Issues with boarding - help me clear my head and find the right thing to do
Ok, so I changed to a new boarding facility in December. Stupid me, didn't ask for a contract (not a standard policy here).
As always, at first everything seemed great. BO explained to me how billing worked - I would be charged a standard boarding rate for stall, use of the facilities and feeding/grooming/tacking up. Everything else (feed, bedding,...) would be charged separately. I said fine, but I would rather stick with my feed. BO told me they had some issues in the past with a boarder who was supposed to order her horse's feed in but never did and didn't want me ordering it so asked me for the suppliers contact and told me she would handle it. Feed supplier delivers at no charge.
Day two, first issue. I assumed by the conversation I had with her before moving the standard service would include tack cleaning. It didn't, so I asked the BO if she could add a little something so I could have the tack cleaned everyday. I have bad allergy issues which means although I love horses, I cannot have too much contact with them - kind of ironical, I know. She came back to me the next day with a fee I thought was fair, but was a little upset about the misunderstanding.
Then at the end of month one, bill comes in and my mare supposedly ate 660kg of hay (almost 1500lbs). I was shocked but figured grooms were putting the hay on the floor so probably there was a lot of waste. Asked the grooms to stick the hay into a hay net (which weights roughly 12kg) to avoid wastage.
Month two. Billed for the same 660kg (didn't even bother to change to, I don't know, 640... LOL). Went to the BO, explained to her how it was absolutely impossible for a horse to eat all that hay, and how there must be a mistake. She tells me she'll talk to the grooms and get back to me later. She calls me a few days later, gives me a new bill where I am charged for 450kg, still a lot more than any horse would eat. So I tell her its still not a figure that I believe in, but fine, I'll pay it. However, nets are to be filled when I'm there to see them being weighed.
Month three. The feed I brought down with me had all been eaten, so BO orders more. At the end of the month, bill arrived and I am being charged almost double per pound of feed. Mind you the feed is delivered free of charge and all you have to do is call the supplier. Oh, and surprise surprise, turns out my mare only ate 124kg of hay.
So all these billing issues have really started getting under my skin. On top of that, although this place has great facilities, there is a clear distinction between how some boarders are treated and I have had a few issues with horse not being turned out and so on.
Final issue - apparently someone went to the BO's father and told him I had said a few not so nice things about him. They aren't really true, but he's not in the mood to listen either so I'm not going to get into a fight. Well, he went to his daughter and apparently I am now forbidden to take my dog in - this is sort of a petty revenge, and makes my life super hard because I can't really leave her at home. She has been staying in the car for the last few days but this is not a situation that can continue - especially with summer right around the corner.
This place is SUPER EXPENSIVE. I wouldn't mind it if things were running smoothly, but they clearly aren't.
Now the biggest issue. I moved to this facility to start having lessons with a new trainer - old one wasn't really working, I kept seeing my horse getting worse and worse. I LOVE my new trainer, he's managed to give me a new horse is just a few weeks. He has, however, been working for this particular boarding facility for at least 10 years, so you can see the issue. I really want to ask him if he would consider giving me lessons at a different boarding facility, at least a few times a week (as opposed to every day), but I don't really know what to do if he says he can't.
How is the best way to deal with all this? I really need to find a solution sooner rather than later, and don't really know the best way to handle all these issues.
It sounds to me like your main issue has to do with the billing. A lot of the rest is extraneous. I would say you need to have another conversation with the BO -- 1) is there a charge for them ordering your feed, or, why is it so much more expensive? 2) how could the amount of hay have varied so dramatically? If she agrees that the lower figure is more like it, will she give you a credit for the months when you were overcharged?
The "assuming tack cleaning was included" is an unusual assumption, I think. Assuming your dog can come is also not standard, many barns don't allow dogs. As for the trainer, why not speak to him directly?
It does not sound like this barn, except for the hay billing for a few months, has done anything wrong. Your post comes across as a bit spoiled -- the things you said "weren't really true"? Were they partly true? You assume your tack should be automatically cleaned? You assume you can take your dog into the barn? I think you will find issues at other barns too. How long were you at your previous barn(s)?
First, get a written contract detailing all the extras and their charges.
Second, ASK why the feed charge is different. I'm betting it's because the BO is charging you for her time. Oh sure, it only takes a short time to order your feed, but how many people is she doing it for? Her time isn't free.
Third, why in the world would you think tack cleaning is a board-included service? That's most definitely an extra and you're going to pay for it.
