View Full Version : Web Cams at Boarding Barns?

Miss Motivation
Jul. 3, 2010, 03:11 PM
Here's an interesting one... boarder's horse recently had colic surgery. (It happens.) They would like to put a web cam in horse's stall to 'check on him' when he is released from the hospital.

While my horse-girl side says 'Sure' my BO side says 'Whoa! That's a slippery slope that could have me responding to the panicked calls of horse owners 24/7 every time their horse has a snooze or a roll!'

I have absolute trust and confidence in our barn staff and we have an exceptional group of boarders- but this is a monitoring twist that might have unforeseen repercussions.

Thoughts or experiences, anyone?

Jul. 3, 2010, 03:28 PM
Did their vet recommend this? Would he or she be willing to recommend it in writing or by making a call? If the vet recommended it, that could be the criterion B.O.'s can use to keep from having webcams in everyone's stalls.

Miss Motivation
Jul. 3, 2010, 03:35 PM
Good point, thanks for the reply. No, this was a boarder-initiated thought I believe.

I hope someone will post that has actually used webcams, but your filter is a good one to keep it from becoming rampant.

Jul. 3, 2010, 05:40 PM
How about for just a certain period of time? Two weeks, maybe?

I'm quite sure that the boarder isn't blaming you--horses just colic. But colic surgury is a pretty major event (and expensive!) and I can certainly understand why they would want to set up a webcam, just to keep an eye on him. When my little pony coliced (luckily without need for surgery) I set my alarm and went out to the barn once an hour to check up on him, all night, just to make sure he was safe and sound.

I certainly wouldn't want to welcome everyone putting up webcams (although what a novel idea for a luxury barn, no?? :lol: ) but I don't see how it could hurt for a week or two, and I say this as a barn owner.

I guess it also depends on the boarders though too.....ARE they the crazy type to call you every split second over every belly itch and nose snort?

Jul. 3, 2010, 05:56 PM
My ex used one to monitor her mare the last week or so before she foaled, I understand. Apparently worked great with no need for stumbling around in the dark with a flashlight worrying the mare. But she's not a COTH member that I know of so she can't post here.

Jul. 3, 2010, 09:21 PM
I have a surveillance camera (not web enabled, just wireless transmitter to my house) set up in my (private) barn in the foaling stall. While it is invaluable in this setting and I would hate to be without it, I could also see how a BO would balk at the idea of boarders constantly playing cyber-stalker in this manner. It's an unimaginable amount of bandwidth to run a webcam for multiple stalls--I wouldn't consider it unless it were for medical reasons, and perhaps a SINGLE stall in a barn with a webcam for this purpose would be nice. Any ailing horse or one requiring special surveillance could stay in THAT ONE stall until the crisis was over. And as to it being a web camera--why does the whole world need to watch? Just one person would be fine, right? Maybe a couple--the BO and the horse's owner, by arrangement?

Jul. 3, 2010, 09:43 PM
I think the idea of a webcam is good, especially if it can be set up for only the barn owner and the horse owner to watch. The BO may want to set up an extra charge for monitoring the webcam a couple of times each evening, and any extra trips to the barn that are involved. If I were the BO, I would only want the webcam turned on as I left the barn at night, and turned off in the am. The privacy of other boarders and the BO should be respected.

A horse who has had colic surgery is certainly at risk for additional episodes. The time between the beginning of the colic symptoms and the beginning of definitive treatment plays a big role in survival rates.

Jul. 3, 2010, 10:09 PM
Many dog kennels and dog day care centers are going to those web cams on continuous feed.
The owners can look on the internet and see their dogs in their pens, or in the exercise yard and be happy that they are ok.
Most owners, after the new wears off, just look a time or two a day and rarely one feels the need to call to ask why is their dog doing or not doing xyz.

Jul. 4, 2010, 11:47 AM
Sounds like too ooky an idea and may tread on your other clients privacy and could be opening up a can of worms.

If you can isolate this horse to a separate area, perhaps...maybe.:(

If you have confidence in your staff and post-op care, then your client should respect that. Otherwise, they could look into at lay-up 24/7 facility if they are that worried.

Jul. 4, 2010, 03:05 PM
I have webcams in four foaling stalls and I love them. :)

I have control over who has access to each cam, but I have allowed everyone I have given an access code to see all four cameras. They are great for having help with foal watch and allowing long distance owners to see their mares give birth. I have also occasionally put a boarder's colicky horse in one of the stalls so they can keep an eye on them from home. I would rather have them call and wake me up if they see anything concerning than be up checking on them every hour.

I am not a public boarding facility though, so I don't have any boarders who I would be concerned about viewing the cams at any time. There has never been an issue with someone wanting a camera in their stall "just because".

With the fairly high risk of relapse with colic surgeries, I would think it would be to the horse's benefit to be under surveillance as much as possible those first few weeks. It is easy to adjust the camera so that only the one stall is visible to eliminate any privacy concerns.

However, it's your property and you need to be comfortable with the idea of having a camera installed and who will have access to it.

