any tips on keeping a balanced happy boarding barn?
I get to see different kinds of places when I go to massage horses and got to wondering if there are any good tips for having a nice mix of folks at a boarding barn that make it a happy place to be for all?
Some places clearly have a 'program' and you are either 'in' or 'out'. Some have NO program. Is there a balance to be struck or is it whatever works for the BO?
After all the boarding horror threads I've read on here, sometimes I wonder if it's even POSSIBLE to have a happy boarding barn without us/them situations....
At the barn where I board, boarders who, shall we say, detracted substantially from domestic tranquility, have in the past been asked to leave. The BO & BM don't put up with it. People follow the rules, are respectful of others, clean up after themselves, don't take stuff, and life is good. There is a wait list for stalls. Anyone who might have dramatic tendencies knows, in the back of their mind, that if they were to really piss off the BO or another boarder for something dumb, that they could be shopping for another place to keep their horse.
I think that when BO / BM have a reputation for not tolerating nonsense, less nonsense happens.
I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09
I find that regardless of discipline or mix of disciplines, the thing that makes barns harmonious is Posted Rules.
When expectations are explicit and clear, things tend to go well.
And quick, fair enforcement of them.
My BO is a no-nonsense business woman who generally minds her own business and doesn't meddle. She is a very knowledgeable and experienced horsewoman and will offer advice when asked. She's quick to say, "Clean that up." or "don't do that" if people start to get a little off track, even to her own daughter, the BM.
Keeping boundaries clear goes a very long way toward ensuring harmony.
When someone new comes in my boss always tells them he always wants to smile when he sees their car pull in the driveway. I like that philosophy.
We've been very lucky with our boarders, all go out of their way to help each other and support each other. I can only remember one person being asked to leave and that was many years ago. Drama and bad attitudes are just not tolerated and if someone has an issue we expect them to act like adults and figure out a solution. So far so good.
I've been in 3 successful boarding barns.
One I was at for 12 years and basically I was the only active boarder. And she screens big time on who she allows in. She is also a good judge of character. She also communicated really well her way of doing things. Quite of few of them were very old fashioned and cumbersome. I informed of new easier ways but she didn't want to do it any other way. I was fine with it because I just wanted to make life easier for her.
Another was a dressage barn with my trainer on premises. And it was only that trainer's students there. She was the gate keeper on who was allowed in. So it was all dq's who had a great sense of humor. We had some really nit-picky rules like we had to clean our tack after every ride. But again, didn't mind and should be doing it anyway.
Another was owned and run by trainer. Talk about particular! Her barn, her rules and learned a lot about thorough care of a horse. She had to kick a few people out, particularly young riders. They came through recommendations but some just were too immature and too spoiled and she would have none of it. She wasn't there to cater. You work hard, you play hard.
Kick out all the boarders and keep the barn for yourself.
With horse people around there will ALWAYS be drama. If you don't have a problem with the other boarders, then there will be a problem with the BO, and if you don't have a problem with the BO, there will be a problem with the BM or the barn help. It never ends.
The reason there is so much drama is that every horse person thinks that they are right, you are wrong, end of discussion.
It gets really, really old and takes the joy out of spending time with your horses.
Hence the reason why my horses now live at home...and its just me...NO BOARDERS! I love to be able to say "No" when people ask me if I board!
it seems to me thru my yrs of experience that to have a successful barn you need to either have a) no barn trainer/anyone can bring in their own trainer OR b) one barn trainer and everyone rides w/him/her. otherwise there's just going to be problems. can you tell i'm going thru a really hard time of barn drama right now~
I board at a small barn where the BO is also a trainer. BUT we are not required to train with her and she has no problem if we use someone else or in addition to her.... The rules are pretty simple, be courteous, clean up after yourself AND safety for horse and rider! I LOVE going to my barn and even spend time just sitting there in the evening or early morning to enjoy the quiet. Anyone who is a drama queen or does not fit in is asked to leave. I am alawys amazed when I read about all the board drama and then go back to my barn and hug my BO/trainer So the answer is YES, there are barns out there where is is nice and enjoyable...
1) Create a clear set of rules and expectations that apply to all-- from trainers to once-a-week lesson students.
2) Make sure the BO/BM communicates directly with boarders-- all of them--. I think much drama get started by boarders comparing notes or questioning barn policies among themselves. As I long-time boarder, I have learned that nothing works except speaking directly to the person in charge of feeding, blanketing, bedding, footing, whatever. If I want to bitch, I can seek out other boarders but that's ultimately unsatisfying. If I want a change, I can see the person in charge.
3) A corrolary to 2: The BO/BM needs to be accessible and equally so to all.
