Looong story short, this winter I bought a sweet grade gelding from a friend. I started boarding in May at a farm locally, with rave reviews from same said friend who boarded there in college. The place was great at first. Slowly it morphed and now I am not happy or comfortable with what's going on. I verbally agreed on a year contract for boarding, so that the BO could get enough hay at the discounted 'bulk' rate. I was stupid and didn't get a written contract detailing anything. Great.
So within the last few months some of the horses started getting skinny. My gelding is an easy keeper and he's at a good weight. One of the boarders horses dropped a lot of weight, others only a little, and the schoolies especially have dropped weight. I've gone to the barn to find my horse in the stall with a swollen leg, eye injury, and no one bothered to tell me. When asked the BO said she "never noticed anything, must have just happened before I drove in." There have been repeat lamenesses and issues with fences being down, horses being out, and other red flags I would rather not mention on here, for the sake of being able to keep this as an 'alter'. I am fortunate my horse has been fine but since this all started I have been going every day at night to check.
Add that onto the decline in cleanliness of the facility (and an alarming rodent infestation in the grain, tack, and feed storage rooms).
Fast forward to the last month, board has gone from $300 to $400 and now the BO has sent a notice saying she expects all boarders to share care for all horses mornings and night, and we must work it out between ourselves on who does which day. WTH am I paying $400/month for if I have to do my own care, plus take care of all of HER horses????!!!!???
I figure I'll stick it out and leave in May but this morning as I was bringing the BO's horses in, I was knocked down by a horse that forced itself through the fence, and between the horse I was leading and myself. That's the absolute last straw. I am not going to get hurt trying to take care of her animals. I have not seen her for days and I'm not sure what's going on.
Tell me please, what's the best way to proceed? I realize I should have gotten a contract and been more observant over the last few months. I will never go through this again. I only went at night and used that time to decompress from work and enjoy myself. I figured it was easy to not realize that a horse had a puffy fetlock if you were in a hurry but the rest has piled itself into a mountain of wrong and my regrets won't change anything.
I found a place to move, I just need transportation. The BO has always been by all means a "good" BO until recently. I don't want to speculate on why the changes and I also don't feel, with the term changes, that I owe the BO for board from Jan-May, all things considered. But since I have no written contract I can't show how everything changed. I can't afford to pay board at two places, so what do I do???
Sorry you're having to deal with this! Seems like not having a contract works in your favor. Remember, SHE doesn't have a contract either. Leave ASAP, and remember care may decline after (if) you givenotice. Good luck!
Even if you did verbally agree to stay for a year, you didn't agree to care for the BO's horses at 33% higher board rate. BO changed the terms of any verbal agreement you may have had. Get out now before it gets worse.
I know sometimes we just want to vent...so, I get wanting to outline how ridiculous (!!!) this got....
However, I just don't see the reason to come here? and question what to do? MOVE YOUR HORSE....I mean, really? Seriously?
No contract (and, I'm sorry, but even if there was one , wouldn't you move the horse anyway?)
and no reason not to.
"Indecision may or may not be my problem"
Yeah, while having no contract gives her the room to do whatever she wants, it also means you're not held to having to stay there, especially if you have somewhere else to go. Spend that board money on paying a professional shipper, if you have to, but GET YOUR HORSE OUT OF THERE. You can tell her in person or with a letter AFTER your horse and stuff are gone that you're moving and it's up to you if you want to detail why or just say that you found a better situation for you.
EDIT: And like others have said, even if there WAS a contract, the BO would've violated that first (presumably) by changing the conditions under which your horse is kept so you'd still be free to move without notice, IMHO.
Assuming you've paid for December, sort out a ride for your horse, pack your stuff, give your notice and leave today. You are then giving the best part of a month's notice which is generous under the circumstances.
You have absolutely no obligation to stay until May.
You also have no obligation to care for other people's horses.
Run. Away. Fast. Tell her after you're gone. I almost never advise this, but I did have to do it once. I had no contract, left a check on the board for the two days to the end of the month plus a lay-up fee (very long story) and got the heck out.
I already have something worked out as far as moving (I'm just waiting for the transportation company to call me back with a time).. I was just worried that she'd come after me for all those months, but it makes sense that since she changed the terms it should be ok. I am worried about her showing up when I get my horse though. I don't want any sort of crazy confrontation. I just want to get my horse and get the heck out.
I just want to make sure I protect my horse and myself until the shipper comes. I still have to take care of her blasted animals until we get moved tho, well someone has to do it and my horse is in there. This is awful.
And yeah, I'm whining too. It sucks moving mid-winter and I hate the unsettled feeling in my gut. But you know, at first I thought I was just being silly, and it was bad luck, or this, or that. I didn't want to seem crazy for thinking that it was really that bad and moving, but stepping back from it. Yes, it was crazy not to move, yesterday.
I've seen posts about similar situations where the person in your shoes is advised to just take the horse off the property (like you were going on a trail ride) and meet the transporter there. Not sure if you even go out on trails from this barn, but it might plant a seed as to how to handle this. If you have a lot of stuff there, I'd also advise starting to take it each time you visit.
