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Discussion Starter #1
I’m sorry, this is such a long post. And it sounds like a soap opera. I’m not entirely sure what information might be relevant, so I included it all. I would appreciate any opinions anyone has.

My question / predicament is, should I try to figure out what happened here (see story below) or is there just no point? I mean, even if I figured out exactly what happened, is there really anything I can do about it, so should I even bother?

I should start by saying that I’m not a person who is very sensitive about emotions, personality clashes, and general inter-human dynamics. To stress that point, I can tell you that my husband once had me take a test to see if I was on the autism spectrum. I’m not, but I’m not far off either.

So. My barn owner has a difficult personality. She is nice to me and to other boarders, but she treats people who work for her very poorly, in ways that I’d rather not get into beyond what I need to explain my situation. She runs through equine professionals (farriers, vets, etc.) quickly and then talks about them after they leave. She doesn’t treat them very well when they come either. This is why I’ve started getting my own people to come out – it’s disappointing to try to build a relationship with someone who has been treating your horse for months only to find out one day that that person supposedly did something unprofessional and will not be back, and in fact will not even be allowed on the property. I figure that by bringing in my own farrier, vet, and body worker, and frankly trying to keep her away from them, then at least if they leave I’ll know why.

This was working pretty well, but the new body worker I got (after my old one was injured and unable to work) was recommended by our instructor, who works for the barn owner. Things went well for a couple of weeks, and then all the sudden something happened and no one will tell me what it was. My best guess is that body worker suggested a particular course of training for Moonshine, the instructor worked on implementing it, and then the barn owner somehow felt like that was stepping on her toes (she also gives lessons and she also knows everything there is to know about horses, cough cough), and now the body worker is not welcome back. Our instructor won’t talk about it. She did take me to talk to the barn owner to see what she (barn owner) wanted Moonshine to work on, and the barn owner went off on a lecture about what Moonshine’s problems REALLY are (bear in mind that this is just the latest strongly-worded opinion about what Moonshine’s problems are; past problems have included that she needed shoes, that she needed Regumate, that she needed more training, etc.). She now insists that Moonshine’s problem is that my daughter is a stressed rider (she is a little, but not much) and that Moonshine is fine when other people ride her (flat out not true).

Moonshine, as I mentioned in my post where I was asking what to do about her, has some sort of lateral imbalance when ridden. Is it because her right hock hurts, so she steps gingerly with it, and that makes her back out of alignment? This is what the first body worker thought. Is it because her back is out of alignment and that makes her step weird with that leg? That’s what this one thinks. As I mentioned in that post, I am working toward taking her to a lameness specialist (although it will have to wait until after Teddy’s teeth are done). There is no doubt that she has some sort of physical problem. Anyone with an eye can see it, but the barn owner would rather spout off her own theories and not let anyone else get a word in about it.

OK, enough griping. Here’s my predicament. This body worker was brought in by my instructor, not by me. I contacted her (body worker) myself, but for whatever reason she preferred to go through the instructor rather than through me. Maybe I should have insisted that she go through me. Because the instructor obviously got chewed out about this by the barn owner, which is bad because (1) she was only trying to help and (2) now she’s afraid to work on what the body worker thinks needs to be worked on. She’s having to pretend that Moonshine is just fine, and making her work like any other horse. What the body worker had wanted to do in the next few weeks was to work on getting her more collected and using her body better.

I tried talking to the instructor about it, but she doesn’t want to talk. This is typical of her. She doesn’t want to say anything bad, or even anything that could be perceived as being bad, about anyone. I totally get that, and I don’t want to put her in a difficult position with the barn owner by trying to force her to talk, but it’s still a little frustrating. I’m not sure if talking to the barn owner really directly (“This is what I want to do, and stay out of it”) would be useful, since she’s the boss of the instructor and I’m afraid she will just somehow get mad at the instructor about it and take it out on her (which seems to be what happened in the first place). I am thinking about calling the body worker and seeing if I can get the story from her. But even if I do figure out what happened, I’m not sure if the body worker will come back out. And even if she does come back out and tells us what she thinks we should do, I’m not sure the instructor will be willing to do that, for fear of the barn owner. So, is there any point in trying? Or do I just chalk this up as a lesson learned?
 

