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View Full Version : Does your barn owner/trainer pass costs on to you?



cindylouwho
Dec. 19, 2011, 03:44 PM
Does your barn owner/trainer have the farm farrier mark up boarder's bills, in order to cover the cost of the trainer's shoeing?

Same with the vet: Does the farm vet spread the farm call fee over the boarder's and not charge the barn owner/trainer for part of the farm call?

trubandloki
Dec. 19, 2011, 03:51 PM
You might look at that a different way.

The barn owner is given a discount by the farrier as a professional courtesy for providing the farrier with a group of clients.

Most vets divide the farm call to a certain degree but have a minimum per person amount no matter how many people. They might, as already said, not charge the barn owner a farm call for things like routine care as a courtesy.

wildlifer
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:02 PM
No, my BO does her best to absorb costs so she does not have to charge us for anything more than she already does.

TheHeimer
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:10 PM
I think what is critical to this scenario is whether clients are aware of the practice and also whether they are allowed to bring in their own professionals. So when the trainer twists a client's arm to use X vet/farrier over Y vet/farrier, even if X is more expensive and Y would do a better job, it is unethical IMHO. And it is blatantly unethical if the prices for clients at said farm are higher than what the same number of clients would pay for the same service by the same vet or farrier at the farm next door.

I've encountered this problem. I was very confused when I received a vet bill because my horse's teeth were floated without my knowledge at the trainer's request. I confronted trainer, since I had JUST had the horse's teeth done by a different vet. Trainer said they had to do it because the horse's teeth were "just horrible." That was an absolute lie, and I knew it at the time but couldn't figure out why the trainer would spend my money like that or wouldn't even call to consult with me.

Once I figured out the financial arrangement, it made a lot more sense. I eventually left, but not before sending a lot of good money to an absolutely pathetic excuse for a professional.

cindylouwho
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:11 PM
Actually there is a barn that the farrier charges $50 more per horse than he does at the barn down the road. He does this to cover the barn owner/trainers horses. There is no discount being passed. It is the whole cost.

cindylouwho
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:12 PM
And no, the boarders have no idea they are paying for her horses!

alterdstate
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:17 PM
Our current BO doesn't expect boarders to carry her expenses but a former BO did. I didn't understand why our farrier bill was $50 higher at her barn for the same farrier we had used in a previous barn. When I asked the BO, she said the farrier raised his rates then had a major hissy when we switched farriers. Several months later I spoke with the farrier directly and he told me he hadn't raised his rates. The BO was billing all of us for the cost of her herd's farrier work. :eek: I felt totally fleeced.

I have my suspicions about what happened with our vet bills but never delved into it. IMHO a trainer/BO who upcharges and doesn't tell clients the truth is nothing more than a common thief.

Equibrit
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:17 PM
Does the BO/trainer also make all the arrangements and hold the horses etc. ? Was shoeing included in your boarding contract in any way ?

Action42
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:18 PM
No, my farrier does not do this. My farrier doesn't do my BO's horses so it isn't an issue. I am there to hold my horses for him.

As for the vet... I'm my own vet (in equine only practice). If I'm seeing several clients at a farm, I divide the call fee by horse. For example:

Person A - 2 horses
Person B - 1 horse
Person C - 4 horses

Each horse's invoice has the call fee divided by the number of horses or $10, whichever is greater. $10 is my min call fee. This way, people pay a proportion of the call fee that is related to how much time I spend with them. Make sense?

If I am going to a farm to do an entire barn, I usually waive the call fee to the trainer/BO's horses as someone already said as a "professional courtesy". I do not raise the other bills to cover for that.

cindylouwho
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:20 PM
Yes, held for the farrier and vet was included in the full care board contract.

Equibrit
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:21 PM
Does the BO/trainer also make all the arrangements and hold the horses etc. ? Was shoeing included in your boarding contract in any way ? Whichever way the BO/trainer choses to do it, boarders (her customers) are going to pay her expenses. If not by paying higher farrier fees, then by paying more in board.

Snaffle81
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:37 PM
Not that this is 100% applicable, but more of a general wondering... what's the rationale for a vet dividing the farm call per person instead of per horse? Even when the BO doesn't have the most horses... I really dislike being charged the same amount for my 1 horse as another who had 4 seen.

bornfreenowexpensive
Dec. 19, 2011, 05:03 PM
I pay my own farrier and vet directly....have at most places I board.

