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Boarder for a former/old friend?

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    Boarder for a former/old friend?

    There is a chance I will have a board spot opening soon. Coincidentally, a friend contacted me looking for board. We were best friends 30 years ago - during difficult times in both our lives (so we were very close), but our lives went different ways. There was no "falling out". We still chatted from time to time and our lives are still very different (different values/priorities). We share horsey values though. She hasn't had a horse in close to 30 years when her parents made her sell her horse, although she has ridden from time to time.

    I invited her to come riding next week, to feel things out.

    Possible that part of my hesitation is that my clients are quite down to earth/low budget, and my friend can be a bit pretentious with money? Or am I just worried about having a business relationship with a friend? I just know I feel some hesitation...but I also don't want to hurt her feelings by advertising for I would have to be an adult and actually tell her by concerns...but I don't even know what my concerns are.

    Any thoughts/insights?
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

    I believe your feelings are valid. Perhaps phrasing similar to “I am afraid to risk our friendship by mixing it with business” would be helpful if you decide to have a conversation with her.


      Ugh. Where business and friendship cross can be a messy intersection.

      If you do it, I’d suggest having a very frank, professional conversation with your board contract in-hand on what the parameters are, and that they must be followed evenly, by all boarders. Establish boundaries up front, to ensure any problems later on can be dealt with based on established expectations.

      With regards to pretentiousness, my experience is that it kind of sorts itself out within a group. The pretentious party will temper themselves, or else wind up kind of ignored by the larger community. Even if you decline the friend, you could still wind up with a pretentious boarder.

      You may discover a joy in rekindling a friendship by having an old friend at the barn, and if it doesn’t work out, at least you have an established guideline for the arrangement.

      Best wishes!


        Do you/have you done business with other friends? That is, is it this friend in particular, or would it be any friend?

        if she wasn’t your friend but you somehow knew that she was a bit pretentious about money, would you still be leery? That is, are you worried about her fitting in at the barn or are you worried that she will reflect poorly on you as a friend?

        Do you have reason to suspect that she wouldn’t be a good customer otherwise? Do you think she’s pretentious enough about money that she would be a disruptive element in your barn?


          I don’t think it would necessarily be a bad thing if you set boundaries up. Make it clear that if she boards there she gets “xyz” and no extras or special treatment.

          I wouldn’t give her the spot because she’s your friend but I also wouldn’t not give her the spot because she’s your friend. Are her and her horse’s needs in line with what you offer at that place? If she walked into your barn tomorrow and if you had never met would you want her to board there?


            I stood two stallions for a number of years and also did some boarding and training. I accepted mares and horses from friends, but had a contract for everyone and everything - from breeding, to boarding to training. That, to me, is the key to maintaining a friendship. EVERYONE KNOWS what is expected and the rules. I wouldn't do any business with friends or outsiders without a contract.


              If you have been out of touch for some time, re-establishing a relationship sounds like the perfect opportunity to reach an understanding/set some boundaries. A boarding contract would be a large part of that.

              Plus the history you have might be a good thing in that you have established some understanding of each other and should be able to (as you say) be adults and talk about whatever comes up.

              As suggested above: would you accept this person as a boarder if you had not known her as a friend?
              No matter where you go, there you are


                I dont' think I'd do it----but I think you have to know yourself. I boarded at a farm where owner and I did become quite close. It was a real joy. But she was that type of personality...not a lot of drama, just straightforward and kind. We didn't HAVE to agree on everything and our horse approaches. I simply had to follow her farm rules for EVERYONE, not just me. She was solid western and I was solid dressage, and it worked just fine. Was it my 'perfect' boarding barn?d no...but was later in my life than my earlier barns and I had learned not to sweat the small stuff. No matter what I think it may bring you some stress. She will always be a long lost friend from the past---and that will have its differences.
                "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                --Jimmy Buffett


                  I have boarded horses for friends several times. Each time I had them sign my contract. It worked out every time, but I was protected by the written agreement if it hadn't...


                    She was a friend 30 years ago - who's to say she hasn't changed for the better, or worse. Barns can have interesting dynamics and it doesn't matter how fancy or laid back the barn is. It's the people that are there, and how the owner or trainers handle it. My barn is virtually drama free because the owner and manager do not engage in any kind of conversation that would fuel gossip. They have well established rules, abide by them or pass on the boarding contract. As a result we have a fun, friendly congenial barn.

                    You'll find out what your friend is when they come out to ride - who knows while you worry about her, she may be thinking the same thing. If you get a sense of pretentiousness or entitlement, remind her that what most of your boarders are laid back..


                      Original Poster

                      Redlei44 you ask some very good questions. Things to think about. I would typically not expect someone with her spending habits to be interested in my barn though...we aren't fancy. Higher income isn't my market. I just have a small, functional barn.

                      gottagrey we have reconnected a few times in the last 30 years. I can't put my finger on why I am concerned. She isn't a drama queen but she is used to the finer things...and we are a lower budget operation. perhaps a feel self conscious?

                      All just theoretical anyway. boarder is trying to find a lease rider rather than leave.

                      (Friend doesn't have a horse yet. She is putting feelers out. I recommended a barn I think she would like that is closer to her house).
                      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                        The key to a good boarding relationship is the boarder wanting just the level of care and facility that you are offering. If your old friend's "pretentiousness" makes you think that she'll consider your barn not good enough, then she (properly she, but also both of you) should figure that out before she signs a contract.

                        IME, I have had made some great friends (sometimes) when we started out as business associates. I have lost friends when it went from friendship to business. What I learned about myself is that I will not be bothered by a trait or behavior in a friend, but that feature will be unacceptable to me in a business relationship.

                        So my advice would be to leave the past friendship out of it. Put that aside and see if this person now wants the boarding you are offering and if you'd want to have her as a boarder. Those are the only substantive questions you need to answer. But you do need to find those answers for yourself.

                        After that, and if she does move in, you can rekindle the friendship or not as it suits both of you.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat


                          Originally posted by CHT View Post
                          Redlei44 you ask some very good questions. Things to think about. I would typically not expect someone with her spending habits to be interested in my barn though...we aren't fancy. Higher income isn't my market. I just have a small, functional barn.

                          gottagrey we have reconnected a few times in the last 30 years. I can't put my finger on why I am concerned. She isn't a drama queen but she is used to the finer things...and we are a lower budget operation. perhaps a feel self conscious?

                          All just theoretical anyway. boarder is trying to find a lease rider rather than leave.

                          (Friend doesn't have a horse yet. She is putting feelers out. I recommended a barn I think she would like that is closer to her house).
                          I wouldn't feel self-conscious about your barn and your friend. She may have contacted you after all these years because she values you as an experienced horsewoman, someone she knows takes good care of horses etc.


                            Original Poster

                            gottagrey thinking more about it, I think it is that I don't want to be in a position of authority over my friend. Maybe it would be ok...but I think I would find it potentially awkward. But we will see.

                            I think her decision was more about it being an easy decision/comfortable rather than particularly rational. She wants me to go look at a horse on her behalf tomorrow. The barn she found is about on level with mine (some thing nicer, some things less nice) but more expensive. I am a little concerned because she wants to buy a horse and move it to this new barn...without actually seeing either of them (she is out of province). I voiced my concerns, but? So I am thinking I am better off being the friend with advice and willing to help vs the coach/BO.
                            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                              OP you should also make it clear to her that you don't expect her to automatically board at your barn. She may think that, so it's good you are actively pointing her towards other options. It's also fair to say when she visits: here's our niche, middle income middle aged women or whatever (trying to remember your other posts), we try to offer quality care on the basics but we don't have a lot of fancy add ons or whatever. It suits some people but we don't expect it to suit everyone. Etc

                              Are you going to charge her for your horse shopping time or just do it as a favor?

                              Is she the kind of person who will ask too many favors, like you going to see 10 horses?

                              Can you shift her over to the trainer with whom she will be boarding for support and guidance?


                                Original Poster

                                Scribbler all good points. I don't think she asked to board here for my sake. She knows we are pretty much always full. It has been years since we advertised for board.

                                Fortunately the track horse sold before I went to look, and we talked more about what she actually wants. I probably won't charge for shopping, but rather will just say no, unless we go together as a friend thing. She doesn't want a trainer.

                                I am getting better at saying NO...but I did offer to let her board for just the we will see.

                                I very much appreciate everyone's feedback.
                                Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                                  Do you happen to know how this friend is as a boarder? As a barn manager you absolutely should see yourself in the authority position, but there’s a LOT of boarders who see themselves as the one in that position because they’re paying you. Could that be the hesitation? Because if she’s one of those I wouldn’t want to board to her friend or not.


                                    I agree with what everyone has already posted. I'll share my story.

                                    My best friend boarded with me when she bought a horse (this was 15 years ago). It went fine. We were always very candid with each other. She moved a few times to try to find a place with an indoor (totally fine with me) and always ended up coming back. (I was NOT a huge boarding facility).

                                    When I had to relocate because of work, she fell on hard times and I brought her horse with me and assumed all costs. Recently she was ready for him to be back, and we found a barn an acquaintance owns and everything is fine there.

                                    She always tells me she's never found a place she was happier. Probably because of the way I manage and also because- well- shee was my best friend. A friend who I know stuff that even her husband doesn't know. We joke we have to stay friends because we know too much about the other. My husband has thought for the last 10 years that it was a bad idea and you don't mix business and friendship. I agree with him.

                                    She is respectful of my time, etc. She didn't get hurt feelings when my then-boyfriend moved in with me and I said "So- you can't just walk in to the house anymore. Mark may be in his underwear. Knock first".

                                    So- it can work. It is rare. We both had clear expectations and boundaries.

                                    Good luck.
                                    Come to the dark side, we have cookies


                                      Original Poster

                                      thanks for everyone's thoughts! We will have room for a horse over the winter, so I offered it as an option with no obligation. It might be good. It's nice to add to the pool of people that just like horses - I think she will fit in well in that regard.
                                      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!