View Full Version : "Process and Handling Fees" for Farrier/Vet Visits

Nov. 11, 2009, 11:42 AM
I tried to do a search on this, but couldn't find it, forgive me if this has been discussed before.

I am a BO/BM/NNT. I run a smallish (14 stalls) boarding facility in Tenn. Now that horses are back to day turn out with the cooler weather I have run back in to the same old problem I always run in to... holding horses for the farrier and vet. I feel like I spend hours ever few weeks catching horses for the farrier! In the summer its not a big deal because all the horses are in the barn during the day, plus there is plenty of day light hours to get stuff done. This time of year I feel like I already have limited time to get everything done, and its only made worse on the days the farrier comes.

I'm wondering as BO/BM and as boarders, what do you all think is a fair fee to charge for holding for the farrier/vet. Some things I'm looking at are: I'd like to charge the same year round so there is no confusion, so I need an average price to charge to reflect the PITA it is in the winter months and the relative ease it is in the summer months. I'd like to charge the same for all farrier care (trims vs shoes) since its the same PITA to catch them no matter what and once they are caught they'll all stand on cross ties. The vet isn't as big a deal. For vaccinations all the horses are done at the same time, so its not really a problem, but recently boarders have asked me to deal with the vet during lameness exams (the owners weren't there at all) and I didn't have a set price to charge them nor did they offer to pay anything.

I do not want to add these fees in to the board because I do have boarders that are usually out here to catch/hold for the farrier/vet. I have never been at a barn that offers to hold/catch horses for the farrier/vet. The owner was expected to be there for the appointment (a scheduling nightmare!) and in some cases the farriers were expected to catch the horses themselves (not an option at my farm, I just don't think its the farriers job).

To give you an idea on fees I currently charge $385 for 12x10 stalls and $350 for 10x10 stalls. Lessons are $25 on rider's horse or $35 on one of my schoolies. The only other fee I charge is a $25/month blanketing fee if needed.

Also, what do you feel is the best way to introduce this fee? BO/BM: What has worked for you in the past? Boarders: What would make you happiest with the change?

Sorry this is so long, I appreciate everyone's input!

Nov. 11, 2009, 11:58 AM
I have only been at one barn that offered to hold for the farrier or vet for a fee. All the others the owner had to be there.

That barn charged $10 for things like that.

Nov. 11, 2009, 12:01 PM
$10 per handling need is what is charged at my barn, where indoor stall board is $400/month and outdoor field board (what I do) is $210. I think the $10 is fair, and the only time I've been bothered by it is when I wasn't told the farrier was doing my horse and the fee was tacked on. It wasn't the fee that was the issue in that case, but rather that my horse was done without me knowing. :) I always try to be out there for farrier and vet, but have an employer who is flexible about such things.

From a boarder's perspective, I think the way to communicate this is that you are now offering boarders an additional service, and should they choose to use the service it is $10 for each need. Nobody HAS to pay it, and it definitely is a benefit to them if they take advantage of the service. However, I would make sure every boarder has advance notice of work that will be done so they have the opportunity to make the choice to be present or pay the $10.

You sound like a considerate barn owner, and are very accommodating of boarders' needs!

Nov. 11, 2009, 12:02 PM
For the farrier, if they stand for by themselves on the cross ties and the only issue is trying to catch them to bring them in, why not just leave them in? They can be turned out after their feet are done.

For the vet, do you schedule the visits or do your boarders? Since each visit could be different, I would come up with a reasonable hourly fee for your time and state that if you are to be responsible for handling the horse for the vet they need to contact you and have you make the appointment for when it is most convenient for you..

I would introduce the fee in a letter or email to all of the boarders 30 days before it takes effect. The letter should explain the amount of the fee and when it will be charged. That way, if people do not want to pay the fee they can make arrrangements to take care of this themselves.

Nov. 11, 2009, 12:11 PM
For the farrier, if they stand for by themselves on the cross ties and the only issue is trying to catch them to bring them in, why not just leave them in? They can be turned out after their feet are done.

The problem with this is I could potentially end up spending even more time cleaning stalls. The boys know their schedule and with some of them no amount of hay can keep them happy if its time to go OUT! :winkgrin: Stalls get nasty fast when the boys are impatient!

Nov. 11, 2009, 12:15 PM
personally I think this should be "built into" board costs. I run a barn and, as long as the boarder uses my farrier and vet, which I schedule, I do not charge. If they prefer to use their own (which noone does) they are responsible for scheduling and being here to meet vet/farrier, or I would charge. By scheduling myself I put it on a day where I don't have too much else going on, and in the winter, the horses that need vet/farrier stay in until they are done. I schedule early in the AM so it doesn't disrupt the horses normal turnout too much.

