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Why are boarding barns this way?

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  • Why are boarding barns this way?

    Admittedly, I'm naive about boarding barns...I've always done self-care or kept my horses at home and have been able to do things my way.

    Recently, my job requires me to travel, so I decided self-care won't work anymore. I started looking at (not cheap) barns in the area to board and I've been amazed and disgusted at what I see.

    The one that really gets me, and seems to be prevalant, is the "one flake a day per horse" philosophy that many barn managers have. When I question them, they say they get enough to eat in the fields, but my understanding is that horses should have hay all the time. At these same barns, you see the feed room full of Ulcerguard and probiotics...wonder if it has to do with horses standing around for 6+ hours a day with nothing to eat??!!

    I understand (believe me!) that hay prices have gone up, but that doesn't mean you starve the horse; you either raise your board rate or you add a hay surcharge.

    I've seen junk in the aisleways, empty and filthy buckets and troughs, hardly any shavings in the stalls, moldy hay, etc, etc, etc! Where are these barn managers coming from? If they can't handle basic care, what makes someone think they would be good in an emergency?

    I guess I'm really old-fashioned and out of touch with reality. I've seen other threads on this, but didn't understand how bad the problem was until I started looking myself.

    Sorry, I just had to get this off my chest. I'm so frustrated right now I could scream!

  • #2
    Before I bought my place I boarded at a place where the BO partied all the time, so of course nothing got done and she was drunk all the time. I have also boarded at a place where the manager would say nothing but nasty, mean things about your horse just because you did a different discipline. Or there's the barn that has nails sticking out of the stall walls, and the fences are all made from barbed wire! (ex-friends barn).

    So glad I now have complete control of my horses. When I moved into my place however, we stripped over 2 feet of manure out of each stall and took down 100's of ft of barbed wire before we could put ours in.

    Comment


    • #3
      They aren't all like that (I sure don't run MY barn like that) but it is amazing how bad some barns (a lot of barns) can be. And it makes my life as a good BM tough, because so many of my clients end up being burned by other barns and very suspicious that they have a hard time believing that I do what I say I do.

      I don't think the things you ask for should be hard to provide, either. Hay is expensive, but it is a necessary expense, as is bedding. And keeping a barn neat and clean costs NOTHING, other than a little work. I've never gotten it. I don't get how people can skimp on basics.
      Amanda

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Gainer View Post
        Admittedly, I'm naive about boarding barns...I've always done self-care or kept my horses at home and have been able to do things my way.

        Recently, my job requires me to travel, so I decided self-care won't work anymore. I started looking at (not cheap) barns in the area to board and I've been amazed and disgusted at what I see.

        The one that really gets me, and seems to be prevalant, is the "one flake a day per horse" philosophy that many barn managers have. When I question them, they say they get enough to eat in the fields, but my understanding is that horses should have hay all the time. At these same barns, you see the feed room full of Ulcerguard and probiotics...wonder if it has to do with horses standing around for 6+ hours a day with nothing to eat??!!

        I understand (believe me!) that hay prices have gone up, but that doesn't mean you starve the horse; you either raise your board rate or you add a hay surcharge.

        I've seen junk in the aisleways, empty and filthy buckets and troughs, hardly any shavings in the stalls, moldy hay, etc, etc, etc! Where are these barn managers coming from? If they can't handle basic care, what makes someone think they would be good in an emergency?

        I guess I'm really old-fashioned and out of touch with reality. I've seen other threads on this, but didn't understand how bad the problem was until I started looking myself.

        Sorry, I just had to get this off my chest. I'm so frustrated right now I could scream!
        One flake a day definitely not enough forage in my area (PA). And I have nice fields. My boarders and horses have hay in front of them ALL.THE.TIME.. unless directed otherwise by a vet. Even the self-care.

        I would not board where that is a policy and I would not accept a self-care boarder who had that policy,either.

        I am not a full time boarding facilty, excluding some retirees and re-habs. I am clean, safe and would NEVER have moldy hay in the stalls. Not acceptable.

        My policy, and I am clear w/ the owners, your horses get the best care. They are safe. They are clean. I even have in my contract how many times I clean buckets and troughs. They ALWAYS have water. If one is a heavy drinker ( of water, horse that is) they have 2 buckets. If one has to stay in, they have 2 buckets.

        I go out of my way to be approachable " Please tell me if you want something different. More hay, more shavings, etc."

        Owners at my place can stop by at any time (again, mostly retirees and re-habs). Open door policy for the most part ( I have some hours written in my contract b/c most of the re-habs are on my private side of the property but that is a safe guard.

        The show horses who ship in for baby season- spotless. Owners are paying A LOT of money to have their horses taken care of and I give it to them. I am lucky that though I work a non horse full time job, I have a great support system and heck, I get up at 4:30 to get the barn done in the AM.

        Sorry you are having troubles. Keep looking. You can find decent boarding facilities in a decent price range, just ask around. My feed store send people to me all the time b/c I have a good rep. I am not super fancy, but not super expensive. Ask "people who know", they may be able to help you out!!
        Come to the dark side, we have cookies

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm fine with all those crappy barns. Keeps me and my wonderfully kept barn in business!

          The down side is inheriting all the snake bit owners. Takes time to gain their trust and get them breathing easy about their horses again.
          ...don't sh** where you eat...

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            And there's the problem...all the good barns are full and stay full!

            Comment


            • #7
              The barn I learned to ride at and kept my first horse at for a year was like that about hay. I think they would give more if you paid more, but I didn't know any better then.
              Horses were turned out on dry, overgrazed lots for a few hours and usually not allowed to go out with a buddy. My guy would pace the fence line and rear up by the gate, so they would end up taking him in after a 1/2 hour. He would get 1 flake am and pm and a shit ton of country acres sweet feed!
              It was a nice facility (40-ish stall barn, large indoor and outdoor, round pen, trails) but they knew nothing about horse care
              As soon as I moved him, he started gaining weight (and hasn't stopped lol).

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                But cost really shouldn't have anything to do with it. Hay should be considered basic care in my book. The barns I have been looking at are $700-$800 a month for stall board (no training) which are the higher end barns in the area. That really should cover adequate hay...I'm not expecting this for $250/month!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Boarding Review Form Available on my website free

                  As all us boarders know, the way a manager runs their facility isn't going to change from boarder to boarder. I think why so many people leave in a huff is 6 months into the boarding agreement something comes up in how they run the facility that the boarder doesn't agree with. I consider myself to be a very reasonable boarder, but I do have things that I do not budge about (like keeping my horse in correct weight through proper feeding, being in a stall when there's severe weather warnings, etc). After I left my last boarding situation unhappy, I decided to create an interview form to take with me when reviewing barns. It's 2 pages long, and ends in a point system so you can objectively compare facilities.
                  I have the document posted under links on my website so anyone can take advantage of using it.
                  www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                  chaque pas est fait ensemble

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                    And it makes my life as a good BM tough, because so many of my clients end up being burned by other barns and very suspicious that they have a hard time believing that I do what I say I do.
                    Really good point from the other side. I'm moving barns today from a horrible situation in a gorgeous barn to what sounds like, looks like, and has the reputation of being a really great barn (though slightly more run-down) and I'm having a nervous breakdown about whether or not I'm going to end up in the same situation I've been in for the past 7 months.

                    It's amazing how hard some BM/BO find it to just feed the right amount of hay!! There is nothing easier, IMO!
                    http://poorwomanshowing.blogspot.com/
                    R.I.P. Eagles Hill. 4/6/00-12/10/11.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MightyBobbyMagee View Post

                      It's amazing how hard some BM/BO find it to just feed the right amount of hay!! There is nothing easier, IMO!
                      I don't think it's that easy, once the barn becomes too large for the BM/BO to feed himself or herself. After that, you're relying on people who may be quite good at following explicit instructions, but aren't so good at the "make adjustments as necessary" things.

                      For example, "keep the buckets filled" is quite different operationally from: "dump the buckets before they get nasty and then fill them."

