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to move or not to move - again. Mostly a rant, but advice would be welcome

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  • to move or not to move - again. Mostly a rant, but advice would be welcome

    Barn 1 - large lesson barn. Good trainer and fantastic arenas. Constant influx of inexperienced staff so horses may or may not be watered, may or may not be fed, may or may not be turned out. Staff afraid of some of the larger horses or the more high strung horses (mine are neither). Water is a big issue for me. Horses have no water, horses move to new barn.

    Barn 2- smaller facility, mostly boarders, a few lesson horses. Trainer only taught beginner children (didn't know that when I moved there, but I figured I'd live without lessons for a while). Nice arenas, nice stalls/paddocks, automatic watering system. Owners must turnout horses and remain while horses are turned out. All stalls have attached paddocks, so horses have room to move around. I go everyday to give my guys turnout (barn 5 minutes from my house, so no problem). The problem - one barn employee who is responsible for stall cleaning only. He cleans stalls every other day. Feeding is done by "working students," read as beginner lesson students, who may or may not feed depending on if they remember. My guys were skipped multiple times. Not acceptable - didn't stay long there.

    Barn 3. Small boarder facility with trainer. Trainer is ok. Nice outdoor arena. Ok indoor arena. Barn staff great. Unfortunately, BO takes care of horses on staff's day off and is totally incompetent to do so. Skips feeding a horse here and there, skips watering a horse here and there and cannot handle horses easily for turnout. Scary.

    Barn 4. Small boarder facility. No trainer. Tons of turnout. Ok arena. Barn staff is a person who wants to learn to ride but can't afford a horse, so gets to ride BO's horses in exchange for cleaning stalls and watering. (BO does turnout and feed.) This person doesn't get the horses require watering every single day. BO talks to person, but attention to water gradually fades again. Totally not acceptable.

    Barn 5. Small boarder facility with trainer/BO (same person). This trainer/BO is awesome. Love this one. Ok arena. But barn staff again leaves much to be desired. Horses aren't always turned out, even though they are supposed to be. Some days bay horse's stall looks like it hasn't been cleaned at all. Some days I have to water this same horse. I get the impression the staff doesn't like this horse. Talked to trainer, who had discussion with barn staff. Bay guy gets watered and gets turned out. But, now barn staff won't talk to me. Trainer/BO is paying extra attention right now, but when that stops, I expect to have the same problems.

    I am running out of barns. Am I unreasonable expecting my horses to have water, be fed the appropriate amount, have their stalls cleaned once a day and be turned out? I pay for all of this - full care and all is stated in the board agreement. I don't expect the stall to be spotless when I show up after work, but I don't expect to see standing puddles of pee because the bedding can't soak it all up. No other stalls look like that. I don't expect to see empty water buckets ever, but it's really annoying when all other buckets are full. (Other horse always has water and his stall doesn't look bad.) Turnover for barn staff is pretty high in this area. If I grit my teeth long enough, they will disappear and new ones will take their place. Don't know if I can grit my teeth much longer. Tempted to go back to Barn 4 and offer to clean stalls/water for a discount on board just to make sure my guys are watered. Really want lessons, though. And really would like to spend my time with my guys instead of cleaning stalls for a dozen or so horses every night after working all day. Opinions? For those of you that read this far, thanks!

  • #2
    Is your bay horse hard to handle?Is that why he is not getting turned out? Or is he just a pig in his stall so it always looks bad. I have one like that who can ruin a stall within moments of being brought in. This could especially be true since none of the other stalls look like his does. And if there are standing puddles is the stall not bedded deeply enough or does your horse come in and roll displacing the shavings to the outside of his stall? Could he be unsettled in that stall and be stall walking? Maybe he needs to move to a different stall?

    It is not unreasonable to assume that your horse will have water. And get clean buckets everyday.
    Can you hang a third water bucket in your horses stall? Or put a muck tub or half barrel for water in the corner of his stall? That way you know for sure that they have water.

    How did you approach the BO/Trainer? It is disturbing that the barn staff won't talk to you so I am wondering at how she approached the barn staff. Can you approach the BO again and find out why the barn staff are not talking to you anymore?

    Not knowing how long it took you to get to barn #5 I would advise you to stick it out and try to make some adjustments so you can stay at a barn. Especially if you like the trainer. Try to make some little adjustments like the extra bucket so your horses are safe. But try to work things out in a reasonable way. Moving to 5 barns is a lot and from the outside can make you seem high maintenance.
    "Half the failures in life result from pulling in one's horse when it is leaping."



