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Best way to approach owner about boarding?

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  • Best way to approach owner about boarding?

    This is a one-shot deal for me. I live a horse-deprived, devoid of hunter/jumper area, so my options are ultra-mega-limited for boarding. I have a few other places I could handle, but they are 30+minute drive away and I would rather avoid that if possible. Less than 2 miles from my house there is a super cute little farm. Brick house, board fence, large barn, sand ring with some small jumps. Fields look nice, horses look fat and happy. So it has passed the drive by test. Has a sign out front Hunters Pointe farm, LLC. So, looks like to me they are running a business here. To my knowledge, there is no advertising for this place.

    The catch is, I asked about boarding here a few years ago. The man I talked to was nice, but quickly said sorry we are full and recommended another farm. Just from a quick glance around I could see some empty stalls. I totally understand that they truly may have been full from a turnout management or amount of work standpoint. Or that they just didn't want another boarder.

    So my question is, what is the best way to approach them about boarding? Should I call, drive over, walk over? And what should I say?

  • #2
    I don't know if it is best to call or just go over (I think I prefer a call, but actually the few times people just stopped by I enjoyed chatting with them too). But -- however you speak to them, if they tell you they are full again, ask if they have a waiting list. Or ask who else they recommend for boarding.
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    • #3
      I prefer people to email me to be honest. I'm generally pretty busy through the day so often I don't have the time to give to people just stopping by or telephoning me. However, in saying that, I have been running at full for a while now and have a waiting list (which I admit to never using) and I'd say truthfully that if someone were to telephone me then I am probably more likely to try to figure out if I can squeeze them in if they sound nice. Emails I am generally apologetic but stand my ground and tell them I'm full. People stopping by is fine if I am not in the midst of doing something but I do find I tend to do the same as with emails in that I do tell them straight away that I am full; if I am really busy then sorry but I just tell them we're full and point them in the direction of another barn.

      If I was you, and you really want to board at this barn, then I would telephone them at a time when you do not expect them to be busy doing something else ie. not at dinner time.

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      • #4
        I wouldn't mind you just stopping in, but LOTS of people take offense to that (I can't quite figure out what the big deal is), so a phone call might be a better bet.

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        • #5
          Stop by with a plate of lemon poppyseed muffins.
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          • #6
            Great. Now I'm craving lemon poppyseed muffins...

            I know some people take offense to the "drop in", but most horse people I've known have never minded showing off their property and their horses, so I'd be tempted to just stop in, at a time when things aren't hectic (so, not at feeding time, but maybe late morning).

            Good luck!

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            • #7
              I wouldn't stop in but I would for sure make a phone call. When people just 'stop in' at our barn it causes mayhem with the dogs barking, etc and if we aren't expecting someone it stresses my BO out a little since we're never NOT in the middle of something on the farm. I would for sure call and leave a message if no one picks up. Try again in 3 days or so if you don't get a return call but probably drop it after that.

              I also wouldn't send an email b/c if she's anything like the BO's I've been with she probably has an email account but only checks it once every two months.

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              • #8
                years ago I was looking for a new home for my two horses and saw a barn ( cows and horses) I stopped and asked the farmer if I could board my horses...he said no, not right now...think he was trying to be nice by saying not right now...unable to find another location I went back a few months later and asked again...again he said no, not right now.... so I waited a few months and when back again and asked... never pressuring just asking...that time he said yes! I was never rude, just asked nicely....he now has a lovely boarding situation that started with my two horses and has a great income coming it...was a win,win for both of us! that was 20 years ago

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                • #9
                  If there is a number on the sign, call first. Our sign has our number and "By Appointment Only" AND two stop signs on our gates (that we have to leave open for deliveries) that say "Private Property". So, when someone ignores all THREE signs and pulls in and starts poking around, it is a HUGE indicator of the type of boarder that they'd be. They don't even make it to the waiting list.
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                  • #10
                    stopping in worked for me

                    i knocked and introduced myself. i explained that i was looking for a good place to board my really easy gelding. i even had pictures jack and i were there for 5 years, until we ended up buying our own farm and moving.

                    i introduced one of her daughters to an adorable co-worker of mine and they are now married and have a little girl. i still consider them all very good friends.

                    go for it. you just never know how things are going to work out...
                    * trying hard to be the person that my horses think i am

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                    • #11
                      I'd leave a polite, respectful note and a bottle of wine on their doorstep/in their mailbox.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by spotmenow View Post
                        If there is a number on the sign, call first. Our sign has our number and "By Appointment Only" AND two stop signs on our gates (that we have to leave open for deliveries) that say "Private Property". So, when someone ignores all THREE signs and pulls in and starts poking around, it is a HUGE indicator of the type of boarder that they'd be. They don't even make it to the waiting list.
                        This.