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Just to make sure, Moonshine is your own horse? Because that sentence about “what the Barn owner wanted Moonshine to work on” is just confusing. Why would the Barn owner have that level of input? Sure, she can make suggestions but if this is indeed your own horse, she’s majorly overstepping.

I personally wouldn’t bother with the body worker because it is rather obvious what happened and the instructor will not work under any one else’s direction apart of the BO. The person that’s causing you issues is the BO and that’s where your attention should be. I would step carefully, though, because this BO sounds like a piece of work. Don’t get into it with her until you have backup barn lined up. Once you have that, firmly tell her to mind her own business. If she refuses to remove her nose out of you business - move.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, she is my horse. But the barn owner has firm opinions about her abilities, and I guess she didn't think that she needed to work on what the body worker wanted her to work on.

After the hay issues the barn owner had last winter, I made a spreadsheet with every barn in the area. I contacted each of them, and only one had space for three horses. It was in a small paddock, not a field like my guys are currently in. But IDK, I might look into it again.

I do realize that no place is perfect, and I also understand that a lot of horse people have strong opinions. Sometimes it's hard to know whether things would really be better somewhere else. At least I more or less understand how things work, where I am now. But yeah I think about leaving all the time.

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply.
 

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All that gave me a headache. It's about time you stood up to that barn owner, she is a detriment to you and your horses. You tell her if she disallows the professionals that you hire onto her property then you'll just have to go elsewhere to get the horses treated like at the end of the road. I know these type of people, this person does that, that person does this, I don't deal well with those type of people, everyone is a problem except them. I usually squash them into their places. I would have been out of that barn like yesterday after the first time a farrier left that I liked. The person you described as the barn owner, those are the type of people I would like to hurt, badly.
 

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Yeah, this sounds messy. The way I see it, you have a couple of choices. 1 - you start planning a move. Have you checked private barns? I agree, I would not let my horses live in a small paddock, but maybe there is a place that would be willing to let you board there even if it's not officially a large boarding stable. Are you able to do self-care? If you have three horses, I imagine you're there a lot. Someone older, who is down to just one or two horses, might really appreciate the help from a boarder who can pitch in. Option 2 is that you stay, but to do that, I'd recommend just staying on the good side of the BO. She doesn't sound like a reasonable person, or someone who takes constructive criticism. Although you sound very reasonable (btw, I'm like you, I'm terrible at reading people, but in some ways, it's a blessing, because I don't get involved in the drama, in fact, I'm mostly oblivious about it), the BO is definitely NOT. It isn't normal to keep firing people. At some point, won't she run out of farriers/body workers, etc.? I wouldn't want to stick around there long enough to find out.

Because Moonshine's therapy was arranged through the instructor, I wouldn't bother pursuing it. But this can't go on indefinitely. The place is eventually going to fall apart. Start coming up with a plan B asap.

Oh, and the BO has no business telling you what to do with your own horse. The fact that she is doing that tells me this relationship is not one of mutual respect.
 

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Sounds like the BO is a bully and wants to assert her authority. These are usually insecure people and back down if you stand up to them.

Personally I would tell her that as you are paying the farrier and body worker you have every right to know exactly what was done/said and if something was recommended then you will do your best to follow the suggestion.

With three horses there and assuming you pay your bills on time, you are a valued customer and odds are she will be put in her place.
 

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I'm a little confused but I think these are the facts:


1. Moonshine is your horse
2. You think she has a physical lameness
3. Your barn owner is scaring off all the professionals you hire to treat YOUR horse
4. The instructor is scared of doing anything other than pretending your horse is fine even though you genuinely feel she has a physical problem.

What the heck? Why should the barn owner even have a say in how you are treating your horse's lameness? If you ask her advice, that's fine, but it is still your horse, the barn owner is just someone you are paying money to take care of your horse. (In a way, she is just like the body worker, the farrier or the vet......someone you are paying for a service). If you think the horse is lame, do what YOU think needs to be done. You have to be your horse's advocate.

When I boarded, I might ask other people's advice on stuff because I'm the kind of person that likes to gather information. I gather as much information as I can from people I respect and then make my own decision. But I would NOT let the barn owner tell me my horse had to be on Regumate, had a behavior problem when I thought it was physical, fire my favorite farrier, etc. She is wayyyyyy overstepping her bounds! If it was her horse, then yes, you have to respect her wishes. But if you are the horse's owner, you do not have to let her walk all over you and tell you what to do with YOUR horse. That would really peeve me off!