Fourth, why CAN'T you leave Rover at home? What is wrong with your dog that it absolutely, positively, must come to the barn with you? Free roaming boarder dogs have never been welcome no matter where I've boarded, high end or otherwise.
Fifth, if you're talking behind peoples' backs, stop it. Especially if they're related to the BO. It makes you sound catty and immature.
Honestly OP, your problems seem to mostly be of your own making.
OP, if the 124 figure is right your horse is now only eating 9 pounds of hay a day. That's not nearly enough. The figure before (50 pounds a day) is too high as well but not crazy if there was obvious waste. Mine eat 25ish pounds a day each and that is standard for their body weights. Is this a pony?
I would not expect daily tack cleaning to automatically come with boarding. Stuff like that you generally need to pay someone extra to do.
No dogs allowed is standard too, or if not, it must have done something they didn't like. No misbehaving dogs is an absolute requirement for any boarding barn for safety issues.
I think you need to ask more questions up front instead of making assumptions about how things will work, then getting disappointed when you're wrong.
First of all, the dog issue. When I first went to look at the barn, I took the dog, and asked if there was any rules regarding dogs. I was told I could bring her with me, no problem. She can't stay at home, the "why" isn't really relevant here. But she's a well behaved dog who seats at the arena's door and doesn't move until I leave it myself. Its not like she's bothering anyone.
Tack - I have always had "competition boarding", which means I have support when going to comps with trainer, horse is braided when necessary, and so on an so forth. Up until now, all the barns I was at included tack cleaning as well. It was wrong of me to assume this one would be the same, but for the price I thought it was included. Thats not what bugs me, but its just another drop on an already full cup.
As for the feed. I didn't actually ask for her to order any. I am very picky about what my horses eat (want them in a low starch and low sugar diet and not just your average sugar feed) and as such have been ordering feed myself for about 4 years, which is how long I was at my previous barn. Never had an issue. However, I do understand BO's concerns and agreed to have her ordering it. I did not agree to an extra fee. And I think it should've at least been discussed, not just added to the bill.
She's eating 9 pounds of hay but she also has alfalfa cubes and something called solution mash:
She has the hay ad lib, meaning she always has some inside the hay net. The only change is now every time the net is filled I am there to verify people are actually weighing it. I wouldn't feel the need to do this if the billing hadn't been wrong for two months in a row.
The hay is pretty poor, and thats why I am supplementing with the mash and cubes - she has some trouble keeping her weight.
Finally, regarding the talk about the BO's father. It was basically a misunderstanding where some things were taken out of context. But yes, I was wrong and I have learnt a valuable lesson. However, when I have an issue with someone, I go to them and have a talk. In this situation, I am not being given the opportunity to lay out my part of the story.
ETA.: The reason why I am posting this situation here - I am rather hot minded at the mo, but feel I need to take a few days to think the situation through and not act impulsively and just change yards. I was at my previous yard for 4 years, and things actually worked fairly nicely, but mostly because people would just come to me directly whenever there was a problem. I hate having surprises.
Here's a couple of things you did wrong, which you already no.
No contract, no specified amounts or prices. If you were a newbie, we'd give you a pass. By your own admission, you are not.
Two. You brought your dog and asked about that. Did you ask to see the hay?
Three: You previously said you gave the information on the feed you wanted fed to your BO, you knew she didn't want you to order it, you knew she would. Your job to make sure she orders it from the same place at the same price? We're you there to unload/stack/fill the bin when it came in? Add labor to cost.
Four: If you are gossiping about people, it will bite you in the ass. They've already banned your dog, your horse will be next. You need to apologize even if you feel it wasn't your fault.
Five: I'd ask for an adjustment on my bill for the hay.
Six: For heaven's sake, wear gloves and clean your own tack and stop whining.
Last edited by 2ndyrgal; Apr. 3, 2013 at 01:18 PM.
Reason: know, not no.
Forget about the dog situation. Most boarding stables do not want other people's dogs coming out. If you really have to have a boarding stable that allows dogs obviously you need to move your horse and accept that your boarding options are going to be somewhat limited.
I also would not worry about the tack cleaning situation. I don't think it is fair to assume that a barn is going to clean your tack or provide any other service unless it is specified in the boarding contract.
I think ultimately you need to look at the total price you are paying and then what you are getting in return (horse care, services, facility) and decide if it is a good value for you.