If they do a group thing (like pulling coggins)...my BOs all let me know the cost and I can choose to participate or not. But even with those...the vet billed me directly and gave us a cut farm call.

If my BO set up an appointment...I'd expect to get charged for her services in doing so....either on a case by case needed or by paying generally higher board.

Should my board cover her horses' costs.....I would hope so otherwise. She is running a business for profit so I'm hoping she is making some.

alterdstate
Dec. 19, 2011, 05:06 PM
To clarify, I also paid vet and farrier directly. In my situation, the BO told the farrier to split the costs of her horses among the rest of us. We were never told this was happening. The farrier would simply tell us what we owed and we would write the check.

netg
Dec. 19, 2011, 05:10 PM
Not that this is 100% applicable, but more of a general wondering... what's the rationale for a vet dividing the farm call per person instead of per horse? Even when the BO doesn't have the most horses... I really dislike being charged the same amount for my 1 horse as another who had 4 seen.

I've always seen it done like the example given in this thread - by horse, not person. I would not appreciate the per person, unless it were at the minimum and that were a "group discount" for anyone with multiple horses or something.

I've never had a BO who arranged farrier/vet for me, but if I did I would expect to pay for that in either higher board or a fee. I would NOT, however, expect to pay for that BO's horses - if that's needed to make a profit (as mentioned, it's a business) it should be part of the base board price, and customers can take or leave the boarding situation overall.

Highflyer
Dec. 19, 2011, 05:25 PM
My family has a training-only facility (no outside riding horses, all boarders are in training/ babies/ broodmares/ retirees, we set up appointments, get the horses in and hold them). We add an extra $5 to the trim cost, and an extra $10- $15 for shoeing depending on how long it takes, and split the farm call cost between clients not by horse, unless it is a situation where one client has an emergency and the vet dispenses something or looks at another horse just because she's out already.

Backstage
Dec. 19, 2011, 05:26 PM
Whichever way the BO/trainer choses to do it, boarders (her customers) are going to pay her expenses. If not by paying higher farrier fees, then by paying more in board.

While this is more or less true, I think the issue is really transparency. I would be much more comfortable with a higher per month boarding cost, a hold fee or some other arrangement. I would not be ok with a trainer who simply tacked on the cost of her horses' shoes to my own without my knowledge.

Highflyer
Dec. 19, 2011, 06:59 PM
Not that this is 100% applicable, but more of a general wondering... what's the rationale for a vet dividing the farm call per person instead of per horse? Even when the BO doesn't have the most horses... I really dislike being charged the same amount for my 1 horse as another who had 4 seen.

I've always done it/ seen it done per person... the vet does not charge the trip fee for her time on the call, she charges for making the drive out there. If four people want the vet to draw six coggins tests, I would split the bill between the four people who asked that the vet come out. The call fee is still $60 regardless if it is for four horses with four owners or six horses with four owners. It's really none of their business who got what done on how many horses.

IronwoodFarm
Dec. 19, 2011, 07:31 PM
Wow, do you mean I have been missing the chance to gouge my boarders all these years? But wait, I have 18 horses and only 3 boarders. Do you think they would suspect if their trim bill went up to $350 a visit?

Seriously, I've seen this practice at some hunter barns. I've always found it outrageous. I do not expect boarders to cover my own expenses for my horses. All the boarders do is help with some overhead expenses by creating economies of scale. The horses I own are supposed to be covering some of their expenses in various ways -- as a breeding stock, sales horses, or lesson horses.

bornfreenowexpensive
Dec. 19, 2011, 07:42 PM
While this is more or less true, I think the issue is really transparency. I would be much more comfortable with a higher per month boarding cost, a hold fee or some other arrangement. I would not be ok with a trainer who simply tacked on the cost of her horses' shoes to my own without my knowledge.


This is what I meant. I would expect that my board is covering more than just what I cost the BO and thus covering some of their expenses. But it should be up front..i.e. by monthly board fee.

GraceLikeRain
Dec. 19, 2011, 08:09 PM
To clarify, I also paid vet and farrier directly. In my situation, the BO told the farrier to split the costs of her horses among the rest of us. We were never told this was happening. The farrier would simply tell us what we owed and we would write the check.

