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Lack of Communication from Barn Owners

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  • Lack of Communication from Barn Owners

    I apologize that this is a little lengthy, but I'd like some opinions on if I am being reasonable or not.

    I am having issues getting my barn owner to communicate with me. Over the summer, they were doing night turnout- we found out half-way through summer that there were several days over the course of several weeks that our horses were not brought in because they couldn't catch them. Our horses are in an approximately 5 acre field, and we do have two mares that sometimes will run and not want to be caught. The other 2 horses generally do not run unless they are being herded by the other two heathens. Our older gelding has never run from anyone in the years we have had- he is a total people person. He is, however mostly blind and we think partially deaf and likes to hang out in the far corner of the pasture under the only 2 little trees in the field.

    The only reason we found out about it was that one of the managers made an off-hand comment about how hard they were to catch in the mornings after we asked why they weren't in when we came to clean stalls. Turns out that it had been an issue for a few weeks. When we asked why they hadn't let us know, they tried to back-track stating that "most" of the time they would eventually come in (they have someone that comes a little later in the mornings to try again). One of the hard to catch mares has few teeth left, and has to have grain to get her nutrition- only being fed once a day suddenly explained why we hadn't been able to maintain her weight. During the discussion, we talked about how the gelding can always be caught- they complained that he was always in the far corner of the pasture, and they "didn't have that kind of time" in the morning to walk out and get him.

    I explicitly asked that they call me if the horses did not come in, and I would come bring them in myself. Never got a call, assumed, perhaps foolishly, that they had gotten the message that not feeding our horses was not acceptable. A couple of weeks later, and one of us stops down during a lunch break to drop off grain, and the old gelding was out in the field by himself- they brought in everyone but him. When questioned why he was still out, they tried to claim that he wouldn't come to them. Not even remotely likely. More clearly stated that I was to be called anytime any of the horses did not come in. 3 days later find out from another boarder that the gelding was found outside the barn because they had left the gate and his stall open so he could wander in on his own, however apparently didn't close the front barn door. Fortunately he camped out on some good grass near the barn, but it is possible for horses to reach the road if they are outside the barn and fenced pastures.

    Most recently, I asked them to clearly communicate with all of their boarders if they are going to be leaving horses in due to weather (this has been a given at every barn I have ever been at-they have a FB barn page specifically for these kinds of communications, but won't do it). I got a nasty reply that as the owners, they make the decision if horses are going out or not. I said No problem, but you still need to let boarders know what is going on with their horses.

    I don't think I am asking for too much to be notified if my horses are not being brought in or turned out as expected, or getting messages if there is any kind of incidence involving my horses. They act like I am expecting too much. Thoughts?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Low And Slow View Post
    I apologize that this is a little lengthy, but I'd like some opinions on if I am being reasonable or not.

    I am having issues getting my barn owner to communicate with me. Over the summer, they were doing night turnout- we found out half-way through summer that there were several days over the course of several weeks that our horses were not brought in because they couldn't catch them. Our horses are in an approximately 5 acre field, and we do have two mares that sometimes will run and not want to be caught. The other 2 horses generally do not run unless they are being herded by the other two heathens. Our older gelding has never run from anyone in the years we have had- he is a total people person. He is, however mostly blind and we think partially deaf and likes to hang out in the far corner of the pasture under the only 2 little trees in the field.

    The only reason we found out about it was that one of the managers made an off-hand comment about how hard they were to catch in the mornings after we asked why they weren't in when we came to clean stalls. Turns out that it had been an issue for a few weeks. When we asked why they hadn't let us know, they tried to back-track stating that "most" of the time they would eventually come in (they have someone that comes a little later in the mornings to try again). One of the hard to catch mares has few teeth left, and has to have grain to get her nutrition- only being fed once a day suddenly explained why we hadn't been able to maintain her weight. During the discussion, we talked about how the gelding can always be caught- they complained that he was always in the far corner of the pasture, and they "didn't have that kind of time" in the morning to walk out and get him.

    I explicitly asked that they call me if the horses did not come in, and I would come bring them in myself. Never got a call, assumed, perhaps foolishly, that they had gotten the message that not feeding our horses was not acceptable. A couple of weeks later, and one of us stops down during a lunch break to drop off grain, and the old gelding was out in the field by himself- they brought in everyone but him. When questioned why he was still out, they tried to claim that he wouldn't come to them. Not even remotely likely. More clearly stated that I was to be called anytime any of the horses did not come in. 3 days later find out from another boarder that the gelding was found outside the barn because they had left the gate and his stall open so he could wander in on his own, however apparently didn't close the front barn door. Fortunately he camped out on some good grass near the barn, but it is possible for horses to reach the road if they are outside the barn and fenced pastures.

