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As so many others have said. Start looking at other barns to compare services. It has been many years since I boarded but one thing I have found is that people get "stuck" at a barn and with a trainer, their riding then also gets "stuck" Always keep your eyes open. It sounds like your gut is telling you that you are being taken advantage of, do some research and base any decisions on what other barns offer for training and board.
 

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I agree that this person is not a "friend". Don't feel loyal to her, do what is best for your horse and yourself, which in my opinion is finding anther barn for board and lessons. Lesson learned, have a contract with everything spelled out, ask lots of questions before committing to a barn. When I left my barn after 7 1/2 years, I wrote a very nice exit letter, gave praise about my horse's care and basically said my move was because of issues with that were not the BO's fault but could only be corrected by a move. She was not happy with me anyway so you can't please anybody. Please don't let yourself be bullied into accepting this situation.
 

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Without knowing boarding rates in your area I can't comment on fair. But where I live its not uncommon for people to have their horses used by the trainer to keep boarding costs lower. This might just be the case at your barn but it's unspoken. You can easily look up other facilities in your area to see if this is the norm or if you have deeply discounted board. Full board near me averages $700-1200 a month, and not all of those facilities have an indoor arena, but most have an outdoor. I can get rough board where I do 100% of the chores and buy all the feed and bedding for around $350. Turnout space is at a premium and most riders don't want their horses in big turnouts anyway because they don't want their horse running :rolleyes: so I would say $400 with the basics supplied is a great deal.

Also most "full board" facilities do 100% of the work, so most owners don't even know what their horses are being fed daily and just trust the barn to manage it. They don't know anything about the day to day care of their horse. Sometimes they are even lucky enough to have their horse's lesson schedule so they know when they can come ride outside of that. But most of them won't ride outside of their scheduled lessons anyway. The trainers in this area seem to prefer keeping their clients timid so they are 100% dependent on them. I know several who have figured out how to have their clients pay them to ride their nice horses daily because the owners are too scared to get on. I know many "accomplished" horse people who don't even know who shoes their horse or where to go to buy grain because the barn has always done it for them.

If you can't tell from my comments I fully believe a lot of trainers and barn owners take advantage of their amateur clients. You can probably move your horse and find a new trainer with minimal effort, as it sounds like you are more prepared to take over care of your horse than many people I know.

I believe in doing nothing for free, because the barn will be happy to charge for every penny. If I had to feed the whole barn while my horse is on "full board" I expect that to be taken off my bill. What would your trainer say if you told the people you trailer that you are going to start charging them for shipping? The trainer might even be charging them for shipping even if you're hauling the horse. If she is upset by this I think you know you're being taken advantage of.
 

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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.
There are a lot of things going on about your situation that I'd be upset about that everyone else has pretty well covered but I just wanted to point out that this is a HUGE red flag. If the trainer is this nasty to others, she'll be this nasty to you when you aren't giving her what she wants. It's only a matter of time.
 

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I have always boarded and have never seen anything like this. Board covers feed, water, feeding, corral cleaning, corral/ arena,/round pen maintenance, and wash racks. Won't discuss costs because I am in southern California and $300 is average. I have had her used as a camp horse, beginner kids, lots of grooming, walk trot and no jumping. Got $20 hour off my board. Would sometimes fill in for cleaner or feeder, $2 per horse per time. She is giving lessons on your horse and pocketing all of the money. Not sure going home is the right step, horses need company, unless there are other horses near by. But do move before the weather gets nice and he is used so much that he goes lame or a beginner gets hurt.
 