That is absolutely insane to me. Perhaps it is common practice at some facilities but I would NEVER be okay with that. I also would not be okay with being at a facility where this occurred under the table and the boarders were left in the dark.

yellowbritches
Dec. 19, 2011, 09:06 PM
I have had professionals give me a reduced rate for their services if they come and do the majority of horses in the barn. However, they do not charge my clients more because of the break they have given me...it is a professional courtesy or a "thanks for bringing me all this business" type deal. I have also had vets not charge me a farm call if they are out for multiple horses, including mine. Again, a professional courtesy. Of course, in the past, I was the one who scheduled the appointments, made sure the horses were in, held the horses, discussed any issues, etc, etc, etc. I never expected it or asked for it, but I was always grateful for it and always returned the favor by recommending their services when ever I could.

All that being said, I would NEVER EVER EVER pass costs on to my clients in such a sleazy way. I know there are barns that do it (and have even heard of barns billing customers for services that the horses never saw, like the dentist), but I would NEVER do that. Such a slimeball move...gives me the creeps! :mad:

Mac123
Dec. 20, 2011, 12:18 AM
We are a small barn that just started up 9 months ago. We don't have the money to front all boarder's vet/chiro/farrier expenses and wait a month to be reimbursed.

The boarders have an option of having a check waiting at the barn for the vet/farrier/chiro or they pay us a $20 fee for paying on their behalf.

This encourages them to pay directly and it's also spelled out in the contract so there's no surprises.

It's worked well - some don't care about the extra money and prefer to pay after it happens and others make sure we have a check beforehand. That way if we're covering someone's expenses, we're covering the cost of doing so.

goodmorning
Dec. 20, 2011, 08:33 AM
Ok, not ethical. Yes, they run a business, a BO should be able to run their business in a profitable way. I'm not an accountant, but I'm curious how they can pass this cost onto their clients, in this way, and not raise flags. This is not income?! Maybe why so many equestrian businesses get audited. Scrounging around to cover costs instead of doing it above the table. The BO is probably not a farrier ;)

I've boarded at a barn where the vet, dentist, and farrier costs were covered by the BO. I was sent an invoice at the end of the month, for next months boards, and any other services I've received the past month (including training). Boarders horses also required to have major medical & liability coverage. I always had an invoice from the farrier or vet, and there was no marking up ;) This BO was an accountant, and with 50 horses on the property, the professionals wanted one check from the BO vs. Chasing individuals down.

JFCeventer
Dec. 20, 2011, 09:30 AM
At my barn, the boarding stuff (feeding, t/o, use of facilities, etc.) is completely separate from farrier/vet.

My vet waives the farm call if there's four or more clients for one appointment. Unfortunately, there's only four boarders at my barn and only three of us use my vet :lol: So we split the farm call (which I believe is $60) three ways. If one of us had two horses, we'd still split it three ways. You need to be there for your horse's vet appointment.

Same with the farrier. We all use the same farrier but he charges each of us individually. You need to be there to hold your horse and pay him, or if you can't be there, you need to leave a check for him.

In other words, the barn owner has absolutely nothing to do with the vet/farrier billing and we like it that way. Then we have no question about the fees. The vet bills us directly and the farrier tells us what we owe as soon as he's done shoeing. I can see why some barns pay and then bill clients, or charge a hold fee, or have vet/farrier included in monthly board, but to sneak around behind boarder's backs and have them pay for your horses' bills? Thats just wrong.

cindylouwho
Dec. 20, 2011, 09:53 AM
I thought it was unethical too!

There is nothing wrong with charging for holding a horse, but she included that in her boarding fee. She just got another horse, and presto, the farrier raised his rates.

bambam
Dec. 20, 2011, 10:14 AM
wow- I would be livid if those costs were being passed on to me without my knowledge
I figure whatever share of the BO/trainer's costs I need to cover to justify my presence at their barn :) are included in board.
Right now, I use a different farrier and primary vet than my BO/trainer so not an issue.
At a prior barn, I used the barn vet for a brief period of time but dropped him, not only because he was not a very good vet, but because he considered the barn his client not me and I could not get him to talk to me directly about what was going on with my horse. At that barn, I would not be suprised if some of the barn's vet costs were being passed on to me even though I was invoiced directly from the vet.

snoopy
Dec. 20, 2011, 10:44 AM
I thought it was unethical too!

There is nothing wrong with charging for holding a horse, but she included that in her boarding fee. She just got another horse, and presto, the farrier raised his rates.