Jul. 4, 2010, 07:39 PM
Sounds like a nice idea. If it costs the BO nothing, why not let them do it?

If BO is unwilling to get up in the wee hours to check on the horse after a worried phone call, can the owner be the one to drive over and check?

I would print up a few "video surveillance in use" signs at/around the stall. As long as other boarder know where the camera is, they should not object.

Jul. 4, 2010, 10:23 PM
Well, we have webcams in our four foaling stalls. They are primarily used for foal watch in the spring. However, when we have a horse that is colicky, or recovering from something, we DO put them in one of the stalls with a cam and we DO keep watch on them with the cams.

It beats running out to check on them every 15 minutes. I can just click on the TV and take a quick look. And if the owner wants to check on them from their computer, why the heck not?

GiGi Larkin
Jul. 4, 2010, 10:33 PM
I think installing a webcam is a great idea, I often thought about putting one in my horses stall.:D

Jul. 5, 2010, 09:17 AM
In response to the poster who said web cams don't cost the Barn owner anything I beg to differ. There is the cost of bandwidth and in our case fiber to the barn, media converters, IP cameras 250.00 each, wireless long range router 200.00 and labor. I charge 10.00 a month to have IP access, the boarder supplies the IP camers which also gets the boarder wireless access to our network for those work from home summer Fridays.

Jul. 5, 2010, 09:52 AM
Sounds like too ooky an idea and may tread on your other clients privacy and could be opening up a can of worms.

Errr, I'm all for it just being annoying, but really, how is it "treading on your other client's privacy"?

I mean...the camera would be in the ONE horse stall, focused on the middle of the stall. Assuming all of the boarders are aware of it, they will perhaps choose to use other stalls for their bathroom/undressing purposes? That's really the only thing that I can think of, in regards to it "invading their privacy." It's not like you're wiring up the entire barn with cameras and lasers.

Jul. 5, 2010, 10:04 AM
The poster might be referring to the fact that you can also get cams with sound. But really, I don't think this is any expectation of privacy in a barn. Don't say anything you wouldn't want repeated or heard by the entire world.

Jul. 5, 2010, 11:00 AM
As a barn owner I would be happy to allow a webcam for the duration of recovery provided all costs were born by the horse owner.............I think it would take a lot of stress off of me to have the horse owner watching as I will often get up in the middle of the night to do a check if something wasn't right earlier or if I have a sick horse........I do this with my horses as well as boarders horses if necessary.


Fairview Horse Center
Jul. 5, 2010, 12:36 PM
While my horse-girl side says 'Sure' my BO side says 'Whoa! That's a slippery slope that could have me responding to the panicked calls of horse owners 24/7 every time their horse has a snooze or a roll!'

A while ago, I thought it would be cool, and a nice option to allow people to put up webcams - IF they paid a fee as a service. But after thinking about it, and knowing how many times I get people in panic mode, knocking on my door because their horse, or ANY horse is laying down, and they just wanted to let me know so I can be aware of a possible problem, I realized it would make my life really crazy.

It may also be a kindness to some super worried boarders NOT to be able to see if their horse is breathing every few seconds.

I also had a boarder 8-10 years ago that had to be at work really early, so I thought it was fine if she came in to see her horses at 3 AM before work. At LEAST once a week, she woke me up as she was worried about something - the way her horse was snoring, position sleeping, etc. Not once was it ever something real.

I would STILL love to have one aimed at the fields, so the boarders could see their horses playing, running, etc. If I had extra money laying around, I would do it.

I also love the idea of installing one for a few days on a horse that we are worried about. I do have a camera and have used to to foal, or watch a baby I am worried about. It is just hooked up to my TV though. so not online for anyone.

I also have a fisher price baby listening monitor that I hang on a stall of a recovering colic, choke, etc, so I can make dinner, etc, and still keep an "ear" out for in case they get bad again.

Jul. 5, 2010, 12:45 PM
You haven't said if the boarder is able to come check things out in person if she is worried by what she sees on camera. If she can come down, then I see no harm in this (provided she pays any extra cost for the set up). But if she's going to be calling you to check things out, maybe set up a charge for that, assuming going to the barn in the middle of the night is not part of your usual routine.

Jul. 5, 2010, 01:10 PM
If someone came to me with that question, I would say absoloutly not. Survailance cameras at a breeding barn are great but that is not the situation in this case. I have had enough crazy boarders over the years to know that for me, it would be a bad idea. If someone is that worried and they do not trust me to handle the situation, they should not be at my barn. I would say they were welcome to camp out if they wanted, but a camera just opens the door to excessive worrying, as in a call every time the horse rolled, lay down, drank, pooped or anything. Yes the horse needs close monitoring and maybe some people have the time and patience to babysit owners, but not me. ;)

Jul. 5, 2010, 02:08 PM
I think it is very different for a barn owner to install cameras in a barn for his/her own convenience in monitoring horses in his/her care versus boarders installing cameras for their own monitoring use. I don't think your boarder is being unreasonable, but this is a little more complicated than your boarder thinks.

