. I purchase grain myself. Fescue hay IS provided, but I have him on alfalfa as well, so I do pay for that.

In her mind, she's doing you a favor, and I suspect she will continue doing this "favor" for you.
WOW. This really sums up her personality

And to clarify, she does go out of town frequently and always has the people who board with her cover feeds. If none of us can cover, THEN she will pay an outside person to come feed, but we never receive any compensation or money off board / lessons for doing that. That's what I meant when I said we never recieve anything for feeds.

Trainer has been approached by another boarder about this same topic of their horse being used in a lesson without owner's knowledge he had been trailered off, and trainer was VERY nasty and told them they could leave the barn if they wanted. Because the trainer and I have a more personal relationship, when I approached the same topic before I was treated a little bit nicer, but I do think she's got it in her head that she's offering her knowledge and skills, when she had been retired, and we should be thankful for it and let her do what she thinks is best. I forgot to mention that part in my original post.
 

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-Is it fair for a trainer/boarder to require use of client horses in training programs? With no compensation?
-Is it fair for trainer/boarder to request clients to feed the horses on site with no compensation?
-Is $400 a reasonable price when there is no ring on site and no large pastures with grass?
-Is it fair for trainer/boarder to request client trailer their horse WITH another client's horse to meet them at a ring so they can provide lessons? Otherwise the client cannot lesson.
Yikes. Let me tell you what I get for $400/month:

  • Horse lives out 24/7 with company in one of three huge, grassy (except now/winter) pastures with nice shelters.
  • There are TWO riding rings on the property: outdoor is all-weather footing with mirrors down one side, and a beautiful covered with a full 20mX60m dressage arena. This place hosts lessons, clinics, and shows all the time.
  • There is also a wonderful, large round pen for lunging and other ground work.
  • We can also ride in the big field that surrounds the covered arena
* The barn has a washrack with hot water that I can use any time.
  • The barn has a nice tack room with heat/air where my tack and gear is kept. Also a fridge, a sink, a washing machine we're allowed to use for blankets, etc.
  • No one rides my horse but me!
  • My horse is fed Tribute feed twice a day, timothy hay twice a day (until pasture is back), and any supplements I provide.
  • My horse is blanketed/unblanketed as weather dictates
  • My horse receives farrier and vet care, even if I can't be there at the time.

I'm in rural North Carolina.
 

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WELCOME to the forum...

Expect to have a lot of disgruntled responses..add mine to the list.

Honey, you have taken advantage of stamped on your forehead.

You provide all the food...
You ship your horse and another several times a week, even 1x a week for free...
You watch your horse being ridden by others, many times a week...
You are not alerted to what your horse is going to be doing on a weekly basis...
Your understanding with said "trainer" is not what you were led to understand would be done with YOUR animal..
You pay full board cost of $400 a month...for a small paddock, a stall and daily cleaning...

So, what is your benefit?
I see the "trainer" reaping money in her pocket on your horse...
Guaranteed, not only does she charge lessons fees, she charges for the shipping of the horse to that riding ring...
You pay her full board and she has pretty much carte' blanche to use and do with your horse as she wants, when she wants, how she wants and when you question her she gives you a lame...you know...

Yup, I know too....
Out the door and not look back.
It is time to find a new barn where your horse will be your horse and not have inexperienced riders learning on a green horse who might be teaching bad habits because they are not accomplished but learning in their riding careers too..
You pay full board yet also must spend $$ to provide all the horses food needs...
You are paying for the farrier too I bet and the vet, not sharing those expenses...:unsure:

So what happens the day the horse takes a bad step and gets hurt, the rider falls off and gets hurt and you are facing huge bills and a possible lawsuit as you are the owner of said lesson horse.. :oops:

Its time to find a new barn.
With what your expenses are monthly...
Full board and food you pay for...
You are easily spending in excess of $600 a month, let us not forget your time and use of your truck & trailer, so gas, wear & tear to your equipment...
Said "friend" is using you and using you good...
She pockets over $600 a month clear with your board paid, 1 lesson a week @ $50 per including the ship and she uses the horse how often....so considerably more in her pocket.
Time to stop her bleeding you, using you and more importantly using your horse...
You have all the expenses and she has a deep pocket to place the money and no responsibility for in...
If she has to have use of the animal to board at her place...then it is time to vacate her place and you find new place and a trainer so you can ride and enjoy your horse.
If your horse is that good a mount, then you will shortly be able to have the horse in a partial use lesson program or semi-private lease with set parameters of use in writing so you are not so taken advantage of...
Time to make inquiries and get out...now before something bad happens.
🐴...
 

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I pay $600 for full board, including all feed, at a property with an indoor arena and two outdoor arenas. I have a part-boarder paying me $300 a month for three rides a week. I pay extra for lessons, usually just one or two month, whenever I feel like it with whomever I want, as there is no on-site instructor, but some freelance ones in the area. So adding in supplements and farrier, all in all I'm paying about $450 a month in total. I don't have to work off any of it. And no one is riding my horse without my knowledge or permission, I don't have to trailer anywhere to ride, and I'm not paying extra for food (except for the supplements I CHOOSE to feed).

I'm sure they're must be something better out there for you and your horse!! And that you could have a trainer come to teach you, wherever you relocate to.
 

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OP " My gelding is typically in a very small lot, as the facility again is very small. Admittedly, he is fine with this. Like I said, he is super chill and WAS confined to stalls / small turn outs his entire life before I purchased him, so at this point it doesn't stress him out. But I didn't realize he would always be in the smallest of the lots. "

Horselovingguy, I don't see anything about stalls here.

" I didn't realize he would always be in the smallest of the lots. He does get ample hay and high quality grain, and I always have salt blocks for him. " " . I provide all grain, special hay, etc. "

He gets hay that OP pays for I guess someone cleans the manure in the pen? Or does she do that too?

" I also do cover feeds (for all the horses on site) without any money taken off board. Is this typical? "

What?
 

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Move to a barn where you pay board and have optional lessons with a trainer. Like regular people do. Your relationship with this person is like that of a host and its parasite.

I would not move your horse home yet. That is a whole nother level of knowledge. Wait on that one, but get out of your situation asap.
 

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Sounds like your friend is taking advantage of your relationship and lack of knowledge. It’s a very advantageous situation for her and others have noted, you take on various risks without knowing. At the place I ride, the barn owner arranges for some part-boarders to ride privately owned horses boarded at the stable but they are usually the ones who need to be ridden more than the owner is able to, the owner provides permission generally and also on the day (the barn owner will call to make sure it’s ok depending on the owners plans for the horse that day), she selects the riders carefully and even sends photos and videos to the horse owner so she feels comfortable with the riders on her horse. Re; horse board, I think $350-$450 would normally include hay and pasture at a barn with at least an oudoor sand ring, Blanketing and grain would be extra. I would suggest checking what your other options are. If there is another place with availability, you can be more assertive about your boundaries (no jumping, 1 lesson per day or no lessons) and see if that makes any difference and if not then move (or just move if you find something cheaper with more space). If you don’t have alternatives, you may need to take it more slowly and pick your battles.
 

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I agree with @Avna. The more I hear from you, the more I feel that your relatioship with the person could not really be called 'friendship'. I think you just learned that it isn't smart to mix 'friends' with 'business'.
 

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Yikes! Do you have any idea of what kind of insurance is carried by this barn? Is there any provision to protect you if your horse injures someone? If not you are in a precarious situation.

Unless you can satisfy yourself on this point, and since you say you have nothing in writing, I would get your horse out of there as soon as possible. You do not want to burn any bridges, you simply have to say that a personal emergency requires you to move your horse, show up with a trailer and get all your stuff out of there.
 
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