Nov. 11, 2009, 12:17 PM
$10 is a pretty usual handling fee for a simple trim which should take about 20 minutes, or a routine vet visit for jabs or worming. For all four, hot shod, it may be as along as an hour (or for holding for teeth floating/sedation etc) and doubling the fee would be reasonable. Put it in your written boarding contract.

My farrier will not work on horses in cross ties- he wants them all hand held in case they get antsy or have a trouble while being trimmed. Horses not infrequently lean on the farrier, lean on the cross ties and sometimes just collapse from reflexes- all situations where x-ties are not really safe.

Nov. 11, 2009, 01:43 PM
personally I think this should be "built into" board costs. I run a barn and, as long as the boarder uses my farrier and vet, which I schedule, I do not charge. If they prefer to use their own (which noone does) they are responsible for scheduling and being here to meet vet/farrier, or I would charge. By scheduling myself I put it on a day where I don't have too much else going on.

This is my situation exactly. I have a smaller barn -- five boarders, three of my own. I once worked at a big barn where they charged separately for everything -- it was difficult to keep track of, and it is annoying to pay a bunch of small charges (to me anyway). So when I got my own farm, I just charge a flat rate for boarding, and then everything else: holding for vet/farrier, worming, even fly spray, is included. Most of my owners cannot do their own horse care either because they are too sick, or don't know much about horses (e.g. a nonhorsey wife who inherited her husband's horse when he died).

On the other hand, since you are making a change and many of your boarders do their own farrier/vet holding then perhaps a per hold fee makes sense. I'd make it high enough to be worth your while.

Lord Helpus
Nov. 11, 2009, 02:02 PM
Another possibility:

You could offer your boarders a "handling fee" of $10/time or $25/month. The latter would cover all vet and farrier appointments. The way my horses lose shoes and get owies, I would probably opt for the flat rate and not have to worry about counting up the dollars each time one of their "friends" came to see them. :winkgrin:

But they have to commit to a plan at the beginning of the month. No fair choosing a la carte and then switching when their horse gets a puncture wound...

Nov. 11, 2009, 03:05 PM
How many different farriers are your boarders using? Can't be that many if you only have 14 horses on the property. I would encourage your boarders to schedule their trims/shoeing on the same day. Add an incentive--if at least 50% of the horses are scheduled at the same time, there is no charge; otherwise, $10 per horse. If multiple horses are being done, you can just leave them in and throw them extra hay, then turn out when the farrier is finished.

Nov. 11, 2009, 04:07 PM
My BO would just leave horses in if the vet or farrier were scheduled. I paid $20 per horse for her to hold them. Much cheaper than having to take time out of work. :)

Nov. 11, 2009, 04:35 PM
Your situation is somewhat similar to mine. At my barn I hold almost all the horses, but I do have a few owners who like to take care of it themselves. I charge between $5-15 per hold. This is based on the time involved with the task. For the most part people are happy with this.

Even a horse that can be tied up for farrier service (though we don't normally) would still have a hold fee (probably the $5). I still have to 1) Schedule the appointment and make sure all of the horses are in and clean/dry 2) Meet the farrier (and wait if he's late!) and communicate regarding what needs to be done or any issues 3) Call the owner if any new issues arise during the visit 4) Occasionally pay the farrier for clients when the cost is different than expected or the client forgot to leave a check and 5) CLEAN UP, both the work area and the stalls.

Vet and farrier visits can suck up a huge amount of time. Also, it is an added responsibility to be the intermediary between a client and the vet or farrier. The other thing I have had happen is that clients start expecting you, the BO, to keep track of when their horse is due for the farrier. I don't mind this, but it is another responsibility that is covered by the hold fee.

Nov. 11, 2009, 04:53 PM
I built those prices into the board, in general. As a previous poster said, if the boarder is on my schedule and uses my vet and farrier, I don't charge to bring in for those appointments. If they wish to use their own vet/farrier it is their responsibility to bring their horses in. Same goes for non-routine vet visits, it is the owner's responsibility to be there (except, obviously, for emergency situations)

When I boarded, the barns always charged a $10 holding fee, which is what I would charge if needed (haven't had to charge in the year I've been open, I love my boarders!)

Daydream Believer
Nov. 11, 2009, 05:31 PM
I charge $10 to catch and hold for vet or farrier.

Nov. 11, 2009, 05:56 PM
I think 15 bucks or so should cover it per incident.

Frankly, and I'll probably be flamed for this, I do not understand why in MOST situations, the owner can't make the arrangements to BE THERE.