    Most recently, I asked them to clearly communicate with all of their boarders if they are going to be leaving horses in due to weather (this has been a given at every barn I have ever been at-they have a FB barn page specifically for these kinds of communications, but won't do it). I got a nasty reply that as the owners, they make the decision if horses are going out or not. I said No problem, but you still need to let boarders know what is going on with their horses.

    I don't think I am asking for too much to be notified if my horses are not being brought in or turned out as expected, or getting messages if there is any kind of incidence involving my horses. They act like I am expecting too much. Thoughts?
    It sounds like this barn is not a good fit for you and your horses and it is time to find some place else. No matter what we say, that they should or should not communicate more, will not change how they do things.


    I think a change in required care should be something the barn should tell the owner. In your case, the fact that your horse(s) were not getting their AM meal should have been passed on to you.
    Horses not going out or going out because of weather changes, in my opinion, is more communication than is 100% necessary. I personally have never boarded at a barn that sent out notifications with turn out changes associated with the weather.

    When you are barn shopping for your move, do not forget to ask about these things since it appears to be very important to you.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't think it is always necessary to receive notifications on changes in turnout due to normal weather events, but I would want to know if my horses weren't being fed. I would also want to know if the horses weren't being brought in due to difficulties catching them.

      For me, finding out that my horse was outside the barn with access to a road would be a deal-breaker. I understand that no place is perfect and there will always be some give and take when it comes to boarding, but I would be absolutely livid if something like this happened to me.

      If I was in your shoes, I would start looking for a new barn. It sounds like the relationship between you and the barn owners has already started to deteriorate (you're frustrated with them, they are ignoring your requests, they sent you a nasty reply, etc). Continuing to press the issue will likely only escalate tensions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sounds to me like the Barn Owners may have incompetent or irresponsible help? Or in the course of a busy day not dealing with your horses has become the breathing room they cut themselves.

        My sense is every barn cuts corners somewhere if they think they can get away with it, and if you are not down daily or your horses are retired etc your horse care might be the easiest place to cut corners. So they aren't going to phone you about this.

        Since you have had this conversation with them several times and things in fact have gotten worse I think it's time to move. Sounds like whoever is doing morning turnin makes bad decisions ie leaving gates and doors open.

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't think notifications that they stay in due to weather are necessary, but they should absolutely bring them in daily if that is what is being paid for.

          I once had a place tell me the horses aren't turned out one day because "they didn't feel like it."

          It mystifies me how someone will take $ for a service, yet fail to provide that service as if they are doing you a personal favor.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think since you have had this conversation with them several times, its time to look for a new boarding situation. It sounds like they are not willing to do what it takes to give your horses basic care. Your horse having access to the road would have been the deal breaker for me as well!

            And not wanting to bring your gelding in from the far side of the pasture, that is sheer laziness. I used to walk a 30 acre field several times to gather horses at a barn I was boarding at and fed in the AMs during the week. Somedays I felt like I was going to die (hot Florida weather!), but I ALWAYS brought them in. And the once or twice a horse was absolutely impossible to catch, I called their owner and let them know and asked them what they wanted me to do. It's plain common sense and courtesy.

            Comment


            • #7
              These barn owners have shown you pretty clearly what they're willing to do. It's unfortunate that it doesn't line up with what you expect, or with what they probably told you before you moved in, but it's really unlikely you're going to force them to change.

              Time to go. Or time to work with other boarders to ensure your horses are getting proper care.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thank you all for the feedback, it's pretty in-line with what I've been thinking.

                A couple of clarification points: We do partial board for our horses, we clean the stalls, they turn in/out, feed and hay, and provide the bedding, feed, and hay. There are no "employees" it's just the family that is running it. I've talked with other partial boarders that have had similar issues with not being told that horses were not going out or being brought in when expected and it's interfered with their care/riding plans, so I'm not alone in this perception.