Your BO is a thief...plain and simple. She is also a liar...by omission. Ask yourself this..."do you want a thief and a liar looking after your horse(s)?"

I would be handing in my 30 day notice.

bornfreenowexpensive
Dec. 20, 2011, 11:14 AM
Your BO is a thief...plain and simple. She is also a liar...by omission. Ask yourself this..."do you want a thief and a liar looking after your horse(s)?"

I would be handing in my 30 day notice.

Or have a farrier or vet that ALSO does this. I know mine wouldn't....not without checking with me first (as in, "do I own this horse with the BO?")

JCS
Dec. 20, 2011, 11:27 AM
Or have a farrier or vet that ALSO does this. I know mine wouldn't....not without checking with me first (as in, "do I own this horse with the BO?")

I was thinking the same thing...It seems sketchy for the farrier to be going along with this plan. Unless the BO is outright lying to the farrier as well and told him that the boarders knowingly pay for her horses' shoes.

snoopy
Dec. 20, 2011, 11:39 AM
I was thinking the same thing...It seems sketchy for the farrier to be going along with this plan. Unless the BO is outright lying to the farrier as well and told him that the boarders knowingly pay for her horses' shoes.

Which would be more likely as the OP's farrier was queried about prices and he willingly told her that he had not increased his prices.

If the BO did in fact "lie by omission" to her clients, it would not surprise me in the least that she would have said something to that effect to the farrier.

In any event, she sounds like a dodgy person and one I would not have looking after my horse. If she lies (and thieves) about this, what else might she be up to?!

All billing and extras should be clearly outlined in your contract, if this arrangement is not, then she is a thief....she is obtaining funds/services through deception.

Beam Me Up
Dec. 20, 2011, 12:02 PM
If the BO is billing boarders for the farrier/vet, maybe farrier/vet do not know?

I've only boarded places where I was directly billed by vet/farrier. I would expect the BO to get paid somehow (either out of the board or a holding fee) for setting apts and holding.

I do think both vets and farriers tend to engage in some variable pricing, either by barn, or client, or by visit. I've often felt like I was on the winning end when not charged for something, but I suppose there is no way of knowing in general if someone else is paying less than you.

BeeHoney
Dec. 21, 2011, 10:19 AM
A holding fee is VERY fair, something that reflects the minor inconvenience of scheduling the appointment, having a staff member available for the appointment, keeping track of the horses shoeing or vaccination schedule, fronting the money for the payment, and the time taken to present and hold the animal for the appointment. Many farms do have a markup on their vet and farrier fees, and I think that is fine if it is consistently applied and roughly the equivalent of a fair holding fee, like $5-15. Barns are businesses--they are entitled to charge markup to cover their overhead.

But, having other boarders split the cost for the BO's horses, not being up front about who exactly is doing the work, excessive markup, or hiding/lying about markup is unethical. Of course on the other hand, I've seen unfair clients who fuss and complain for paying ANY markup for anything. That isn't right either.

Barn owners DO often receive discounts on their horses, and I don't see a problem with that. It isn't just that I am responsible for so many horses--my farrier, vet, and dentist's lives are easier when they deal with me. Because my staff and I are here pretty much all the time they can fit my appointment in whenever they want (if they are late or early, no problem), they know that they when they arrive said horses will be up in a stall waiting, that they will be safely and professionally handled, that I won't mind if we sedate any of them for any reason, and that they will be paid promptly. But the bills should be separate, the discount for the owner's horses shouldn't in any way be tied to an increase in costs for the boarders' horses.

cindylouwho
Dec. 21, 2011, 01:03 PM
The way I found out about her practice, was one boarder moved down the road, but continued to use the same farrier. When she asked him how much, his bill was $50 cheaper at the new barn. She questioned him and he stated that the BO had her horses cost spread over the boarders bills. Of course, that information came flying back!

alterdstate
Dec. 21, 2011, 02:07 PM
So if the behavior is sleazy and unethical, is it illegal?

JackieBlue
Dec. 21, 2011, 02:17 PM
You might look at that a different way.

The barn owner is given a discount by the farrier as a professional courtesy for providing the farrier with a group of clients.

Most vets divide the farm call to a certain degree but have a minimum per person amount no matter how many people. They might, as already said, not charge the barn owner a farm call for things like routine care as a courtesy.

