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justanalternate
Mar. 26, 2012, 06:37 PM
Hello all. Sorry about the alter on this one, but necessary to protect the innocent etc.

Here's my question, do you think it is odd, unacceptable or anything else (including fine) for a trainer to ask, nay require, clients to cover the cost of an upgrade to a training facility? For example, for new footing in the arena or new doors on stalls (where this is purely an "upgrade" and not due to damage caused by a client's horse etc)

We currently have this situation and it just seems strange to me. Trainer wants to upgrade footing in arena, which no one will deny will be great for the horses, allow riding sooner after rain and even out the low and high spots of the arena. However, trainer is asking for an amount roughly equal to one month's training (just under $1k) from each client (per horse) as well as from ride-in clients (who are being asked to pay this amount if they ride in 4x a week, or a pro-rated amount if they ride in less than 4x per week). Trainer does not own property, but has a lease contract with the owner which states that she is responsible for footing.

While some people at the barn are "better off" than others money-wise, this is a huge request from my point of view (as well as others who are not super well off).

I can think of several better ways trainer could have gone about handling this, the least of which would have been to ask before simply informing clients that it would be added to their bill this month (doubling it). Trainer also could have thought of creative ways to raise funds for this, such as hosting a schooling show where the adults could volunteer time and snacks and the kids could ride and compete. Maybe this wouldn't have covered all of it, but it would have been a start. We aren't made of money (or at least I'm not).

It seems like providing footing is a part of being a trainer, along with providing your clients with a place to ride. It's not like we are a group of people who wanted to start up a riding facility together. Does this mean we will now be shareholders of the ring?

By the way, said ring will take 2 weeks to re-do, during which time clients will be paying for training, but there will be no arena. I'm assuming there will be no discount for this loss of training (nor would I expect one). Also, new clients are coming in all the time, no news as to whether there will be any cost to those people (I'm assuming not. Could you imagine? "Hi, welcome to the barn, just fyi, in addition to your training fee, we will be taking a $1,000 'welcome to the barn and new footing' fee. Enjoy!" That sounds ridiculous to me (although maybe it's not unheard of?) so why is it different for current clients (both boarders and ride-ins?)?

I'm not trying to be snarky here; just curious about others' experiences in similar situations and thoughts on the present situation. Thanks!!

Appsolute
Mar. 26, 2012, 06:50 PM
I would not find it acceptable, and I would not pay it.

I rent my house. If it needs a new roof, does my landlord come knocking on my door and ask for me to pay it? NO, I do not see why this is any different.

If the trainer were to sell this property, will she cut a check to each client, paying them back for the upgrade to her property, which was now worth more thanks to her customer’s investment?

The only time I have “pitched in” for footing was a community arena on HOA property. All of us that used the arena pitched in a bit to make it better. NO ONE was profiting off of the arena, and no one was selling it. And if they DID sell it, it belonged to the HOA, and all of those who paid in would benefit from its sale.

Anyway long answer short. NO WAY would I be ok with this. The arena is part of the trainer’s business. She should buy the footing and count it as a business expense, and perhaps increase fees as tolerated for the new and improved facility.

KateKat
Mar. 26, 2012, 06:55 PM
I agree. My BO replaced the footing in our arenas at no extra charge to the boarders. Its kind of part of business, right? I mean technically I would think that type of stuff should be saved for/budgeted into the monthly board/training rates. Like every month, my trainer charges us a "barn supplies" fee. Its the same flat charge every month, regardless of how many supplies she actually buys. Some months its not many, others though we get a bunch including upgrades to saddle racks, cross ties, etc etc. The point being it evens out and we don't get asked for "extra" for the bigger stuff because she has budgeted it in.

I mean really, you can ride on dirt/grass. There doesn't HAVE to be new footing. Its a perk, or like you said, an "upgrade".

rizzodm
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:00 PM
If someone changes barns do they get to take their share of the footing with them?

Satin Filly
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:01 PM
I think that's the farm owner or trainer's financial responsibility. I expect the grounds and facility maintenance to kept up appropriately, especially if I'm paying around $1K per month.
Personally, I'd be really put off by this. I'd probably be more willing to have my board raised $85 per month for 1 year, than to be expected to cough up $1,000 at once. I'm sure this trainer will hear his/her fair share of complaints and perhaps lose some customers over this.

onelanerode
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:02 PM
Wow, that trainer's got some brass ones. :eek:

I would be quite taken aback and rather angry if something like that appeared on my bill without warning. Hell, I wouldn't be impressed if it appeared *with* warning.

If trainer wants to redo the footing and trainer owns the property, trainer comes up with the cash up front to make that improvement. Trainer then decides whether to increase board/training fees to reflect a higher-quality facility, and Trainer's clients then decide whether they can afford the increase and/or wish to stay.

I could perhaps see Trainer sitting down with clients and explaining that yes, the footing isn't great, but improving it is going to cost $X, and she can only pay 50 percent of $X, and would the clients as a group want to discuss whether to go ahead with improvements and how to fund those. But even at the best, most family-like barn there is, this could be problematic. Some clients are going to be able to pay more than others, while the client with the semi-retired horse who is ridden once or twice a week is going to feel shafted if she's asked to come up with the same amount of money as the client who rides his three horses every day.

And what happens if Trainer collects the money from clients and then a few months later the ring still hasn't been done but hmmm, someone's got a fancy new trailer ... :eek::no:

Honestly, I'd be pretty surprised if Trainer doesn't lose quite a few clients with this move. :uhoh:

HealingHeart
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:02 PM
Sounds like a way of thinning out people that they do not want.....and I agree, unacceptable. This is the barns cost of doing business and they could opt to spread the cost out to the client over 2plus year rather than all at once. 50/month is easier than 1 lump some

This is greedy and disrespectful. If you guys go with it and they get away with it, you can expect more stuff like this.

If you are buying stall doors, you can not take them with you when you leave. This is their asset and they should buy.

MelantheLLC
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:12 PM
Wow, and I thought it was kinda pushy for us boarders to be requested to "donate" to a fund for vetting the barn cats. (Not that I don't want healthy barn cats, but at the board I pay, I'd think professional mousing would be included. ;))

k_lee85
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:13 PM
I agree, it is in poor taste. However, I'm surprised trainer doesn't just increase the board or start tacking on other miscellaneous fees that are tricky to dispute. So many barns where I have boarded have had rather arbitrary increases in price, with some long-winded explanation from trainer about requirements of the facility, keeping up with competitors, etc. Generally resulting in upgrades that are usually unnecessary and sometimes clearly beneficial to very specific customers, and not so much to others. It's very frustrating but I haven't found many permanent solutions aside from having your own facility.

callie208
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:27 PM
Hmmm...yeah, I own a boarding facility and we are in the process of re-footing our ring also. I would NEVER ask my boarders to pay for this. In fact, I'd be embarrassed to even consider it. The way I look at it, the quality of the footing in the ring is my responsibility, and it is part of the reason people are paying me board each month. They pay board with the expectation that the ring will be in good repair, and safe for their use. This means maintaining is up to me, not them, and even though my budget is tight, I'm making it work without a dime from them (aside from what the have always paid).

gumshoe
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:47 PM
That's awesome. Tomorrow I'm going to start telling clients that I need a new car and I'm tacking $1000 onto their regular fees this month. :D

Linny
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:50 PM
I'd be mad and looking for a new barn.

If the footing is poor and needs to be redone, I can understand raising the board after the installation, after all the barn now has a better feature, manufactured footing. That does have value and it can mean a rise in price. That said, until the footing is installed I wouldn't pay a single dollar more and I certainly wouldn't want to become an investor in someone else's arena footing.

mswillie
Mar. 26, 2012, 07:58 PM
Arena footing is part of the cost of doing business. If trainer wants to raise the board that's OK. Each client then has time to decide if the improvement is worth the extra cost to them and can opt out by leaving.

If my barn just up and told me that I had to cough up an extra thousand dollars in a month I'd leave.

kmwines01
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:04 PM
Can't add too much, I agree with everybody else. You're already paying a significant amount of money and the facility upkeep should be included in that. And at the very least you should have been consulted regarding a "fee" long before a decision to purchase and installation plans were made. Give you time to find someplace else :)

Zu Zu
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:04 PM
This is BALONEY ! ( is that how you spell it ? ) :lol:

The trainer apparentlyt hit his head too hard :eek::yes: getting out of his bull$hit wagon ! :lol: to teach his next lesson ....

JenEM
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:21 PM
Not acceptable. At least in the manner its being done here!

I can accept a BO saying "Hey boarders, in order to cover some facilities improvements, we're going to be raising board by $X per month, effective Date. Improvements will include A, B, and C, and will begin on Date." That date effective needs to be more than a few weeks notice. For instance, the barn where I board is increasing the board rate effective April 1, and we got notice of that in January.

Noodles
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:28 PM
Where I'm at the barn owners raise the price of board whenever "updates" are made...

Just not OK!!!

Somermist
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:32 PM
:lol:
This is BALONEY ! ( is that how you spell it ? ) :lol:

The trainer apparentlyt hit his head too hard :eek::yes: getting out of his bull$hit wagon ! :lol: to teach his next lesson ....

:lol::lol::lol::lol: I love ZuZu. And, agree, you must be joking. Wow.:lol::lol:

Chall
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:33 PM
If the trainer rents the barn, then it's okay. You can leave if you want. He does not personally benefit from the upgrade anymore than any other user of the ring.
And this doesn't ever seem to end well, because someone always resents it. But that is part of boarding, any rent increase results in some kind of backlash.

Lucassb
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:33 PM
I hate to say it, but I have seen this happen once before, at a very well known barn, in fact, and the trainer didn't lose a single client. Similar deal - trainer rented (part of) the facility, and assessed her clients about the same amount to upgrade the indoor footing (which was lovely, I have to admit.) It happened right before I moved in, thankfully, as I wouldn't have welcomed an unexpected thousand dollar expense. Interestingly enough, several trainers shared that property, and shortly after the assessment...one trainer left. I'm sure her clients were thrilled at the return on their "investment" in quality footing they got to enjoy for all of two months or so.

That said, I don't know if I would leave a program I otherwise really, really, REALLY liked over this issue - at least unless I had another, equally attractive alternative. It's always easy for people on the internet to say, "Leave and don't look back!" but the reality is that boarding is often all about compromise, and most of the time, the choice is about selecting the best of the available options, not about finding nirvana.

Somermist
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:38 PM
If the trainer rents the barn, then it's okay. You can leave if you want. He does not personally benefit from the upgrade anymore than any other user of the ring.

Sure he does. He is renting the facility for the purpose of making money. If his contract with the owner states he is responsible for the footing then that's his problem. This is his cost of doing business and if he wanted to increase his fees to help cover this cost, one month notice is not acceptable.

And, trainer can continue to benefit from footing for an extended period of time. What if client pays for footing, horse gets sick or hurt?

snaffle635
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:42 PM
^^^^ Very wise, Lucassb!

FLeventer
Mar. 26, 2012, 08:44 PM
I would be finding new arrangements right away. No freaking way would I expect to pay 1k for footing. If I was even threatened with it I would get out of there. If he put it on my bill I would not pay it, get my horse out asap, and lawyer up to fight the charges.

That is just not my cup of tea. Also the ring will be out of commission? Do you have another area to ride?

I will put up with a lot, but really an expensive cost that I will not be able to take with me when I move on? No.

Linny
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:01 PM
The trainer can advertise his "high quality footing" as a means of gaining new clients when the footing was paid for by the "old" clients. It's a capital improvement to his place of business, even if he doesn't own it.
He's also assuring that if he has a falling out with the property owner, he can walk away without having paid to install expensive footing.

justanalternate
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:02 PM
Thank you all for your responses! That's right about where I am right now, just disbelief and some resentment. I am trying to keep my head and be reasonable about it, but it just seems very unfair overall. I agree that costs should just be raised and then she can either front the cost herself or save up for the new footing like normal people do. But the reality is that I highly doubt trainer will lose clients over this. Facility is the only one in the area with full groom service, travels to A shows and has the level of training. Once new footing is in, arena will be the only all-weather arena in the area. There are other places to ride while arena is being worked on, but I don't know if there will be lessons or what (thinking not).

This is what I was thinking:
The trainer can advertise his "high quality footing" as a means of gaining new clients when the footing was paid for by the "old" clients. It's a capital improvement to his place of business, even if he doesn't own it.
He's also assuring that if he has a falling out with the property owner, he can walk away without having paid to install expensive footing.

Plus, what if WE as boarders have a falling out or stop riding or horse goes lame or whatever, then we have paid all this $$ to improve trainer's business... I really like my trainer, but businessperson she is not.

This all literally just came out today. There had been murmurs of new footing, but nothing as to client-funding. So I think people must be surprised and we are waiting to see what happens.

Rel6
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:03 PM
I think the way the trainer did it was in completely poor taste.

Now I could understand if board was raised because of the new footing, that is different. If the quality of the facility is increased then it makes sense for the board to reflect that change. But to tack on the cost to all current boarders is ludicrous.

What happens if you leave? If you take your horse to another barn, it doesn't work out, and three months later you want to come back. Assuming trainer lets you and also assuming this was a completely innocent move on your part then you've escaped a 1k surcharge and still retain use of the new footing. Doesn't seem fair to those who paid it.

In her shoes I would have probably sent out an email IN ADVANCE specifying that there would be new footing on this date and as a result the board will increase by X amount. This way someone who gets two months use out of the footing is only paying for two months use, and all future boarders who get to use it will also pitch in. The burden shouldn't fall on those unlucky few who happen to be there when trainer decides to go ahead with it.

BeeHoney
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:11 PM
How to manage expensive facility upgrades is a big issue for trainers and boarding barns alike. A trainer who is renting a facility may simply not have the $$ available to pay up front for a necessary footing upgrade. Most trainers are not striking it rich off of their clients, most work very hard for their money with very few benefits and not a ton of savings, so I see how a client who was happy with their training services to take a forgiving attitude about something like this.

In any case, it is not ideal business practice. Theoretically a trainer or a boarding barn should charge enough in fees for their services to have money set aside for stuff like this. However, the reality is that there are always so many extra costs that come up I can understand how a trainer would end up doing what the OP describes.

Chall
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:35 PM
Just an FYI, I am a boarder, always have been, just so you know where I come from.

Linny
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:37 PM
If your job forces you to move a month after the footing is installed, you won't be getting a refund even though you won't be using the footing. The person who moves into your stall WILL be using it and not paying for it.