                I was trying to avoid moving because I have a young girl half-leasing one of my horses, and she has friends that are fellow boarders. It's been a great situation for me and for her, and she loves being able to ride with friends. I'm trying really hard not to ruin this set up for her, but I feel like I need to draw the line.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am in favor of the moving option. However, we solved some of the communication issue at our barn by starting a barn boarder fb page. It is a closed group, open to all boarders, past and present, run by one of the boarders and overseen by the owners. Changes in turnout, storm-related feeding/haying/watering announcements from the staff and requests from snowed-in boarders, barn-related activity announcements (shows, hunter paces, fun events, etc), self-care boarder requests for help in taking care of their horses, vet/farrier appointment notices, tack shop sales events, educational links, equestrian-themed cartoons (Thelwell, etc)--it all goes up on the board. No rock throwing, politics or religion discussions allowed--just day to day nuts and bolts announcements and requests aimed at keeping the group together, on track and the horses well-card for, turned in or out, and healthy. It not only works, it works very well! You need a strong administrator, BO oversight and approval, and positive-minded people to make it work.
                  "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

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                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It is not OK to just skip feeding old horses. Or, frankly, not being able to keep them easy to catch. All my horses, including boarders, run up to me because I am both caretaker and treat lady, so they look forward to seeing me.

                    I am a big fan of letting people know if anything is out of the usual in any way. Texting is so easy. I have a group chat for turnout/weather issues, notifications of anything going on, announcements, etc. it takes seconds.

                    I don't necessarily notify if I, say, bring a few horses in for a couple hours in the day to repair something when I know the owner is at work. Just when anything is 1. of concern or 2. affects them. But I would NEVER skip a feeding or ignore a horse skipping feed! That's awful and a potential missed colic.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Although I rather agree that you seem to have some quirky BM's and it may be time to move, I'm going to put in a word on their side about the hard-to-catch horses. IMO you haven't done your part with your horses by teaching them a basic horse skill, and that is coming to the gate and allowing themselves to be easily caught at the usual time to come in. This is trainable with the right techniques.

                      BM's I've ever encountered do expect that horses will come in easily. The expectation is that they are waiting at the gate at the routine time, and readily accept a halter. The BM will help encourage new horses to learn the routine. But if the horses are hard to catch, or don't come to the gate, then it isn't really the BM's job to either train them or to spend hours trying to catch them. That's *not* included in board.

                      So no matter where you go, you may have issues with hard-to-catch horses.

                      Any BM needs to be able to schedule their horse-care, and if they can't get horses to cooperate with them in whatever they consider to be a reasonable amount of time, they will probably leave them out. The BM should let you know, of course. But many will consider it the owner's responsibility to do the training if the horses are being resistant to this ordinary routine.

                      This includes teaching the older gelding to walk up to the gate along with the others. If he doesn't come up to the gate at catch-time, he also isn't doing what the BM expects, even if he isn't trying to escape.

                      If you do look for another place you should take into account your hard-to-catch horses and clueless gelding. Until you get all of them trained, try to find a place that has a more efficient means of handling that. Either a catch pen in the pasture to help get them to the gate, or a smaller pasture that is easier to to catch them in, so long as it sufficient for the horses' needs.

                      Even if a BO/BM blithely says that they will get the horses in regardless, I wouldn't fully believe that. They will do whatever seems reasonable to them. When people find themselves with a difficult situation on their hands, they will do whatever they consider to be expedient for themselves.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Low And Slow View Post

                        Most recently, I asked them to clearly communicate with all of their boarders if they are going to be leaving horses in due to weather (this has been a given at every barn I have ever been at-they have a FB barn page specifically for these kinds of communications, but won't do it). I got a nasty reply that as the owners, they make the decision if horses are going out or not. I said No problem, but you still need to let boarders know what is going on with their horses.

                        Thoughts?
                        Gonna point out that while you can certainly have expectations from them regarding the care of your horses, dictating what they do with *other* boarders is way, WAY, out of line. If you were my boarder, I wouldn't give you the option of considering moving.
                        COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                        "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to ask for a text if your horses aren’t coming in or going out for any reason. I want to know if my horse isn’t going out due to weather so that I can make sure I go on that day to ride or exercise her. It’s not like they have to hand write a letter! They can easily send group texts and the odd individual text if necessary. It is possible to find a boarding situation that works but it’s very difficult unfortunately.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If all four horses in this 5 acre field are yours, can you put up some temporary electric fencing to split up the field and keep the old guy closer to the gate? That would make it easier on barn staff to get him though their behavior about getting him is unacceptable. You could also train all four to come to the gate at a bell you install on the fence near the gate. I've seen other barns do this and it works really well, though you'd think they'd all know the routine that when they come in they get fed grain.

