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WWYD? Barn owner randomly changes feed

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  • WWYD? Barn owner randomly changes feed

    The barn owner where I board my horse seems to randomly decide that he knows better than I do when it comes to feeding my horse. Namely, he stopped feeding the 1/2 cup of corn oil my horse gets on top of his AM and PM this week, ironically at the exact same time that our temperatures have not gotten out of the single digits for the last seven days.

    I noticed the issue this morning when I saw that the oil bottle had been moved out of the heated grain room (and thus was frozen solid and unfeedable). I called the barn owner to inquire about it, and his response was, "Well, I can move it back in the tack room, but the vet said that's too much corn oil -- people fed that stuff 20 years ago, but it doesn't do much now." My response was to tell him that I've discussed it with my vet (same vet), the vet had no concerns and was happy with his condition, and that he should feed my horse what I tell him to feed.

    This is not the first time we've had run-ins over feed (#1: my horse being consistently driven away from the round bale, which was resolved when the owner ran out of round bales and started feeding piles of hay in the paddock instead; and #2: over the holidays, when I came home to learn that he'd cut back his grain and corn oil, again because of the vet's "advice" even though the vet had said no such thing to me).

    So, beyond having the conversation with the barn owner and continually repeating the message ("feed what I tell you to feed, and don't change it"), what can I do? Moving barns is not an option -- this is the only boarding barn within two hours that doesn't have rusty metal hanging around in the paddocks. I am tempted to call the vet and have a frank discussion in which I ask him not to discuss my horse with anyone but me, but that seems pretty obnoxious.

    On a side note, now I know why horse owners get Smartpaks -- at least you can tell when someone is ignoring your feeding instructions! Should I seriously parcel out his corn oil into containers or something crazy like that? Seems pretty passive-aggressive to me, but I'd also like to be sure that my horse is getting fed what he needs to maintain.

  • #2
    So you want to set this chap up to succeed.

    Corn oil is kinda messy, and I think a lot of barn owners would rather not deal with it. I'll do it at home, but I don't ask others to when I'm boarding.

    If you can switch to say rice bran or some other dry fat source instead of corn oil, you could baggie up each individual feed with supplements, etc. and have the barn owner just dump it in his feed bowl. Do a week's worth at a time and then you always know if they've been fed out.

    I do this for the convenience of the staff at my current barn. In the past I've done it so I can see if my horse is being fed...

    I'd also have a polite convo with the vet. Find out if he's actually saying these things, or what.

    Comment


    • #3
      If one of my boarders gave me orders they'd be looking for somewhere else to board.

      That said, perhaps you'd do well to schedule a consultation with your vet and BO together to do what is best for the horse. Offer to pay both for their time and see if you can come to a workable situation. If not, either live with the way the BO does it or move the horse.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by LAZ View Post
        If one of my boarders gave me orders they'd be looking for somewhere else to board.

        That said, perhaps you'd do well to schedule a consultation with your vet and BO together to do what is best for the horse. Offer to pay both for their time and see if you can come to a workable situation. If not, either live with the way the BO does it or move the horse.
        I think that's a pretty arrogant approach.

        While I will agree that corn oil is a nuisance, ( and I use it, with a pump dispenser ) I don't think the feeding of supplements of any type should be arbitrarily stopped by barn mangement. I seriously doubt that the vet said any such thing, and the OP needs to plesantly check it out with the vet.

        The BO sounds like a lazy cheapskate.
        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by LAZ View Post
          If one of my boarders gave me orders they'd be looking for somewhere else to board.
          Just shut up and take it, right?

          Originally posted by PortPonies
          On a side note, now I know why horse owners get Smartpaks -- at least you can tell when someone is ignoring your feeding instructions!
          Not if there's a trash can around. Those supplements can go in the trash as easily as the feed bucket. I know an equine vet who has had BO/BMs tell her they just throw them away, at high-end barns no less. Probably of the same attitude as a few other BOs on this board that are militant.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by atr View Post
            So you want to set this chap up to succeed.

            Corn oil is kinda messy, and I think a lot of barn owners would rather not deal with it. I'll do it at home, but I don't ask others to when I'm boarding.

            If you can switch to say rice bran or some other dry fat source instead of corn oil, you could baggie up each individual feed with supplements, etc. and have the barn owner just dump it in his feed bowl. Do a week's worth at a time and then you always know if they've been fed out.