                        While the occasional visitor can be fun, most BOs are so busy and have so many time constraints that unscheduled visitors tend to throw off one's work rhythm for the day, and lead to chaos. Especially considering how long the average horsemans' conversation tends to be.

                        I would call first, wait a day or so if there's no reply, then call again. If there's no reply after the second call, you might think about stopping in at a non-busy time (I like the late morning suggestion) and introduce yourself. IMO, it's always better to be able to say, "I'm the person who called a couple of times", so they don't think you're the type to just waltz on in. Presumption is rarely an endearing trait to barn owners.
                        In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
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                        • #13
                          I have a private farm and a sign, although it does not say LLC. I don't take boarders because I don't have space - yes, I have empty stalls and apparently a lot of space, but I have a herd right now that is easy for me to care for, feed, and not tear up the pastures. My hay supply is fixed for the year until next July. Maybe in the future when my old retirees are gone I might (MIGHT) take a boarder, but right now I'm full even though it doesn't look like it.

                          I would feel guilty taking someone's wine or muffins because the answer is no. It's not a case of you asking nicely. No matter how easy your horse is, or nice you are, I am not taking a boarder. So I would prefer phone calls or email inquiries.

                          Mostly because when someone shows up to ask, they also seem to want to keep presenting their case by praising the property. I don't want to be a bitch, but if you're standing there and I say no, I expect you to say "thank you, here's my number in case you change your mind", and leave. Not stand there and ask several more times and tell me how nice it would be for you because I'm close, have a ring and take good care of my horses. (can you tell this is not a one-time occurrence?)

                          Now, should I change my mind and put an ad out and start receiving response you bet the polite, wine, muffin and description of how easy you and your horse are to deal with are the way to go.

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                          • #14
                            Another thought - how willing are you to be a 'working' boarder ? Can you help fix fences, clean stalls, mow fields, or help put up a load of hay ? Sometimes private BOs are pretty busy with the upkeep of a farm, and they see a boarder as more work. If you're willing to help 'as needed', they'll see having you there as an asset rather than more work. I've boarded at several farms (including my current barn) where I've offered to help with projects big and small. Most of the time the BOs welcome the extra set of hands, and are more willing to take in boarders like that.

                            I would definitely try calling first. But stopping by with a plate of homemade goodies and talking BRIEFLY to the BOs is sometimes OK as well - maybe just let them know you're new to the area, live just down the street, and wondered if they had any suggestions for boarding farms in the area. They don't need to know your life story at that point, just ask a quick question, leave you number, and leave it at that.

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                            • #15
                              I see it as our farm is a business. I expect people to drop in and I an flexible for this occurence. I know its hard enough to find good boarding barns, I don't expect folks to be given permission to inquire. Come on up the drive way! I want people to stop in unannnounced so they can see our farm without wondering whether it was just spiffed up for their "appointment".

                              I liek the chance to eye a person up in the flesh before deciding whether they and their horse would be a fit with our program.

                              If you are an outgoing and gregarious person who likes to be part of the farm, then stop in. You'll know if your drop in is recieved with pleasure. If it isn't, you may not like boarding at a barn with such a closed door policy. Vice versa if you prefer more privacy, then call and set up an appointment. Either way, you'll know if you will even like the barn if they have open stalls.

                              Good baording barns are a lost art. They must be flexable to deal with different needs of horses and boarders but at the same time have a consistancy to the routine to prevent chaos. I run my barn so that all boarders know the rules but are happy to oblige because their horses are so happy!
                              ...don't sh** where you eat...

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                              • #16
                                It depends on the type of business (and whether it is a business at all). I'd personally prefer a phone call first. In fact, when I offered boarding, there was signage stating that visits were by appointment only.

                                However, since you are a neighbor, a pop-in may be acceptable if handled properly. I had a pair of charming young ladies stroll over from their house one day last year to ask if I had room for an extra horse for a few months. I did not, but if I had, I probably would have tried to accommodate them. They rang the bell, identified themselves as neighbors, giving their address and parents' names, apologized for the unannounced visit, asked their question, chatted pleasantly a bit, and went on their way. Since I couldn't help them, I instead offered some suggestions for places they could try, dropping my name.

                                The OP might try a similar approach; even if this place can't/doesn't want to take her horse in as a boarder, they may be willing to help a neighbor out by offering some other similar options.
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                                • #17
                                  In this case (you said you stopped by before and the man said he is full but you saw empty stalls) call him ask if they board, $, open stalls etc. Your name does not need to be mentioned unless it is a done deal and you do not have to tell him your stopped in back in the day. You are just calling to see if he boards and has something aviable, if so set up an appointment to see the place.

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