Unless you're paying for a full service barn, I can't imagine expecting a BO or BM to do this without paying.

I've always worked full time and still have been able to make arrangements to meet the farrier or the vet....

The only way I can see that being totally unfeasible is if the BO insists that only THEIR vet or farrier may be used and only on THEIR schedule during certain hours.

Otherwise, why can't people just be responsible for getting it done themselves?

Nov. 11, 2009, 06:18 PM
If I schedule routine farrier/vet it's included in the board. I try to keep them all on the same schedule. For training horses, if they are difficult, that's their lesson for the day. For owner scheduled appointments or with a farrier or vet other than mine, owner has to catch, hold, schedule and clean up.

I have a fee schedule that states that I can charge $10 and up for medication admin, vet holding for illness, etc., but have yet had to charge it.

All of our boarders are very well mannered and I would only charge the additional fee for a very difficult horse. Again, if it's a training horse, that would be their training for the day/week.

Nov. 11, 2009, 07:01 PM
We don't charge an extra fee. BUT: I have one farrier and one vet. The farrier comes every week and he has a board showing who is scheduled. The horses are either left in or my staff brings them in as needed and leaves them in when they're done. I wouldn't use a farrier that required every horse to be held. If he needed a holder, I feel like he could hire one. Now, one of the staff is available if there's a need (young horse, nervous horse), but horses always get better with my farrier because he's quiet and patient. I think you need to charge enough to hire adequate staff or else charge an extra fee when you handle for vet or farrier. Either way, you need to charge for services.

Nov. 11, 2009, 07:12 PM
At the place I board it's $15 to hold for the farrier. Our board costs are similar to yours ($385 is stall + blanketing). I think $15 is more than fair, I'd be completely willing to pay up to $20. I'm always out there when the vet comes, so that's never been an issue for me. I usually try to schedule the farrier for when I can be there, but sometimes school and work get in the way.

Tamara in TN
Nov. 11, 2009, 08:24 PM
[QUOTE=Unprovoked92;4492601] I have never been at a barn that offers to hold/catch horses for the farrier/vet.

way back in 1992 most of our boarding clients worked full time and we held the horses for $10/head as the farriers did not come round just on Sat...

this meant bringing the little queenies from the pastures walking back to barn cleaning them up mud and feet and such...

on wet days the animals came in the night before to make sure we had dry legs and bellies...for some animals it was the only damned time that were fiddled with all month esp those on pasture board so we earned our money for sure ;)

do not do it for free however you do it....

Nov. 11, 2009, 09:02 PM
Thanks for all the input! I'm glad to hear I'm not being "nickle and dime-y" with charging for catching/holding horses for the farrier and vet. I think what I'll do is charge $10 (that seems to be the most common answer and kind of what I had in mind) when I have to hold the horse for farrier and quick (less than 30 min) vet visits. I wont charge for bi-annual vaccinations because I always schedule that for first thing in the AM and spend less than 10 minutes per horse. Vet visits longer than 30 minutes I will charge $20. I think thats fair and from what all of you had said it seems like my boarders will too. I'll put out a letter or email within the next week or so and start the new policy on January 1st. That will give people time to make other arrangements and start scheduling their own farrier visits if needed.

Nov. 11, 2009, 10:13 PM
Frankly, and I'll probably be flamed for this, I do not understand why in MOST situations, the owner can't make the arrangements to BE THERE.

I've always worked full time and still have been able to make arrangements to meet the farrier or the vet....

The only way I can see that being totally unfeasible is if the BO insists that only THEIR vet or farrier may be used and only on THEIR schedule during certain hours.

Otherwise, why can't people just be responsible for getting it done themselves?

Ideally, clients would all hold their own horses and meet the vet and farrier, it's great when owners are really involved with their horses. But...in the area where we are, vets and farriers are used to barns where there is someone there all the time. With the vet, he will give me the heads up if it is am or pm, and then I get a 10-20 minutes heads up before he gets here.

With the farrier, many farriers don't want to come out for just one horse. But, it would be hard for all of the owners who use the same farrier to coordinate a time that worked for everyone. So, I schedule appointments, and then allow anyone who wants to come out and hold their own horse to do so.

To be perfectly honest, though, I have had some problems (no one's fault, just people's busy schedules, traffic, etc.) with clients then being late, or asking me to hold at the last second which means I have to dash out and catch the horse at the last second which makes me feel unprofessional. Or, if the farrier is running early or late, I feel like a secretary having to call everyone and let them know. Also, if I'm holding 6 horses, and someone wants to come hold their own horse in the middle of the appointment, it's not like I can go leave and do something in that 30 minutes, I'm still stuck out at the barn until the appointment is finished. Also, people occasionally forget to clean up afterwards. So in a way I have started to prefer it when we hold.