    • #3
      If your expectation is to have problems, then likely you will have problems.

      It sounds like the trainer is trying to work with the OP and has addressed the OP's issue. If there is a concern about the barn staff not speaking to the OP, take it up with the trainer. My guess is that the barn staff has labeled the OP as a chronic complainer and wishes to avoid interacting with her. You get more with sugar than vinegar in life, so perhaps a more positive outlook on the situation might be in order.

      Personally I think the OP needs a self-care or keep at home situation.
      Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


      • #4
        Could it be your horse is drinking an unusual amount of water (thus empty water buckets and wet shavings?) Could something be wrong?
        I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

        Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


        • #5
          Chardavej may have a point.
          I have a heavy drinker - he goes through at least 2 5gal buckets daily, not to mention what he drinks in the pony's stall (they have free access 24/7).
          TG he pees outside 90% of the time or his stall would be a wading pool.

          Maybe your bay horse is intimidating to untrained staff - if he's gone w/o at 2 different barns (from your account) maybe they are afraid to handle him?
          Even if all he does is make faces that's enough to scare off a novice WS.

          I had a sweetheart of a TWH who had a past that included being left alone all day in a stall. He learned a GoTo for attention was to rush the stall front, ears back, teeth bared.
          In his mind even negative attention - people yelling at him to "Cut it out!" - was attention.
          I remember showing him to one little kid whose Mom boarded at the same place -and kid told me "That's Buddy, he bites."
          It was all bluff, he never actually tried to bite, but it took years to get him over that unattractive habit.

          As for the staff not speaking to you after being talked to by BO, I'd start a conversation and see if I could win her/him over.
          Catch more flies with honey than vinegar.....
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          • #6
            My horse is a big drinker, and his bucket often almost drained when I'd show up in the morning. No physical problems, but he is active, loves his hay, and an OTTB. Nearby barn where I first brought him was awful about keeping his bucket full and finally failing to have him turned out regularly. "Sure we handle Thoroughbreds." He was full of himself NOT getting turnouts.

            Moved him to private barn with only visiting trainer, but at least wonderful care and an acceptable indoor, with 24/7 turnout with a run-in. His being able to be out regularly has made all the difference in the world, and there's a BIG trough to drink from.

            My guess, your horse drinks more than the other ones who do less in the barn. I would gently remind staff at first place, they'd say "sure" and nothing would change. (Oh, and this place advertises themselves as a sporthorse rehab barn... when the place is full of hazards and minimal care...)

            Am only hoping your gentle reminders will help encourage those who aren't watering enough. But to me, that's not good enough if it doesn't straighten up.

            Another idea, ask for extra water buckets in his stall, and see if that improves anything. (As long as they still check!)
            But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


            • #7
              It's hard to believe 5 barns in a row can not water and feed your horses. So, perhaps your horse drinks his water when he comes in and it ha not yet been topped off. Maybe he drinks half of it and to you that is "out of water". Maybe he spins in his stall and you see his water on the floor, not a puddle of piss. I don't know what to make of it but suspect the story from the 5 barn owners might be interesting.

              OP would definitely be better off to bring her horses home. Especially if she really has had such a run of bad luck, who the heck would keep paying for that? I know it is not unusual to find boarding arrangements that are not up to snuff and sometimes you really don't know until you get there but all 5 of these places give you the same, exact trouble. What gives?

              And as far as the last barn, if the horse really wasn't being cared for then who cares if the barn help are talking to you? Unless you bitched about something that they feel you were being unreasonable about and now they have to alter their routine to kiss you butt, making other parts of their job a pita - like if your horse does slurp down his water as soon as he comes in and normally they would top him off before leaving for the night but now they have to run over with the hose and make sure you don't catch him with a low water bucket and bitch. That would piss me off too if I were the barn help.


              • #8
                I'm inclined to think that herein is an issue with your bay horse that you're not aware of and that for some reason the barn help is afraid to go in his stall.

                If you're otherwise happy with this barn and situation, it may be worth a little effort to make this work. I think the extra bucket idea is a very good one, but I would also chat up the barn help, leave some snacks in the tack room, etc., and try to build enough rapport that they'll confide in you what's going on. If they've already been spoken to by the owner, they may be reluctant to confess that they're afraid of the horse or don't want to enter the stall. If the barn help knows and likes you, the care of your horses will likely improve. It shouldn't have to be that way, but it is, so work it to your advantage.