Then you also need to analyze the awkwardness between you and the BO and the BO's dad. Is it something you can either improve or live with? Unfortunately, I think you have started out on the wrong foot with this place. I'd also have been annoyed about the improper charges for the hay, but some places do business like this and count on some padded charges to make their profit and expect their customers to not notice or look the other way. I understand that businesses have to make a profit, but I'd rather pay a fair price up front. If it was an honest mistake then I wouldn't worry too much about it.
Please, please, PLEASE don't bring your dog to the barn. This applies to everyone. Dogs are animals, they can be frightened and act in unpredictable ways. My horse had a bad run-in with a dog that was usually very well-behaved, and now we are having to deal with a fear of dogs that affects her performance at shows, etc. when they are around. It is better for all if you leave your other pets at home so you can focus on your horse.
ETA: I am also allergic to horses (and other animals). Talk to your doctor about what you can do to allow you to enjoy more time at the barn. I learned how to time my doses of allergy drugs for maximum effectiveness by asking a simple question, and it has helped a lot!
The thing with the dog is I made certain I asked what the rules where concerning dogs, since this is a deal breaker for me. And the funny part is the facility itself has two large dogs "guarding" it, and the dogs are allowed to run around. Mine is a quiet small dog who everybody loves. So this situation is not really about the dog but about the misunderstanding with the BO's dad. Again, I made sure I asked about the dog policy. People told me it was okay to bring her in, and that was one of the reasons why I moved. Changing the rules of the game in the middle of it really doesn't seem fair.
I had mentioned the billing situation before, but though it was cleared out when I started weighing the hay together with the staff to make sure everything was in order. Surprise surprise, month afterwards comes the feed issue. I just feel if people don't think the standard pay is enough, raise it - I wouldn't have an issue with that. I do have an issue with being charged extra for something I don't ask for. Since I used to order the feed myself, I know you just have to call, order in, truck comes a few days later, feed company staff unloads your order to wherever you want, and done. I can't really understand how this justifies putting a charge on the bill for ordering in the feed, since it really doesn't take any work - plus, people should've talked to me when the feed issue first arose.
Again - I don't mind an expensive barn. I prefer to be at a place where I have the facilities to train properly and where I know my horse is being well taken care of. I am terribly allergic to horses - have tried several med combinations and the ones who work leave me so snoozy I can't function. Yes, its a restriction. When I found out tack cleaning wasn't included, I rectified the situation. That doesn't bother me, what does bother me is I was lead to believing it was included - and apparently it is, but only for one customer who apparently is VIP. What bugs me the most is the extra hidden charges who seem to keep creeping in - the charge seems to be constant no matter how I change things (one month is the hay, next the feed, next I was charged for a mane thinning I didn't ask for)... Again, its not about the money (although it kind of is too, I haven't been competing lately so I'm not really in trouble but once I start again if this keeps happening I really don't know what to do). The thing is I love clarity, I love knowing what I am putting myself into - and the billing situation seems to be hard to tackle.
Go to another barn. You don't need this kind of toxic relationship with anyone for any reason. Your horse time is therapeutic, (well outside of the allergies). The real deal is all of the discrepancies with the amount of hay and other matters starting within the 2nd day. I would just go with God but for God's sake go. Hopefully your trainer will come out to you but if he does not, I would not make that any part of the decision. I would never put up with a family that runs what is supposed to be a professional business with such petty personal problems part of their business "model". Life is too short.
"When written in Chinese, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters, one represents danger, the other represents opportunity."
It sounds like you know it would be important to get an actual written understanding of all the costs. The niggling bits with the hay would drive me nuts. As far as what you have, I guess it depends on your priorities. You have a barn, with great facilities and a trainer you like. It sounds like you are happy with the care your horse is getting. AND this barn is one whereyou have to WATCH them weigh your hay, where you cannot trust their billing and where they apparently feel free to change the rules midstream (your dog). If they are like that, how can you trust them with vet care? True, many places do not allow dogs but if they told you they did, and your dog has not misbehaved and they changed the rules, that sucks. But I doubt any of that is going to change, so what you have is what you are going to get.
If if were me, I would be looking elsewhere as I would not want to deal with that crap.
However, I have also been in situations where I was simply unable to change and had to just accept the situation for a specific amount of time. If that is your situation, I would know that the billing is sketchy and that I did not trust them, apologize to the dad - the full mea culpa - and make arrangements for your dog. But I would not like it and would plan to move at my earliest chance.