Nov. 11, 2009, 10:57 PM
Again...not trying to be odd....but.....

Why do so many NON full service BO's accommodate this?

Unless you as the BO are the one dictating when vets or farriers can come out (and I know some barns that do this), why would you put yourself in a position to be responsible for it?

I will admit....I grew up on a farm where we obviously did all this ourselves. And then later....coop barn. .....and later....rented land/barn....and then boarded but still was responsible for my own critters.

Maybe I'm just not clued in enough. But it seems to me that if people want to have horses, they should be involved with this care. If they were more involved maybe there would be less "omg, my BO authorized this or that" threads......or maybe less "i have no bloody idea what a good hoof looks like" threads.....if people had to actually be held accountable for the care of their horse??????

I dunno.

The more horses I trim the more I am starting to believe that without the owner there, you are opening yourself up to not only to questioning but to criticism and I'd rather have the owner there.

Again...talking barns that are NOT full service clean your tack and saddle 'em up places.....just places where you pay board.

Nov. 12, 2009, 12:47 AM
This is a good question- here's how I handle this in my small facility. I charge significantly less for full board than the large show barns in my area, and my boarders understand up front what kinds of services I do and don't provide.

If I'm home, and just have to lead the horse out of a stall or paddock for the vet or farrier (I don't actually have to attend to them) I don't charge to do this.

For $12, I'll attend for 30 minutes if the vet or farrier needs someone to hold the horse.

Anything after that is $24/hour billed in 15 minute increments, and here is why. Several years ago I learned the hard way that I needed to have a policy for this sort of thing spelled out in both my boarding contract and my fee schedule.

One of my boarder's horses coliced severely due to an impaction while they were on vacation in Europe. The horse really needed to go to the vet hospital and placed on an IV, but the owner REFUSED to provide consent for me to haul it into the clinic. The owner did consent to ambulatory service, so a very kind local vet got me set up to administer the IV fluid therapy in my own barn along with all of the other multivarious meds that were needed. Obviously, I wasn't just going to sit by and watch the animal suffer without treatment because the owner's priorities were goofy. I spent 24/7 with the horse for 5 days (taking vacation from my regular full-time job) and the horse made a full recovery and is competing today. However, the owner, who had only boarded with me a short time, turned out to be a nightmare. She clearly expected that all of my efforts towards caring for her horse should be covered by the $395 I was charging for full monthly board at that time. She offered to give me an additional $50 for my 5 days of trouble and full-time care, and I didn't have a legal leg to stand on because there was nothing in my fee schedule or boarding contract to address this. We mutually agreed that it was best for her to leave, and I immediately updated my boarding contract before the next client moved in. I learned later that she'd stuck the vet for the bill as well, so I was glad to be rid of her.

Nov. 12, 2009, 01:02 AM
I've been charged a per-hour fee, between $10-15.

You could do something like $5 to catch, then $15/hour to hold.

Nov. 12, 2009, 08:40 AM
Buddy Roo,

I've always felt the same way you do about vet and farrier care. I was always there when my horses needed anything, but I was also in an ideal situation. The barn I grew up at was directly across the street from my school (elem, middle and high...small town) and then I went on to study equine studies (and bus. mgt). I've always had a horsey job. It was easy for me to be there for any of my horses' appointments. When I started up Brae Mont I kind of assumed people would do the same, and quickly found out it wasn't possible. My most popular farrier is from about 2 hours away making it impossible for him to come out multiple times for a few horses each time (I currently have 3 different rotations, we have a few special needs horses that get done every3-4 weeks). Boarders that have no other obligations are almost always there for the farrier, but many can not be (boarders include, vet, doctor, school kids). I'd rather have the owners there, but it would be a scheduling nightmare for me and my farrier. Really what got me thinking about all this way when a boarder was at the farm, was grooming one of her horses and still expected me to deal with her other horse for the farrier (not a usual farrier day-pulled shoe). (BTW, I never went to get the horse, she never asked I never offered. Eventually she went and caught him herself)

So I totally agree, but its totally impossible :(

Also, my facility is not full service. I take care of feeding, turn out and stall cleaning. Grooming etc is the owners responsibility.

