Here's the situation, at my current barn I am able to work off a decent amount of board, like $300 off. The barn is moving locations and increasing board by $200. So, I am thinking about moving to a barn a lot closer and only a little cheaper than the new barn. I would like to work off board if I move barns, but if I can't, I won't move there. If you were a barn owner or are, would you be willing to let a new, experienced boarder work it off? I have been a working student, groom & regularly feed and clean stalls.
Honestly, I've been nice in the past and let boarders (who come to me with the same "resume" you have) work off some of their board, and it never seems to end well. I am a firm believer in the theory of "the first person you make a deal with is the first person to screw you." It's harsh, I know, but I've had working boarders bail on me, take advantage of a nice deal, and generally not hold up their end of the bargain. A lot of times, we get a ways into the deal and I have found that I'm getting the short end of the stick. It's just never been worth it and I avoid it. (when I worked in a training barn for a trainer, we were more willing to let people pitch in for lessons or some training rides).
It may depend, though, on the size of the barn. I have always run smaller operations and they have tended to be 2 man (as in the trainer and me) kind of deals. Depending on someone and not having them show up or do their fair share can mean a much longer day than anticipated, having to cancel plans because the boarder who said they would feed or muck canceled, etc, etc, etc. I can see it working out better if it is a larger barn with several people doing what needs to be done.
ETA- I also suffer from the belief that no one does anything right except me. I find that I still stress when other people do things in my barn to help out, and often go behind someone and fix things. Even with training, it is very hard for me to let go (this is a neurosis that I am WELL aware of!).
When I worked my way through college - I mucked stalls 3 days/wk and cleaned the house of the BO 2x/month to pay off my board. Now that I'm a farm owner - if I had boarders I would surely allow them to work off board bc I know how important that option is for some folks. Never hurts to ask your BO.
I have worked off board and I have worked for barns I don't board at. I used to work off board at the barn I was at for 3 years. I ended up not working there and working for someone down the street for the same amount of hours. The person down the street paid more. You could always look for a barn that is close by that needs someone to help out.
I would ask. Another option would be to look into paid work that you can do outside of the horse industry. Depending on the BO, some may be happy to have people work off board, others might not be able to due to insurance rules, then there are other places where people who work off board might be looked at differently than paying clients. All things to keep in mind when you look into various options.
I work off board at my current barn. Barn manager is a full time student at a school an hour away so I help with a lot of the day to day stuff. I'm "on call" at all times to feed if she has class go late or other random occurrences. I'm incredibly happy to be able to do so and I was always taught to keep my word so the BM and I are both very happy with the arrangement. I'm able to work off a big chunk of my board, spend a lot of time with horses and build a great relationship with my BM.
I understand BM's being burned, but it never hurts to ask!
I boarded for 12 years at the same barn and I always worked off either all/ most / some of my board. I did whatever the barn owner wanted me to do. I was a good and dependable worker and that is not always the case. I think you should at least find out if that is an option and offer to do a trial at the barn you are wanting to move to so they can see how your skills are. Many barns are in need of good, reliable help.
I don't think it hurts to ask either. But I have found in the past that it works best to have the transactions stay separate.
For example, if they offer to pay $10 and hour and can be fairly certain that you can work at least 30 hours per month then you should make $300. In return, you can put that money towards board. That way if you get hurt or go on vacation for 10 days one month everyone is on the same page about how much you need to do for the other 2.5 weeks of the month. That way no one feels like they are getting ripped off because the trade is totally transparent.
"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant
I board horses and I would LOVE to have a responsible, happy, caring boarder come in on a regular, consistent basis and work off board by helping with the barn and the horses, respecting my authority and being willing to learn, had their own transportation and did not continually NOT show up with fluffy excuses. That about sums it up!
At my previous barn, they seemed a little offended that I wanted to pay full price rather than taking one day a week to work off part of my board. I eventually left partly because I got tired of the "lazy" insinuations when I was paying the advertised board rate instead of trying to see how much of it I could work off every month.
Current barn has one girl who works off part of her board and lessons but she has a horse in full time training. It is not advertised or expected that you can work off board though.
Couldn't hurt to ask. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, although I suspect it's easier to do once you have some sort of relationship with the barn owner and they know you are dependable.