Also, what if the trainer (who has no investment in the property) has a falling out with the person who they lease from and moves? Do they again assess you for $1k for "footing" at a new place? What if the new place is unfinished? Do you pay a $1k "footing fee" and a $1.5k "fencing fee" and a $500 grass seed fee?

convertedhorselover
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:40 PM
I find it unbelievable that anyone could get away with this practice in any other business, but then again, this is the horse industry where common sense is often left at the front door. I am in the automotive business and would love to adopt this practice. Our facility needs a new alignment rack and tire changing machine. These two machines cost roughly $85,000. With this trainer's logic I should bill my existing clientele for the capital investment upfront. I am wondering how many on this board would accept a bill from their service department for $300 for the right to continue spending money at the same establishment. My guess is I would be looking for an entirely new customer base because my competitors would now be in possession of my existing one.

MelantheLLC
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:41 PM
I find it unbelievable that anyone could get away with this practice in any other business, but then again, this is the horse industry where common sense is often left at the front door. I am in the automotive business and would love to adopt this practice. Our facility needs a new alignment rack and tire changing machine. These two machines cost roughly $85,000. With this trainer's logic I should bill my existing clientele for the capital investment upfront. I am wondering how many on this board would accept a bill from their service department for $300 for the right to continue spending money at the same establishment. My guess is I would be looking for an entirely new customer base because my competitors would now be in possession of my existing one.


OP, print out this reply and hand it to your trainer! ;)

MelantheLLC
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:43 PM
Better still, print it out and show it to all the other people being "assessed." This will take a group attitude of "no way jose."

TheJenners
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:46 PM
If someone changes barns do they get to take their share of the footing with them?
Shazaam!!

RunHikeGolden
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:51 PM
I agree with the general consensus here: this is 100% unreasonable and just plain bad business. The only way this would be a reasonable charge is if the barn operated as a co-op. Though even in that case I would expect it to be a several month long development before everyone was expected to penny up.

I would be curious to compare this fee and it's short notice with the legalities of your boarding contract. Depending on the verbiage, this may be an offensively blatant breach of contract. If any of the boarders/clients have connections to an equine attorney, this may be very worth having a look. A few people pooling together to pay for the attorney would be cheaper than paying the footing charge!

AlyssaSpellman
Mar. 26, 2012, 10:01 PM
I'd find this completely unacceptable, and I wouldn't pay it. If that was a problem, I'd be switching barns.
My old BO payed for new footing in his outdoor per one clients request, and didn't even take extra money from her when she offered.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Mar. 26, 2012, 10:01 PM
Holy crap you have got to be kidding me.


LOL!


What are you going to do--that's what I want to know!

norcalammie
Mar. 26, 2012, 10:21 PM
A friend of mine was at a barn where several of the horse owners paid for new footing for their arena. The trainer rented the facility but the footing got so bad the horse owners decided it was in their best interest to pay for the new footing. Each volunteered to pay what they could affod. I am sure some paid more than others and some probably nothing at all.

The barn I was at formerly gave us the option of paying for stall gates as the stalls had doors with grills and no way for a horse to look out - 12 x 12 stall only with grill on back window as well. Cost $300 for the gate. Most everyone paid. When I left the barn there was no refund and I did not get to take the stall gate with me as that was explained when purchased - you pay and the gate stays should you leave.

So I have seen it done but it was the horse owner's decision not an assessment.

TheHorseProblem
Mar. 26, 2012, 10:45 PM
There was a dressage trainer around here who did that. She had the footing replaced in her corner of what was a converted polo ground. This was a huge arena she shared with several other trainers, English and Western. "Her" footing was a different color, and was marked off by a few traffic cones, and her dressage ring. I think she charged everyone $250 for it, and forbade the other trainers to ride in her dirt.

Everyone paid; I'm not sure if it was willing or not.

Isabeau Z Solace
Mar. 27, 2012, 08:37 AM
But the reality is that I highly doubt trainer will lose clients over this. Facility is the only one in the area with full groom service, travels to A shows and has the level of training. Once new footing is in, arena will be the only all-weather arena in the area. There are other places to ride while arena is being worked on, but I don't know if there will be lessons or what (thinking not).


I doubt your trainer is trying to screw all of you over because they find it amusing. Redoing the footing is a huge expense, and contrary to popular opinion, a successful business owner is one who makes $ (ask the owners of Apple, if you don't believe me;)) Businesses only change their behavior when consumers demand it. If this farm is 'the only game in town' (for what you want) then that's that.



I am in the automotive business and would love to adopt this practice. Our facility needs a new alignment rack and tire changing machine. These two machines cost roughly $85,000. With this trainer's logic I should bill my existing clientele for the capital investment upfront. I am wondering how many on this board would accept a bill from their service department for $300 for the right to continue spending money at the same establishment. My guess is I would be looking for an entirely new customer base because my competitors would now be in possession of my existing one.

You go right ahead and open a large horse operation like the one described by the OP and see if you can make a good profit out of it.... There are plenty of reasons horse businesses are 'wonky.' But one of the primary ones is that it is extraordinarily difficult to not lose $ hand over fist. The average person does not utilize or rely on a horse in the way they do a car.



How to manage expensive facility upgrades is a big issue for trainers and boarding barns alike. A trainer who is renting a facility may simply not have the $$ available to pay up front for a necessary footing upgrade. Most trainers are not striking it rich off of their clients, most work very hard for their money with very few benefits and not a ton of savings, so I see how a client who was happy with their training services to take a forgiving attitude about something like this.

In any case, it is not ideal business practice. Theoretically a trainer or a boarding barn should charge enough in fees for their services to have money set aside for stuff like this. However, the reality is that there are always so many extra costs that come up I can understand how a trainer would end up doing what the OP describes.

Yes.

westie55
Mar. 27, 2012, 09:18 AM
I understand that situations might arise where a trainer needs money upfront to pay for certain expenses such as new arena footing. I also understand that if the business doesn't have sufficient funds to cover the expense, there might be few ways to do it other than to get money from the clients one way or another. Having said this, I feel strongly that this was poorly handled. I would be OUTRAGED if without warning I was charged an extra $1000 for new footing. I would understand raising the cost of board a month or two down the road; that would give me the option of leaving if I wasn't ok with the new price. Out of the blue in one lump sum? For me, that would be impossible. I don't have an extra $1000 laying around! I can understand that some people would be fine with simply handing over the money. If they have it and are happy with their services, they might be happy to contribute. I would, at the very least, have a sit down with your trainer and discuss the option of paying this over time. Unless you are not totally satisfied, in which case I'd just get out of dodge!

FlashGordon
Mar. 27, 2012, 09:31 AM
Total insanity. It's a property improvement, that a boarder can't take with them. Trainer can raise board to offset the cost, but asking boarders to cough up $$ for footing or any other property improvement that will essentially STAY with the property is, IMO, ridiculous and in poor taste.

Linny
Mar. 27, 2012, 09:40 AM
I have no issue with trainers making money. I want good ones to be profitable so that they do stay in business.

The other night a barnmate and I were venting about a few issues. Both of us would love to see better pastures. The location of our barn makes for very wet ground and this means poor turnout. We were bandying about "if I owned the place" scenarios. We actually discussed how we would handle a major capital improvement (installing drainage/creating a pond/planting willow trees/reseeding pastures) in terms of the price. It was agreed that a letter should go out indicating the plan and when it would be undertaken and stating that the board would be raised upon completion of th project commensurate with the improvements. Boarders who didn't want to pay the higher rate would have plenty of time to make other arrangements and those willing to stay had fair warning.
If a major capital improvement is being planned the trainer or operator of the business needs to plan ahead to pay for it rather than levying a one time fee on clients. I have no issue with a board increase on all clients to reflect the new footing. It IS an improvement that all will use.
Horse services are for the most part a luxury item, so yes comparing a barn to a repair shop is not accurate. That said, if you own a horse you probably need to board it. If your attorney decided that the firm needed a fancier, higher profile location would you accept a one time fee of $1k levied on you and all his other clients to pay for he upgraded office?

Trixie
Mar. 27, 2012, 09:53 AM
How to manage expensive facility upgrades is a big issue for trainers and boarding barns alike. A trainer who is renting a facility may simply not have the $$ available to pay up front for a necessary footing upgrade. Most trainers are not striking it rich off of their clients, most work very hard for their money with very few benefits and not a ton of savings, so I see how a client who was happy with their training services to take a forgiving attitude about something like this.

In any case, it is not ideal business practice. Theoretically a trainer or a boarding barn should charge enough in fees for their services to have money set aside for stuff like this. However, the reality is that there are always so many extra costs that come up I can understand how a trainer would end up doing what the OP describes.

Regardless of whether or not they're "striking it rich" off their clients, the bottom line is that their clients may simply not have the $$ to pay double without notice - same as the trainer.

I know that an unexpected expensive of that magnitude - for something completely optional - would not be in my budget. Yes, I have a rainy day fund, no, it doesn't include your footing choice.

So yeah. I don't think an increase is necessarily wrong in this case since you will be benefitting, but I certainly would not expect to pay for it in such a large chunk and without real notice or discussion.

convertedhorselover
Mar. 27, 2012, 09:54 AM
I doubt your trainer is trying to screw all of you over because they find it amusing. Redoing the footing is a huge expense, and contrary to popular opinion, a successful business owner is one who makes $ (ask the owners of Apple, if you don't believe me;)) Businesses only change their behavior when consumers demand it. If this farm is 'the only game in town' (for what you want) then that's that.




You go right ahead and open a large horse operation like the one described by the OP and see if you can make a good profit out of it.... There are plenty of reasons horse businesses are 'wonky.' But one of the primary ones is that it is extraordinarily difficult to not lose $ hand over fist. The average person does not utilize or rely on a horse in the way they do a car.




Yes.

I actually find it extremely insulting to presume that horse people(trainers and barn owners) have it any more difficult in this economy than other small businesses. I believe that successful individuals in any business work extremely hard and some are rewarded handsomely and others are struggling to make an exceptable profit. That was not the point of my post. I think it is perfectly acceptable to raise monthly board fees, training fees or any other fee you may charge on an ongoing basis to pay for capital expenditures. It is then up to each client to determine if the new charges are acceptable. What you can't do IMO is expect these clients to pay for any large improvements up front.

I agree that profit is a good word, not a four letter word. But if you want to use Apple as an example please look at their financial statements. They are a publicly traded company and are readily available. Apple spent approx 2.5 billion in 2011 on research and development. This was a direct cost which affected their income statement. These costs will eventually be passed on to their future customer through sales, they do not send a bill to their existing clientele.

Effie1221
Mar. 27, 2012, 09:57 AM
Poor planning on the trainer's part...next thing you know, the trainer will be asking for money for stall footing, roof repairs, etc. Improvements should be paid with income. The trainer can finance it over time or save up and pay cash or both.

flyracing
Mar. 27, 2012, 10:08 AM
Linny, I'm curious though, where are you coming up with the cash as a average BO for a major "capital improvement" by not charging until after the project is done and paid for? I think it's a nice idea that all BOs are well of enough to provide major improvements with their current cash flow (and savings), and only asking for money after the improvement is in place, but I think that only occurs at the top 5% barns. The rest up fees months in advance of a project and clients are told the increase is to cover rising costs. This is what I would have expected from the OPs trainer. When they collected and saved enough money, the footing would be installed.

OP, I was at a barn about 10 years ago that wanted to put mats in the stalls. The horse owners and barn owners all wanted mats. The barn owners and horse owners agreed by consensus that because 15,000 wasn't immediately available to mat the whole barn, horse owners could purchase the mats to go in their horses stall if they wanted them. The agreement was they would be paid back with 500 Of free board (more than the cash value!) either their last 30 days of boarding if leaving, or on a pre agreed month in the future. There was also no increase of board (at least not for about 4 years).

This agreement worked out really well and within 3-4 months there were mats in every stall in the barn.

TPF Hunter
Mar. 27, 2012, 10:14 AM
Close friend of mine runs a really good lesson program and she only goes as far as her clients want to. Her kids and parents wanted new drapes and banner, so they all got together and paid for it willingly. Similarly, they all wanted mesh stall gates to use instead of their sliding doors in the summers to allow extra ventilation. So, all the stall boarders decided to make the additional purchase with understanding if they leave, the gate stays. These clients LOVE their trainer and the parents adore her as well and would not trade her for the world. She rents the barn she teaches out of and while the facility is nice, its not perfect. They help fund the trainers upgrades and improvements so that everyone can enjoy them and they feel their trainer deserves it. I could definitely see some of her more wealthy clients purchasing new jumps etc... this of course is all willingly and unsolicited from the trainer. If their footing was terrible, I could see them making donations to have it improved.


However finding a 1k charge on a board bill is a totally different animal. Unless discussed prior to receiving the bill, I would have sh*t a brick.

M. O'Connor
Mar. 27, 2012, 10:14 AM
I have to say I am flabberghasted by all the mean-spirited responses to this question.

If the trainer involved truly did spring this on clients with absolutely no advance warning, then that is an example of poor communication, but it doesn't strike me as anything approaching a desire to rip off loyal clients.

It is VERY VERY hard to maintain an adequate training program working out of a substandard facility. Do you like this trainer? Are you satisfied with the level of care your horse receives under the current management scheme? Do you have an alternative plan that will cost you less and provide you with the same level of service at a comparable facility?

Raising prices across the board in advance of a projected improvement will not usually fly--customers don't like paying for something they don't yet have.

Raising prices afterward doesn't provide funds for materials and labor that have to be covered at the outset.

Banks aren't very willing to extend credit to businesses for anything right now, and have never been exceptionally willing to finance equestrian ventures because of the high risk of default they represent.

A one time charge, or a surcharge spread over the course of a few months seems like a reasonable approach to take, if the process has been presented in a timely way to involved clients. I would assume that a minimum level of long term client commitment would be necessary for a project such as this to go ahead.

The arrangement described sounds like it will benefit all clients in the training program, and provide them with an increased level of stability as a result of improving the overall health of the business while making it possible to hold prices down in the long run. However much it costs now, you would be paying a lot more if your trainer simply raised prices enough to account for the cost of a business loan on the amount needed.

These are not little questions for a trainer to address-footing is one of the most expensive propositions a facility owner faces, unless they are lucky enough to have wonderful natural footing, which is rare.

You are lucky you have a trainer who is diligent enough to care whether the footing you work on is nice and then follow through on making improvements. Plenty of others would simply continue to compromise their training principles, or move on to a better situation in another area.

M. O'Connor
Mar. 27, 2012, 10:24 AM
And theoretically, a business would start with enough working capital to have a reserve fund for emergencies, provide its clients with top quality goods and services, cover all overhead expenses incidental to operations, AND provide its staff with a living wage plus benefits, and THEN have enough left over to enjoy a healthy profit.

If all this were true at your barn, how much would your board bill be? Would you pay that much? Or move on?

Somermist
Mar. 27, 2012, 10:28 AM
I have to say I am flabberghasted by all the mean-spirited responses to this question.

If the trainer involved truly did spring this on clients with absolutely no advance warning, then that is an example of poor communication, but it doesn't strike me as anything approaching a desire to rip off loyal clients.

It is VERY VERY hard to maintain an adequate training program working out of a substandard facility. Do you like this trainer? Are you satisfied with the level of care your horse receives under the current management scheme? Do you have an alternative plan that will cost you less and provide you with the same level of service at a comparable facility?

Raising prices across the board in advance of a projected improvement will not usually fly--customers don't like paying for something they don't yet have.

Raising prices afterward doesn't provide funds for materials and labor that have to be covered at the outset.

Banks aren't very willing to extend credit to businesses for anything right now, and have never been exceptionally willing to finance equestrian ventures because of the high risk of default they represent.

A one time charge, or a surcharge spread over the course of a few months seems like a reasonable approach to take, if the process has been presented in a timely way to involved clients. I would assume that a minimum level of long term client commitment would be necessary for a project such as this to go ahead.

The arrangement described sounds like it will benefit all clients in the training program, and provide them with an increased level of stability as a result of improving the overall health of the business while making it possible to hold prices down in the long run. However much it costs now, you would be paying a lot more if your trainer simply raised prices enough to account for the cost of a business loan on the amount needed.

These are not little questions for a trainer to address-footing is one of the most expensive propositions a facility owner faces, unless they are lucky enough to have wonderful natural footing, which is rare.

You are lucky you have a trainer who is diligent enough to care whether the footing you work on is nice and then follow through on making improvements. Plenty of others would simply continue to compromise their training principles, or move on to a better situation in another area.

Although I see your point, I think part of the OP's concern here was a short notice for a large sum of money.

It is great to support your trainer, I love mine. However, just because the trainer has decided now is the time to replace the footing, does not mean this fits into everyone else's schedule. I think more open communication and maybe sitting everyone down and coming to general consensus would have been better. I am sure everyone would still not have been happy, but it may have come off better.

Although this issue would still be the trainer's decision, if he or she is asking other's to foot some of bill, better consideration would have been a better answer.

Good trainers are hard to find, so are good, paying clients.

Effie1221
Mar. 27, 2012, 10:46 AM
Footing isn't an emergency, unless it was flooded out, it should be maintained every so often - depending on use, weather, and original condition. Every barn deals with footing issues.

M. O'Connor
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:07 AM
Clearly some here have not been exposed to exceptionally bad footing or aren't educated enough to know when it is of extreme importance--no, it's not usually an emergency, but depending on conditions, if it often can't be used safely and the trend is that training is postponed or not possible under any circumstances on a regular basis, it can affect the health of the business and the effectiveness of the training program.

I did preface my remarks by stating the obvious, that communication is a key issue. Obviously the trainer must provide timely notice, and the clients have to be on board.

Every trainer has to adapt their price list to create a workable cash flow for the business end of things. Every client needs to know what to expect in terms of financial obligation.

And each is free to decide whether to continue the relationship if the needs of one don't match up with that of the other.

INoMrEd
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:18 AM
This is BALONEY ! ( is that how you spell it ? ) :lol:

The trainer apparentlyt hit his head too hard :eek::yes: getting out of his bull$hit wagon ! :lol: to teach his next lesson ....

^ This!

Lizzie
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:29 AM
Improved footing is a capital improvement. The trainer/lessee should work this out with the owner/lessor. If she signed a contract that she is responsible for the footing, she signed a poor contract. Capital improvements should be recognized by the owner. Perhaps she could renegotiate with the owner. Perhaps a break in HER monthly rent spread out over several months. Additionally, there could be tax benefits/write-offs for the improvements made. Who gets to write this off when it is your money? While it is obvious that improved footing benefits all, it is not a boarder's responsibility to pay for it.

trubandloki
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:35 AM
I would think if the facility in question had exceptionally bad footing in dire need of replacing the OP would have mentioned that.

I have no issues with a business making a profit. That is how they stay in business. But I still have to side with the group that thinks this is a very unfair way to do things. Yes, we wall know that in the end the boarders do pay for everything. But to slap such a large bill on everyone with out any notice is just not the right way to do things. Footing does not just go bad all of a sudden (except in the case of some natural disaster). This trainer knew in advance they were going to want to do this. Raise the board. No reason needs to be given other than increased cost. Save the increase in a capital improvement account. With proper forethought the trainer would have a good portion of the new footing bill saved up by now.

MintHillFarm
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:57 AM
Just curious...how many boarders / outside lesson folks are there?

What is the footing this trainer plans to install? Is the current footing that bad? It sounds like a major overhaul on both the base and the cushion for that amount of money... Or is trainer just trying get state of the art (if one wants to call it that) footing for nothing?

I could possibly see a reasonble increase in board to everyone, per month, to help cover the expense. We all want to ride on good footing. But no way, no how $1000.00 in one shot on short notice.

mvp
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:04 PM
There was a dressage trainer around here who did that. She had the footing replaced in her corner of what was a converted polo ground. This was a huge arena she shared with several other trainers, English and Western. "Her" footing was a different color, and was marked off by a few traffic cones, and her dressage ring. I think she charged everyone $250 for it, and forbade the other trainers to ride in her dirt.

Everyone paid; I'm not sure if it was willing or not.

Hehe. That's like when I got in a fight with my kid sister and put a strip of masking tape down on the floor in our shared room. IMO, the rat didn't deserve an easement through my territory to the door.


And theoretically, a business would start with enough working capital to have a reserve fund for emergencies, provide its clients with top quality goods and services, cover all overhead expenses incidental to operations, AND provide its staff with a living wage plus benefits, and THEN have enough left over to enjoy a healthy profit.

If all this were true at your barn, how much would your board bill be? Would you pay that much? Or move on?

Not theoretically, but in practice. It is true that your board (or training in this arrangement) would be higher in all months if your trainer was a better business person.


Improved footing is a capital improvement. The trainer/lessee should work this out with the owner/lessor. If she signed a contract that she is responsible for the footing, she signed a poor contract. Capital improvements should be recognized by the owner. Perhaps she could renegotiate with the owner. Perhaps a break in HER monthly rent spread out over several months. Additionally, there could be tax benefits/write-offs for the improvements made. Who gets to write this off when it is your money? While it is obvious that improved footing benefits all, it is not a boarder's responsibility to pay for it.

Yeah. It's not the client's fault that the trainer signed a stupid agreement with the BO.

I have seen this happen many times-- trainer makes capital improvements to a farm he/she doesn't own. I see why, in the short term and to run a good business, this happens. But on paper, it looks absolutely nuts.

You, the client, are being asked to subsidize the BO's real estate investment. Do you want to spend your money this way? I sure wouldn't.

Xanthoria
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:19 PM
It's really a matter of timing and communication. You're going to pay the money now as a lump sum, or incrementally in increased board.

If the trainer had raised board for months til she had enough for the footing, nobody would have minded. Who doesn't love new footing!

It's like being taken on a date - if a guy gets hot and heavy before you've set foot in the restaurant you'd probably be turned right off. But a little wining and dining and time... well! :lol:

What I suggest to the OP is to take the trainer aside and tell her you love her, but her business methods need to change if she wants the "date" to end well :winkgrin:

Then tell her you're happy to pay the footing, but you'll be doing it at a rate of $100 a month for the next 10 months.

Get everyone else on board and don't let the trainer operate her business like this - otherwise what's next? You have to buy a truck and trailer load of of hay every 3 months? New fencing for the pastures?

ETA I actually offered $1000 to my barn owners if they'd improve the footing, telling them there are others who'd love to chip in too. They didn't take anyone up on it, partly, I think, because not everyone cared about the footing and resentments over the arenas might build.

eclipse
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:29 PM
Like others, I've never had to pay for any upgrades to the barn I'm at and this includes a huge new 2nd indoor arena! We're getting new footing in our outdoor sand ring this year, and guess what....no cost to us! If my horse damages something, then I would offer to pay, but I don't think she'd even accept that. She once said "horses are very destructive, if you want to board them you must be prepared to pay the $$$$" :lol:

Now, there is a barn nearby that charges their clients for everything (and I mean everything, even water buckets! :eek:) Guess what, many of them leave and then we hear the BO raises a stink when they take the stuff they bought! Nope, not somwhere I'd like to be. :no:

gottagrey
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:34 PM
So when this trainer needs a new rig will you each be assessed for the purchase of that as well? What is the current condition of the footing now? Is it fairly decent, acceptable and the trainer just wants an upgrade for an upgrade or is the footing sorely in need upgrading? In any event, I think it's poor business, particularly in this economy (gas food prices UP every day) to require clients to comply with this request without proper notification. They have no idea what other sort of fiancial issues the clients might have.

Also since trainer is making this demand of his clients, it would have been nicer, IMO, if trainer would have planned a meeting w/clients and ideally w/ the footing rep so everyone could collectively discuss various footing options and prices. Since the clients are basically paying for this they should be entitled to be somewhat involved in the decision making process as well as knowing the cost of footing and installation. Will trainer guarantee the new footing will be properly maintained? I would be danged if I was asked to fork out $1,000 and never have the ring dragged. Some footing is absolutely wonderful but not ideal in terms of maintaining. I think if the trainer had invited the clients to participate many of them would be more than happy to fork out the cash to make it happen, merely assessing them $1,000 each does more to annoy than anything else.

Also it's been my experience that someone always knows someone in some situtation to help keep costs down. Years ago, I offered to add footing to my trainer's ring. I called around & got quotes, it turned out she knew a guy who drove a dump truck so I ended up being able to get more footing because driver was willing to give us a considerable break in the delivery fee(s).


I also agree w/ the tax implications of capital improvements - so trainer might get the tax break using someone elses funds. I think when I handed over my $1,000 I might also hand over their 1099 - as should other boarders
Let us know how it turns out- best of luck

lachevaline
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:36 PM
Ummm... no.

OP, I hope you raise a fuss about this. I'll bet your trainer is counting on everyone grumbling, but giving in and paying up to avoid "drama."

Get the other boarders involved! Strength in numbers, and all that.

BAC
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:38 PM
I hate to say it, but I have seen this happen once before, at a very well known barn, in fact, and the trainer didn't lose a single client. Similar deal - trainer rented (part of) the facility, and assessed her clients about the same amount to upgrade the indoor footing (which was lovely, I have to admit.) It happened right before I moved in, thankfully, as I wouldn't have welcomed an unexpected thousand dollar expense. Interestingly enough, several trainers shared that property, and shortly after the assessment...one trainer left. I'm sure her clients were thrilled at the return on their "investment" in quality footing they got to enjoy for all of two months or so.

That said, I don't know if I would leave a program I otherwise really, really, REALLY liked over this issue - at least unless I had another, equally attractive alternative. It's always easy for people on the internet to say, "Leave and don't look back!" but the reality is that boarding is often all about compromise, and most of the time, the choice is about selecting the best of the available options, not about finding nirvana.

I was thinking of you when I saw this thread. I think you are right about staying if everything else about the facility/trainer/program fits your needs. In that case I think its worth helping to pay for the footing rather than try and find another boarding situation which may not work out as well.

S A McKee
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:42 PM
And when the trainer and the BO part company and you all move down the road how will you feel about being charged again for footing in a new location?

I'd bail. This is just the start of more nonsense.

findeight
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:53 PM
Springing the additional 1k all of a sudden and tacking it on the board bill is probably not allowed under the exsisting boarding contract. That's a boneheaded move on the trainers part guaranteed to piss people off.

Do some on here know what proper new footing costs? Sounds like this ring will need the fence pulled down, a new base, relevel, the footing itself added and leveled then the fence put back up if it will take 2 weeks. That would run 45k on up, maybe alot more if they have to do any drainage work.

Not many trainers have 4500 for improvements on somebody else's property, let alone 45k. And this trainer does not own the property? Probably not going to be able to get a loan either. I question the wisdom of putting that kind of money into something she does not own anyway.

So for OP...if it went to an increased board rate, say 100 a month more? Would you stay? Is the all weather ring worth it to you? If so, ask about breaking the assesment down into monthly payments or just raising the board.

For that automotive question? I won't take my car to anybody lacking the proper equipment and the shops with it do charge more to cover the cost. You don't charge the same as you used to because you have to cover the cost of that equipment and training for the techs.

WWID? Can't cough up 1k so quick but, if I liked the trainer and the barn in general? I'd ask about splitting it up over several months and stay with her. If the barn and training were just so-so? I'd bail.

I'd also suggest to her she should look into meeting with a business consultant a few times a year to avoid dumb moves.

mvp
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:58 PM
I was thinking of you when I saw this thread. I think you are right about staying if everything else about the facility/trainer/program fits your needs. In that case I think its worth helping to pay for the footing rather than try and find another boarding situation which may not work out as well.

BAC is referring to Lucassb who was "bent over" this way but then did her own cost/benefit analysis and decided to take it.

If I felt forced to stay by a lack of equal or better options around, I would... with caveats.

I'd have a sit-down with my trainer to discuss a couple of things and also to learn more about what kind of businessperson she is.

If I didn't have the $1K, or wanted answers to those "what if" questions about the horse leaving/going lame, I'd ask for terms.

If I could pay, I'd let my trainer know that this was not entirely acceptable business practice to me and let her know that I would not be expecting more surprise fees like this one.

I'd try to do this with tact and skill. I'd have to do some soul searching first to figure out the difference between "want" and "need" for me. I'd also have to figure out what pissed me off, what scared me, and what I could live with. In short, I'd have to get clear on who I could do business with and what kind of person I could not before I had this meeting.

If I saw a reaction in my trainer that told me there would be more of this unhappiness to come, I'd walk. I'd walk with the $1,000 unpaid because the meeting would have told me that I'd have to walk sooner or later. If I did leave, it would be my own fault that this was without the $1K.

Linny
Mar. 27, 2012, 01:00 PM
Linny, I'm curious though, where are you coming up with the cash as a average BO for a major "capital improvement" by not charging until after the project is done and paid for? I think it's a nice idea that all BOs are well of enough to provide major improvements with their current cash flow (and savings), and only asking for money after the improvement is in place, but I think that only occurs at the top 5% barns. The rest up fees months in advance of a project and clients are told the increase is to cover rising costs. This is what I would have expected from the OPs trainer. When they collected and saved enough money, the footing would be installed.

OP, I was at a barn about 10 years ago that wanted to put mats in the stalls. The horse owners and barn owners all wanted mats. The barn owners and horse owners agreed by consensus that because 15,000 wasn't immediately available to mat the whole barn, horse owners could purchase the mats to go in their horses stall if they wanted them. The agreement was they would be paid back with 500 Of free board (more than the cash value!) either their last 30 days of boarding if leaving, or on a pre agreed month in the future. There was also no increase of board (at least not for about 4 years).