PS. I am not upset at you, original poster, from all I have read you are a wonderful, conscientious horse owner. You rock! I just can't get over the nerve of the barn owner!
 

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This is a hard one AC. I know you like your job there. But..."For fear of the barn owner." You need to tell the BO that your horse is lame and that no further riding can continue until you figure out what's going on. But if you do that, will she explode? If you're not sure, then you shouldn't say anything until you're ready to grab your horses and tack and leave. Sorry hon. =( If I was dealing with this BO, I'd have steam coming out of my nose and the 'red mist' would be descending. Nevermind the fact she doesn't know how to run a business, she isn't stable. (no pun intended.) Boarding always requires that the owner keep a sharp eye out for anything that resembles abuse of an animal, but that doesn't mean that everything contradictory to her opinions or perspectives is abuse.
 

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At this point you need to figure out what is wrong with the horse. Once you know that then you can address the issues with the horse. Advice is nice but until you know the reasons for the physical presentations you are seeing and not necessarily this created that or maybe the other way around but that X,Y,Z is wrong you can't move forward with any amount of confidence. Once X,Y,Z have been diagnosed then they can be addressed collectively or individually - look at all the ways to address those problems. If the advice you receive (no mater the source) is based on knowledge of and competence with those issues consider it if not listen politely, nod your head and go on with the plan you and the professional you hired worked out.



That said you pay the BO to house your horses. You expect a certain level of care from that BO. If you as a new horse owner have given over to the BO because you trusted advice on basic care and that has escalated into the BO now invades your personal bubble of responsibility it is time to remind BO that you are 1) a paying customer 2) a rational, mature adult capable of making your own decisions based on the advice of professionals you hire and 3) unless her contract stipulates that you can only bring in professionals with her express permission then she has no right to interfere with those you are paying for services. Lastly if your contract is worded that way then you have learned a valuable lesson and need to remove your horses from her care if no suitable compromise can be made.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, our instructor is quitting. :frown_color: She is telling the barn owner tomorrow.

I can't help but feel somewhat responsible. I finally got to the bottom of what happened with the body worker, although it's probably just as well to not drag that whole thing out here. But I think that was part of why the instructor is leaving, based on what she told me. I guess I don't really want to discuss that here either, since the instructor asked me to not repeat what she told me.

The barn owner goes through so many good instructors. And I don't know, I'm not sure if I'm being self-centered, but it seems like a lot of them leave after I have some sort of interaction with them. Examples:

- I asked one of them why she kept her horse here, given that her philosophy of horse relationships didn't track with the Barn Owner's. I honestly just wanted to know why. She told me later that my question prompted her to find a new barn.

- I asked one flat out not to leave. She told me a week later she was leaving.

- The one before this was with the college riding team, and the whole team and the Barn Owner just got tired of each other (although of course there was other drama), so that's not really my fault. But I asked her if she couldn't just come and give me private lessons, and apparently she talked to the Barn Owner about this and the Barn Owner basically tore her a new one over it.

- This incident with the body worker.

My daughter tells me it's not my fault, but I feel like I am partially responsible for driving out a lot of really good instructors.

I don't know why I'm putting this here, I guess it's just a rant. Maybe I'm feeling sorry for myself. Maybe I really do need to find a new barn.
:frown_color::frown_color::frown_color:
 

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People leaving is definitely not your fault. You aren't running them off. The BO is. And, she's really overstepping when she goes against the people you choose to have work on your horse.

I agree with others who recommend finding another barn. A peaceful barn.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I agree with others who recommend finding another barn. A peaceful barn.
Is there really such a thing? I've read so many complaints here about people's barns that I'm worried I would just be exchanging one set of problems for another. At least where I am now, I know the lay of the land, so to speak. I know that I need to take care of a lot of stuff myself, and I'm happy doing it. Barn Owner can't keep good instructors, but she CAN find them, and they tend to stay for several months at least.

Ugh, anyway, I appreciate the comments. Sorry to bring in my little pity party, LOL.
 

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I wonder if there would be anywhere you could go that was smaller with not as many boarders, where you could be in charge of hiring out your own instructor and workers as needed and just basic feeding etc. was provided by the barn?