Is it just me... but... has anyone else been at a barn that bills for hay by weight at EVERY feeding? I've never boarded at a high end barn, so I don't know. If the hay is ad libitum, then the main reason for weighing it is for billing purposes becuase although it's great to know how much they're eating, my guess is that they're not weighing it for that reason. (if they claim to be, I assume they also monitor water intake)
Anywhoo. The dog. Maybe the day you visited, they thought since you showed up with a dog so its OK bring the dog in this time. Maybe they didn't mean bring the dog every day. Even just for your dog's safety it's not smart to bring her while you ride. I never bring one of our dogs to someone else's barn (even on a leash) because I just find it to be rude, never mind the safety issues that can crop up.
I'm assuming you don't take the dog to work and shopping (if you work and go shopping) so there must be a way this dog can separate from you physically. She can obviously separate far enough apart from you so that you can ride. SO... If you can't leave her inside a hot car in summer but you can't leave her at home, consider a foldable crate or something the equivalent of a playpen for poochies. Throw a blanket over it for shade and she can have a bowl of water, even a chewie bone. Not be at home, but not be loose at the barn. You could approach the BO about where you could set it up (in front of your car, in your horse's stall) so that it would be approved prior to you doing it. If the BO still says no dogs means no dogs AT ALL then that is their right (it is their property). If they allow OTHER boarders to bring unleashed dogs (not the BO's dogs, that's different, it's their own dogs), maybe you were right and it's personal... and maybe it is time to move along.
Maybe it's not too late to ask for a boarding contract?
And the funny part is the facility itself has two large dogs "guarding" it, and the dogs are allowed to run around.
Wait. Are you implying that since the owner of the property has dogs, it follows that you should be allowed to bring your dog with you every time you show up?
I get that you say you were told from the beginning that you could bring your dog with you, but then that should be your argument for being unhappy with the change in agreement. Not, "Well, they have dogs, so they should welcome my dog with open arms when I come to the barn!!!" I don't assume that it would be acceptable for me to bring my dog to my friends' houses when I am invited simply because they own dogs too. As others have pointed out, most boarding facilities, even if they don't have a specific rule against it, do not appreciate boarders bringing their dogs to the barn with them (especially off leash, which yours apparently is). This is true for most facilities, even those that have dogs that live on property (and how many barns don't, for crying out loud?).
It seems that a reality check might serve you well - the world does not revolve around you and your dog.
OP, I think you need to let go of the dog issue. You say they are changing the rules, that "everybody loves your dog" and that this is all some sort of payback for something you said about the BO's dad-- for which you are sorry but misunderstood.
Look, they didn't plan on you hurting BO's Dad's feelings, either, so you might also appear to have "changed the rules."
You said the dog being with you is a deal-breaker. If so, I think you should consider this a broken deal: Whatever else is wrong, I think it will be hard to get the BO to like you enough now to make what looks like a trivial concesssion. Since lots of COTHers can't understand why the dog must be with you at the barn, chances are the BO doesn't either.
But another solution: Can you have your trainer mediate between you and BO? I do think you should have a written contract. But it sounds like you are a good client who spends a lot of money with him. As you point out, it's easier for him to teach you at this barn, so there's something in it for him. And he knows the BO well. Let him do some smoothing over so that he doesn't lose your business.
Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
Well, IMO, you should start over from scratch. Have a real talk with the BO, not one where you come in "hot minded" over overcharging. This situation is not working and it's just going to get worse without fixed prices for everything. Why can't you have a session where you humbly apologize if whatever you said about BO's father came out wrong. Call the damn talk a "clear the air session" and make sure the BO knows that's what you want to do. Than set prices for extra services like ordering, stacking and storing feed; fixed amount of hay per day--25 lbs ought to do it. Cost of extra food per day. Get a damned fee schedule from her. It will give your relationship a much firmer foundation on both sides than you have now. You can also tell her how important to you being able to have the dog around is, but you can also appreciate her view as well. Leave that hanging until you've got the other stuff worked out.
If the barn has workers, pay them to clean your tack for you. And I do agree that you should talk to the trainer and ask for his advice BEFORE you go to the BO. Don't ask him to help; just ask for his advice. If he's been there for ten years, it must be a pretty good place to work. Which also means that it COULD be a good place for you.
I'm quite sure by now she thinks you are the worst b*tch she's ever seen.
"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay." Thread killer Extraordinaire