            I do this for the convenience of the staff at my current barn. In the past I've done it so I can see if my horse is being fed...

            I'd also have a polite convo with the vet. Find out if he's actually saying these things, or what.
            ditto this. i think the oil can be a pita sometimes for the bo/feeding crew to deal with. i make it easy on them and me and feed the rice bran, which is what i like anyway.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Our BO is frugal but definitely not a bastard -- he's a nice guy who doesn't really want to be boarding, but took in three boarders when the other local barn closed down and referred clients his way. I'm grateful to be there, since I was driving two hours away to another barn when I first brought my horse up until a stall opened up here.

              I do get the sense that it's the remembering to feed supplements issue and the annoyance of going into the heated room to add something to the grain. I looked into the dry fat options, but to get the amount of calories I'm getting in a cup of oil, I'd need to feed so much of Cool Calories or rice bran that I don't think my horse would eat it. (I've tried each of those, and he tended to pick around it -- but seems to like the oil.)

              If I were to pre-bag his food by the week, or even every couple days, do you think a half cup of corn oil in 2 lbs of grain would do anything bad (like spoil or go rancid)? I could pre-mix and pre-bag the whole shebang, so he just has to take a bag and dump it in his bucket at each feeding. I might still have to keep it in the heated room so it doesn't become a brick of grain, but at least there's no measuring or running back and forth with a bucket involved.

              I'm also glad some of you chimed in from the boarding side of things: "If one of my boarders gave me orders they'd be looking for somewhere else to board." Part of why I'm feeling so frustrated is that when I've been on the boarding side as the barn manager or the barn help (just at 3-4 different places, so maybe this is not representative), the basic assumption is that there's a base amount of "barn grain" and hay you agree to feed, and if the owner wants other grain or supplements, they provide it and you feed it. At every barn I've been at, some horses have gotten oil, some have gotten Smartpaks, some have gotten one or two or five supplements. Yes, it's a pain, but it seems to be taken for granted that part of doing boarding is feeding what each owner wants. No? For those of you who see owners' specific feeding requests as "giving orders," how do your owners handle special feeding needs -- or do all the horses just get the same thing at your barn?

              I do not want to be a b*tch or get booted out, just want to make sure my horse gets fed consistently and keeps his weight.

              Comment


              • #8
                Try feeding the pelleted rice bran. I've fed the loose (?) rice bran in the past and my horses weren't really driven to eat it. Now they gobble up the stuff. I should probably feed more.

                Just out of curiousity, how much rice bran do you need to feed to equal the same amount of oil. I am just too lazy most times to do the math.

                Also, I wanted to add that I bag up my food for my horse all the time. As a general idea, I think it can be a pita. However, I should add that it gives me a great deal of peace to know that my horse is getting the supplements and feed that I think she is getting. I've had problems in the past with a bm (with little horse experience) that would choose to feed what they thought was appropriate. I had to be on watch during dinner time to know what my horse was actually getting. Right now, I have a bo that doesn't seem to know much and makes value judgments about boarders feeding, deep breath, beet pulp. I know that I can bag my feed and not worry. Or change my feed without a royal edict from vet and bm. Likewise, bagging grain cuts down on barn communication issues.

                Comment


                • #9
                  If your horse is pig fat, I can see him not wanting to go through the trouble. I remember having a fight with a boarder who insisted her horse NEEDED 1 scoop of pellets twice a day while the horse was almost 9 on the body scale and gaining daily! At that point it was horse's welfare vs losing client, which is a bad position to be in as a BM.

                  Do you have a pump for the oil? If you are making him measure it out, that could be a PITA. 4 pumps would equal 1/2 cup. Pre-setting a few days in advance would be difficult.

                  When in doubt, try the tact of, "I sense this is troubling you. Is there any way I can make it better?"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LAZ View Post
                    If one of my boarders gave me orders they'd be looking for somewhere else to board.
                    Every time I see someone post something like this, I want to hug my BOs/BM.

                    If I had a BO/BM who decided he was going to feed my horse whatever the hell he wanted despite my instructions (seeing as how I OWN the horse and I PAY the bills), I would be gone like yesterday.

                    OP, find out whether the vet is actually saying things to the BO about your horse or whether the BO is making sh!t up because he doesn't want to feed your horse the way you want horse fed and thinks including the vet in his excuse will make it stick.

                    If vet is making comments about your horse to other people, ask vet to refrain from discussing your horse with anyone but you.