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This situation sounds to me like it can only go one way- down. You’re a fairly new owner so I imagine a lot of this is new to you and you’re being very polite; I think the fact that these issues are beginning to make you question how things “work” at this place will gradually (or not so gradually) build up resentment in you, and rightfully so because all your issues are pretty glaring IMO. No one wants to be taken advantage of, so the idea that you are trailering other horses for lessons as well as your own( if I read that right) and cover feeding without any sort of compensation time and time again wouldn’t sit well with me. Like others have said, I do know of places that allow people a discount or free board if their horses are used in lessons, and some people are ok with that. I think that just depends on the person, some don't mind their horse(s) being used and some (like me) would never want to be in that situation. But I’ve had my horses for years, full boarded for a time but when the barn closed down I ended up at a self care place and thats just how it is for me now. We tag team as a small facility if someone ever needs a weekend off, or just a helping hand every now and then. No rules, just our own.

If she blew up at someone for questioning her policies I am guessing you might fall into the enemy camp if you were to become unhappy with the way things are done there, friend or not. She obviously thinks her methods will work for everyone, but the thing is people can decide over time if they are worth sticking around for. Just sounds like you are not going down a road with your horse that will be free and clear of drama. I would start to look elsewhere because im thinking sooner or later you’re going to get your fill of ms. trainers routines and find yourself more and more unhappy. Again, that’s just me. I hate barn drama and luckily where I am there’s no one BO calling the shots and throwing weight around. its rare I think, 5 of us rent a barn on someone’s property who doesn’t live on site. I realize most people if they don’t own their own property have to board; it can feel like a great little family with the right people, even if the owner is around all the time with their own horses.....but it needs to be someplace where you feel respected and treated fairly regardless of your place on the ladder. Too many red flags for me where you are- boarding with others should be fun and ones “happy place”, not somewhere that stresses you out while you adjust and adapt to the rules of one person. With any barn situation, I think after an initial couple of weeks or months, you usually know if it’s a good fit or not, happens all the time, usually due to personality conflicts or not being comfortable for you, your horse, or both. Decide if you can live with the routine there, or look elsewhere If you find you’re getting stressed more than you’re not
 

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I just wanted to add that, while doing your research on other barns and making your decision -- DO NOT DISCUSS IT WITH ANYONE CONNECTED TO YOUR CURRENT BARN.

And when you are ready to leave, before you go, pack up every single thing that you bought and paid for, and do not leave it anywhere the barn owner can get to it.

I hate to say this, but there are many many sad stories about entitled-feeling and even vengeful barn owners who are fine right up until you stop being an open wallet.
 

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I totally agree with all Avna’s points, so true. Keep your plans quiet and try not to let on if you’re considering a move; do keep everything you own as organized as you can and yes, locked in a locker if possible, or someplace only you can get to in case of a (sudden?) move......hopefully this isn’t too unusual as lots of boarding barns have tack areas where lock and key for everything is the norm. Find out what she asks for when moving.....30 day notice? If it’s something you can’t live with be prepared to eat a deposit or months board just so you can get out quickly. Keep calm and mature and just claim your financial situation has changed or some neutral reason that won’t “offend” her/anyone.
It’s really sad all this sort of stuff enters the picture but sometimes you just never know when a relationship will sour over the pettiest things( and not you being the problem here), and you’ll be prepared for an exit you can live with; maybe I/we are reading too much into your situation and there will be reasons for staying that will help you overlook any issues, but IMO boarding barns can be a hotbed for drama if the people there are not all on the same wavelength. Listen to your inner voice- you will probably be spending a lot of time wherever your horse is so it’s wise to make sure you are happy where you are and not wishing you were somewhere else. Good luck and keep us posted!
 

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Discussion Starter #30 (Edited)
I really appreciate everyone's responses. It's nice to not feel like I'm being an overbearing horse owner or boarder, but I have felt in my gut that we were being used. The trainer is MUCH less direct and mean to me, because we do have a personal relationship first, but I know that that will fade quickly once I'm not giving her what she wants.