I know my situation is rather unique, I'd probably never ask to bring an outside-trainer in because my BO's are my instructors and it's just kind of a family deal, but they do intend to board more horses as their business grows and I can't imagine they'd turn down boarders if they already had an outside trainer they wanted to work with as long as that trainer wasn't interfering with other horses there. (It's also not as common for there to be multiple trainers available in our area here, I think it's usually mostly handled by the BO's or people the horse owner already knows, if they don't do it themselves. So it sounds like it's easier to find trainers in your area, when the BO isn't running them off or refusing private lessons.)
 
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First of all, It is not your fault that instructors leave, It is the BO. The BO sounds like an authoritarian type. I've dealt with them before and long-term, I do think you should put your name in at other barns as I think you'd be much happier.

Short-term I'd ask the BO to have a talk with you. Be kind, but be firm and lay down your boundaries. It is NOT OKAY for your BO to be withholding information and dictating what is done with your horse, unless you consent It and she needs to respect that. It is YOUR money and YOUR say.

Strictly speaking from my own experiences, I was at a barn where the BO/trainer had almost 100% say to a point that they would not only choose vets, farriers, blacklist vets/farriers who they don't agree with, forbid outside instructors, but also use your horse, without your knowledge, whenever they felt like It because in their eyes It was under their authority. Now, that type of BO can be very difficult to deal with, but I've found that laying boundaries initially prevents them from walking all over you completely. Once I found out that my horse was being used, I dealt with It immediately and told them that this was unacceptable. When they tried to dictate who I could bring in (vets/farriers), I respectively countered and gave adequate reasons on why I preferred X over Y. When they withheld information, I'd also confront them about it and tell them I needed to know this information because of X and to please inform me in the future. I was kind about it, but very firm. Ultimately, they did respect me and actually allowed me MUCH more leeway than others, but I did eventually leave the barn.

Now, others at that barn who did not stand up to the BO and manager were not quite as lucky. I personally saw a friend's horse, who had been diagnosed with OCD being used in lessons for 5 hours straight! The friend did not lay any boundaries and the BO and manager ALWAYS overlooked her authority. They treated my friend (who was in her 30s at the time) as a small child who knew no better. Whenever my friend would try and say something, they would interrupt her and 'reassure' her that they knew best. I'm sure you could guess that this scenario did not have a good end for neither her horse nor her.


Bottom-line, look for a place that you can go alternatively, but do have a friendly chat with your BO.

My question / predicament is, should I try to figure out what happened here (see story below) or is there just no point? I mean, even if I figured out exactly what happened, is there really anything I can do about it, so should I even bother?
No, I don't think you should actively try to find out what happened to bring It up later, but stick to the facts in your talk with the BO. What have you seen from your POV, what would you change and why?
 

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There is a saying in he U.K. 'Nowt so queer as folk!'
This is so true.

I fell into a job working with racehorses out of training. The woman who owned the place had great difficulty in retaining staff. I saw why not long after I was helping her out before I was her employee.

One of her workers was leading a horse into the stable, the door wasn't open fully and the horse nearly got caught on it. Mary went ape yelling and screaming. The girl had had enough and walked out, or, she went to but Mary took her car keys!

I really couldn't believe it.

Anyway, the horses were very interesting and so I took on head position. I was living in the house with Mary. I worked alongside her, something she hadn't had before. We were up at 5 every morning, mucked out 20+ horses so that when the kids came before school they just rode out.

All was fairly good, I got to know when she was on a mood. One day she had a go at all the girls during the morning, then she had a go at me at lunchtime. When we went indoors I told her to never speak to me like that again in front of the juniors.

That evening the girls and I were finishing off the back stables and Mary went with the only lad, Chris, to start feeding. We finished but they didn't appear. I went to find out what was going on.
They were in the feed room and Mary had Chris in tears. She turned to me and said, "Chris thinks I am picking on him - that isn't true is it?"

"Chris, of course it isn't true," I replied. "She had a right go at Sam first thing, Leslie mid morning Sarah after that and me at lunchtime. It's only fair she has a go at you this evening!"

Mary was furious. She through the feed scoop into the wall beside me and stormed off. She went into the house and as she went to slam the door I called out in a questioning voice, "Mary?"
She paused and looked across to me whereby I shook my forefinger at her and said, "Temper, temper!"