                      My BO is fairly generous with hay, but doesn't like to see it wasted. We have 50+ horses, all in varying degrees of work. All are in pretty good weight, some are too heavy. Each horse has a whiteboard with hay instructions for the guys. But often the tinkering - adding or reducing by half a flake - gets lost in the production of mass feeding.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The points you bring up are why I have always stayed in self care. It takes up a lot of my extra free time but I am in total control over what and how much bedding, feed, hay my horse gets and what schedule he is on. I have contemplated going to full care due to time issues and wanting better footing in rings and access to better trainers. I keep going back to the basic needs of my horse and it keeps me there! I figure I could always pay one of the other boarders to take care of him to give myself more time and just trailer out to a trainer once or twice a month.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think a lot of people who decide to open/manage "boarding barns" like the one the OP described do it because they don't know how much they really don't know about horse care and management.

                          Not saying it's true of all of them, but many of them likely "grew up" riding or boarding in barns that had similar standards. No one taught them any different.

                          I've known some places that "include" hay in the cost of board, while boarders must provide their own grain. Then the BO/BM skimps on the hay and tells the boarders to just increase the grain ration if they don't think their horse is getting enough to eat.

                          In one case, the horses were finishing their entire evening hay ration in less than two hours and then just stood in their stalls all night until the morning feeding - usually more than twelve hours later, or whenever the BM finally rolled out of bed.

                          But, to them, that's "normal." Or, as they'd say, "this isn't one of those "foo foo" barns, and some of their more novice boarders simply accepted it and stayed there. Again, because they just didn't know any better. . .
                          Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            There is no such thing as a 'perfect' boarding barn, because everyone has different ideas about taking care of horses. My big thing is that if the horses that live there are in good weight and the facility is safe and functional, I'm not too upset about things being messy as long as it's not a safety risk to the horses.

                            The BO where I board has a full time business, so while the basic horse care is very good (ie, quality feed and hay, and water checked 2x a day), sometimes things get a little messy in the barn. Sometimes she doesn't have time to clean the stalls before work, and since they're out most of the time, sometimes they may not get cleaned for a day or 2. BUT the stalls are always cleaned & appropriately bedded before the horses are brought in for bad weather. Also, the aisle may not get swept every day, but it doesn't have junk laying all over that makes it unsafe. So to me it's not a big deal.

                            And also, anything that is potentially dangerous (like downed electric wire, or a snapped fence post) is fixed PROMPTLY. They are really good that way.

                            Most important things for me are that the BO and I have a great relationship, we understand and respect each other, and my horse looks and feels great. If she's happy, I'm happy.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by stryder View Post
                              I don't think it's that easy, once the barn becomes too large for the BM/BO to feed himself or herself. After that, you're relying on people who may be quite good at following explicit instructions, but aren't so good at the "make adjustments as necessary" things.

                              For example, "keep the buckets filled" is quite different operationally from: "dump the buckets before they get nasty and then fill them."

                              My BO is fairly generous with hay, but doesn't like to see it wasted. We have 50+ horses, all in varying degrees of work. All are in pretty good weight, some are too heavy. Each horse has a whiteboard with hay instructions for the guys. But often the tinkering - adding or reducing by half a flake - gets lost in the production of mass feeding.
                              If a barn MANAGER is not looking at all the horses, every day to see what they look like (both weight and over all, general health and well being) than they are NOT doing their job. I am not the one who feeds and throws hay every day anymore (though, I am certainly prone to tossing extra hay here and there), but I am in the barn all day, almost every day, and if I don't have my actual hands ON the horses, I am looking in on them and seeing how they seem. If I see an adjustment needed, I make it, and I tell the guy who works for us.

                              THIS IS PART OF THE JOB. Plain and simple. It is not the workers responsibility to make the changes. It is there job to do the work. Plain and simple. And it's lazy, I think, to not do it any other way.

                              For the record, I ALWAYS am very honest with potential boarders and I ALWAYS tell them that I feed horses as much hay as they NEED. I do not do free choice, as I think there are some horses who just can't do that. That being said, I work with a fattie's owner in how best to feed their horse, whether than means a muzzle in turn out and more hay in the stall, or some variety of a slow feeder or whatever. My job is to keep the horses healthy...fat isn't healthy
                              Amanda

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                my barn is not like that at all. Water buckets are always clean. Hay is fed 24/7. but this has been a horrible year for hay, and rationing may be possible if there is not enough hay to feed that much. Seriously, no horse is going to suffer from 4 flakes a day. One flake, Yes. but i have never seen a barn that only gives one flake.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  yellowbritches, my BOs are in and around the barn all the time. And the horses are carefully monitored. I'm just saying that certain things require judgment, which is opinion, and often when disagreement comes into play.

                                  What works at a small barn doesn't necessarily work at a large one, when more workers are required. There is always line drop. Always.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    A recent favorite of mine was a woman who explained to me that board would be $450 a month (right about average for the area), that she feeds one flake of hay 3x per day, that the horses get four hours of turnout, and she feeds a maximum of 2lbs Blue Seal Strider 2x a day (so 4lbs total) and if I wanted more feed than that I would have to pay extra.

                                    I was like, WTF? My horses eat more than that (and much better quality) for breakfast.

                                    Then she explained to me that I really had to be careful with "barns around here" because "not everyone knows how to practice good horsemanship."

                                    I was like, well, evidently you don't feed them soooo....


                                    (Am currently at place that charges $325, indoor/outdoor, free choice hay at all times, 15 hours turnout in nice fields, 12lbs of $17/bag grain per day, stalls cleaned 7 days. So, evidently it's not exactly impossible to feed a horse for what the first lady was trying to charge.)
                                    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                    Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                                    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                                    The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      One aspect is that a lot of folks running boarding barns expect them to make money. For example, if they own several horses and the barn is their only source of income, they expect the boarding business to cover all barn-related costs (boarder horses and their own) as well as paying them a salary. Rates are increased and expenses (including hay and staffing) are reduced to meet that expectation.
                                      ---------------------------

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I share the OP's despair over some barns. That better care isn't at the closer barns; that otherwise nicely constructed facilities don't have good standards of care; that so many board horses are surviving on less than what they should have. That not everyone in the caretaker's role shares an ethic of the level of responsibility we owe these creatures we have placed in dependence upon us. Especially when they make $$ from that care.

                                        If a BO/BM thinks it is too expensive to provide adequate hay/shavings/whatever, then raise the rates. Paying for that is part of owning a horse.

                                        I am paying a little extra because what the BO/BM wants to provide at their standard rate is not enough for my horse. Then BM/BO asks why I'm feeding my horse what I paid for him to get. Had to review where we all stand -- keep having to do that.

                                        What drives me insane is the idea in some of the low-standard barns that truly adequate care is "foo foo." That feeding horses enough hay is spoiling them. Giving them enough clean water, enough turn-out, enough shavings, is unnecessarily posh. When in fact it's baseline care for a healthy horse.

                                        I also find frustrating a regimented feeding plan that is almost the same for every horse in the barn. Seems to especially come up with hay. Horses are individual. And different breeds have different needs.

                                        How many horses that lack energy and have the reputation of being "plugs" are in fact a perfectly good horse suffering from inadequate feeding, bad water and other care deficits? Including no shade during turnout in a blazing sun?

                                        I hate hearing the words "they don't 'really' need it" when yes they really do, but they survive on what they're given, and that is enough for the BO/BM. I hate the attitude that just enough is given to keep them out of the vet hospital. Hate the attitude that a certain amount work is done and no more, and if it falls short of enough clean water or clean enough stall, too bad. Hate it when a horse has to get sick to prove it needs something. Hate it when the owner has to refer to a vet instruction to get adequate water and hay to their horse, when this should be the basic standard for every horse in the barn.

                                        Fortunately I have a fairly good board barn right now ---- after I faced them down about what my horse "really" needed, with the vet instruction. (Kind vet actually volunteered to call BO and chat about it.) So long as I watch them like a hawk, he gets what we finally all agreed on, and I am paying for. But being out of town for a few days makes me nervous. I usually have a friendly refresher chat with the BO & BM just before I go.

                                        So far so good on my end. In spite of the need to push and watch for the right horse care, I feel very lucky to be in this barn, knowing what I could be having to deal with.

                                        Re the thread title question - I don't know why it so often has to be that way. I have never understood it, either.

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