With that being said, just wanted to give an update as to where my thought process is right now. I have decided to move my gelding to my property. There are a couple of things that need to be worked out (a fence, for starters) as well as enclosing the (what was once a boat cover, it's a huge covered shelter) that was already on our property to make it a suitable, safe and secure stall. Luckily I have three wonderful buildings on property already that will serve as excellent storage for hay and grain. I'm getting a plan together now for manure removal also. I did see a comment that I did agree with for most cases about it not being ideal for me to bring him to my property - I AM a new horse owner, but have been really hands on in my gelding's care since the start, so I already have a rapport with the vet/emergency vet/farrier. I have learned what to look for as far as Colic is concerned and how to treat basic injuries / abscessed hoofs. Also, I have a trailer. I just need to purchase some tack items and quietly store them at my house. I'm not looking to burn a bridge, and I thank/agree with those who said I need to keep this quiet. I've not (and won't) say a word until we have everything we need in place. The only person that knows as of now is my husband - and all of you haha! We've still got some work to do as far as fencing off the pasture and dividing it so we can rotate, but I think it's doable. My gelding is pastured alone now, but is near other horses. So I'm toying with the idea if he will need a pasture mate (maybe a smaller Pony / retired pasture mate etc.) But I'm not going to worry about that just yet. If we go down that route, I may have to tell the trainer earlier so I can bring the pasture mate to her property to introduce before I just bring my guy home. I don't know - I haven't totally thought that part out yet, as I'm still working on the physical logistics.
I'm open to any advice on that

also - edit: it’s 2 acres he will be on, I realize in my first post I said one, but after doing some measuring and surveying the land, he would have right at 2!


Thanks again for taking the time to reply and giving me advice/opinions. Hope you all had a lovely Monday x
 

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If you're looking at someone to just be a pasture mate, maybe you can get in touch with rescues in your area? They usually have some horses that are not rideable, and the price is usually cheap or free. My advice, after owning a fat Pony for three years, would be to look for a horse that you think would have similar feeding needs to your gelding, e.g. if he's an easy keeper get another easy keeper.
 
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It is fairly common for barns to use owners horses for their lesson program but it's usually a "fair" trade situation. For example, the owner may only pay half board but can only ride certain days because the other days the horse is in lessons. Sometimes the horse is used for lessons and the owner pays full board but gets one or two free lessons per week. It all depends on the agreement.

From reading what you wrote, I feel like you are being taken advantage of and I personally don't like the idea of him being ridden for back to back lessons. I also think that if they are having you hall to lessons and feeding or cleaning stalls, that's not ok in my opinion. I also don't like the tiny turnout.

I would suggest you start looking at other barns to see what your options are and when you find one - just tell her that you really wanted a place that had a riding arena. Give her 30 day notice and thank her for everything she's done for you. That way no bridges are burned and you can still be friends at work.
 
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Good, get that secure stall in and get your horse out of there. Again, as I said earlier, just say a personal emergency has come up, or a family member wants to ride, or just no reason at all.

Lots of us keep our horses at home, you will really enjoy it once you get all the kinks worked out.
 

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So to address the bringing home...fix the shelter to safe for a horse to occupy, fence a space large enough to get him home and get him home.
I promise you, you do not need everything done, totally in place to bring the horse home...
You can make improvements with the animal at your residence as long as a suitable shelter he can have since he sounds;) to be stalled he needs something.
He needs to be able to get out to move around but does not need an acre to do it in...in fact I would want him to come to a smaller "sacrifice area" first where he is close at hand and contained as he acclimates to his new surroundings.
Do Not bring another animal to him at this barn..., don't, don't and again don't.

Contrary to what you hear not every horse needs company regardless of "in the wild..." our horses are not wild and needing herd protection anymore.
You provide protection and food so wandering over acreage is also not have to do, but outside turnout is healthy for a animal is accurate.
Honestly, I have a paddock for my 2 horses they are in now since the pasture is closed to preserve the tiny shoots of grass just this week appeared.
120'x200' or so is plenty large enough my 2 guys play run, tag, chase and fully self-exercise themselves along with giving me adequate space to ride and exercise them in too...
Look at what size your horse is currently in and see how he copes in that space as guidance in what he deals well with.
Start with a size manageable and expand.;)
If you don't want the horse to be alone, then get a companion and bring it home the day before you trailer home your horse...this way no one has deeply established dominance...they learn the place together.
If though you are going to have a companion, put a fence between the horses for a bit if you can as you watch them get to know each other so you don't need the vet, emergency vet or those basic first-aid skills to apply...
But.... your horse may thrive by himself and not need or really want company....
My own horse as a kid did not like to "hang-out" with other horses. He was very content alone and in fact when we put him with others he went off by himself and stayed that way by his choice. Truth!