                    If your BO turns out to be the one with the problem, see if you can figure out what exactly his issue is. Maybe you can solve it by prebagging whatever feed/supplements your horse should get so all he has to do is dump it. Maybe he doesn't want to deal with the oil and instead of actually saying that to you, he's making the vet the bad guy. Maybe you can point out to him that if you start buying/bagging your horse's feed, he will save $X/month and all he has to do is dump the bag into the horse's bucket.

                    Good luck.
                    Full-time bargain hunter.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I had one high maintenance boarder (as in horse, not owner!) who ate more than anyone else, even more than two horses when she was too thin. The owner brought corn oil and yes, it is messy, and a pain in the winter, but I never considered not feeding it to her. I prefer to feed a rather $$ high fat, low starch grain and good hay. I also supplied Dengie for this horse that no one else got, which helped add some weight, but then the owner decided to try rice bran pellets-which she bought herself. HUGE difference. She'd get two cups with each meal (3 meals a day) and gained weight rather quickly, and looked great. It is a bit pricey at $45/bag, and I think a bag lasts 6 weeks, but I swear it did far more for her weight and overall appearance than corn oil did.

                      I always have control in determining the feeding plan in my barn, but I am always willing to discuss things or consider something different if a horse 's needs warrants it. I could not imagine not giving supplements my boarders bring, but I have heard of many top billing show barns doing that. So weird since it takes very little time to add as you make up feed. I would be very uncomfortable in a barn that did not respect my wishes on how to feed my horse but at the same time I understand completely the need to do what works for you-both time and money wise-when running a business.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by InstigatorKate View Post
                        If your horse is pig fat, I can see him not wanting to go through the trouble. I remember having a fight with a boarder who insisted her horse NEEDED 1 scoop of pellets twice a day while the horse was almost 9 on the body scale and gaining daily! At that point it was horse's welfare vs losing client, which is a bad position to be in as a BM.

                        Do you have a pump for the oil? If you are making him measure it out, that could be a PITA. 4 pumps would equal 1/2 cup. Pre-setting a few days in advance would be difficult.

                        When in doubt, try the tact of, "I sense this is troubling you. Is there any way I can make it better?"
                        BINGO!

                        First, what's the condition of the horse? If it's fat as an apple then adding corn oil is a Bad Idea (I don't care what the vet says). But if that's the BOs reason then it should be stated, plainly. If an HO tells me to overfeed their horse I'm likely to take that "arrogant" approach and say "No." Maybe not so "arrogant" as "smart."

                        Second, calm discussion is better than confrontation. The HO has ultimate authority with their horse, but the BO has ultimate authority within their own fenceline. Compromise, here, not a bad word.

                        Third, asking for "special consideration" if a horse is on full care board is not unreasonable. But that request can become unreasonable as circumstances change.

                        So, at the end of the day, I'd let the condition of the horse dictate the final result. That might require both HO and BO to swallow some ego, but what's wrong with that?!?!?!

                        G.
                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally Posted by LAZ
                          If one of my boarders gave me orders they'd be looking for somewhere else to board.
                          Wow. My philosoplhy about boarding is that it is my horse, my vet, my decisions and most of all my MONEY that is paying for specified services. When I make boarding arrangements, it is a contract . In that contract the BO agrees to is provide specified services in exchage for my money. In other words, the BO is working for me, not the other way around.
                          The horse owner's vet has already said the corn oil is OK.(whether I personally agree with that is another matter)
                          It is not up to the BO to dispute the vet.
                          So, I would ask the BO to give the boarder's vet a call and ask if the oil is a problem. If not a problem then the BO should feed the oil if they are getting paid to feed the oil. Or the boarder can take their business and their money elsewhere.
                          Patty Stiller CNBBT,CNBF,CLS, CE
                          Natural Balance Certified Lameness Specialist ,instructor.
                          www.hoofcareonline.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'd just switch to rice bran pellets, as it seems the vast majority of horses will eat them. Mix it in with the horse's daily allotment of grain, put them in ziplocs so that 1 meal = 1 ziploc. Easy for the BO, and you know your horse is getting what you want it to get.

                            I used to board at a place where I had to fight tooth and nail for basic diet changes that were no more difficult for the BO, the BO just plain didn't want to compromise, it was his way or the highway.