This agreement worked out really well and within 3-4 months there were mats in every stall in the barn.

My SO runs a business. If he needs new equipment to improve his business for his clients he saves for them or finances them. I know that most trainers are not rolling in money and theat everyone likes nice footing. I would be more amendable to an increase in board beforehand as long as I knew the installation was under contract. Why should I pay more for a service that may or may not be provided? A friend of mine rode at a barn in New England without an indoor. Finally it was announced that an indoor would be going in! Oh Happy Day!! The board went up with the announcement, by about 30%. You guessed it, the indoor wasn't ready to use for more than 18 months. That was 18 mos at the increased rate with nothing to show for it.
I like the idea of "borrowing" from the clients. If they want to speed the process, they can do as you suggested in the stall mat case and buy mats with the cost to be repaid in discounted board (or lessons) over time. If board is $1000 I'd happily give you the extra $1k this month (again assuming that the footing install is under contract) with the agreement that I'd get $100 off my board bill for the next 11 months. (The extra month represents interest.)
If the boarders are interested in having good footing ASAP it could work. The trainer then has to figure out how to feed the ponies on $100 les per stall each month. Maybe she'll have to teach a few more lessons (possibly to ship in clients who like the idea of professional footing) or make time to attend and extra show a month. (Lessons on horses she doesn't own are essentially a pure profict center, they cost her only her time, same goes for shows.)

findeight
Mar. 27, 2012, 01:16 PM
Boarding/training is a little different then "business" in the usual sense because the customer is already in house with a contract in place stating what their cost will be.

The normal business raises the price of their product or service when costs for said product or to provide the service increase.

Boarding/training barns are between a rock and a hard place. Risk a board increase for improvements that are a year or more away? Pay for the major improvements and raise the board risking clients leaving and not having the loan payment (if they can get a loan)? Tack an assesment on the bill but keep the basic board the same? That 45k for new footing has to come from somewhere and somebody.

In this particular situation...I wonder of trainer is refocusing her business on more upper end clients and trying to "thin the herd"????

poltroon
Mar. 27, 2012, 01:33 PM
So this is being handled very badly and the trainer is ridiculous to think that clients can just pop out another $1k on a monthly bill.

I have seen this happen before. It's always extremely irritating and annoying. It's also sometimes the only way to get something done. However, not on this scale of expense.

Footing can be an emergency, or at least enough of one that it makes the place very hard to use and dangerous for the horses.

Often choices among facilities are a series of compromises and sometimes this is still the best option for the boarders, as much as it rankles.

However, the way to do this is with a barn meeting where all potential contributors are invited for their input, ideas, and preferences, and so that you get buy-in that this is the way to proceed and how much each person will contribute, and on what basis.

convertedhorselover
Mar. 27, 2012, 01:45 PM
Let's assume you own a fitness club. You have contracts with your existing clientele for specific monthly fees. Unfortunately you have some outdated equipment that must be replaced. I doubt you are going to have a one time assessment to your customers to finance this purchase. If you do not spend the money to update your club you risk the loss of your customer base to the new state of the art facility down the road. If you do renovate (upgrade) your machines you may have to increase your monthly fees for existing and/or new clientele to justify the purchase. Once again risking the loss of revenue from defection. It is a business decision that thousands of individuals/businesses make every day.

No the boarding/training business is not that much different than many service industries found in our economy. I find it interesting that the consistent argument on this board by many is "You just don't understand this business". I believe someone actually said in an earlier post that "theoretically a business would start off with the proper working capital to cover everyday expenses, as well as, reserve funds for emergencies."(paraphrasing). That should not be a theory!! It is how to begin a successful startup.

trubandloki
Mar. 27, 2012, 01:53 PM
That should not be a theory!! It is how to begin a successful startup.
Yes, but it is not just the people on COTH thinking that the horse world is so very special and does not need to follow basic good business practices. It seems to be most people who start a boarding/training stable are willing to grab onto that theory too. Heck, we all need a built in excuse.

BarbB
Mar. 27, 2012, 01:54 PM
How would the trainer collect this? Yes, I suppose the disobedient boarders could always be kicked out, but what if most of them just laughed and ignored it. Take them to small claims court and declare that they owe $1000 for.............. exactly what? Which paragraph of the contract covers this?

M. O'Connor
Mar. 27, 2012, 01:58 PM
Let's assume you own a fitness club. You have contracts with your existing clientele for specific monthly fees. Unfortunately you have some outdated equipment that must be replaced. I doubt you are going to have a one time assessment to your customers to finance this purchase. If you do not spend the money to update your club you risk the loss of your customer base to the new state of the art facility down the road. If you do renovate (upgrade) your machines you may have to increase your monthly fees for existing and/or new clientele to justify the purchase. Once again risking the loss of revenue from defection. It is a business decision that thousands of individuals/businesses make every day.

No the boarding/training business is not that much different than many service industries found in our economy. I find it interesting that the consistent argument on this board by many is "You just don't understand this business". I believe someone actually said in an earlier post that "theoretically a business would start off with the proper working capital to cover everyday expenses, as well as, reserve funds for emergencies."(paraphrasing). That should not be a theory!! It is how to begin a successful startup.

If it were a private, members-only club you might. And it's interesting that you bring this up, because some riding facilities are structured this way, with members paying dues on top of their board, and it is this revenue stream that pays for improvements like footing, new jumps, etc. However in the cases I'm aware of, the club has a BOD and the trainer is an employee, not a business owner. Capital plans are made up long in advance, and everybody knows what the expenses are. Mostly, "if you can't afford to ask..." is the sort of price scales that emerge from this kind of setup.

M. O'Connor
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:01 PM
Converted-maybe that's why so many horse business are not successful enough to be much more than hand-to-mouth.

Mayaty02
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:13 PM
If someone changes barns do they get to take their share of the footing with them?

:lol:

RAyers
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:24 PM
I am with those who a calling shenanigans on this trainer.

Our barn owner rebuilds the arenas (100ft x 200ft) every two years for under $5K each and includes analysis and consulting done by Footings Unlimited. It is built into our board and we are aware and appreciative of her care. The original arenas with 18" granite base and drainage systems were about $50K each.

You don't need a super bunch of special things as some arena companies would have you think. Also, studies have shown that the more custom the footing and more controlled, the more likely the animal will be injured due to lack of tissue development. In other words, once a horse is conditioned to one type of footing they tend to only operate on that footing).

Figure about $50K to build a decent arena from ground up ($100K + if you go with some of the top end ThroTurf footings, etc. on top of a good base).

findeight
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:25 PM
Back to the fitness center comparison? The fitness centers can just beat the drum for new clients, sign them to a 12 month auto deduct contract then use that to purchase the new equipment-knowing half or more of all members under contract rarely, or never, will show up outside of right after New Years.

A 35 stall boarding/training barn with 35 horses lacks the option of just signing more contracts and using the additional revenue for improvements.

AllOverFarm
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:27 PM
What if all the boarders did decide to pay the 1k, but then to save money, they stopped taking lessons for a few weeks, opted out of the next 2 horse shows or took their horses off training board for a few months.....Then what would happen? The trainer would have to rethink her business plan, pretty quickly.

mvp
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:37 PM
In this particular situation...I wonder of trainer is refocusing her business on more upper end clients and trying to "thin the herd"????

And there, my friends, is the Font of All Suffering In the World.

See, if clients are sorted into "good" (those who will tolerate poor business practices) from "bad" (those who are mature and "clean" with their money/business relationships), then sooner or later, "the good" people will want slack cut for them, too. So guy who used his house as an ATM and had the $1K on hand gets the plug pulled by the bank and now wants trainer to, say, carry the horse on spec while it gets sold because he's suddenly tapped out.

It's much more prudent in the long run to do business with those who are also business-like.



You don't need a super bunch of special things as some arena companies would have you think. Also, studies have shown that the more custom the footing and more controlled, the more likely the animal will be injured due to lack of tissue development. In other words, once a horse is conditioned to one type of footing they tend to only operate on that footing).

Are your science-types claiming causality or mere correlation? Doilars to donuts, those horse living in barns with manicured arenas aren't getting a whole lot of TO, let alone long rides on varied footing.

Signed,

The chick handwalking on the snowy roads in Central NY in February.

CaitlinandTheBay
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:39 PM
Wouldn't the trainer have the possibility of making more money by simply raising board? Say, you pay 500 a month for board now. By raising it to 575 a month, trainer can pay for footing within 12-13 months. After that, trainer is simply pocketing that extra 75 a month. New footing may in turn attract new clients and therefore garner even more money. No one gets pissed off, because, as OP said, she is at the only A barn and only barn with all-weather footing in the area.

I am not a business person, but this seems exceptionally reasonable. Anybody want to point out the holes in this logic?

PrinceSheik325
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:44 PM
It's pretty typical that when upgrades are made to barns, rental properties, etc., the rent might increase, but to ask your clients to directly fund the upgrade seems like something that should have been discussed before being decided. I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd put in the footing, and then everyone's board increased as a result.

That aside, something else you mentioned struck me as strange. What is this training fee you mention? Does your trainer actually ride and train your horse, or is that just a monthly fee you have to pay? I only pay a fee to my trainer if I take a lesson. It seems weird that everyone would have a "training fee."

poltroon
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:49 PM
I am with those who a calling shenanigans on this trainer.

Our barn owner rebuilds the arenas (100ft x 200ft) every two years for under $5K each and includes analysis and consulting done by Footings Unlimited. It is built into our board and we are aware and appreciative of her care. The original arenas with 18" granite base and drainage systems were about $50K each.

You don't need a super bunch of special things as some arena companies would have you think. Also, studies have shown that the more custom the footing and more controlled, the more likely the animal will be injured due to lack of tissue development. In other words, once a horse is conditioned to one type of footing they tend to only operate on that footing).

Figure about $50K to build a decent arena from ground up ($100K + if you go with some of the top end ThroTurf footings, etc. on top of a good base).

Cost is extremely variable by location. In my area, 2" of any footing material to cover a 20m x 60m will run about $5,000. That would include delivery, but no other labor.

I think the proposed cost is alarmingly high, but it's yet another reason that there needs to be a meeting and a discussion if a plan like this is to be implemented.

A big concern I would have is that the barn owner gets the improvement with no buy-in and no strings and no skin in the game. That is, the trainer has some sort of right of occupancy and they have whatever the current board is, but with new footing, the barn owner could easily decide to boot the trainer or raise the board to reflect the more desirable amenities. A barn owner who doesn't care about the footing for his clients probably doesn't care about a lot of things important to the client group, and you have to wonder if this is a sustainable long-term relationship.

New footing also needs to be maintained: who will do that?

FineAlready
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:57 PM
Honestly, I think the expectation that customers will pay an extra $1,000 to redo the footing is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is the way in which this particular "request" seems to have been communicated.

Given the absurd way in which the horse industry operates, I am not surprised. But I still think it is ridiculous.

I don't know if I would pay it or not. As some others have said, I suppose it depends on how much I liked the trainer, the trainer's program, and the boarding facility generally. But if I did pay it, I would most certainly reduce my costs in other areas - most likely by taking less lessons or going to fewer horse shows (though it sounds like in the OP's case, there may be a minimum training fee/expectation in place).

One thing I will say is that when I have experienced stupid actions like this from trainers or BOs in the past, it has really always been a precursor to more stupidity to come. While I may be able to live with something like this ridiculous request this one time, the problem is that the trainer has shown a lack of good judgment that will carry over to cause other problems in the future. Seriously. I've lived THAT scenario more times that I would like to think about.

Example: The full service A show barn I boarded at where they closed the indoor arena (in the Midwest and not in the middle of the summer, mind you...) for an entire weekend, removed all of the footing, set up banquet tables in it with lit candles, and held a non-horse-related black tie charity event complete with a live band. They closed the barn to boarders on the afternoon/evening of the event (unless they were attending the charity event) so that you were not even permitted to come see your horse while the charity event was going on. As part of this absurd event, they encouraged the non-horsey guests to wander through the barn and pet our horses and feed them treats. Because they could not find my horse's Baker sheet, and they wanted him to "match all of the other horses," they put another horse's sheet on him that didn't really fit and they didn't bother to adjust the belly and leg straps. He got hung up in the sheet during the night and cut his leg.

This event, all on its own, may not have been reason enough to leave that barn (though that is probably debatable), but it turned out to be just one item on a list of similarly terrible decisions made by the trainer/BO over time. Before the stupid charity event, there were much less dramatic bad judgments - raising the board/training substantially without appropriate discussion or notice, etc. None of them deal breakers alone, but all of them together so annoying as to make it not worthwhile to stay.

Personally? After what I've been through with these kinds of things, I would take the "requirement" that customers pay for the new footing as an early warning sign that it is time to jump ship.

convertedhorselover
Mar. 27, 2012, 03:26 PM
Converted-maybe that's why so many horse business are not successful enough to be much more than hand-to-mouth.

I totally agree with this assessment. That does not make it right to use it as an excuse. The successful barns/trainers have a business plan and, most importantly, execute it. I do not know anyone that is involved in this particular situation but I will continue to repeat that the horse business is very similiar to many other businesses in our economy. The productive operations will thrive and others will continue to struggle.

Again, I was using the fitness centre as an example. I think there are some similarities to the two businesses. If you would like other examples lets use the storage business. The building needs a new roof. Existing renters pay for it? I don't think so. I have an acquaintance who owes a restaurant and needed a new pasta machine, and yes he has a landlord. Guess who paid for the machine?

I really am not trying to pick a fight. As I have said in previous posts, I am just amazed that the horse community believes that this business is so specialized and no one outside of the "group" understands how difficult it is to be successful.

Angry Bird
Mar. 27, 2012, 03:26 PM
I had a BO try that on the boarder's in the barn, we all said "no way".
I was being charged ring fees for all my lessons and paying a hefty board bill.
Good footing and any repairs are paid by the barn. Eventually, I left and found a great barn with excellent footing!

BAC
Mar. 27, 2012, 03:36 PM
BAC is referring to Lucassb who was "bent over" this way but then did her own cost/benefit analysis and decided to take it.


No, this did not happen to Lucassb, at one time she was boarding at a facility that assessed a charge for new footing, but that occurred before her arrival, so did not have to pay anything. I only thought of her because my barn was putting down the same, very expensive, footing in our indoor, and she mentioned that this particular barn had charged their boarders an assessment for the same footing. Sorry for any confusion I caused.

mvp
Mar. 27, 2012, 03:47 PM
No, this did not happen to Lucassb, at one time she was boarding at a facility that assessed a charge for new footing, but that occurred before her arrival, so did not have to pay anything. I only thought of her because my barn was putting down the same, very expensive, footing in our indoor, and she mentioned that this particular barn had charged their boarders an assessment for the same footing. Sorry for any confusion I caused.