Go slow with the animal details...

Concentrate on finishing that shelter for protection your animal should have as he is accustomed to it.
Get some safe horse style fence erected in a size that gets the horse home sooner rather than later and have a plan to finish fencing/cross-fencing the place.
To be very honest, 2 acres sounds like so much land when in actuality it is not for our picky horses when they graze. Cause its green does not mean they will eat it, unless starving...
Of the 2 acres total, you will probably lose 1/2 acre maybe a bit more to he won't eat, so do plan for appropriate food storage and in spring thaw, muddy ground from rains, snow and ice you must have a alternate location to keep the horses for safety of them, saving your grass as hooves easily tear it apart and that size pasture can quickly be overgrazed even when you think you are watching carefully...it happens.
Called a sacrifice area, it is exactly what it is called...sacrificed to preserve, to save the rest.
One mouth will allow you easier control. 2 mouths on that amount of pasture can eat it down a lot faster than many admit to.
I just lost 1/2 my pasture as it was sold and now trying to figure out how to manage what is left and 5 mouths on it, 3 of those mouths are 24/7/365...so never enough rest and regrowth time. I share my pasture and my 2 horses come home daily to their paddock every evening, but the neighbor leaves theirs out all the time.
Plan on hay to feed when you get home, {and always} as you fence the larger expanses...but get your horse home ASAP.
You will know within a week if your horse needs a companion.
Once you have left and are home you can contact the vet and farrier for leads on nice animals with no dangerous/destructive vices and not buried with medical issues...
An animal who just needs re-homing and you'll probably get a second horse for free or nearly free. If the vet/farrier know the animal they probably also know the animal is healthy so sharing a fence instead of isolation status might be able to be done...more things to think about.
As for horse or pony...get a horse so you will not be facing issues that a pony overeating grass is faster to face than a horse does.
It costs the same to trim by the farrier, vet care of vaccinations/teeth is same...only difference is how much they get fed and occasionally what it is they're fed if older.
Add to that many ponies are aggressive to horses, but often horses settle down with another horse easier.

Back to....
Prepare that shelter.
Get yourself a decent sized paddock to safely house the animal in...
Plan your other details to finish making your dreams come to reality.

And...instead of buying in town stores those supplies, consider ordering online the things you can and ship them to your house so you're not seen by as many if you really want to keep this on the quiet.
Price shop and do shop local, but maybe the next town away for some of those items like fencing needs.
Tack and barn needed items can be bought easily online and for considerable savings from mark-up in tack shops and specialty stores...
If you need reputable places to buy from, this forum is great sharers of where and what to order from here or their to make the $ go further.
Stores such as Tractor Supply are now known as feed stores. They offer many necessities you can order and do contact-less pickup from too...but shop around as Tractor Supply and Rural King will meet and beat competitors prices = $$ kept in your pocket.
Ask around for a local haymen to supply your needs with quality forage the horse shall need...

That should get you started...and I really meant shelter, fence enough to come home and get him home sooner rather than later.
The less who know of your plans the better for your horse who is vulnerable to this trainers nasty mouth and what I bet can be vindictive attitude...hopefully not actions.
Don't worry about what is said when you leave...talk is cheap and this trainers reputation is already known in the community.
Mum is the word...
You want your horse home as you bought home and property to do this and now is the time...
Go for it....this forum and its members are here to cheer you on, answer your questions and help with the stress level.;)
That's my opinion on the matter....best of luck!!
🐴...
 
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