Nov. 12, 2009, 10:13 AM
I have never boarded at a full care barn but have mostly been at full board barns. I just try to use the barn farrier and barn vet. I currently work 1 hour from home and 1 hr 20 minutes from the barn. I would need to take a 1/2 vacation day ever time the farrier is out. When I was at a co-op barn I have had farriers that tell me they will be there at 10 am and show up at 9 am or at 1:30pm. If I took only the morning off for a 10 am appointment but farrier doesn't show up until 1:30pm I am a bit screwed.
Many times the farrier showing up late is not totally his fault. If he shows up at his main big barn client and expects to have 2 to do next thing you know well so & so maybe has an abcess, so & so's clinches are loose but he was due for 2 weeks and such & such pulled a shoe in the field and we can't find it.

My job does not offer the flexiblity to be able to be there for most of my farrier visits or vet visits. So I guess I just shouldn't own one??

ETA: I wouldn't mind paying an additional holding fee.

Nov. 12, 2009, 11:09 AM
Frankly, and I'll probably be flamed for this, I do not understand why in MOST situations, the owner can't make the arrangements to BE THERE.

Because not everyone has that kind of flexibility in their work schedules.
I would have a lot of trouble if I had to be there for every farrier appointment. I simply do not have full control over my work schedule in terms of when I can skip out for most of the day for non-emergencies (and it will take most of the day) and do whatever work I have after hours or the next day (clients, bosses and the court have a lot of influence over what my deadlines are and I can and cannot do). I do the best I can, I am a very involved owner and, in my case, the BO/BM does not pick up the slack. My BO lets us have the horses left in for farrier and vet visits when we know ahead of time, as did my last BO.
For my farrier, he actually prefers owners not being there- he says he can concentrate better when owners are not chatting with him. It also means his schedule is more flexible because no one is waiting for him to be there at a set time (although he gives me a general time of day). Once he knows the horse and that it behaves, he could care less whether I am there as long as the horse is in its stall waiting for him. We talk about what needs to be done beforehand and, if something special is going on (doing glue-ons so horse needs to be extra quiet), then I will be there. Otherwise, no, I am not there.
For the vet- I am almost always there. Every now and then, my schedule, the vet's schedule and horse's vet needs do not coincide and the vet is willing to treat my horse without me there if he has to and he knows ahead of time because he knows me, my horses and the barn set up. We discuss it before and after and sometimes during.
If I had been to every farrier and vet appointment this year, I would have used up all my leave by now and have some pretty pissed off bosses because I missed a day at least every other week for horse stuff. Cannot pay the vet and farrier bills if I get fired.

OP- while my BO very kindly lets us leave them in, I would not question a fee for catching my horses for me. That is entirely reasonable.

Nov. 12, 2009, 04:54 PM
You need to generate a letter that adds an update to your fee schedule, all of your boarders need to sign and return the addendum so you can put it in your file.

List your new fees, and what they are for. Provide an alternative if there is one.

My boarding contract states that there are fees for farrier and veterinary assistance. The farrier fee is nominal (like $5), the vet fee states that it is commensurate to the level of service. I also attempt to provide my customers with ample time for farrier scheduling (they know as we schedule when the farrier levaes and it is on the board). For a lost shoe, I just grab the horse and move on. I like to be involved with the vet care for continuity and my own education so I rarely charge for this, unless it's the real PITA customer.

For other services, my contact has options that they have to choose and intial.

I DO NOT offer grooming for horses that come in from a muddy paddock. I do take on/off bell boots, and I do blanket within the set boarding rate of $450.00. Our horses spend 70% of their time inside so there isn't a lot of sloughing off to fields to catch them. We are a facility about the size of yours, and frankly most of our horses are farm owned schoolies, prospects and retirees. As my business moves forward, and if it's warranted I would likely raise the rates and hire more help.

Nov. 12, 2009, 09:28 PM
can't you just put the horse on the cross ties for the farrier? Most horses are fine, then you would only need to hold the difficult ones.

But if you must, 10-15 seems fair. Where I board they do all that for me, but it's full board at 750 a month, so I would be horrified if they slapped extra fees on

Nov. 12, 2009, 09:32 PM
I think that people care, they are just too busy. Realistically, paying board on a horse is expensive. The people who can afford it tend to have to have a decent job to pay for it. Or they are in school trying to get a good education so they can have a good job in the future so they can continue to have the resources to have a horse. From a business standpoint, I'm happy to offer these services--I certainly don't make money off of it, but I hope it makes my clients' happier that they don't have to stress out over making these appointments. Also, it is better care for the horses--they don't get overdue for anything if an owner is out of town, taking exams, etc. And it is good for my relationships with our vets and farriers--they know when they get a call to come out to my farm that the horse will be in the stall clean and well cared for and ready to go and they will get paid on time.