True.. Good correction. Now I remember.

Oh yeah... and if I put some random of history together correctly, I believe this was the barn where BO gave Lucassb's trainer 48 hours notice... while they were away at a horse show.

If I am right, this example illustrates a fundamental truth which is:

Dude! When a business owner with power over you shows you that they are unreasonable and unpredictable over something you can live with, you are forewarned about when they do the same with something you cannot live with.

FineAlready
Mar. 27, 2012, 03:57 PM
If I am right, this example illustrates a fundamental truth which is:

Dude! When a business owner with power over you shows you that they are unreasonable and unpredictable over something you can live with, you are forewarned about when they do the same with something you cannot live with.

YES! Thank you for putting into one sentence what it took me an entire story/rambling monologue to say much more poorly!

Janet
Mar. 27, 2012, 03:58 PM
Again, I was using the fitness centre as an example. I think there are some similarities to the two businesses. If you would like other examples lets use the storage business. The building needs a new roof. Existing renters pay for it? I don't think so. I have an acquaintance who owes a restaurant and needed a new pasta machine, and yes he has a landlord. Guess who paid for the machine?

I think that, in both these cases, the clients paid for the new roof and the pasta machine, as the cost is (and should be) factored into the monthly storage fee and the prices on the menu.

But NOT as a separate lump sum.

starlight
Mar. 27, 2012, 03:59 PM
Mmm, mmm, mmm...the things people try to get away with.

I think it should be the barn owner's responsibility. The trainer is nothing more than a tenant and capital expenditures and or/improvements are a depriciable asset. The barn owner is running a business and theoretically (and most likely) profits from the tenant. This person would make the improvement and write the footing off as a business expense on their taxes, no? Improvements to the facility should be done by the property owner. I don't tell my renters, "hey, I really want to refinish the hardwood floors...I'm charging you $1500 to cover it." Even if the trainer writes it off, I don't feel it's ethical for this person to fund it from the boarders! If barn owner can't afford improvements, shame on them. Good business practice means keeping money, or having access to financing, when you need it.

The trainer would be a fool to purchase the footing unless there was some ridiculous caveat that when this trainer leaves, he/she takes the footing.

If I was the barn owner I would be laughing my ass off-- sure Mrs. Trainer, buy that footing and fix up my ring, once it's done on your dime and when I kick you out to find someone who will pay more...it's mine, all mine!

If your trainer decides to do this, I would rally the other boarders and make sure trainer has a very solid contract with the barn owner to protect everyone's "investment".

E

juststartingout
Mar. 27, 2012, 05:01 PM
This discussion is interesting in large part because, IME, boarders are extremely reluctant to pay and resistant to any board increases. Most boarders - unless they are quite experienced - believe that barn owners make a great deal of money off board when in actuality most barn owners basically breakeven on board. Profit - to the extent it exists - comes from lessons, training, and sales. [Possibly, the top barns excepted as both their pricing and their client base provide some insulation from this problem)

In these past few years, the costs of running a barn have increased substantially - the cost of hay and shavings have had large prices ... the cost of gasoline increased - and yet most boarders have resisted any board increases which would permit barn owners to maintain their financial status quo.

Was the approach here - particularly the short notice - a good approach - absolutely not. But it might be a reasonable one - for both the boarders and the barn owner.

If the footing change was really needed - and good footing is esential, it reduces horse injuries and wear and tear - then it must be paid for. It may well be an expense that the barn owner should incur --- but the wear and tear on the footing is caused by the boarders. And, in many cases it is unlikely that the barn owner has the money or can find financing to pay the expense. That leaves few options --- increase board (as should have been done in the past but liely wasn't because of the barn owner trying to 'hold the line') and accumulate the funds needed over time or ask for an upfront payment in lieu of a board increase to pay for the footing.

So far on this thread, there have been objections to board increases "without better amentities" and to a one time payment for an amenity. The truth is that boarders have to bear the cost of the board plus some small margin of profit. If they do not either the barn owner will fail financially OR the barn owner will be forced to cut corners on care of the horses to remain financially functional.

The one time payment may in fact cost less than the increase in board which will be permanent. It allows all parties to avoid the costs of financing and it gets the footing done in the quickest manner.

Of course, the financial question is whether the boarder will stay at the barn long enough to make the up front payment worthwhile --- BUT and no one has noted this as yet --- a one time payment of $1000 represents an $83 per month increase in board for one year ... HARDLY a huge request.

Trixie
Mar. 27, 2012, 05:03 PM
Of course, the financial question is whether the boarder will stay at the barn long enough to make the up front payment worthwhile --- BUT and no one has noted this as yet --- a one time payment of $1000 represents an $83 per month increase in board for one year ... HARDLY a huge request.

But as a lump sum, without warning, it IS a huge request.

juststartingout
Mar. 27, 2012, 05:06 PM
But as a lump sum, without warning, it IS a huge request.

As stated above - I agree this was approached completely wrong --- just trying to look at the finances separate from the way it was done

MelantheLLC
Mar. 27, 2012, 05:12 PM
a one time payment of $1000 represents an $83 per month increase in board for one year ... HARDLY a huge request.

Yeah. And this is exactly how it should have been done. Frankly, I wouldn't blink if a trainer said, "hey! I'm gonna make this and this much-needed improvement this year, and therefore the board is going up $100 starting X."

However, I would NOT pay a $1000 "assessment" suddenly forced on me without notice. Homeowner/condo associations have rioted for less. ;)

THAT'S the point. Nobody thinks horse owners don't pay it all in the end. Nobody thinks stuff happens for free or trainers and BO's don't have it rough and blah-blah. Cry me a river. (Ask anybody how rough they have it these days, and you'll hear all about every industry there is.)

Now ask yourself how much you want to cough up $1000 bucks right NOW for someone else's bright idea.

I'd venture to say most of us couldn't even contemplate doing it if we wanted to. I could, but I'd damned well resent it, because I have other things budgeted for that $1k right now.

This trainer is trying something. Her "consumers" will either put up with it or tell her no. IMO they should tell her "No way, go back to the drawing board for how to get better footing. There are lots of better options for all of us."

gottagrey
Mar. 27, 2012, 05:13 PM
The trainer does not own the facility -therefore the expense is put upon by the trainer, NOT the barn owner (according to the OP). The thing is does this one time assessment also start an ugly precedent in that anytime the trainer wants improvements will they assess the clients for them. What's next - new set of show quality jumps. It's one thing if the clients, in consensus, want the improvements and are willing to pay for them. Unless the trainer has a bunch of their own horses, it's the clients who will actually ultimately benefit from the improved footing - if they as a group do not agree to the assessment, then the trainer has 2 choices - come up with the funds themselves or bag it.What is the relationship between the BO and the trainer.

Since the trainer doesn't own this facility, can they actually legally mandate or compel the clients to agree to basically purchase this footing? In the grand scheme of things good footing is a luxury not a necessity - so if the clients are not in agreement they should, as a group, stand their ground and refuse the assessment.

rider1rider
Mar. 27, 2012, 05:33 PM
I too must ride at the same barn as you but I have a different take on the footing issue. Our ring needs new footing. The footing is very expensive but less expense then the cost of vet bills or layoffs.

In order for a business to survive, it needs to generate sufficent revenue to cover expenses and necessary capital improvements. If the revenue stream is inadequate then additional fees must be charged to cover the unusual and nonrecurring costs. This additional revenue can be charged openly and honestly for the intented project. Another option is raising ongoing training fees. If the expenses were not covered, the business could close or provide substandard services.

The horse world, especially at an "A" barn is not cheap. I for one applaud my trainer for taking the necessary steps to protect and enhance the quality of riding at our barn. I will gladly pay a reasonable amount necessary to have as you stated, the best footing in the area.

rider1rider
Mar. 27, 2012, 06:20 PM
Just for all to know, the trainer did offer a payment plan to anyone that had difficulties paying this up front. It is not $1000 but $750 and good footing is a necessity, not a luxury!!! My horse was a luxury and I would love to keep him sound!!!!

Everyone seems to be of the opinion that the trainer is just using this to make money. I call out the anonymous author on this question.......Has the trainer ever reduced your training or helped with show costs to make it work for you? Can you in good conscience argue that she is only about the money?

rothmpp
Mar. 27, 2012, 07:52 PM
And the trainer makes an appearance...

Mozart
Mar. 28, 2012, 12:16 AM
Having once done something like this I would never do it again. A barn I was at many years ago wanted to install outdoor arena lights so we could ride later at night. Barn owner asked everyone to "voluntarily" contribute. We begrudgingly did.

Once I left the facility I sure would like to have taken with me the big arena light that I paid for....

I appreciate that boarding horses is not a big money maker and that good footing is important but maintenance and improvements are part of the cost of doing business and if revenue is not paying for that then the cost of board needs to be revisited. If board goes then it is at least fair to both current and future boarders.

Tapperjockey
Mar. 28, 2012, 01:34 AM
I think I'd rather have the assessment one time, then have by board increased for good. 1000 over 10 months is 100.00/mo. However, if the barn/trainer were to raise rates by 100.00, then I don't think they'd reduce it in 10 months (maybe, but not likely). I would need adequate notice (2-3 months at least.. payments would be appreciated).. but I'd much rather have that then my board to be 100.00 more for each horse for a year or two.

juststartingout
Mar. 28, 2012, 01:42 AM
Just going to raise the question here.....

If the board went up $100 A MONTH - basically a $1,000 a year -- don't you think the boarders would have complained about that as well? IME they would ....

Basically - this is a no win situation all around -- in general boarders do not understand the real costs of boarding (and many don't want to) -- the responsible party cannot afford to pay...

So what's the solution.... well somehow the parties have to decide how to pay for it .... a increase in board sizable enough to support the cost PLUS financing, or an upfront payment -there aren't many other options.... if the money were available to fund this improvement, this discussion would not be taking place (and there are a number of facilities I know that have not raised their board even to meet their increasing costs because they are afraid in this economy that they will lose more clients than they will gain in the increase --- don't think that makes sense either.... you can't operate at a loss on each stall and make it up in volume -- but their rationale is that a small loss is tolerable and will allow them to hang on where a large one will not)

if there are other wonderful places to board with great footing and care at the same of less per month, well the boarders who are unhappy can go there --- however its likely that the places with great footing and care cost more .... because ultimately you do get what you pay for and quality does cost more

ABSOLUTELY NOT saying this approach was a good idea --- just saying instead of saying no way perhaps it might be more constructive to suggest a way to make this work for everybody

spacytracy
Mar. 28, 2012, 07:37 AM
How much of this cost is the trainer fronting? I'd be interested to know if the trainer is putting any of her money into this. Because surely she is the one who will be profiting.

I think its insane. If the fencing needs repair, are you guys paying for that? Or the stalls? Or pasture fertilization?

Those things are built into the cost of board. Thats the point. Your board covers feed/bedding/turnout/arena use/electricity/insurance/salaries/etc. There's no fee on top for upgrades. If those things are necessary then you increase board.

In regards to the $1000 now vs. $100/mo, at least with the $100/month if you leave, you aren't "out" that money. You pay a grand, and leave in 2 months, you just paid for someone new to use "your" arena.

Trixie
Mar. 28, 2012, 09:10 AM
Everyone seems to be of the opinion that the trainer is just using this to make money. I call out the anonymous author on this question.......Has the trainer ever reduced your training or helped with show costs to make it work for you? Can you in good conscience argue that she is only about the money?

Well, it is the trainer's business, isn't it?

I think we're all aware that the profit margins in boarding are fairly low and that footing is expensive. But that being said, it's a business expense. And it's bad business to pop in a large and unexpected expense without warning.

Ravencrest_Camp
Mar. 28, 2012, 09:16 AM
I too must ride at the same barn as you but I have a different take on the footing issue. Our ring needs new footing. The footing is very expensive but less expense then the cost of vet bills or layoffs.

In order for a business to survive, it needs to generate sufficent revenue to cover expenses and necessary capital improvements. If the revenue stream is inadequate then additional fees must be charged to cover the unusual and nonrecurring costs. This additional revenue can be charged openly and honestly for the intented project. Another option is raising ongoing training fees. If the expenses were not covered, the business could close or provide substandard services.

The horse world, especially at an "A" barn is not cheap. I for one applaud my trainer for taking the necessary steps to protect and enhance the quality of riding at our barn. I will gladly pay a reasonable amount necessary to have as you stated, the best footing in the area.

Don't you feel bad that you as a current boarder have to pay for the cost of this capital improvement, while someone who comes in ONE month later gets the same benefit without the cost?

In my mind the only fair way to match up the cost with the benefit would be through a board increase.

Linny
Mar. 28, 2012, 09:26 AM
Capital investments in the property shouldn't be paid for directly by clients. The trainer needs to work out an equitable arrangement with her landlord. The value of the property will be increased (landlord benefits financially, even if trainer leaves) the value of the facility increases (trainer benefits financially) and horse owners foot the bill for all of it.

judybigredpony
Mar. 28, 2012, 09:31 AM
This is BALONEY ! ( is that how you spell it ? ) :lol:

The trainer apparentlyt hit his head too hard :eek::yes: getting out of his bull$hit wagon ! :lol: to teach his next lesson ....

AGREE

BarbB
Mar. 28, 2012, 09:54 AM
And the trainer makes an appearance...

:lol::lol:

findeight
Mar. 28, 2012, 09:58 AM
I am not excusing the way the trainer is handling this, maybe playing a bit of devils advocate though.

I know what ring improvements can cost, I have seen the invoices for grading permits, if needed, environmental impact study (TRUE, "wetlands", ring had been there for 10 years) fence removal, exsisting surface removal, relevel, some drainage work, new base, level again, footing and new fence.

Just asking how boarder clients, who probably have been complaining about the exsisting conditions, propose trainer fund 45k+ of improvements when she is not the property owner and can't get much of a loan-if any at all.

How many are willing to pay 100-150 more in board? Knowing that 45k will not be fully funded for a year so it will be paying in advance for something that will not exsist? Nobody is going to put the ring in and wait a year for their money.

Just sayin...not defending the trainer.

What I think about the situation is, trainer is "thinning the herd" and it's probably time to get plan B in place.

Don't end up like Lucassb did shortly after joining with a trainer who had tacked an assesment on for new footing before she got there. "Fired" for no reason by that trainer and left at Lake Placid (IIRC) with no ride home-and she has GOOD horses that pin well, pays on time and is not a PITA.