I know there's supposed to be two sides to every story, but if what you have said is factually accurate, I can't IMAGINE any story the BO might have that would excuse this. I'm having trouble not believing you are making it up, that's just how whack-a-doo it sounds. So if you ARE legit, think on that for a second... your situation is so weird that it almost seems implausible. So make haste slowly or at least calmly, but get the HAIL out of there!!!
Arrange whatever pieces come your way. - Virginia Woolf
Did you know that if you say the word "GULLIBLE" really softly, it sounds like "ORANGES"?
facepalm, can you see her trying to tell a judge that while she is not honoring HER verbal commitments to you (care level, price, hay availability, requirement that you work), YOU are required to honor a verbal commitment to be there for a year? they would laugh her out of the room, which is what you should do.
Get your shipping set. Get your tack out of there NOW NOW NOW, discreetly, an armful at a time. After your belongings are secure and you have a commitment from a shipper, give notice, and get horsey outta there. Yesterday.
I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09
Start taking stuff home to "clean it" for a fun event you're gonna try to do. Then when the shipper shows up, you are going to your event, clinic, whatever... Once horse is loaded and off property you can leave a note or call and say you have found other boarding arrangements, thank you and BYE_BYE. You don't have to talk to her at all after you make this statement.
I'm sure you've noticed by now that this BO is a complete loon.
I'm not quite getting your statement "the BO has always been by all means a "good" BO until recently", like, since when? You moved in last May, and in the last few months horses have been getting noticeably thinner, and there have been numerous injuries and loose horses. So she's been totally irresponsible since, oh, the end of August/September?
Anywhooo...I'm SURE she probably can't be bothered to show up for the AM feeding, since she sounds like a complete lazy*ss. So, get your stuff out discreetly, as other posters have mentioned, and get your shipper lined up for the next EARLY morning (like, shortly after daybreak) that you can get over there, and get your sweet little horse out of there before he is permanently injured. Be sure to relate to the shipper they MUST be on time-first horse of the morning to be moved.
Any further communication with BO should only be the statement "Sue me." Followed by all the reasons you stated here. Tell her you have kept track of EVERYTHING. You probably will never hear from her again.
Ask yourself what is more important
1. your horse's safety, well being and your ability to interact with your horse in a safe and positive environment
2. the barn manager's feelings and your ability to board there again one day.
Of course get out of there fast. Take precautions in case she goes mental on you. Have a witness with you.
I would be a bit concerned about the horses that are left. It is too early in winter for horses to be skinny. Not that they should ever be. She will be losing your board money. I hope the remaining horses will be cared for. Perhaps someone can keep an eye on things and call the authorities if needed. How can one teach lessons on skinny school horses?
Flame suit zipped up to cover my "Traditional Way of Doing Business" butt.
I think all of you "scorched earth policy" people who recommend taking you horse out of a deteriorating situation with no notice are making the boarding world a much more Hard Ball place to be.
Round 1, when you are the leaver and enjoy the upper hand? Awesome. Round 2, when "best practices" for the industry mean that BOs should start regarding boarders as flight risks and adversaries? Not awesome. Most of the time, you really *don't* want to have to parachute a horse out of a barn in, say, 48 hours. As boarding barns close (combine small profit margins and unpredictable cash flow), this will eventually come back to bite we squirrelly boarders in the butt... even when we aren't squirrelly and even BOs do let things go bad.
Yes the OP can do this, if I understand the flimsy agreement she had with the BO and the clear evidence that the BO materially changed the terms of the handshake deal.
Yes, barns change over time. They do "go bad" as it were. Finances change. BOs get burned out, yada, yada.
Yes, what happened to the OP's horse, the others (who are fairing worse than here easy keeper) and the OP herself are important. They are writing on the wall about what is to come, at least in the near future.
But damn! No conversation first? An assumption that the BO will retaliate and punish an animal in her care or do that to an adult in a way that actually makes a dent?
If I ever found myself in this spot, I would find a new place. I would arrange shipping. I would at least attempt to give notice and the script might look like this:
"I need to move my horse. Here's my check for December. I'll move him on the 31st, ok?"
Any complaint from BO? Then I reluctantly unfurl the set of problems that inform my decision, keeping it *limited* to what has actually affected me and my horse to date. The skinniness of others isn't my business:
"Look. The injuries to Good Ol' Boy worry me. The rate hike is more than I can afford. The scheduling and the 'you boarders just work out morning care' are too much. And I got run over the other morning. I can't get hurt; I need to make a living myself. None of this is what we agreed to last May, so I think we need to part company."
Any pissed-off weirdness that makes me fear for my horse's well-being?
"I'd like to hand you this check and give you time to fill my stall. Can things stay as they were before the new morning routine? Can you look over Good Ol' Boy for injuries a little more closely than in the past when he got banged up? If not, I understand. But I'd rather work something out for the remaining time my horse is here than leave on bad terms."
I think I *would* have this conversation with two things in hand-- an escape plan and a "I'm not here to mess with you, but don't-- Do Not-- mess with me either" face on.