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Boarder situation, WWYD?

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  • Boarder situation, WWYD?

    This is long. Apologies in advance, but lots of details.

    I have a small, private facility where I teach a few lessons on my horses and have one horse boarder, owned by two women. One is delightful and fun and I like her very much. The other, well, I think she means well and is good hearted but seems very depressed. She's always kind of moping around. And her horsemanship skills (or lack there of) are frightening. There have been a few situations that she's put herself and her horse in that have been downright dangerous; mostly they just cause me to scratch my head in bewilderment.

    Case in point: The latest thing is that the poor horse, who is a sweet, older TB, came down with a terrible case of hives that we have not been able to solve. Today, I came out of the house and found that she had sprayed him with fly spray. Which is crazy for a number of reasons: 1) It's March. It's still cold. There are no flies. 2) The horse has a skin problem. Why would you spray him with a chemical? I cannot even imagine what she was thinking.

    I feel as if I'm being intolerant, but there are moments when she does things that are just plain stupid. The other woman is very nice and has become a friend. They've also brought in another student who half-leases my retired dressage horse. They pay enough board that I'm able to afford to have a barn helper four days a week, which is great because I sometimes travel for work. The nice woman also takes a lesson every week. The other one does not (and she's the one who needs them!).

    So here is the dilemma: Do I ask them to leave (because I'm frankly just kind of fed up with the stupidity and the dark cloud that follows her around) and then do my own chores (and risk also losing the $200 half lease from her friend); or do I somehow suck it up and take it as a moral lesson to become more tolerant?

    If I had an empty stall I might be able to find an easier-to-deal with boarder, or get another school horse and lease him out, or just have three for awhile and my hay would last much longer. Then again, I'd be poorer.

    What would you do?

  • #2
    Are there any basic horse care classes at the local Humane Society that you could suggest they might "enjoy"?
    As the nice one is a part owner of the horse, hasn't she the right to know about your concern of using fly spray on a horse with hives? I would try to sit down and talk, at least with the nice one, about your concerns, then maybe you could all sit down and discuss.
    Tough situation, good luck.


    • #3
      Are there more crazy, dangerous things that she has done? While spraying a horse with hives with fly spray might be a little foolish, I just wouldn't put it in the "OMG can you BELIEVE THAT?!" category. Perhaps she thought that some sort of insect was causing the hives and figured fly spray was worth a shot? I have a horse that get hives from bugs, and liberal fly spray DOES fix her.

      But, really, what it comes down to is that it's your barn, and if you're unhappy, then ask them to leave and find someone else. But do consider that whoever you get in next might be *really* insane The devil you know, and all that!


      • #4
        keep the boarders. Practice saying, Bless your heart.


        • Original Poster

          Yes, there have been other situations--we have a pile of old wood and fencing that is between a very clearly marked and well used trail and our fence line. One day she actually rode through that pile of old fencing, and her horse got caught up, she screamed, he panicked and bucked her off.
          I was in my office and was wondering why she was going that way, instead of on the safe, and cleared-of-debris trail, and when hell broke loose I ran across the property to help. WHen everyone had calmed down (she had a busted lip but otherwise okay, as was the horse), I asked her why she had gone that way.
          "I wanted a little excitement." That was the first inkling that there might be some serious problems with her judgement. She hasn't done anything horribly unsafe otherwise, just not terribly smart. She also moves the jumps to make the distances actually wrong. I even left a long tape measure and a list of trot and canter distances out in the arena to help her. I just don't know.


          • #6
            Perhaps she just needs a very specific list of barn rules?


            • #7
              I think this woman just isn't your cup of tea.

              With respect to the "OMG, what was she thinking?" I think you need to take breath, step back and put on your customer service hat. It's her horse. She almost certainly doesn't know as much as you do. She has a bunch of life problems. All of these means you can be more detached and more kind... even as you have her change what she's doing.

              The wood pile and purposely setting jumps so as to confuse her horse? You are welcome to draw the line at stuff that you think is dangerous or an unethical way to treat an animal. IMO, you need to explain that you won't have these things done to horse on your farm-- dangerous stuff and unkind-to-an-animal stuff. But maybe she didn't know. If that's true, she'll improve in the future or you'll have set a precedent for when you do ask her to leave.

              The other way to look at this is to ask what her money and brought connections are worth to you. If you find someone else who wants the stall, they become worth less. If you need the money badly, they become worth more. If you think you'll poison the good well you have going with her friend, the PITA of this one boarder is worth something again.

              So all of the "my barn, my rules!" works if you don't need the boarder or anything she brings. But it's also a way out of perhaps learning what you need to learn in order to stay in boarding world-- how to not get knickers twisted over minor things, how to correct someone without being mean or having them twist their knickers, and how to do the customer service bit of this business. You *never* have to learn to be the greatest hotel concierge ever, but people like this do give you an opportunity if you want it.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat


              • #8
                Why not use this as a teaching experience? Ask her why she is fly spraying the horse and express your concerns about skin reactions. Tell her not to move the jumps or ask for your help before she moves them. It really doesn't sound like a huge problem, just something that one has to deal with when doing horse business.


                • #9
                  Maybe take a look at the "similar threads" listed below. Read some other "boarder from hell" sagas with a glass of wine or two and think on things.
                  Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing


                  • #10
                    As an owner of a small private barn with a couple of boarders over the years, I think you're over reacting. The well intentioned woman sprayed fly spray on her horse when it was covered in hives and you want to kick her out? While it might reflect poor horse management, and perhaps poor judgement, so what. I would mention this incident to the other co owner of the horse casually next time you see her. "BTW, when Susie was out here last night she fly sprayed Cookie thinking it might help her hives. You might want to talk to Susie about this since the fly spray could make her hives worse. If her hives haven't cleared up you might want to call a vet".
                    Then go pour yourself a glass of wine.


                    • #11
                      In the scheme of boarding horses, these are minor troubles. As a BO, I find that horse owners are tending to know less and less about horsemanship these days. I have had to become more and more comfortable carefully offering friendly advice to some clients about basic horsemanship and safety. I think your options here are to increase your communication with this client and tactfully educate her when issues come up, also, I think you could encourage her to do lessons which would give her some direction with her riding.

                      That having been said, I also think that sometimes it just isn't a good fit. Also, if this person is creating safety issues you definitely have grounds to ask her to leave. You can't tolerate dangerous riding or horse handling at your facility. You'd feel terrible if there was an accident, but also you would be exposed to liability. When you see safety issues you absolutely need to discuss them with her.


                      • #12
                        I think you just personally don't like her and so your fuse is short with her.

                        If you can't clear your mind of it I guess you could move her on but I think you'd be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

                        Have you read some of the other boarder problem threads? You might find something to like about this lady after you do!
                        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                        • #13
                          Maybe she thought the hives were bug bites? Offer her a suggestion of spraying the horse with some moisturizer like Healthy Hair Care, or witchazel (what my vet recommends for hives). Maybe she just needs a little guidance.
                          Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by eesterson View Post
                            ...and have one horse boarder, owned by two women....
                            What does the co-owner of the horse have to say about her partner's behaviors? How much interaction do the two of them have concerning the horse's daily care and routines?

                            Perhaps working through the co-owner to modify some behaviors would be less stressful for you .... but proceed gently. You don't want to annoy the nice one while re-training the poor one.

                            "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                            - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Prime Time Rider View Post
                              As an owner of a small private barn with a couple of boarders over the years, I think you're over reacting. The well intentioned woman sprayed fly spray on her horse when it was covered in hives and you want to kick her out? While it might reflect poor horse management, and perhaps poor judgement, so what. I would mention this incident to the other co owner of the horse casually next time you see her. "BTW, when Susie was out here last night she fly sprayed Cookie thinking it might help her hives. You might want to talk to Susie about this since the fly spray could make her hives worse. If her hives haven't cleared up you might want to call a vet".
                              Then go pour yourself a glass of wine.
                              So - start "dripping water" on the smart owner (SO). Does SO know idiot owner (IO) walked horse through 'pile of old fencing' for "excitement"? Really sounds like something in NQR in IO's brain to knowingly do something like that (Vet bills come to mind if horse had been hurt during that incident).

                              Maybe SO can buy out IO? Or find another partner to co-own the horse, as I'm certain SO doesn't want to pay for (vet/ lost riding time) IO's self-induced problems with the horse.
                              Now in Kentucky


                              • #16
                                If you have the time and patience, help her learn

                                I'm a rather smart person, have a graduate degree, work as a medical professional, etc. I've taken lessons since I was in elementary school, on and off. I'm not stupid, but when it comes to horses, I find myself doing a lot of "what the heck is wrong with me" type of things. Hindsight is 20/20, and there are a lot of times I look back at something I did or a situation I got myself in to and wonder what I was thinking. I do "learn my lesson" after the fact, but I've also been blessed with a barn owner/trainer who has had tons of patience with me and has helped me out tremendously along the way.

                                IF you feel you can tolerate this woman, she may really benefit from and appreciate your input on basic horsemanship-type things. Even if her answer to "why did you ride through the dangerous area" was something silly, it may have been said out of embarrassment. I would completely understand if you feel this isn't what you signed on for or you just don't have the time or patience to deal with things like that. If you do, though, it sounds like it would continue to benefit you from a business standpoint, as well as benefiting the annoying lady, the horse, and the horse's other owner.

                                Don't take any bit of knowledge you have for granted. You probably have a TON of practical knowledge that seems commonplace to you, but may end up being an "ah ha!" type moment for her.


                                • #17
                                  Personally I wouldn't get rid of them. I understand she annoys you, but in the pantheon of bad boarders, she seems pretty mild. And if you ask all of them to leave (I assume they all come as a package deal) you might end up with a much crazier boarder in their place. Sort of out of the frying pan into the fire situation.

                                  Horse people are crazy, plain and simple. You just have to decide how much crazy you're willing to deal with on a regular basis.


                                  • #18
                                    I would set yourself a time limit and re-evaluate the situation and your feelings. Maybe give yourself a few months, say, four to six months. Your relationship with this woman may change by then. She might have learned enough by then that you notice fewer stupid mistakes on her part and then find her to be more tolerable.

                                    You also might examine the relationship among the three of you. I say that because I've noticed that odd numbers of people -- three is the worst -- contribute to social problems. It seems inevitable that when there are three people, two will connect better, leaving the odd one out. This can result in conflicts, hurt feelings, etc. I think this is true even in professional situations such as yours, especially since you mentioned that the other horse owner has become your friend. Just a thought.

                                    After the time limit you have set for yourself, if this woman is still irritating you I would say to cut your losses, because even if you are helping her you need to preserve your own happiness and enjoyment of your horses.
                                    "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina


                                    • #19
                                      Do you have a tack room? If so -- maybe buy a couple basic "horse care" books and put them out as a general resource. That way perhaps you would spark the woman's curiosity and her (hopefully) desire to learn and do right by her horse in a non confrontational way. And I agree with the general suggestions others have made to diplomatically share some of your concerns with the other co-owner. IN terms of the "depressive personality" I'm afraid my experience is that that won't change. It can be a downer in general to deal with this type of person but it can help them to have someone relate to them in a no nonsense straightforward manner. The trick is to find ways to stay positive and remember that all you can control is your own mood and outlook on life. But -- if she becomes annoying enough that it impacts your ability to enjoy your own facility it may be time to make a change.


                                      • #20
                                        I agree with others about the 'gentle guidence' route.

                                        When I was a kid and learning I did lots of really stupid stuff. But luckily
                                        there were other boarders and the BO who helped steer me in the right
                                        direction with things. I learned a lot from these kind people and I am
                                        forever grateful for it - and I try to pay this forward when I can.

                                        As a BO, you will get boarders or lesson-ers who are learning. I'd try to
                                        be patient and educate the idiot owner about things - and if you see
                                        anything outright dangerous, I'd let the other owner know about them.
                                        If the idiot owner doesn't want to hear your carefully/kindly worded
                                        suggestions, then that gives you something else to think about.

                                        Part of having a boarding stable is dealing with people with different
                                        personalities and ideas. It is absolutely true that it's your barn & your
                                        rules, but unless you are willing to be a little flexible/tolerant when dealing with
                                        different personality types, your boarding barn will have empty spots. If
                                        you are okay with that, then it doesn't really matter.