                            If you split the field you could also put the old mare closer to the gate to ensure those two definitely come in, and when she's not with her bff I bet she's easier to catch.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                              Although I rather agree that you seem to have some quirky BM's and it may be time to move, I'm going to put in a word on their side about the hard-to-catch horses. IMO you haven't done your part with your horses by teaching them a basic horse skill, and that is coming to the gate and allowing themselves to be easily caught at the usual time to come in. This is trainable with the right techniques.

                              BM's I've ever encountered do expect that horses will come in easily. The expectation is that they are waiting at the gate at the routine time, and readily accept a halter. The BM will help encourage new horses to learn the routine. But if the horses are hard to catch, or don't come to the gate, then it isn't really the BM's job to either train them or to spend hours trying to catch them. That's *not* included in board.

                              So no matter where you go, you may have issues with hard-to-catch horses.

                              Any BM needs to be able to schedule their horse-care, and if they can't get horses to cooperate with them in whatever they consider to be a reasonable amount of time, they will probably leave them out. The BM should let you know, of course. But many will consider it the owner's responsibility to do the training if the horses are being resistant to this ordinary routine.

                              This includes teaching the older gelding to walk up to the gate along with the others. If he doesn't come up to the gate at catch-time, he also isn't doing what the BM expects, even if he isn't trying to escape.

                              If you do look for another place you should take into account your hard-to-catch horses and clueless gelding. Until you get all of them trained, try to find a place that has a more efficient means of handling that. Either a catch pen in the pasture to help get them to the gate, or a smaller pasture that is easier to to catch them in, so long as it sufficient for the horses' needs.

                              Even if a BO/BM blithely says that they will get the horses in regardless, I wouldn't fully believe that. They will do whatever seems reasonable to them. When people find themselves with a difficult situation on their hands, they will do whatever they consider to be expedient for themselves.
                              Because training is permanent?

                              When barn staff are the ones doing the handling, they are the ones training, whether to come in or not. Staff, as the main handlers of the boarders horses, that doesn't follow up on training already done can lead to bad habits developing.

                              As a barn worker, if a horse is supposed to come in, it's my job to make that happen. Period.
                              Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

                              http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                                Although I rather agree that you seem to have some quirky BM's and it may be time to move, I'm going to put in a word on their side about the hard-to-catch horses. IMO you haven't done your part with your horses by teaching them a basic horse skill, and that is coming to the gate and allowing themselves to be easily caught at the usual time to come in. This is trainable with the right techniques.

                                BM's I've ever encountered do expect that horses will come in easily. The expectation is that they are waiting at the gate at the routine time, and readily accept a halter. The BM will help encourage new horses to learn the routine. But if the horses are hard to catch, or don't come to the gate, then it isn't really the BM's job to either train them or to spend hours trying to catch them. That's *not* included in board.

                                So no matter where you go, you may have issues with hard-to-catch horses.

                                Any BM needs to be able to schedule their horse-care, and if they can't get horses to cooperate with them in whatever they consider to be a reasonable amount of time, they will probably leave them out. The BM should let you know, of course. But many will consider it the owner's responsibility to do the training if the horses are being resistant to this ordinary routine.

                                This includes teaching the older gelding to walk up to the gate along with the others. If he doesn't come up to the gate at catch-time, he also isn't doing what the BM expects, even if he isn't trying to escape.

                                If you do look for another place you should take into account your hard-to-catch horses and clueless gelding. Until you get all of them trained, try to find a place that has a more efficient means of handling that. Either a catch pen in the pasture to help get them to the gate, or a smaller pasture that is easier to to catch them in, so long as it sufficient for the horses' needs.

                                Even if a BO/BM blithely says that they will get the horses in regardless, I wouldn't fully believe that. They will do whatever seems reasonable to them. When people find themselves with a difficult situation on their hands, they will do whatever they consider to be expedient for themselves.

                                She’s not asking the barn workers to chase down her feral horses for two hours a day, she’s asking them to walk to the other end of the field to catch an older horse and send a text saying the others didn’t come in.

                                I would fire any worker who thought it was unreasonable to walk to the other end of a field to retrieve an older, blind gelding who didn’t realize it was feeding time.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Angela Freda View Post

                                  Because training is permanent?

                                  When barn staff are the ones doing the handling, they are the ones training, whether to come in or not. Staff, as the main handlers of the boarders horses, that doesn't follow up on training already done can lead to bad habits developing.

                                  As a barn worker, if a horse is supposed to come in, it's my job to make that happen. Period.

