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Trainer Requiring Clients to Pay for New Footing in Arena?

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  • Trainer Requiring Clients to Pay for New Footing in Arena?

    Hello all. Sorry about the alter on this one, but necessary to protect the innocent etc.

    Here's my question, do you think it is odd, unacceptable or anything else (including fine) for a trainer to ask, nay require, clients to cover the cost of an upgrade to a training facility? For example, for new footing in the arena or new doors on stalls (where this is purely an "upgrade" and not due to damage caused by a client's horse etc)

    We currently have this situation and it just seems strange to me. Trainer wants to upgrade footing in arena, which no one will deny will be great for the horses, allow riding sooner after rain and even out the low and high spots of the arena. However, trainer is asking for an amount roughly equal to one month's training (just under $1k) from each client (per horse) as well as from ride-in clients (who are being asked to pay this amount if they ride in 4x a week, or a pro-rated amount if they ride in less than 4x per week). Trainer does not own property, but has a lease contract with the owner which states that she is responsible for footing.

    While some people at the barn are "better off" than others money-wise, this is a huge request from my point of view (as well as others who are not super well off).

    I can think of several better ways trainer could have gone about handling this, the least of which would have been to ask before simply informing clients that it would be added to their bill this month (doubling it). Trainer also could have thought of creative ways to raise funds for this, such as hosting a schooling show where the adults could volunteer time and snacks and the kids could ride and compete. Maybe this wouldn't have covered all of it, but it would have been a start. We aren't made of money (or at least I'm not).

    It seems like providing footing is a part of being a trainer, along with providing your clients with a place to ride. It's not like we are a group of people who wanted to start up a riding facility together. Does this mean we will now be shareholders of the ring?

    By the way, said ring will take 2 weeks to re-do, during which time clients will be paying for training, but there will be no arena. I'm assuming there will be no discount for this loss of training (nor would I expect one). Also, new clients are coming in all the time, no news as to whether there will be any cost to those people (I'm assuming not. Could you imagine? "Hi, welcome to the barn, just fyi, in addition to your training fee, we will be taking a $1,000 'welcome to the barn and new footing' fee. Enjoy!" That sounds ridiculous to me (although maybe it's not unheard of?) so why is it different for current clients (both boarders and ride-ins?)?

    I'm not trying to be snarky here; just curious about others' experiences in similar situations and thoughts on the present situation. Thanks!!
    Last edited by justanalternate; Mar. 26, 2012, 06:53 PM. Reason: After Appsolute's post, ETA that trainer is not owner of property just for clarity.

  • #2
    I would not find it acceptable, and I would not pay it.

    I rent my house. If it needs a new roof, does my landlord come knocking on my door and ask for me to pay it? NO, I do not see why this is any different.

    If the trainer were to sell this property, will she cut a check to each client, paying them back for the upgrade to her property, which was now worth more thanks to her customer’s investment?

    The only time I have “pitched in” for footing was a community arena on HOA property. All of us that used the arena pitched in a bit to make it better. NO ONE was profiting off of the arena, and no one was selling it. And if they DID sell it, it belonged to the HOA, and all of those who paid in would benefit from its sale.

    Anyway long answer short. NO WAY would I be ok with this. The arena is part of the trainer’s business. She should buy the footing and count it as a business expense, and perhaps increase fees as tolerated for the new and improved facility.
    APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


    • #3
      I agree. My BO replaced the footing in our arenas at no extra charge to the boarders. Its kind of part of business, right? I mean technically I would think that type of stuff should be saved for/budgeted into the monthly board/training rates. Like every month, my trainer charges us a "barn supplies" fee. Its the same flat charge every month, regardless of how many supplies she actually buys. Some months its not many, others though we get a bunch including upgrades to saddle racks, cross ties, etc etc. The point being it evens out and we don't get asked for "extra" for the bigger stuff because she has budgeted it in.

      I mean really, you can ride on dirt/grass. There doesn't HAVE to be new footing. Its a perk, or like you said, an "upgrade".


      • #4
        If someone changes barns do they get to take their share of the footing with them?

        Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


        • #5
          I think that's the farm owner or trainer's financial responsibility. I expect the grounds and facility maintenance to kept up appropriately, especially if I'm paying around $1K per month.
          Personally, I'd be really put off by this. I'd probably be more willing to have my board raised $85 per month for 1 year, than to be expected to cough up $1,000 at once. I'm sure this trainer will hear his/her fair share of complaints and perhaps lose some customers over this.


          • #6
            Wow, that trainer's got some brass ones.

            I would be quite taken aback and rather angry if something like that appeared on my bill without warning. Hell, I wouldn't be impressed if it appeared *with* warning.

            If trainer wants to redo the footing and trainer owns the property, trainer comes up with the cash up front to make that improvement. Trainer then decides whether to increase board/training fees to reflect a higher-quality facility, and Trainer's clients then decide whether they can afford the increase and/or wish to stay.

            I could perhaps see Trainer sitting down with clients and explaining that yes, the footing isn't great, but improving it is going to cost $X, and she can only pay 50 percent of $X, and would the clients as a group want to discuss whether to go ahead with improvements and how to fund those. But even at the best, most family-like barn there is, this could be problematic. Some clients are going to be able to pay more than others, while the client with the semi-retired horse who is ridden once or twice a week is going to feel shafted if she's asked to come up with the same amount of money as the client who rides his three horses every day.

            And what happens if Trainer collects the money from clients and then a few months later the ring still hasn't been done but hmmm, someone's got a fancy new trailer ...

            Honestly, I'd be pretty surprised if Trainer doesn't lose quite a few clients with this move.
            Full-time bargain hunter.


            • #7
              Sounds like a way of thinning out people that they do not want.....and I agree, unacceptable. This is the barns cost of doing business and they could opt to spread the cost out to the client over 2plus year rather than all at once. 50/month is easier than 1 lump some

              This is greedy and disrespectful. If you guys go with it and they get away with it, you can expect more stuff like this.

              If you are buying stall doors, you can not take them with you when you leave. This is their asset and they should buy.


              • #8
                Wow, and I thought it was kinda pushy for us boarders to be requested to "donate" to a fund for vetting the barn cats. (Not that I don't want healthy barn cats, but at the board I pay, I'd think professional mousing would be included. )
                Ring the bells that still can ring
                Forget your perfect offering
                There is a crack in everything
                That's how the light gets in.


                • #9
                  I agree, it is in poor taste. However, I'm surprised trainer doesn't just increase the board or start tacking on other miscellaneous fees that are tricky to dispute. So many barns where I have boarded have had rather arbitrary increases in price, with some long-winded explanation from trainer about requirements of the facility, keeping up with competitors, etc. Generally resulting in upgrades that are usually unnecessary and sometimes clearly beneficial to very specific customers, and not so much to others. It's very frustrating but I haven't found many permanent solutions aside from having your own facility.


                  • #10
                    Hmmm...yeah, I own a boarding facility and we are in the process of re-footing our ring also. I would NEVER ask my boarders to pay for this. In fact, I'd be embarrassed to even consider it. The way I look at it, the quality of the footing in the ring is my responsibility, and it is part of the reason people are paying me board each month. They pay board with the expectation that the ring will be in good repair, and safe for their use. This means maintaining is up to me, not them, and even though my budget is tight, I'm making it work without a dime from them (aside from what the have always paid).


                    • #11
                      That's awesome. Tomorrow I'm going to start telling clients that I need a new car and I'm tacking $1000 onto their regular fees this month.


                      • #12
                        I'd be mad and looking for a new barn.

                        If the footing is poor and needs to be redone, I can understand raising the board after the installation, after all the barn now has a better feature, manufactured footing. That does have value and it can mean a rise in price. That said, until the footing is installed I wouldn't pay a single dollar more and I certainly wouldn't want to become an investor in someone else's arena footing.
                        F O.B
                        Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                        Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                        • #13
                          Arena footing is part of the cost of doing business. If trainer wants to raise the board that's OK. Each client then has time to decide if the improvement is worth the extra cost to them and can opt out by leaving.

                          If my barn just up and told me that I had to cough up an extra thousand dollars in a month I'd leave.
                          "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” – Barry Switzer


                          • #14
                            Can't add too much, I agree with everybody else. You're already paying a significant amount of money and the facility upkeep should be included in that. And at the very least you should have been consulted regarding a "fee" long before a decision to purchase and installation plans were made. Give you time to find someplace else


                            • #15
                              BALONEY ~~~~~

                              This is BALONEY ! ( is that how you spell it ? )

                              The trainer apparentlyt hit his head too hard getting out of his bull$hit wagon ! to teach his next lesson ....
                              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                              • #16
                                Not acceptable. At least in the manner its being done here!

                                I can accept a BO saying "Hey boarders, in order to cover some facilities improvements, we're going to be raising board by $X per month, effective Date. Improvements will include A, B, and C, and will begin on Date." That date effective needs to be more than a few weeks notice. For instance, the barn where I board is increasing the board rate effective April 1, and we got notice of that in January.
                                A Year In the Saddle


                                • #17
                                  Where I'm at the barn owners raise the price of board whenever "updates" are made...

                                  Just not OK!!!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Zu Zu View Post
                                    This is BALONEY ! ( is that how you spell it ? )

                                    The trainer apparentlyt hit his head too hard getting out of his bull$hit wagon ! to teach his next lesson ....
                                    I love ZuZu. And, agree, you must be joking. Wow.
                                    Quality Hunter Ponies


                                    • #19
                                      If the trainer rents the barn, then it's okay. You can leave if you want. He does not personally benefit from the upgrade anymore than any other user of the ring.
                                      And this doesn't ever seem to end well, because someone always resents it. But that is part of boarding, any rent increase results in some kind of backlash.


                                      • #20
                                        I hate to say it, but I have seen this happen once before, at a very well known barn, in fact, and the trainer didn't lose a single client. Similar deal - trainer rented (part of) the facility, and assessed her clients about the same amount to upgrade the indoor footing (which was lovely, I have to admit.) It happened right before I moved in, thankfully, as I wouldn't have welcomed an unexpected thousand dollar expense. Interestingly enough, several trainers shared that property, and shortly after the assessment...one trainer left. I'm sure her clients were thrilled at the return on their "investment" in quality footing they got to enjoy for all of two months or so.

                                        That said, I don't know if I would leave a program I otherwise really, really, REALLY liked over this issue - at least unless I had another, equally attractive alternative. It's always easy for people on the internet to say, "Leave and don't look back!" but the reality is that boarding is often all about compromise, and most of the time, the choice is about selecting the best of the available options, not about finding nirvana.
                                        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.