Here are the practical issues: 1) installation. I think it is a bad idea to allow any type of DIY installation. I don't want people injuring themselves climbing up on ladders, spooking horses, dropping nails or screws, or inadvertently doing something that would mess up the facility or create a hazard.

2) monitoring. What is this boarder's plan for responding to perceived unusual behavior? I use cams in my barn, but I find that they are not a replacement for actually checking on the horses. I'm I'm truly "monitoring" a horse, whether it is a sick horse or a broodmare, someone is performing frequent actual checks in conjunction with that. A camera alerts you to a lot of things that "might" be suspicious, you go and do a check, and most of the time everything is fine. On infrared camera at night sometimes it is hard to tell...is the horse sweating or is it a shadow? Are they acting irritated because their neighbor is doing something dumb or are they colicky? I don't think you can definitively say a horse is sick or okay in most cases just from a camera. So, what is the plan to respond to anything suspicious? Is this girl going to drive out to your farm twice every night? Would you even allow her to do that? Is she going to call you in the middle of the night? How much would she pay you to do that? Is that a duty you are even willing to accept?

3) privacy. Ok, I agree you should never say anything in a barn that you wouldn't want overheard. But, that having been said, I'd be uncomfortable with someone having 27/7 unlimited ears into my barn. I just feel a little funny with that. I wouldn't mind for a limited period of time, but certainly not for an indefinite period.

Anyway, that's just my take on it. :)

Miss Motivation
Jul. 5, 2010, 07:44 PM
Many thanks to all for your comments on this issue.

We are a boarding stable, not a training stable, so we feed, clean, provide the facility, but there is not compensation or agreement for horse care. Our prices are about the lowest in the area for comparable boarding, but we try to provide a nicer facility and a little closer eye, in general, on things.

When a new horse comes in, or if someone had a bit of a tummy ache, I can check at bedtime, but it is up to the owner or trainer to care for the horse. While we would never let a horse suffer, the owner or designated trainer is responsible for the horse. There is no expectation that we inspect horses- although most folks are very observant for each other and good communication among the boarders and staff has caught some potential problems.

In this instance, the owner lives about 30 minutes away and it would not be reasonable to assume that they would zoom to the barn every time they saw the horse doing 'something weird' in her stall. If they saw something that worried them on camera, we, BO's, would turn into default checkers-on-the-horse which we are not compensated for or expected, under ordinary circumstances, to do.

If there was a problem, the trainer also lives about same distance as owner from barn, so no solution there. I would be the one up with the mare, making decisions, getting the vet, hauling horse to hospital, etc. as a matter of timing, most likely.

I am leaning towards they pay, they monitor, limited duration, post-surgery only, if the owner is really insistent. We have an exceptional group of boarders, but many of them are very attentive horse owners who would probably love to watch their ponies go to bed every night... but it could turn into a huge management issue from both an equipment and a responsibility angle.

Many thanks for all the thoughtful comments!

Jul. 6, 2010, 08:37 AM
To me, that sounds like a good plan. It will be difficult for a boarder or someone who hasn't used cams to watch horses before to understand your concerns and so I think refusing would come across poorly. Your boarder will most likely be disappointed in the results, but who knows, maybe it will work out for her. I would definitely in advance set up a fee for going out to do an after hours check, because I think there is a high likelihood of you being asked to do that, and a fee will act both as a deterrent plus help you feel like you aren't being taken advantage of.

Jul. 6, 2010, 12:45 PM
Along with the other ideas (for one lay up stall only and/or limited time only) maybe add in an emergency check fee?
Such as for every call you get at 3 am to run and check the horse out, $10. And for every one of those checks that turned out to be the horse farting, rolling, sleeping or whatever...$25. :winkgrin:
Might cut down on owners watching the camera 24/7 and freaking out over every twitch or move. An owner who hasn't ever lived on the same property as their horse will be very surprised just how active horses can be overnight when everyone thinks they just sleep.
I do understand why the owner would ask to have the camera though. Colic surgery is expensive as hell, risky and scary. And everyone sleeps at night, leaving probably around an 8-10 hour window every 24 hours that the horse is unsupervised. A completely normal thing for everyone (we all gotta sleep!) but a bit scary after a major surgery that's not uncommon to have problems afterwards needing immediate attention.
A catch 22...I can also see BO's position of not wanting to be watched 24/7 either or the BO expecting frantic phone calls all night long for what amounts to normal behavior.

Jul. 6, 2010, 01:08 PM
An owner who hasn't ever lived on the same property as their horse will be very surprised just how active horses can be overnight when everyone thinks they just sleep.

This is so true, and one of the things I've learned from my small handful of broodmares is to WATCH and LEARN what an individual horse's night-time habits are, if you want to catch them foaling. Every mare I've foaled out (and I haven't missed one yet, TOUCH WOOD) has behaved just a very slight bit differently on "the night", nothing predictable or even very striking, but when you watch them for a week or two you just sort of know.

In the process of learning, though, you do see some very odd behaviors and mannerisms. :lol:

I imagine this carries over to non-imminently-foaling horses as well, although I must say the urge to contemplate my sleeping animals is very, very small unless they're sick. :lol: