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Spin off - Why do people do this- for Barn Owners

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  • Spin off - Why do people do this- for Barn Owners

    How do you feel about boarders helping out with some of those little items on your lengthy to-do lists? I've tried to help out my BO in a few ways since I've been there (since December) and I almost get the feeling that it bothers her for some reason or I'm just getting in the way.

    Like dumping and scrubbing out the HUGE water trough for the horses outside (it had only been topped up all winter and was SCUZZY in the bottom). I waited until a day the water was low so I didn't dump out good, fresh water in order to do it. She never asked who did it or said anything. So then I thought maybe I had done something wrong? It was a big job and I thought she would have been happy to have it crossed off her list.

    Do barn owners get annoyed if a boarder picks out their horse's stall in the evening or anything like that? I have already been told not to top up my horse's bucket at night, unless I leave a note, so that the BO knows how much he drank....

    I'm a boarder who likes to help out. What can I do that that is helpful wihtout getting in the way... Or by trying to help would that send the message to the barn owner that you think the BO is not doing their job properly?
    Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

  • #2
    While a boarder who likes to help out can be great to have around, they can also make a BO feel like you think they aren't doing a good enough job, or they can mess with the BO's ability to care for the horses (filling waters - did your horse not drink as much as he should, or not?, picking stalls (is your horse pooping enough, or is he starting to get an impaction?), they can make a big mess (mud), or they can without meaning to cause damage (what if there were fish in the water trough and you didn't realize it and killed them all?) , or they can cost the BO money. (while picking your stall might be REALLY helpful since it keeps your horse from walking poop all over it's stall and wasting bedding, you might be the type of boarder that insists on taking all the shavings with in a 6" radius of any poop, so you cost the BO money in shavings.)

    If you want to help the BO tell her you have extra time and ask if there are any tasks that you could do that would be helpful.


    • #3
      If your BO is anything like me, she's a perfectionist. The problem with that is I feel frustrated when I can't get everything done myself. When boarders help, it feels like I'm slacking. However, since I've started a "real job", I've learned to ask for help at work and on the farm. One person can't do everything and for some of us, it just takes longer for that mind-set to click.

      Talk to your BO. Tell her you enjoy helping and let her know that it does not reflect poorly on her as a BO/BM. On a farm, there is always something to be done!


      • #4
        I always appreciate help! Especially now, since we are building a house, and our "to do" list has gotten ten times longer :-) . I do appreciate when the helper tells me they did something, so that I don't worry that, for instance, the horse is not drinking enough water. I have the opposite problem. when I am trying to let the water trough get low enough to dump and clean, someone always fills it up!




        • #5
          She may have been insulted by your "help" thinking that you are not satisfied with how she keeps things. She may have taken it like a slap in the face!
          If you want to help, talk to her and ask what you can help with. Maybe she can make a list of odd jobs that need doing or something?
          Definitely talk to her though, as her feelings may have been hurt and you don't want any uncomfortable feelings at the barn.
          Equine Retirement at


          • #6
            I agree with all who posted here. When the water tank gets scrubbed and refilled, I think: Are people unhappy with how often I scrub it? And, there are some boarders who "pick" a stall and throw out a wheelbarrow of perfectly good bedding as a result.

            However, I LOVE when people help out putting up hay or picking manure out of pastures/run-ins. So, I always let everyone know when its time for hay and the wheelbarrows/pitchforks are always available...just tell the BO that you like to help and ask how to best do so without being offensive or interrupting his/her schedule.
            JB-Infinity Farm


            • #7
              I am a BO, among other jobs at the farm and I have two reasons I don't really like this. One is that I am very particular about how things are done. For example, I have asked a boarder/student to throw hay out to horses in the field. This person OWNS horses and has horses at home, yet when she threw the hay out, the piles were SO close together several horses could not get their hay. As far as picking stalls RARELY does a boader/student understand HOW to properly pick. EIther they don't pick thoroughly enough for me, or they take EVERYTHING out, not picking but nearly stripping! Either is NOT acceptable. Even the act of filling water buckets, I want them TO THE TOP and most people leave 2 - 3 inches unfilled. THe other is, as some people ahve mentioned, it makes a very hard working person FEEL as if the boarder feels something is being left undone or not done good enough. That may just be perception, but it is often how it comes across.


              • #8
                Been on both sides

                Now a boarder, I know I want better care and facility maintenance than I could provide if I were the BO who wanted to stay in the black.

                No problem. When choosing a new place, I usually ask if the BO would mind if I picked out my horse's stall PM after I ride. This usually comes with a tour of the stalls (yes, I walk in them and ask if the bedding I see is typical for the barn.) If I want something different, I ask and volunteer to pay for the "extra" shavings I'd like. I also explain that I know the object of stall cleaning is not to take out "good" along with "bad."

                With respect to larger jobs like a water trough, I'll usually ask first, as in "Hey, the trough is low today and a little skanky. Perfect opportunity. Do you care if I scrub it out?"
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat


                • #9
                  been on both sides, which is why I have my horses at home now

                  as boarder: automatic waterer or buckets would occasionally get pooped in. Nobody would clean it. horse without water until I came to do it. then: stink eye from BO. stall nasty until I'd clean it. more stink eye. I'd pick each ball of turd and leave every single piece of bedding in the stall. more evil eye. I thought I was being very helpful!! to my horse and to her/him

                  as BO myself: cost of water is outrageous. As far as big 100 gallon water troughs, when they get nasty, I bucket-carry the water to my garden to water the plants. then scrub, rinse and half full. I don't use Clorox, fish or chemicals, like many horsepeople. Full to top troughs/buckets waste water. I do love to quantify how much each horse is drinking. but it must be FRESH and cool. My horses are also SWIMMERS and dunkers

                  cost of bedding has gone up 5 times in 3 years.
                  cost of hay has gone up 6 times in 3 years
                  cost of horse feed? from $9.00 a sack to now $16.99

                  I could go on and on. In this economy, I entertain the thought of a few boarders. But the thought of having to be polite and have to explain all the time is too exhausting


                  • #10
                    I think the OP needs to simply talk to the BO...As a BO, I don't mind people doing all the things mentioned, for many, it makes them feel "closer" to their horse-BUT I want a note left about it on the dry erase board. I also fill waters to the top when the horses are in, then I top them off at the night check, so I can see how everyone's drinking. I also see how may piles are in the stall, it's just something to keep an eye on.

                    I don't want full boarders cleaning stalls. They pay me for that. I also have one boarder here-super nice lady, but last year she decided to "help" clean her geldings' stall...I came out to find that she had taken ALL of the manure AND bedding in the stall, and piled it in the middle of the stall (where he wets). She then started to pick through it...There was no good bedding left. This particular horse does one (large) pee spot, and all the manure is in the left rear of the stall, so it only takes me about 5 minutes to clean it...I had to completely re-bed the stall after she "helped"...ummm, no thanks!!


                    • #11
                      I agree with the posts that say it might leave a BO feeling a bit vulnerable to whether the horse(s) are drinking/pooping normally, taking out too much bedding, feeling insecure about how the boarder feels about the BO, etc. I don't board anymore but I have had a few boarders in the past and one in particular stands out as a problem boarder because she was picky beyond belief. It didn't matter if water buckets/tanks were washed out twice a day or more - they were never clean enough to suit her and she didn't care how much water she dumped out when she redid them herself. If there was dust on her stall door, she would ask me when I was going to pressure wash the barn. If she arrived and we hadn't blown out the concrete hallway, she would state that she would wait around til I did so she could dust off her horse's stall front and door (this is no lie). I'm not saying you're this way OP, as this boarder was a worst case scenario and one I eventually asked to leave because for all her pickiness, she couldn't be bothered to pay her board in a timely fashion.

                      But as a BO - I would most definitely prefer a boarder to ask what they could most help with to make a difference in my day, or ask if they could help with a certain chore, before taking it upon themselves to do it. It just makes for smoother relations all the way around. Other than that, perhaps you could find a partial board facility that allows you to perform certain tasks yourself so you will know they are being done to your satisfaction.
                      Susan N.

                      Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


                      • #12
                        My DH and I were getting into this a little today. We have certain tasks that need to be done and it would be a great help if the whole family pitched in, but the tasks have to be done a certain way - sort of like picking the stall without wasting too much bedding. And also there is a routine of stuff that needs to be done, if I were to do things "once in a while" there is a likelihood that one day it won't get done because of that old ASSume factor. From his viewpoint it is easier if he does it himself. And for a non-family, non-employee there is always liability rearing its ugly head. What if you were to be injured tipping over a big stock tank to clean it?
                        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                        Incredible Invisible


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by saultgirl View Post
                          How do you feel about boarders helping out with some of those little items on your lengthy to-do lists? I've tried to help out my BO in a few ways since I've been there (since December) and I almost get the feeling that it bothers her for some reason or I'm just getting in the way.

                          Like dumping and scrubbing out the HUGE water trough for the horses outside (it had only been topped up all winter and was SCUZZY in the bottom). I waited until a day the water was low so I didn't dump out good, fresh water in order to do it. She never asked who did it or said anything. So then I thought maybe I had done something wrong? It was a big job and I thought she would have been happy to have it crossed off her list.

                          Do barn owners get annoyed if a boarder picks out their horse's stall in the evening or anything like that? I have already been told not to top up my horse's bucket at night, unless I leave a note, so that the BO knows how much he drank....

                          I'm a boarder who likes to help out. What can I do that that is helpful wihtout getting in the way... Or by trying to help would that send the message to the barn owner that you think the BO is not doing their job properly?
                          Sounds to me like there's way to much "thinking", "feeling" and "wondering".

                          You need to communicate properly. And not with folks here. So talk and listen to your Barn Owner and let her know you'd love to learn and to muck in and help if she'd like that and ask her if she wants your help and what to do.


                          • #14
                            I agree with what everyone has said. Speak to the BO, explain that you like helping, and ask what tasks you can do. I think once the BO understands that it is not a comment on her horsekeeping skills, she may be happy to have an extra set of hands!
                            I have a boarder that loves to weedwhack and that's something I rarely get around to doing. It works out well for both of us.
                            As for picking stalls, if you just pick the manure and nothing else, that's fine with me.
                            I did have picky boarders in the past and it is a horribly uncomfortable situation if as a BO you feel the need to answer every decision or defend your style of horsekeeping. I treat everyone's horses as my own but maybe not everyone will agree with how I take care of my horses. Communication is the key! Oftentimes, many issues happen because neither side really sits down and discusses the problem-then it escalates into something bigger than it really needed to be.


                            • #15
                              I wouldn't mind help. Regarding comments to the effect that BOs get annoyed if someone removes manure from an autowaterer because it makes BO feel like a slacker, well, in my view, it is unacceptable to leave a horse without clean water and any BO that puts his or her "feelings" ahead of the welfare of the horse should revisit his/her priorities.
                              Roseknoll Sporthorses


                              • #16
                                Just talk to your BO!

                                Shoot, my old BO (also my good friend) bought a farm about a year and a half ago. There was a lot of work to be done. I helped where I could. I helped dig the trench to run electric out for the fence. Helped put up the fence. Helped brush hog. Etc. I certainly didn't just go out and start doing stuff on my own, but I did offer to help and they did put me to work.

                                At my current barn, I've kept it much more business only. I pay them for X services. Beyond that, if they mention a big project like brush hogging and trimming back trails? I offer to help. Else, I let them do their job..that i'm paying for. I too enjoy doing the work to be honest...but I sure wouldn't just go out there and start scrubbing a tank. I would think that would give the impression that I was dissatisfied. I know it would tick me off if it were my place.
                                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                • #17
                                  I can understand why it might bother some barn owners - in the sense that it might make them feel like the boarder isn't satisfied or that the barn owner isn't doing a good job.
                                  That said, as a boarder I am satisfied with my barn, but I do some of the things mentioned here. If I know that the stalls have been cleaned for the day, I still might pick out the manure if it's raining and I know my horse is going to be in more than usual. I'm not dissatisfied - I just think that since I'm there, it might be better to do a little "extra" stall cleaning. I do let someone know, so that they don't think he's not passing manure or something. I admit, too, that I might not be the best stall cleaner - but I also think that it is better if the stall is cleaner. I don't go get extra shavings because that isn't allowed. If the automatic waterer had manure in it, I would definitely clean it. To me, that is just one of those things that if you see it, you should fix it rather than leave the horse to sit there without access to water. I'll also admit to scrubbing out my horse's personal feed bucket. That is just one of those things that I am OCD about. I know it probably doesn't hurt anything if it gets a bit gross, but I don't mind cleaning it.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Thomas_1 View Post
                                    Sounds to me like there's way to much "thinking", "feeling" and "wondering"..

                                    news to you? that's how women roll.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Lambie Boat View Post
                                      news to you? that's how women roll.
                                      And that's why they are often such PITA's as boarders.

                                      I know if I was the barn owner and Bozo's Mommy filled his water bucket when she left and I come in the morning to find "too much water" and think "What the hell? Is Bozo not drinking properly?" I'd be none too happy. It's a worry I shouldn't have to have and time wasted trying figure out if Bozo is ailing or not.

                                      And sure [enough], on the ONE morning I find "too much water" and pass it of as "Oh, Bozo's Mommy filled it last night" will be the ONE time she didn't, and Bozo really didn't drink, and Bozo gets sick, and Bozo's Mommy pitches a hissy fit.
                                      Last edited by Moderator 1; Jun. 14, 2009, 08:49 PM. Reason: language


                                      • #20
                                        serves you right for agreeing to board a horse named "Bozo".
                                        What WERE you thinking?

                                        I always really appreciated when boarders helped out. However, one was a bit OCD and would do the stalls and somehow it looked as if Martha Stewart had been there- not a bit of sawdust out of place. Which was fine, except, she wanted money taken off the board for doing it. Which was not so fine, since I hadn't actually asked her to do anything. Same gal left me high and dry with only a few days notice when she left to find a cheaper place. I guess I shoudl have expected it.

                                        My grand hubby and I have always helped out when we still boarded- we have pounded fence posts, painted inumerable stalls and fences, brought hay in, fed if the BO wasn't available and so on, hubby has built shelters and stalls too. Mostly the BO's were very appreciative.
                                        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF