I haven't posted in a while because I've been so busy with work but I'm hoping you guys might be able to shed some light on my situation!
I board in the winter because I live in Maine and don't have an all-weather outdoor (or the time to clear the snow out!). Last spring, my pony injured himself and I've been paying a lot of vet bills. Nothing in the 5-digits, but still a lot for me. I've arranged to return to the facility I was at last winter. I set up a time over a month ago to meet with the BO to sign a boarding contract. When I came out, she told me she didn't have a contract for me, but I left a check for my first month of board to hold the stall. I still haven't signed anything.
A facility closer to me (literally 6 minutes down the road) and a lot cheaper per month just got leased out and will be reopening at the end of this month. The facility is very nice and the BO is super knowledgeable. I spoke to the BO and she can have a stall for me for the winter. It's the last one available.
The money savings and shorter travel is REALLY appealing to me, especially with all the vet bills I've been paying. My plan is to give my notice immediately to the BO of the barn I originally planned to board at and stay there for the first month that I already paid for, and then move to the other barn. My hesitation is that I don't want the BO whose facility I'm leaving to feel really burned, since there's a possibility I may need to board there in the future (since the other place is being leased). I'm not sure if trading future stability for $$ and time savings is worth it.
WWYD? And, if you were a BO, how would you feel about the situation?
Technically you do have a contract (contracts can be oral). (There was an offer, an acceptance, and consideration)
I board a few horses at my barn; from a business perspective, you asked the BO to hold the stall for you for the winter, so she's counting on that. If I were you, I'd consider the check (which was for the first month's board, correct?) payment for her holding the stall,so I would not move my horse there. I'd just write off the check and board at the second barn. I understand you might not be able to easily afford that, but I think it is the right thing to do.
This will likely depend on the personalities of the people you are dealing with, but can you go to the first barn owner and tell her what you have told us, but add that you know you have made a commitment to her, but does she have anyone else that would be interested in your stall, so that you could take barn #2, if not, that you will honour your commitment.
Just make sure that she realizes that you need an answer right away as barn #2 won't likely have the spot for long.
Call the barn owner who is holding your stall. Explain the situation. Ask her if she is OK with you just keeping your horse there for 1 month and then you will be moving him to be closer and more affordable to you, in light of your recently incurred vet bills.
I had this happen to me once. I knew the girl, she was super strapped for $. She found a place closer to her, and with the price of gas, it was a better move for her to keep him closer. I, as the BO, tore up the check and we went on our way.
She has the right to hold you to the "contract" since you gave her a check ( did she cash it?) but maybe she won't. Also- how much is it going to cost you in trailering assuming you do not have your own trailer? That in itself may cause you to break even and just move to the barn closer to you and let the original BO keep the check.
Good luck. This situation can be handled in a way that leaves all your options open for the future.
To Barn A: "Barn B just opened up right down the road from me, and in light of Pookie's vet bills this year, finances have been tight. While I was super-happy here last winter and I was looking forward to coming back again, I really need to be careful with my finances this winter, and since Barn B is $xxx less per month plus a lot closer (and less gas), I've decided to go to Barn B this winter. I know I paid the $xxx deposit a month ago, so please keep that along with my apologies for the change in plans. Thanks so much for all your help!"
*friend of bar.ka
"Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"
I think you need to explain the circumstance to the Barn owner, and discuss either boarding with her for the 30 days and then moving, or getting your cheque back and going directly to the other barn.
You have no way of knowing if she has someone else possibly lined up who could take that spot asap or not, so you may be doing her a favour by backing out of your contract vs just coming for the one month.
As a barn owner, I would much rather you did not come
to my barn for just one month so I would be happy to
void the agreement and give you back your deposit.
I have a better chance to find another boarder now than
next month as winter gets closer and I don't like to try
to integrate a new horse into the routine only to have
it gone a month later.
Maybe explain the situation to manager of barn A and give her a choice. You can either 1) board at her barn for a month with her having knowledge that you are moving, or B) cancel the deposit check and go directly to barn B. Do whichever is more convenient for her. I would not "eat" the deposit at barn A, no way. I only pay for services rendered, not services not rendered. If you communicate openly and honestly with the barn manager and are apologetic, I don't think you'll burn any bridges.
I should note that I cannot just "eat" the expense of 1-month board at the original place and pay board at the 2nd place for that month instead since that wouldn't result in an overall savings for me.
If the price difference isn't so much that the difference in board at barn A and barn B won't total the amount of one check (for "overall" savings), then it doesn't sound like the price difference is enough to possibly burn bridges.
Honestly, if it were me, unless the savings was $50+/mo, I'd go with barn A, due to the uncertainty of barn B being around the next year. Better to pay extra and stay on good terms. Beyond that, board there for one month and move to the barn B for the rest of the winter. I know a LOT of BOs are wackjobs, but if she's a good horse person, she'll understand vet bills.
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