                            His barn, his prerogative. I chose the highway.
                            Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PortPonies View Post
                              Our BO is frugal but definitely not a bastard -- he's a nice guy who doesn't really want to be boarding, but took in three boarders when the other local barn closed down and referred clients his way. I'm grateful to be there, since I was driving two hours away to another barn when I first brought my horse up until a stall opened up here.

                              I do get the sense that it's the remembering to feed supplements issue and the annoyance of going into the heated room to add something to the grain. I looked into the dry fat options, but to get the amount of calories I'm getting in a cup of oil, I'd need to feed so much of Cool Calories or rice bran that I don't think my horse would eat it. (I've tried each of those, and he tended to pick around it -- but seems to like the oil.)

                              If I were to pre-bag his food by the week, or even every couple days, do you think a half cup of corn oil in 2 lbs of grain would do anything bad (like spoil or go rancid)? I could pre-mix and pre-bag the whole shebang, so he just has to take a bag and dump it in his bucket at each feeding. I might still have to keep it in the heated room so it doesn't become a brick of grain, but at least there's no measuring or running back and forth with a bucket involved.

                              I'm also glad some of you chimed in from the boarding side of things: "If one of my boarders gave me orders they'd be looking for somewhere else to board." Part of why I'm feeling so frustrated is that when I've been on the boarding side as the barn manager or the barn help (just at 3-4 different places, so maybe this is not representative), the basic assumption is that there's a base amount of "barn grain" and hay you agree to feed, and if the owner wants other grain or supplements, they provide it and you feed it. At every barn I've been at, some horses have gotten oil, some have gotten Smartpaks, some have gotten one or two or five supplements. Yes, it's a pain, but it seems to be taken for granted that part of doing boarding is feeding what each owner wants. No? For those of you who see owners' specific feeding requests as "giving orders," how do your owners handle special feeding needs -- or do all the horses just get the same thing at your barn?

                              I do not want to be a b*tch or get booted out, just want to make sure my horse gets fed consistently and keeps his weight.
                              OK--I get a better feeling from this post--your first one struck me wrong (and evidently my response struck others wrong).

                              I will qualify this from my perspective--I feed multiple horses multiple times a day through horrid weather and gorgeous days, hot or cold, dry or wet. I have kicked two people out for being toxic boarders over the last 20+ years and most of the people that were with me at some point and aren't any more have either sold their horses, moved out of the area, or bought their own place, most of my boarders have been with me a long time (so I can't be a horrible person).

                              If a boarder has a problem with something I am doing and they approach me and ask how we can make it work to everyone's satisfaction I am always willing to talk. If they approach me with "You will do this for me" I'm not as likely to work with them (see my previous remark).

                              I would say yes, do prebag and consider something other than oil--it is messy & ruins clothes it invariably gets on. If your BO is a caring person and wants to keep you around they'll be happy to dump a pre-bagged supplement in your horses' food. I have bins like the smart-pak bins for all my boarders, so they either have smart paks or bag their own supplements, it is very easy to be sure each horse gets whatever the owner wants it to get, plus I will add (at cost) Ultimate Finish &/or black oiled sunflower seeds when I grain.

                              Going into a heated room might not seem like that big a deal, but it is an additional step, as is measuring out a messy substance and then wiping down the bottle & putting it back in the heat. And if he does it for you then he has to do something equivilent for anyone else who asks....
                              Make it easy, make it non-messy and ask rather than act entitled (and I'm not saying you are) and you may find the problem goes away.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I can sympathize. I have an issue every time I move to a new stable which is pretty frequently with my cross country moves. People see the spots and assume my paint is an easy keeper, but she definitely takes after her TB dam in her high calorie requirements. I hate getting confrontational but I vow not to let her lose condition again. I'm in the process of putting weight back on her after the last BO exclaimation that more than 3 quarts (one normal square scoop) of grain would founder her. Ugh. She's probably about a 3.5 on a bmi scale.

                                I'm eagerly reading all the suggestions on here!
                                Doubled Expectations (Roxy, 2001 APHA)
                                Al Amir (Al, 2005 OTTB)
                                Ten Purposes (Rosie, 2009 OTTB)

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  A lot of good responses here and I can actually see both sides.