So, I see and understand the trainers financing dilemma...but I see it as a baaaad sign for the future.

BeeHoney
Mar. 28, 2012, 10:15 AM
And theoretically, a business would start with enough working capital to have a reserve fund for emergencies, provide its clients with top quality goods and services, cover all overhead expenses incidental to operations, AND provide its staff with a living wage plus benefits, and THEN have enough left over to enjoy a healthy profit.

If all this were true at your barn, how much would your board bill be? Would you pay that much? Or move on?


Great post.

findeight
Mar. 28, 2012, 10:28 AM
When my barn had to redo both outdoor and indoor rings the same year, new base and everything on both? They paid up front for the work and board went up and stayed up $200 a month more. Covered not only the ring work but increasing operating costs.

We had a barn meeting (with pot luck dinner), actual estimates were presented (and invoices were available after construction on request). There was quite a bit of griping. Some went comparison shopping at other area barns with the blessing of the trainer.

In the end, nobody left. All other area barns had boosted the board as well, some far more then mine for lesser facilities.

You do get what you pay for.

rider1rider
Mar. 28, 2012, 10:36 AM
Don't you feel bad that you as a current boarder have to pay for the cost of this capital improvement, while someone who comes in ONE month later gets the same benefit without the cost?

In my mind the only fair way to match up the cost with the benefit would be through a board increase.

I have ridden at this barn for 10+ years. During this time the trainer has increased the cost of training 1 time. I do not feel bad about helping to pay for the cost of footing. My contribution is 1% of the cost of my horse. I have spoken to the trainer about the cost of footing and she is out a significant amount after what is collected by the riders. For me the fact she cares about our horses safety is worth the amount she is asking for. I have searched websites of other trainers in our area and although you may not directly see that you are paying for capital improvements, the amount of training you will pay is significantly higher than it is at our barn. As I said before, the trainer works with everyone in the barn to try to make is affordable. She has helped me and everyone else I know at the barn at some point make things work. Im not sure there are alot of other trainers out there that are willing to do that for their clients.

Linny
Mar. 28, 2012, 10:52 AM
Great R1R. You have a 4100k horse so maybe it's less a hardship for you. OTOH, what about the rider with a $5k horse for whom this represents 20% of the value of her horses value?

findeight
Mar. 28, 2012, 11:04 AM
I have ridden at this barn for 10+ years. During this time the trainer has increased the cost of training 1 time...

...I have spoken to the trainer about the cost of footing and she is out a significant amount after what is collected by the riders...

...I have searched websites of other trainers in our area...the amount of training you will pay is significantly higher than it is at our barn. As I said before, the trainer works with everyone in the barn to try to make is affordable.


Ummmm...trainer is executing poor judgement in running her business in a misguided attempt to keep it affordable. In reality, she is not making operating costs so is doing clients no favors. Barns that charge more do so to make operating costs as successful businesses do.

And I don't think what you paid for your horse is relevent.

Abberlaze
Mar. 28, 2012, 11:14 AM
I have ridden at this barn for 10+ years. During this time the trainer has increased the cost of training 1 time. I do not feel bad about helping to pay for the cost of footing. My contribution is 1% of the cost of my horse. I have spoken to the trainer about the cost of footing and she is out a significant amount after what is collected by the riders. For me the fact she cares about our horses safety is worth the amount she is asking for. I have searched websites of other trainers in our area and although you may not directly see that you are paying for capital improvements, the amount of training you will pay is significantly higher than it is at our barn. As I said before, the trainer works with everyone in the barn to try to make is affordable. She has helped me and everyone else I know at the barn at some point make things work. Im not sure there are alot of other trainers out there that are willing to do that for their clients.

Well, your story just says that your trainer is a bad business woman. She should be increasing prices to stay with her increased costs and setting aside a fund to cover things like this. Needing new ring footing isn't a surprise to the trainer, it's something that happens over time. She should have anticipated this and raised the price of her services so that she would have enough to pay for the ring.

Instant Karma
Mar. 28, 2012, 11:18 AM
Ahhh... I run a small business, and when I have to get a new truck or new equipment, that's on ME. Why are horse people such HORRIBLE business people???

We needed to get a bigger garage to put our work trucks and such in, I didn't raise my prices or cry the blues... ultimately, Im the one that reaps the rewards when it increases my property value. I'm not going to expect anyone else to pay for it... that's craziness.

arlosmine
Mar. 28, 2012, 11:55 AM
For seven years I trained out of, and managed board for my students in a facility that was otherwise well repaired by the owners...but they would not pay for footing. There was another trainer in the barn with a seperate program, who also would not go "in" on new footing. I had to decide what was more important: good footing for the health and wellfare of the horses, or my sense of fairness.

I ended up paying for the footing myself, because for the most part, this was a good facility for me. I did ask boarders to pitch in, in a letter explaining the options and costs. We added footing twice in the time I was there, and I don't resent it particularly, and the boarders didn't either...the owners were more than prompt in their attention to the other espects of the farm, and since they were not riders themselves, just didn't "get" the footing thing...Sometimes life isn't fair, but trade-offs even things out.

convertedhorselover
Mar. 28, 2012, 11:58 AM
I think many on this board who have been successful in the horse industry or other vocations will agree that the number 1 rule in business is Cash is King. When operating a manufacturing outlet, retail establishmnet or sevice related business you must be properly capitalized. This trainer is operating a business for profit.

The issue that has been skirted around by some (and stated very infatically by others) is the trainer signed a bad agreement with the barn owner. Any improvement made to the facility that will increase the value of the property should be the responsibilty of the owner. When looking at a leasehold improvement that is paid by the tenant there must be a long term agreement between both parties, allowing the tenant (trainer) the time to recoup the value of the asset. I have no idea of the lease length or terms of this particular agreement but there are only two parties that should be responsible for this expense, the barn owner or trainer.

You cannot charge the existing clientele upfront for this improvement. These customers cannot be guaranteed that they will recieve the benefit in the future. Customers leave facilities, horses go lame, and riders stop riding.

Xanthoria
Mar. 28, 2012, 12:25 PM
I have ridden at this barn for 10+ years. During this time the trainer has increased the cost of training 1 time. I do not feel bad about helping to pay for the cost of footing. My contribution is 1% of the cost of my horse. I have spoken to the trainer about the cost of footing and she is out a significant amount after what is collected by the riders. For me the fact she cares about our horses safety is worth the amount she is asking for. I have searched websites of other trainers in our area and although you may not directly see that you are paying for capital improvements, the amount of training you will pay is significantly higher than it is at our barn. As I said before, the trainer works with everyone in the barn to try to make is affordable. She has helped me and everyone else I know at the barn at some point make things work. Im not sure there are alot of other trainers out there that are willing to do that for their clients.

How is your horse's value relevant? (Aside from making it clear that $1000 is nothing to you because apparently you're wealthy?)

Are you suggesting that an assessor should come in to rate the value of all horses and each owner should pay 1% of their horse's value towards the new footing? :lol:

FineAlready
Mar. 28, 2012, 12:33 PM
How is your horse's value relevant? (Aside from making it clear that $1000 is nothing to you because apparently you're wealthy?)

Are you suggesting that an assessor should come in to rate the value of all horses and each owner should pay 1% of their horse's value towards the new footing? :lol:

Great idea! ;) I'm sure the folks with $5,000 horses will be happy to pitch in their $50...

trubandloki
Mar. 28, 2012, 01:07 PM
^^ I agree. I think that is a very fair way to do the dividing.
Maybe they should asses the footing fee as 2% of value, so they are sure to not burden the trainer one stitch. Then r1r, who thinks it is no big deal, can pay $2000 and everyone else can toss in their $100.

Somermist
Mar. 28, 2012, 01:15 PM
^^ I agree. I think that is a very fair way to do the dividing.
Maybe they should asses the footing fee as 2% of value, so they are sure to not burden the trainer one stitch. Then r1r, who thinks it is no big deal, can pay $2000 and everyone else can toss in their $100.

;):cool:

rothmpp
Mar. 28, 2012, 01:19 PM
I have ridden at this barn for 10+ years. During this time the trainer has increased the cost of training 1 time. I do not feel bad about helping to pay for the cost of footing. My contribution is 1% of the cost of my horse. I have spoken to the trainer about the cost of footing and she is out a significant amount after what is collected by the riders. For me the fact she cares about our horses safety is worth the amount she is asking for. I have searched websites of other trainers in our area and although you may not directly see that you are paying for capital improvements, the amount of training you will pay is significantly higher than it is at our barn. As I said before, the trainer works with everyone in the barn to try to make is affordable. She has helped me and everyone else I know at the barn at some point make things work. Im not sure there are alot of other trainers out there that are willing to do that for their clients.

If trainer in question has only increased fees once in the last 10 years, trainer really should not be making financial decisions for the business. Is there anything you purchase, either services or goods, that has not increased substantially in the past 10 years? You continue to illustrate the point that trainer should have been gradually increasing the costs over the years and setting aside funds for these kinds of capital improvements to their business.

And trainer absolutely signed a bad contract if said contract said any footing improvements were 100% trainer's responsibility. Some split, sure, but all of the improvement, of which can't easily be taken with trainer if/when they leave. It's not like the pasta machine example - that can be easily taken to new facility.

To extrapolate on the point made a couple of posts above - for the rider who this assessment represents 20% of the value of their horse - how would you like a $20k add on to your bill next month? Bet you'd be a little less...snotty.

ser42
Mar. 28, 2012, 01:27 PM
Well, your story just says that your trainer is a bad business woman. She should be increasing prices to stay with her increased costs and setting aside a fund to cover things like this. Needing new ring footing isn't a surprise to the trainer, it's something that happens over time. She should have anticipated this and raised the price of her services so that she would have enough to pay for the ring.

This. When first reading this, I thought trainer's lease on barn was new, and she decided to upgrade the footing. She's been there 10+ years????!!! And hadn't set aside money for improvements/had an agreement with owner this was their issue??!!! :eek:

Isabeau Z Solace
Mar. 28, 2012, 02:14 PM
Capital investments in the property shouldn't be paid for directly by clients. The trainer needs to work out an equitable arrangement with her landlord. The value of the property will be increased (landlord benefits financially, even if trainer leaves) the value of the facility increases (trainer benefits financially) and horse owners foot the bill for all of it.

Meh... since the riders are the one's directly responsible for crushing the footing to dust day, after day, after day.... AND the value of a 'specialty' property like a horse property does NOT necessarily increase over time (Goodness knows there are bucket loads of horse farms for sale in my area and over the river. And the fact that they are HORSE properties with big tax bills, complicated agricultural easements, buildings that may be useless to future owners, etc. makes them, really, not so sellable. And/or less sellable than 1/4 acre with a newish home and little lawn...which is what most folks need...) I have to disagree that improving/replacing footing benefits the property owner.

There's a darned good reason the property owner rents their property out instead of running a business out of it themselves!! The cost of running a horse business only, EVER, increases. It damned near never gets less expensive.

Whereas if the property owner rents it out to trainer, and tells trainer "you use it, you keep it up, don't bother me...." Then property owner's life is a lot less complicated.

Sure, folks can be pissed about the $1000 charge. But unless they have a year-to-year boarding contract, they are free to leave. Today.

My advice to the OP... (which might very well be impossible depending upon where you live....) try to ride outside of the arena as much as possible. Stop beating the hell out of it. Maybe the footing will last longer:cool:

2DogsFarm
Mar. 28, 2012, 02:35 PM
If someone changes barns do they get to take their share of the footing with them?
^
THIS
:lol: sounds fair to me

OP:
No effing way!
Trainer might have asked for some help, but expecting clients to foot the bill for her improvements? To a property she is just leasing??
Um...N-O!

mvp
Mar. 28, 2012, 03:04 PM
I have ridden at this barn for 10+ years. During this time the trainer has increased the cost of training 1 time.


Ummmm...trainer is executing poor judgement in running her business in a misguided attempt to keep it affordable. In reality, she is not making operating costs so is doing clients no favors. Barns that charge more do so to make operating costs as successful businesses do.

I'll say it again, my proletariat comrades, we have been part of the problem. For more than a generation, we have not been willing (or able*) to pay what it really costs to keep our luxury animals in decent conditions.

That's why trainers are making bad agreements with BOs.

That's why BO's are leasing out their places and shirking maintenance costs and certainly not signing any agreement that obligates them to capital improvements in order to please their tenants.

That's why BOs' profit margins have been shrinking to zero as they have tried to just keep the barn full at any cost.

Notice one thing: Sh!t and extortionist demands for payment rolls down hill until it stops at the most desperate and/or most gullible. BO passed the obligation for footing (in more than a decade!) to the tenant/trainer. Now trainer will try to pass that off to current clients.

If you are sure you will stay for a year or more (and that no more demands will arrive), then you can amortize your $1,000 over those 12 months to get to that $85/month board increase. If you need to finance the $1K outlay, increase your board bill in order to cover the interest you'll pay for that loan.

IMO, board/training is going to have to go the way of the rental business with yearly increased becoming industry standard.

* And now to the asterisk. This all means that many people will be priced out. That already includes me to the extent that I don't show as often as anyone in my horse life wants. IMO, it's fine if we get priced out of too much showing because we are spending more money to care for our horses at home. But trainers don't like that, hence plans like this wrapped in the logic of "We need to do well by the horses!"

lv4running
Mar. 28, 2012, 03:13 PM
Ten years!?!? She hasn't raised fees or saved for footing in TEN years!?!?! I would not pay a grand for someone to put in new footing under these conditions. I'm not cheap, it's that my training/lessons fees are to cover such expenses. To the person that said she's ridden with this person for ten years, I can see where you feel you have invested in this person, but this still isn't the right way to handle such things.

I can fully understand why the BO doesn't want to upgrade the footing. Trainers with an unlimited pocketbook, just like teenagers, always think they need to spend your money. The footing benefits the BO none. If this trainer had raised her rates $1 per person per lesson each year she'd have enough to do this upgrade herself, and it wouldn't have caused such a ruckus with the people she wanted to fund it. I'm also hearing that this trainer hasn't upgraded the arena in TEN years? Yuck...just yuck. I've left barns for less because I didn't have enough invested in them to make it worth staying.

OP, only you know if this is worth it to you or not. Personally, nothing is worth feeling like I was screwed over for a grand. If the footing isn't safe as it is I wouldnt be riding there. period.

Isabeau Z Solace
Mar. 28, 2012, 04:05 PM
I'll say it again, my proletariat comrades, we have been part of the problem. For more than a generation, we have not been willing (or able*) to pay what it really costs to keep our luxury animals in decent conditions.

That's why trainers are making bad agreements with BOs.

That's why BO's are leasing out their places and shirking maintenance costs and certainly not signing any agreement that obligates them to capital improvements in order to please their tenants.