                                  Originally posted by OnDeck View Post
                                  She’s not asking the barn workers to chase down her feral horses for two hours a day, she’s asking them to walk to the other end of the field to catch an older horse and send a text saying the others didn’t come in.

                                  I would fire any worker who thought it was unreasonable to walk to the other end of a field to retrieve an older, blind gelding who didn’t realize it was feeding time.

                                  For both of these quoted above -- That's fine. That's you. But you can't go to the OP's barn owners and fire them.

                                  Clearly every BO/BM isn't on your page. A horse owner has to find a way to live with what they have available.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I've boarded at multiple barns and I have never had one take the responsibility on themselves to inform boarders when horses are being kept in due to weather. I've never been particularly bothered by that, as it's written into the boarding contracts: turnout is done as weather permits. Specific examples of when turnout does not occur (dangerous ice, storms, deep/slick mud) are given. On my part as a client, it's up to me doing due diligence to further clarify (some barns don't seem to like to turn out in any precipitation, others have less issue - so I need to follow up!).

                                    That said, I do feel it's reasonable to be informed if my horse isn't able to be brought in.

                                    Ultimately, though, "their house, their rules". If politely approaching them over your concerns isn't met receptively, ultimately you're probably going to be better off finding a barn whose horsekeeping practices & communication levels meet what you are expecting. Sometimes the shoe just doesn't fit right, even if it's the proper size, you know?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Low And Slow View Post
                                      Thank you all for the feedback, it's pretty in-line with what I've been thinking.

                                      A couple of clarification points: We do partial board for our horses, we clean the stalls, they turn in/out, feed and hay, and provide the bedding, feed, and hay. There are no "employees" it's just the family that is running it. I've talked with other partial boarders that have had similar issues with not being told that horses were not going out or being brought in when expected and it's interfered with their care/riding plans, so I'm not alone in this perception.

                                      I was trying to avoid moving because I have a young girl half-leasing one of my horses, and she has friends that are fellow boarders. It's been a great situation for me and for her, and she loves being able to ride with friends. I'm trying really hard not to ruin this set up for her, but I feel like I need to draw the line.
                                      A family providing board to extra horses on the family farm is not the same as a professional boarding facility. Big difference in level of service, and usually big difference in price.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                                        Although I rather agree that you seem to have some quirky BM's and it may be time to move, I'm going to put in a word on their side about the hard-to-catch horses. IMO you haven't done your part with your horses by teaching them a basic horse skill, and that is coming to the gate and allowing themselves to be easily caught at the usual time to come in. This is trainable with the right techniques.

                                        BM's I've ever encountered do expect that horses will come in easily. The expectation is that they are waiting at the gate at the routine time, and readily accept a halter. The BM will help encourage new horses to learn the routine. But if the horses are hard to catch, or don't come to the gate, then it isn't really the BM's job to either train them or to spend hours trying to catch them. That's *not* included in board.

                                        So no matter where you go, you may have issues with hard-to-catch horses.
                                        I could not agree with this more. When I boarded, it did happen a handful of times. First day out all day with new spring grass, etc., pones just don't.want.to.come.in. I would never in a million years have expected a BO to spend three hours trying to catch everyone's horses. That is an absurdly unreasonable expectation. However, I do agree that OP's BO should have informed the owners of any horses that missed a meal due to refusing to be caught. You can't force people to change their communication style, therefore I would leave this barn.

                                        Now, as a BO, I will not ever chase a horse for three hours to bring it in. Nope. Never gonna happen. At least not without its owner receiving an extra charge for my time that month. Now, I don't need them to be waiting at the gate, I'll give it 5-10 mins, that's it. But, again, if I were ever unable to catch someone to bring it in for a meal, I would inform the owner. It has only happened once or twice for me so far as a BO. Both times, I just went around and fed everyone else, and by the time I was done with that, surprise surprise Mr Difficult would then be waiting at the gate like "What about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" and come right in.
                                        I also have the luxury of having several different field size options, and if I get a horse in that the owner tells me up front is hard to catch, then it goes in a small 60'x120' lot by itself, or even the 50' round pen for really naughty ones, until it learns that catching is an expectation and running is unacceptable. I've yet to have a hard-to-catch horse revert back to its naughty ways after employing this strategy.

                                        I also agree with those that said expecting a text every time the horses stay in due to weather is an unreasonable expectation. When or before you moved in, you should have asked the BO for a summary of their turn-in/turn-out restrictions, and thus be able to look at the weather and say to yourself, "Oh, they probably kept Dobbin in today."
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