                                  I had a boarder whose horse was probably IR, possibly Cushings, maybe both. She refused to get him tested. I'd send long letters detailing why I think he may have a metabolic disorder but it just didn't make a difference. I told her I was cutting back on grain to keep him at a healthy weight. I explained about cresty necks and the "valley of death". Her only concern was making sure he got lots of treats. She wanted him fed bran mash every week. She wanted him fed all the hay he could eat. The horse was obese. I did stop the bran mash and he didn't get all the hay he could eat because he was like a fat man at a buffet line. He got the same amount of hay as everyone else, not more because it made his owner happy. This boarder was also the type that if the horse foundered, I would be blamed. Basically a no win situation for me. Thankfully she left, but she made sure to call me later and let me know her horse loved his new place, he got lots of attention and people fed him treats all day! There are some people who are unreasonable but they are few and far between.

                                  I give all the horses here Cocasoya (with the owner's permission, of course) because I think it helps keep weight on the older guys. When I go on vacation, I do prebag everyone's grain to make it easier for my farm sitter. The baggies can be messy and I'm not sure that would be the best approach for the BO in your situation. Equinos advice sounds like it would be an easy solution.

                                  I would talk to the BO and ask if the oil is a hassle and would he prefer that you use something else or is he worried that your horse is overweight? If you both talk it out, maybe you can find an answer that works for both of you. Maybe he finds the oil annoying, maybe he thinks your horse could lose weight, maybe there's another reason altogether. I think if you ask and try to find a solution together, he wouldn't feel threatened.

                                  I'm happy to work with my boarders and I like to have their input. I like for them to understand why I do things the way I do. I like to look at it as a team approach-what can we do that's best for your horse? If the former boarder had her horse tested and I was wrong, I would have followed all her wishes without a problem. But if you want me to do something that may be harmful to your horse, I'll be honest with you and tell you why.

                                  If you like this farm and the BO, I think you'll be able to work it out.
                                  http://thepitchforkchronicles.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I think you have two issues here.

                                    One is a supplement that is messy and hard to feed.

                                    The other is a BO that has randomly decided to stop feeding it without telling you.

                                    If the supplement is actually a pain in the ass to feed then the BO needs to let you know and either A. charge you more to feed it or B. come up with something that is easier to feed and satisfies your requirements for a supplement.

                                    However, if you don't want to move and the BO randomly decides to keep changing things basically you're up a creek because you aren't willing to do anything to change the situation and the BO knows they can do whatever they want and you just have to take it.
                                    http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I don't run a "boarding barn," I have a training barn, so the client's attitude here is foreign to me. "No one TELLS me what to feed my horse, how to care for my horse...." The reality here is that the owner relinquishes some control of their horse if they board. You don't march in there and order people around. You do your homework, ask questions, discuss any special needs before you move in. The caregiver's philosophy has to mesh with your own. Not saying that the OP didn't do this, it's just that the aggressive attitude might not be the best way to work with the BO.

                                      In my experience, every single horse in my barn has special needs- special food, individual turnout, split up vaccines, boots for turnout- whatever. But there is a point at which the normal amount of "special" becomes PIA. I have politely asked such clients to move on. Perhaps OP has reached that point? Perhaps OP's attitude, instead of inviting cooperation, invites resentment?

                                      I don't know the particulars of your boarding situation, but you did state that it's your only option for a nice barn in your area. When you march in there and demand things, you realize that you probably create hostility with your BO? If the BO is a full time professional horseperson, your "tude" is insulting. If you want to stay there, how about finding a non-confrontational way to "go over your horse's diet"? If corn oil is too messy, there are plenty of other ways to add fat to the diet. But if BO thinks your horse is unhealthily fat, and you insist on your diet, you guys may not be a match.
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                                      • #20
                                        Wow, I love my boarders!! I'm the one who has to tell them if the horses need a supplement for whatever reason. While corn oil is a pita, if I have a boarder who wants it fed, they get it. Though it must be across from the stall, so in the winter it is not easy to feed. I recommend smart paks to those who want more than one supplement. We have 30 horses in stalls and 22 living outside and all get fed 2x a day. The outside ones who get supplements are put in paddocks and fed spereately for an extra monthly fee. Your barn owner/manager should not stop feeding your supplements without discussing it with you. That is not right. If you run out, or are close to running out you should be notified. And find out if your vet and barn owner are talking about your horse behind your back. That's not right either when the BO says the vet says this and the vet says something else to your face.
                                        I have out of state boarders and I just add on their invoice when I have to go pick up more supplements when it's run out. I've never had one accuse me of padding their bill or not giving their supps, when they do somewhat surprised visits their horses always look good health wise and the lack of emergency vet bills is proof.
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