That's why BOs' profit margins have been shrinking to zero as they have tried to just keep the barn full at any cost.

Notice one thing: Sh!t and extortionist demands for payment rolls down hill until it stops at the most desperate and/or most gullible. BO passed the obligation for footing (in more than a decade!) to the tenant/trainer. Now trainer will try to pass that off to current clients.

If you are sure you will stay for a year or more (and that no more demands will arrive), then you can amortize your $1,000 over those 12 months to get to that $85/month board increase. If you need to finance the $1K outlay, increase your board bill in order to cover the interest you'll pay for that loan.

IMO, board/training is going to have to go the way of the rental business with yearly increased becoming industry standard.

* And now to the asterisk. This all means that many people will be priced out. That already includes me to the extent that I don't show as often as anyone in my horse life wants. IMO, it's fine if we get priced out of too much showing because we are spending more money to care for our horses at home. But trainers don't like that, hence plans like this wrapped in the logic of "We need to do well by the horses!"

Yes I think you've got it right.

Isabeau Z Solace
Mar. 28, 2012, 04:15 PM
OP, only you know if this is worth it to you or not. Personally, nothing is worth feeling like I was screwed over for a grand. If the footing isn't safe as it is I wouldnt be riding there. period.

But that's ridiculous!! The trainer is not "screwing" anyone.

More like she is late to making maintenance/improvements. And now that the 'bill is due' for these improvements the OP is unhappy. Honestly, OP helped to grind that footing to dust for 10 years!!! They have all been delusional in thinking it would last 'forever.' Likely trainer has held off as long as she possibly could. In no small part because she knows clients will be very, very unhappy about ANY increase in fees.

I think the OP has all the answers to her own questions. Everyone has been living (relatively) cheaper because they have been using up the initial investments made by the farm owner. Let's not forget the person who doled out the (likely) millions in mortgage $ that everyone now enjoys for relatively little $, compared to what the property owner pays/paid for the property/buildings/arenas/footing//fencing, etc.

Now they have to pay some of the 'real' costs, and it smarts. It hurts. I don't doubt it. But it partly hurts so much because they have been underpaying for quite some time....

FineAlready
Mar. 28, 2012, 04:28 PM
But that's ridiculous!! The trainer is not "screwing" anyone.

More like she is late to making maintenance/improvements. And now that the 'bill is due' for these improvements the OP is unhappy. Honestly, OP helped to grind that footing to dust for 10 years!!! They have all been delusional in thinking it would last 'forever.' Likely trainer has held off as long as she possibly could. In no small part because she knows clients will be very, very unhappy about ANY increase in fees.

I think the OP has all the answers to her own questions. Everyone has been living (relatively) cheaper because they have been using up the initial investments made by the farm owner. Let's not forget the person who doled out the (likely) millions in mortgage $ that everyone now enjoys for relatively little $, compared to what the property owner pays/paid for the property/buildings/arenas/footing//fencing, etc.

Now they have to pay some of the 'real' costs, and it smarts. It hurts. I don't doubt it. But it partly hurts so much because they have been underpaying for quite some time....

Yeah, and the treadmills at my gym are wearing out. I helped wear those out by running on them all these years. Of course, I *paid a gym membership* all this time to use those treadmills. The price of that membership is presumably used to: (a) pay the mortgage on the property; (b) purchase and maintain equipment; and (c) provide a profit to the gym owner.

The gym owner decides the pricing for the gym membership. If they set the price so low that they can't pay to maintain the equipment? Well, that's a bad business decision. I'm not to blame for using the equipment I paid to use at the price they set for me to be able to use it. And I sure as heck wouldn't take kindly to being told, "Hey, we need to replace the treadmills, so in addition to the monthly gym membership you paid for the past year, we're going to need an additional $1,000 if you want to keep coming here and using the treadmills. YOU wore them out, after all, and WE put in a lot of money to buy this property."

Sorry, but being a member or paying board/rent/any kind of fee to use something that needs to be maintained implies that the cost of the membership/rent/board COVERS the cost of using the thing you are paying to use.

Otherwise, wouldn't you just buy your own treadmill? Or your own barn/arena?

As others have stated, this was just very poor planning on the part of the BO and trainer.

eclipse
Mar. 28, 2012, 04:32 PM
But that's ridiculous!! The trainer is not "screwing" anyone.

More like she is late to making maintenance/improvements. And now that the 'bill is due' for these improvements the OP is unhappy. Honestly, OP helped to grind that footing to dust for 10 years!!! They have all been delusional in thinking it would last 'forever.' Likely trainer has held off as long as she possibly could. In no small part because she knows clients will be very, very unhappy about ANY increase in fees.

I think the OP has all the answers to her own questions. Everyone has been living (relatively) cheaper because they have been using up the initial investments made by the farm owner. Let's not forget the person who doled out the (likely) millions in mortgage $ that everyone now enjoys for relatively little $, compared to what the property owner pays/paid for the property/buildings/arenas/footing//fencing, etc.

Now they have to pay some of the 'real' costs, and it smarts. It hurts. I don't doubt it. But it partly hurts so much because they have been underpaying for quite some time....

Not the riders fault that they've been underpaying for quite some time........that's the TRAINER'S fault for being so dumb and naive as to never raise monthly board/lessons.

Also not the rider's fault that the footing needs to be maintained. So WHAT if riding on it causes it to break down........that's what UPKEEP and MAINTENANCE agreements are in place for between the TRAINER and OWNER! So, yeah trainer has been deliquent and frankly stupid to never of raised board to cover expenses for upkeep that she has never negotiated into her contract with the owner! Again.....NOT THE BOARDER'S fault!

lv4running
Mar. 28, 2012, 04:38 PM
IZS, It is your OPINION that they are underpaying. Personally I would feel screwed over if my trainer failed to budget properly for TEN YEARS and now wanted money from me to fix this issue. Who cares if she's been using the arena or not? Under THAT logic those who have more horses, have been there longer, etc shoudl pay more because they use it more.

Barn fees are separate from trainer fees in this case. One does not translate to the other. If this trainer kept her fees low so she could have more students, etc that is her issue not theirs. No one goes to a trainer expecting to pay additonal fees like this.

So, if you don't ride with this trainer and board there are you expected to pay?

Hpilot
Mar. 28, 2012, 05:10 PM
If the BO buys the footing, then more than likely the rent to the trainer is going to go up. The trainer would pass that along. The boarders always end up paying one way or the other. Personally, I would rather pay by increased rent and not be asked to contribute $1000. Either way, boarders aren't going to be happy.

I am betting that the trainer got a reduction on rent for the facility by agreeing to do maintenance of the arena.

mvp
Mar. 28, 2012, 05:18 PM
And.... the Marxist rant continues because it is totally a propos here and will restore some humanity to what is becoming a blaming discussion.



Yeah, and the treadmills at my gym are wearing out. I helped wear those out by running on them all these years. Of course, I *paid a gym membership* all this time to use those treadmills. The price of that membership is presumably used to: (a) pay the mortgage on the property; (b) purchase and maintain equipment; and (c) provide a profit to the gym owner.

Sorry, but being a member or paying board/rent/any kind of fee to use something that needs to be maintained implies that the cost of the membership/rent/board COVERS the cost of using the thing you are paying to use.

You are absolutely correct that the gym owner should have done his costing and set a fee schedule that worked for him.

But have you done this with your employers? Have you negotiated a salary that lets you stay in the black now, plus buy adequate health coverage for you and yours, pay for your old age and also getting the kiddies to their first graduate degree (or even the down payment on their first house)? When your employer said "Mmm, no. We can't come close to that salary," did you summarily walk, telling them that they weren't paying a m-er f-ing living wage in the first place? Or did you do some kinda sorta belt tightening so that you could make the salary work... at least for the short term?

My point is that most of us have done some lying to ourselves when it comes to admitting what our costs are and trying to bring those into line with what people will pay.

BOs have done the same thing.


IZS, It is your OPINION that they are underpaying. Personally I would feel screwed over if my trainer failed to budget properly for TEN YEARS and now wanted money from me to fix this issue. Who cares if she's been using the arena or not? Under THAT logic those who have more horses, have been there longer, etc shoudl pay more because they use it more.


So don't feel screwed by someone who has done what lots of us have done because we thought we had to.... because it looked rational (we could keep clients and cashflow for now)....because we thought only about the short term.

But if you don't like it, don't pay it now, but do be willing to pay the higher rates that trainer should have been charging all the way along!

Isabeau Z Solace
Mar. 28, 2012, 05:20 PM
Also not the rider's fault that the footing needs to be maintained. So WHAT if riding on it causes it to break down........that's what UPKEEP and MAINTENANCE agreements are in place for between the TRAINER and OWNER! So, yeah trainer has been deliquent and frankly stupid to never of raised board to cover expenses for upkeep that she has never negotiated into her contract with the owner! Again.....NOT THE BOARDER'S fault!

The boarder's are not being punished. They are being charged. The charges for footing are no more a punishment for fault than is a board bill a punishment for keeping your horse. It is a charge.

If clients (not helpless little children or adult criminals....) do not like what they are charged, they can leave.

Children and criminals are punished. Clients are charged.

Everybody want's somebody else to pay....

rothmpp
Mar. 28, 2012, 05:33 PM
To the few people defending the trainer - the rest of us get it, really we do. If the footing gets done, the clients are going to pay for it one way or the other, either through a one time assessment or an increase in monthly fees.

What we are all saying is that the trainer is trying to foist their poor planning onto to the clients by making the clients finance the new footing in one lump sum. That is what is leaving such a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Whatever business decisions led the trainer to only increase costs to clients only once in the last ten years has now come home to roost and trainer is going to have to deal with the consequences, either by getting actual financing (good luck with that in a leased property), funding the project personally, or forcing this one time assessment on the clients, some of which may actually leave.

OP - good luck, and no, this was not the best way to go about dealing with capital improvements.

slp
Mar. 28, 2012, 05:40 PM
Trainer could be a poor business person, or they could be a PT Barnum waiting to see who is going to fork over the money.

I know a trainer that wanted hers and her clients horses in the "good" upfront stalls at a show; in order to get those stalls a show sponsorship was required. She tried to make all of her clients pay for that sponsorship in order to stable in those stalls with her; if they wouldn't pay they would have to stay in the "cheap" stabling at the back of the show grounds and they also wouldn't be able to use any of the barns show services (horse day care, grooming, etc., all extra things to pay for in the first place.) This 'voluntary' sponsorship would come to about $750 - $1000 on top of all the regular show and trainer fees for the show series, and the trainer / barn would be the ones that got the tax write off.

Most of the clients said no and planned to either stay in the cheap stalls or to simply not go to the show. They all ended up getting to stay in the good stalls because trainer realized that she couldn't extort them to pay her sponsorship (although there were a few that paid it without question...always a sucker born every minute.)

Dare1
Mar. 28, 2012, 06:00 PM
I would be moving my horse ASAP. If you want to increase my board each year that is fine but to expect me to give you that lump sum of money at once, no way.
Our current barn needs some work done this summer and I have told the BO that we will try to help her as much as possibe ( decobwebbing and tidying up etc). IU know that there is no way she would drop a bombshell like that on us.

FreshAir
Mar. 28, 2012, 08:11 PM
Giant balls very small brain. I know several with this affliction.

wanderlust
Mar. 28, 2012, 08:21 PM
More like she is late to making maintenance/improvements. And now that the 'bill is due' for these improvements the OP is unhappy. Honestly, OP helped to grind that footing to dust for 10 years!!! They have all been delusional in thinking it would last 'forever.'. For real? What is your board supposed to pay for if not the care of your horse and ONGOING maintenance of property? Use is going to tear up footing. Duh. Plan for that fact and build it into your fees.

I never cease to be amazed by the incredibly poor business practices and martyr/victim complexes of many "professionals". It's a business, run it like one.

juststartingout
Mar. 28, 2012, 08:22 PM
Really... leave right away... bad business judgment....inappropriate charges

OK bad communication, maybe poor business practice ...

Yes maybe the trainer should have been charging more all those years (YES the trainer should have been) but those were savings that the boarders enjoyed for many years .... probably because the trainer was afraid of reactions like the ones here

Someone in this thread said that in general people are not willing to pay what is costs to have quality facilities and care for their horses --- YES ABSOLUTELY --- and that is why most horses are boarded in places where compromises are made on the quality of care or the quality of footing. How many of us boarders have not had complaints about the quality of hay, how many of us have not said there the shavings in the stall were too skimpy, How many of us have not noticed that the staffing was not sufficient to provide time to really notice if a horse lost a shoe or had a small cut. These things, like good footing, cost money -- money that most of us are not willing to part with. And my guess is when those complaints were not accompanied by a willingness to pay additional board.

The truth is that this could have been handled better --- if there are equal or better facilities for the same or less money, by all means go to them.... but realize its not so likely.

Barn owners and trainers (with few exceptions) are not living the good life off us boarders. As an accountant who has done the numbers for a variety of barns, most barns are getting by.... and working hard to do so.

Perhaps barn owners and trainers could do a better job educating clients about the numbers --- on the other hand how many of us would have started down this road had we TRULY understood the cost. Still, a bit of transparency about the cost of running a barn would go a long way to having boarders understand the cost of board.

In this care, boarders need simply to make a choice - leave for somewhere else or find a way to help a trainer who is likely unable to fund the footing get it done. Questions about the resources of the trainer are entirely appropriate - screaming about being ripped off - not so much

Linny
Mar. 28, 2012, 09:30 PM
And.... the Marxist rant continues because it is totally a propos here and will restore some humanity to what is becoming a blaming discussion.




You are absolutely correct that the gym owner should have done his costing and set a fee schedule that worked for him.

But have you done this with your employers? Have you negotiated a salary that lets you stay in the black now, plus buy adequate health coverage for you and yours, pay for your old age and also getting the kiddies to their first graduate degree (or even the down payment on their first house)? When your employer said "Mmm, no. We can't come close to that salary," did you summarily walk, telling them that they weren't paying a m-er f-ing living wage in the first place? Or did you do some kinda sorta belt tightening so that you could make the salary work... at least for the short term?

My point is that most of us have done some lying to ourselves when it comes to admitting what our costs are and trying to bring those into line with what people will pay.

BOs have done the same thing.








The difference is that I am a salaried employee, the trainer is not an employee but a contractor. She runs a business and can quote any rate she sees fit to operate her business, plan for future investment into that business and provide an acceptable profit on which to live. Clearly she failed to plan for future investment.