To this day I do not know how there was any glass left in the windows She slammed the door so hard!

From that point on if she was in a mood I would push her buttons and we would have a right royal row. Her temper was taken out on me and she left the kids alone.

I realised that most of her temper was stress. The responsibility of the horses in her care was enormous. A conservative estimate of the value of the horses there, and we weren't full, was well over £4 million. She had to keep the trainers who sent her horses, sweet or they would go elsewhere.

Perhaps it is something similar with this woman. I still say she is a bully taking out her frustration on those that cannot do much other than walk out, similar to Mary.

I will say the kids never took sides, they found our arguments funny and kept tabs on what was said. After one row Mary stormed into the tackroom where they were having breakfast, sqing, "Did you hear what she said to me?"
A few minutes later I walked in and said, "Well, that was a good one wasn't it?"

When I went indoors Mary had done me some toast and the row was totally forgotten. Neither of us ever dwelt on it.
 

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I wouldn't feel responsible; it sounds like a toxic environment and the BO is to blame. They're all adults and they've made their decision to leave based on more than your involvement. I'd have left a long time ago, as i know that i couldn't work with a person like the BO. Or, I'd have been asked to leave when i told her exactly why she needs to keep her nose out of my business LOL.

It sounds like one was going to move anyway, given that her philosophy didn't match the BO's. Your question may have made her think about why she was there, but you weren't wrong to ask.

I think peaceful yards are hard to find. I've stayed in three and few others for very short periods. I witnessed pushy BOs, arguments, bullying and extramarital affairs between the renters. It drove me to find my own land.

I understand that you're used to how the yard works but it doesn't sound like the BO is going to change and it must be creating an atmosphere, which can't be any fun. It may end in a full on argument and you'll be left with nowhere to go. Perhaps, look at other yards in your area, just in case.
 

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Well what a quandary you are in!

Sometimes when I read about eccentric BO's, I think the ones I have known are not so bad...even though sometimes they made me question my sanity!

So, first IMO would be to just forget about all the drama. When the BO gives you unsolicited advice, just say "thank you I have a lot to think about" and walk away.

Second, if the horse is lame, take him to a vet for a workup. (I have no idea what a bodyworker is, so no advice there). Once the vet gives you instructions, then you inform the BO what the vet instructions are and that they must be followed.

As to the riding instructor issue, just load up you horse and take lessons off property with whomever you want. IMO it would be best not to share this information with the BO. Just say you are going on a ride with a friend, and leave it at that.

No drama is just that, no drama. I've never discussed my horse or training with a BO unless I was specifically asking their advice (which rarely happened).

I did have one BO become very insistent on the care of my mare before she foaled. He insisted she be stall boarded the last three months, which I reluctantly agreed to even though it meant more $$ than her just pasture boarding. Then he kept giving her his very fine stemmed hay. This was an issue because that mare did not drink much in the stall, and I didn't want her to colic. He insisted his hay was better than mine, and kept putting it in her stall at night. Since there was no way to change his mind, I didn't bother. I would wait until he went to the house, then remove the hay and parcel it out to the other horses. Then I put my own hay in her stall. He never knew I changed out the hay, so no drama :smile:

Bottom line, if you can't avoid/ignore the unwanted advice, then look for a new place to board. One has to protect the horse, as they are dependent on their owners.

But all these issues can be dealt with by not being dependent on the BO for anything but general care. My equine vet even has a farrier that can be booked, so that might be something else you can look into, finding your own farrier and traveling to them. Again, no need to share this info with the BO. Conversely if the horses are ok barefoot, then learn how to trim them yourself.

Keep the relationship with the BO purely professional, write short notes if you want to avoid conversations.

There is always a way to work around most idiosyncrasies and still maintain ones sanity...just do your own thing and avoid all the drama.
 

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I recently (several months ago) interviewed at a place where the owner was like this. She had just opened a new boarding facility which is absolutely beautiful. I wanted a part time job there, and after she offered me the job I inquired about boarding my own horses there once I acquired them. She said that she would not have staff interacting with boarders, so I could not board there. I declined the job. I see the ad for that same job posted every two weeks or so because she cannot keep staff whether it is barn staff, office, or trainers.

I say move if you can.
 
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