^There you have it. Thanks to boarding facilities, vets and farriers can maximize productivity while minimizing driving and set up/clean up time. This is appreciated by every vet and every farrier I know. Just about every profession carries a few perks in the way of professional discounts. Why should equine professions be any different?

Dry Clean Only
Dec. 21, 2011, 02:41 PM
If a business ( the trainer/barn) hires a subcontractor (farrier) it is standard operating procedure to mark up their services by some fee or percentage. It covers the risk/cost of the business owner hiring a subcontractor for a client.

I don't have an issue with this, but I do think it is sleazy for the farrier to distribute these costs secretly on his bills. But if the trainer is fronting the money for the clients and billing them on their monthly bill they are entitled to mark it up.

JackieBlue
Dec. 21, 2011, 02:43 PM
The way I found out about her practice, was one boarder moved down the road, but continued to use the same farrier. When she asked him how much, his bill was $50 cheaper at the new barn. She questioned him and he stated that the BO had her horses cost spread over the boarders bills. Of course, that information came flying back!


I have a very hard time believing that a farrier would say this, even if it's the truth. But even more, how can everyone at her barn be blind to what the going rate is for a farrier in your area? Something smells fishy to me... It is VERY common for barn owners to have farm call fees waived and to receive the occasional professional discount. Perhaps this is all that's happening and someone's undies are in a wad over it?

Wordplay1832
Dec. 21, 2011, 02:46 PM
I think it is one thing for the Barn Owner to charge a hold/handling fee for holding horse for vet or farrier (we actually have a practice at the barn that if anyone else holds your horse the holding fee goes to whoever stood there with the farrier) than having your vet/farrier bills go up in order to cover the owners horses. I even understand maybe not charging the BO the trip fee since they are providing business. However, the choice of the barn owner to have a certain number of horses of their own to pay expenses for is their choice, not the choice of their boarders. Their business is running the barn, they do that to make money and part of that money goes towards the care of their horses. Obviously they don't pay board, but they have the necessary costs to cover. However, the board they are charging is what goes towards their income-I don't think that a second party (the vet/farrier bills) should be used to cover the bills for their horses. That to me is not okay-especially if the amount extra the boarders are charged varies depending on the amount of bills the BO's horses have racked up. None of the BO's horses are the responsibility of the boarders, so their varied expenses should not be absorbed by the boarders.

If BO's are having trouble paying theirbills, maybe theyneed to raise the prices of lessons/board in order to increase their income/cover more of the costs of running the boarding barn. You are paying to board there, it is the BO's responsibility to know if their business is run effectively enough for them to be able to cover the cost of their horses.

EDIT: One more thing- If the barn owner has a bit of a discount for the vet/farrier I get that the business is mutually beneficial to both of those professionals. But if they are spreading their bill out among the other boarders that's not okay. The farrier/vet should charge boarders regardless of facility the same amount for the same services. Giving the BO a discount because they are bringing in business, fine, marking up boarders at one barn because that BO wants you to? Not fine.
If the BO is paying for everyone and then charging the clients and marking it up, that is something the client should be aware of because it should be considered a service charge and it better be made clear to the client that it is the procedure of the barn. That's not something I would choose to do, but that is less shady to me.

alterdstate
Dec. 22, 2011, 09:29 AM
I have a very hard time believing that a farrier would say this, even if it's the truth. But even more, how can everyone at her barn be blind to what the going rate is for a farrier in your area? Something smells fishy to me... It is VERY common for barn owners to have farm call fees waived and to receive the occasional professional discount. Perhaps this is all that's happening and someone's undies are in a wad over it?

My farrier confessed to the same thing. He said the BO told him to split her horse's farrier work among all the boarder's bills and he did it. He seemed embarrassed that he was caught, but he did it all the same.

I have NO problem with a BO having farm call fees waived as a professional courtesy. I DO have a huge issue with a BO that fleeces their clients in this manner.

In our case, the barn consisted of two kinds of clients; those who owned their first horse and had no clue about costs and those who are trainer worshipers and do exactly what they are told to do. We were neither and when we discovered the scam, got out. Now I know that when locals don't board at a barn, there is a reason

snoopy
Dec. 22, 2011, 10:02 AM
I have NO problem with a BO having farm call fees waived as a professional courtesy. I DO have a huge issue with a BO that fleeces their clients in this manner.
We were neither and when we discovered the scam, got out. Now I know that when locals don't board at a barn, there is a reason


THIS! ^