I have many friends who run businesses. I spoke with one about this thread. He is non horsey but runs a TV production company. He recently bought a suite of new production materials including a camera, microphone and a MacBook Air. It was about a $15k investment. He said that he would never in a million years have thought to levy a charge on his clients to cover the expense. Knowing that he'd have this upgrade coming, he set his fees for the last 2 years to cover the pending upgrade plus maintenance on existing gear and of course money for him to live on.

I'd love to make more because as you say, everything has gone up. The contractors who work for my company HAVE gotten raises over the last 3 years while my comany has held salaries flat.

If you want a steady stream of income, get a job working for someone else. When you set up your own business you have a very different set of responsibilities. I understand that trainers are seeing prices go up and are reluctant to raise fees for fear of losing clients. I also see trainers adding "luxury" features like fancy footing while letting alot of other things go, like hiring help with horse experience or cleaning buckets or buying lower quality hay.

juststartingout
Mar. 28, 2012, 09:50 PM
[QUOTE=Linny;6223561 ......

When you set up your own business you have a very different set of responsibilities. I understand that trainers are seeing prices go up and are reluctant to raise fees for fear of losing clients. I also see trainers adding "luxury" features like fancy footing while letting alot of other things go, like hiring help with horse experience or cleaning buckets or buying lower quality hay.[/QUOTE]

Luxury footing is different from good safe footing --- this is an area that is appropriate for negotiation -- however, it seems unlikely that a trainer would put luxury footing in a leased facility...

and IMHO good safe footing is every bit as important as qualified staff and quality hay

in any event, what happened in the past, bad planning and failure to raise fees or not, can't be changed by pointing it out today.... again the question right now id how does this facility get the footing that is required in a financially acceptable manner

Gray Horse H/J
Mar. 28, 2012, 11:04 PM
I have a question. What happens if a boarder can't pay the $1,000? Will the trainer ask them to leave? Will they be allowed to stay but be banned from using the ring?

If my BO walked up to me tomorrow and said I have to pay $1,000 with my next board payment, I couldn't do it. Even if I wanted to I couldn't. I don't have an extra $1,000.

Nobody likes paying more for things, but in general people can deal with it if the amount is reasonable and there is some time to plan. "Reasonable" and "time to plan" are going to vary from person to person, but I think it's safe to say that $1,000 with no notice is neither a reasonable amount, nor ample time to plan. For most people anyway.

My barn has raised board, I think, three times in the last five years. Each time a notice has been stuffed in with our board bills letting us know that the increase will take effect the following month. I believe twice the increase was $25 per month, and once it was $20. Those are tiny amounts and the BOs handled it as they should have - with ample notice.

If the trainer hasn't raised fees for anything in ten years, well, that's just not very smart. I can't think of anything that costs the same now as it did ten years ago.

But back to my original question, what happens if the boarders can't pay it?

Come Shine
Mar. 28, 2012, 11:09 PM
Maybe the trainer didn't raise the rates to cover the cost of the improving the footing because she wasn't planning on being there in 10 years. Maybe she set what she thought was fair to cover the basic cost of keeping the horses plus some for her to live on. And as costs of everything have escalated, if her board and lesson rates haven't gone up, her living wages have gone down.

Maybe she now is in a position with clients that she feels has a solid enough base to ask people to contribute to improving the facility. Maybe things have changed with the owner of the facility that she feels she can commit to putting that kind of improvement in.

It isn't like she is asking for $1000 from each person to fund a vacay for herself.

I agree that having a $1K charge suddenly appear is crazy but I can understand how she may not have budgeted over 10 years for this cost.

How many people who rent budget for a huge capital expenditure?

Mardi
Mar. 29, 2012, 12:17 AM
I went through the same thing at a very nice h/j stable where I boarded dressage horses.
After I had been there a year or so, they improved the footing on the grand prix (dirt) field and closed it off to anyone who didn't contribute $1000 to the cost of the new footing. Two trainers refused to pay (so did I). The other ones did, and I assume so did their clients.

Within 2 years, the young trainer who's idea it was to improve the footing and charge everyone for the cost, up and left.

Now everyone rides on the gp field again, regardless if they paid or not.

What a waste.

Trixie
Mar. 29, 2012, 09:27 AM
Maybe the trainer didn't raise the rates to cover the cost of the improving the footing because she wasn't planning on being there in 10 years. Maybe she set what she thought was fair to cover the basic cost of keeping the horses plus some for her to live on. And as costs of everything have escalated, if her board and lesson rates haven't gone up, her living wages have gone down.

I agree that having a $1K charge suddenly appear is crazy but I can understand how she may not have budgeted over 10 years for this cost.

How many people who rent budget for a huge capital expenditure?

You have to at least put money into the budget for expenses - with horses, we all know some of those expenses are coming. New truck and trailer, rental increases (rent has gone up DRAMATICALLY in my area in five years, to say nothing for ten), fencing, etc. If it wasn't footing (which was explicitly in her rental contract) it would have been something else.

eclipse
Mar. 29, 2012, 09:40 AM
The boarder's are not being punished. They are being charged. The charges for footing are no more a punishment for fault than is a board bill a punishment for keeping your horse. It is a charge.

If clients (not helpless little children or adult criminals....) do not like what they are charged, they can leave.

Children and criminals are punished. Clients are charged.


Everybody want's somebody else to pay....

And where on earth do you get that I said "punished" :lol: I said "not the clients fault that their trainer is stupid enough not to raise board over the years"! Completely different........trainer screwed up, clients did NOT! And, in regards to your last sentance, yeah, apparantly the TRAINER wants somebody else to pay!! :lol::winkgrin:

juststartingout
Mar. 29, 2012, 09:49 AM
And where on earth do you get that I said "punished" :lol: I said "not the clients fault that their trainer is stupid enough not to raise board over the years"! Completely different........trainer screwed up, clients did NOT! And, in regards to your last sentance, yeah, apparantly the TRAINER wants somebody else to pay!! :lol::winkgrin:

Yes... and the clients reaped the benefit of that "screw up".... but again the question here is how to get the needed footing paid for --- the past matters but does not solve the current problem

Tapperjockey
Mar. 29, 2012, 09:52 AM
And where on earth do you get that I said "punished" :lol: I said "not the clients fault that their trainer is stupid enough not to raise board over the years"! Completely different........trainer screwed up, clients did NOT! And, in regards to your last sentance, yeah, apparantly the TRAINER wants somebody else to pay!! :lol::winkgrin:

You're right.

I think the trainer should figure out what she should be charging, and do all the increases at once ( probably 100-200 in 10 years I imagine). Within a year, they will have the footing paid for.

Linny
Mar. 29, 2012, 10:03 AM
So the traner didn't plan for a massive capital investment and now the entire bill is due now, or else.

As for footing vs. "luxury footing" it comes down to this: For years horses were just fine on well groomed sand based arenas. In the last decade many companies have sprung up selling a variety of footings. (Working in racing I am aware of many of the synthetic surfaces like PolyTrack ad Tapeta.) Yes many of them have advantages over old footing but in many cases they ARE a luxury, not a requirement. I need a car, I don't need a Mercedes. In many cases it's not the footing that's bad, its the way it's groomed.

trubandloki
Mar. 29, 2012, 11:26 AM
It is very clear that this trainer is very lucky that there seems to be a large contingency that is OK with really crappy business practices and is more than willing to bend over and make things better.

gottagrey
Mar. 29, 2012, 11:53 AM
So the traner didn't plan for a massive capital investment and now the entire bill is due now, or else.

As for footing vs. "luxury footing" it comes down to this: For years horses were just fine on well groomed sand based arenas. In the last decade many companies have sprung up selling a variety of footings. (Working in racing I am aware of many of the synthetic surfaces like PolyTrack ad Tapeta.) Yes many of them have advantages over old footing but in many cases they ARE a luxury, not a requirement. I need a car, I don't need a Mercedes. In many cases it's not the footing that's bad, its the way it's groomed.

This!. I rode for years at a barn w/ a grass ring (we couldn't always ride in it) and plenty of fields. Amazingly the woman that owns that farm had 2 Ammy Hunters & Jumpers she showed pretty regularly at most of the nearby A shows. She is a capable enough rider in that her horses never needed much more than warming up in the schooling area prior to classes - she didn't over jump at home. Somehow with her fields and grass ring her horses stayed sound, were on no supplements during their showing careers. Imagine that - sound horses until their 20's without top of the line footing?

Did the OP say how long the trainer has been at this facility - and I'd like to know what happens if the client's cant come up w/ the $1,000 ?

Again, I don't know how legally the trainer can demand their paying.They can kick them out sure - but that's not going to get the $1,000 to pay for footing is it? They can get new clients - sure but before I train you I need $1,000 to pay for footing. The only way the trainer should be able to collect the funds for new footing is if the clients all agree to contribute the the purchase. Chances are if the trainer had a meeting to discuss it, most of the clients would have gladly agreed to it. No one likes to be forced like this. Bad bad idea.

Alter-ramma
Mar. 29, 2012, 01:12 PM
What strikes me as odd- The op stated the trainer was going to charge ride in clients as well. If I was hauling in for lessons and was given a bill for $1,000 for ring maintance---I'd be hauling somewhere else. (I'd rather but $1,000 into my own private barn, then the trainers).

If I was taking my kids for lessons on a school horse and the trainer billed me $500 for ring maintance....I'd be taking my kids elsewhere for lessons.


So, how can it be fair for the boarders to pay....when other people, haul ins & lesson kids will also be using the ring?

This just seems like a bad idea all together....seems like it will cause more drama and resentment than it's worth.

alto
Mar. 29, 2012, 02:10 PM
I suspect the fee to haul-ins will just be a surcharge on their normal fee (or maybe haul-ins are not paying any ring fees at all at this time :uhoh: )

I also suspect that new clients coming in will have the option of paying the new footing fee or paying a higher monthly board cost ...

The real problem is that trainer had been running the facility as if it were a co-op barn which has suited the clients very well to date, but now that the "downside" of co-op management is rearing its head, they suddenly want history re-written :rolleyes:

I doubt that there was no option of a payment plan for clients that are unable to manage the lump sum.

Ravencrest_Camp
Mar. 29, 2012, 05:46 PM
[QUOTE=alto;6224829]

The real problem is that trainer had been running the facility as if it were a co-op barn /QUOTE]

The question is, did the clients know she was running it as a co-op?

Zu Zu
Mar. 29, 2012, 08:00 PM
ENJOYING THIS THREAD :lol:

MUST REMEMBER IT FOR THE END OF THE YEAR 'FAVORITES' :D

trubandloki
Mar. 30, 2012, 08:35 AM
The real problem is that trainer had been running the facility as if it were a co-op barn

The question is, did the clients know she was running it as a co-op?

That is a great question if it is the case but wondering how did we learn it was a co-op?
The OP says this is the only facility around with full groom service, etc. That does not scream co-op to me.

DressageOverFences
Mar. 30, 2012, 11:23 AM
I like good footing and like to see barn improvements so I dont have the problem with that. Its just the fact that someone coming in one month after the arena is installed doesnt have to pay for the improvements.

It sounds like this is a show barn where everyone is in training. If I was the trainer I would add 1000 dollars to everyones bill (or perhaps split it over a few months) and then give free training to cover it. Im sure that wouldnt happen in this scenario, but it would make it fair since the people who invested would be getting that money back in service and people who didnt pay would not just get to take advantage of a new ring.

gottagrey
Mar. 30, 2012, 03:24 PM
I got it - all of the clients chip in for Mega Million ticket - if you win "donate" the new footing from your winnings. :)

Zu Zu
Apr. 3, 2012, 09:21 PM
BUMPING THIS THREAD UP FOR AN UPDATE ```:winkgrin:

WHERE IS THE 'BOARDER ?

WHERE IS THE TRAINER ?

HAS THE NEW FOOTING BEEN DELIVERED ??? :lol:

Prime Time Rider
Apr. 3, 2012, 11:46 PM
Improved footing is a capital improvement. The trainer/lessee should work this out with the owner/lessor. If she signed a contract that she is responsible for the footing, she signed a poor contract. Capital improvements should be recognized by the owner. Perhaps she could renegotiate with the owner. Perhaps a break in HER monthly rent spread out over several months. Additionally, there could be tax benefits/write-offs for the improvements made. Who gets to write this off when it is your money? While it is obvious that improved footing benefits all, it is not a boarder's responsibility to pay for it.

Lizzie, you are absolutely correct that improved footing is a capital improvement and can be written off as a business expense and depreciated. Raising the board to cover the expense off new improved footing is one thing, charging each customer a $1000 upfront for capital improvements (new footing) is another.

Having a budget for necessary capital improvements is past of running a business. The cost of maintaining the facilities and making capital improvements should be reflected in the monthly board charges. No other business charges its customers upfront for capital improvements. When was the last time you went to your health club and discovered that they planned on charging you $500 for the installation of a new heater for the pool, or to replace the workout equipment???

This trainer may be a great horse trainer but isn't much of a business woman. Plus, how presumptious is it for her to assume that all of her boarders can afford an extra $1,000 board surcharge without notice? We aren't talking about a $25 supply charge.

gottagrey
Apr. 4, 2012, 12:33 PM
This too - if the clients all give trainer the cash, trainer then gets to use the expense as a "capital improvement" off her taxes - why should trainer get the benefit of any business deduction when they didn't pay for it? For business expenses like mileage or hotel/travel expenses if your company reimburses you for it you cannot take the deductions on your personal taxes.

I'd def hand this trainer a 1099

LauraKY
Apr. 14, 2012, 04:16 PM
As the owner of a boarding/training facility this is absolutely NOT acceptable.. If I were you, I would approach the trainer and ask why he/she is not splitting the cost with the owner. This is how we deal with these type of requests. The resident trainer and we(the owners) split the expense. the trainer sometimes raises monthly expenses to their clients, but NEVER a one time assessment.. and no more than $50. at a time.... long term it benefits everyone involved. the farm, the trainer and the clients.. happy clients=happy trainer= happy owner
BUT make sure when the new footing comes that the BASE is repaired and or replaced as that is where most all issues arise. Without a great base, the top dressing is like icing on a novice bakers cake.. deep in spots and thin in others.
Good luck

Just posting for posterity.

LauraKY
Apr. 14, 2012, 04:22 PM
This too - if the clients all give trainer the cash, trainer then gets to use the expense as a "capital improvement" off her taxes - why should trainer get the benefit of any business deduction when they didn't pay for it? For business expenses like mileage or hotel/travel expenses if your company reimburses you for it you cannot take the deductions on your personal taxes.

I'd def hand this trainer a 1099

Not true...if you show the income, you can claim the expense. For example, my husband uses his car for business. He gets a car allowance and reimbursment for mileage. The totals of both don't quite cover the expenses. So on our return we include the income and claim the expenses. But yes, maybe you should hand the trainer a 1099 anyway.