I agree & disagree with some of these suggestions. I like to feel that we have a very harmonious barn full of people from all walks/all disciplines with one thing in common - no DRAMA!!
I am upfront with people about what I provide and what I don't. If someone wants to board and immediate has a list of "do you's" - I don't. I never worry about filling empty stalls and I screen those who want to come.
I have one rule - be happy. If you're not, don't expect the barn to turn upside down to become what you want it to be - find a barn that suits you instead. Everyone will thank you for it in the long run!
"A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority." Rick Warren
Every barn has its own personality, and I believe that people seek their level.
At our place, we have a great group of people that like to be together, horse around, fiddle with their horses, and just enjoy the place. As the BO, I have a mental model of a sanctuary: a place where people want to be to escape from all the hassles of 'real life.' Everything we do is geared towards creating that feel... and so far, it's working.
We have had a couple folks who just don't fit. Either they need more snob appeal, too show-obsessed to enjoy the more relaxed horsitude here, or they 'don't get' our clearly written (board contract and stable rules) and pleasantly enforced rules. They odd fits have moved on and we seem to stay on friendly terms in our very snug neighborhood that has quite a number of farms.
Bottom line is, I have had horses a long time, always a couple at home and something off here or there in training. So, wide exposure to horsekeeping, although I have learned a tremendous amount since we bought our 50 head place. When I go for a stroll around our place, I would board here.
It's clean, priced reasonably, and we offer a lot of small amenities that most boarding stables in our area don't even think of: water cooler, grazing areas, newsletter of activities, blanket laundry scheduling, hooks everywhere you'd ever want to hang something, warm water wash racks, lights for those who come after work, lots of parking, CLEAN restrooms, continuously upgrading and maintaining the place, great arenas that get watered twice a day if needed... there's just a good feng shui or zen feeling to the place... but it's conscious on our part to make it that way.
There is no best barn, no best trainer... but if potential boarders and BO's are honest and do their homework on each other, then most of the time, the right people end up at the right barn.
I have run boarding barns for nearly 30 years. I have developed a policy of never having an open stall for someone who just happens along. WHY? Well they are coming from somewhere with some reason and they are dissatisfied already. They are either the problem, part of the problem or running from a problem. They have to #1 Schedule an appointment to view my facility. #2 Sit down and tell me about themselves, their horse and their needs. IF they show up sans appointment and expect me to drop everything and accommodate them I know they are too high maintenance so they will never get in here.
Harmony starts by careful screening. Letting a new person and horse in changes the balance. I am well aware that new people effect my precious boarders and they are entitled to their comfort!
Harmony is retained by a few simple unbreakable rules.
Harmony is retained by providing a standard of care as set forth in writing and meeting that standard.
Harmony remains when everyone's expectations are met. INCLUDING Mine!
Dis Harmony means immediate action is required. Direct and to the point! NO GOSSIP is tolerated at my stables EVER!
I am in the stables constantly and consistently. I hear every thing. I do everything. When I get a bad apple I address it. If the standard is not met they must board elsewhere.
The major pet peeves of missing/borrowed stuff I do the following.#1 I Provide fly spray - use it that is what it is there for. There is shampoo, conditioner, show sheen and detangler in the wash stall use it . NEVER EVER borrow another boarders if you do you must leave(unless you have permission). #2 Equipment. My schooling stuff is there for you to use. You must replace it if you break it and put it back where you found it when you are done with it.
That has mitigated the "So & So took my stuff" problem - I never have that happen any more - not for years.
My boarders live in harmony here. I expect it I deliver it. They are 80' feet from my home without harmony I would go crazy! If I ever have a boarder show up that makes me want to go inside or get a pit in my stomach I ask them to leave - i know it is not going well for them either.
"If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"
The best boarding place I was at management wise was VERY laid back. There was no program, all trainers were welcome, boarders could bring in any professional they wanted, and the number of boarders was limited to what the arena and management could handle. You also had to be approved, which meant the BO had to LIKE YOU, lol. If you rubbed him the wrong way, he was suddenly "full" and had no openings .
There was also no communal tack room. We each had our own "area" in a covered "mini-barn" outside each paddock. The barn was only used for layups or injuries. Only adults or supervised kids were allowed to board, no teenagers on their own.
"To be an equestrian in the classical sense is not just to be a rider.
It is a position in life." --Charles de Kunffy
Great feedback so far -- thanks everyone. I kind of wondered for a moment if Miss Motivation was my BO! That's her "mental model" too -- this should be your happy place. Sadly, some folks define happiness as "I do what I want and YOU do what I want."
One of the biggest issues is with a trainer feeling proprietary about the place and making decisions, giving directives, etc, as if she was the BO. Is it possible to structure the environment so no one person can take control? maybe by restricting the hours for lessons/number of lessons or something?