                I do not think you're being unreasonable expecting the horse to have clean water, or for him to be fed and turned out according to your agreement. If the stall was usually decently maintained and was nasty ONCE, I'd assume the mucker called in sick. If it's usually nasty, and the other stalls are well kept, we're back to a problem related to the horse.

                Good luck!
                The plural of anecdote is not data.


                • #9
                  Sorry, double post.
                  Last edited by McGurk; Dec. 5, 2012, 08:17 AM.
                  The plural of anecdote is not data.


                  • #10
                    Drinking a lot and peeing a lot.. diabetic????


                    • #11
                      I don't think your expectations sound unreasonable, and I have encountered all the same problems at just as many boarding barns as you. No water, especially, boils my blood. This is why I bought my own farm (so my horses can suffer from a reduced standard of care, according to some).
                      Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                      • #12
                        It seems that trying to solve this by changing locations may not be the fix here, particularly if you are looking at going back to one of the previous barns. I have few questions for the OP:

                        Is there a salt block that this horse has access to, or is he getting a lot of salt added to his food? That was the cause of excessive urination in a friend's horse. She was addicted to her large salt block, drank buckets, and then flooded the stall.

                        Have you had your vet take a look into this problem with your horse, with the appropriate tests? If not, I would do this before moving him again. Moving equals stress, which could very well equal more of the same issue. Find out what's going on on the inside before trying to solve this by constantly changing locations. Also, offering to pay for additional bedding may solve some of the stall issue as well.

                        Have you quietly observed the staff handling your horse at turnout time? This one is actually the harder one, because the onus of curing any bad behavior will fall on you. And it really sounds like something is going on here. Don't let the horse know you are there. Just quietly watch the show. Remember that if he is not well, that may really be at the root of the behavior, as well. The urination and poor behavior may be tied together.

                        And now I relate why I have asked these questions: I had a friend whose horse had Cushings. When he was on his meds he was a regular Joe and a respectable boarder. When his owner ran out of money leaving large gaps of time between treatments, he drank like a fish, peed like a race horse, was a ba$tard to the other horses in turnout, and even worse to handle. In this state, he went from one barn to another, and no one wanted to deal with him. Put him back on his Pergolide and he was easy to handle, fine with the other horses in turnout, with no water issues to let on there was ever a problem. You can do what you want, but if I was the one at the end of this lead rope, I would call the vet in for testing.

                        Sooner or later, you will have your answers. Please remember that muckers are in a low paying, dead-end job, so unless they are there working off their board, there will be a regular turnover in staff. Finding out what's really going on with your horse here is your main problem right now. Good luck with your horse.
                        Last edited by Chief2; Dec. 4, 2012, 10:15 AM.
                        "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



                        • #13
                          Have to ditto everyone else in that flags went up for me when you mentioned that the issues with water/stall seem to only be with one of your horses, not the other and not the other horses at the same barn.

                          Now the turnout, feeding, etc....that's a whole other ball game. You mentioned that at your current barn, they're not getting turned out. Why is that?

                          Do you have some kind of complicated feeding regimen that is different than the rest of the barn?

                          I really do think it sounds like your bay might have some health issues. As for the rest of the problems you're having, I have to wonder if you wouldn't have better luck at a higher end facility with consistent well trained and well paid staff who can offer consistency.

                          I don't think that it's silly to expect food, water, appropriate shelter and turnout as agreed upon. But it sounds like maybe you're boarding at some places that aren't set up to offer the level of consistency and care that you expect.

                          Although it sounds like the BO/Trainer at the current place sure is trying to work with you.
                          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                          • #14
                            I would scond hanging another bucket. Are you close enough that you could drop by to check on water & stall cleanliness daily? If so, I would. Also talk to the BO, ask of he has any issues.

                            I would also agree that he may just be a big drinker and pee-er. I frequently help out at my barn, some of the horse drink all of it, some, none. Some horses are neat as pins in the stall, some walk circles to the point of creating a pit that has to be filled in.



                            • #15
                              Sorry, double post!


                              • #16
                                I agree it does seem odd that the problem (at least at this last barn) was only with the bay horse.

                                I'm also wondering about interpersonal skills/approach to issues, either on the part of the OP or the current BO, if a talk with staff resulted in staff now not talking to OP. But OP, that can probably be improved by making an effort to be nice, bring a treat, anything. You don't have to think they're great workers, but it's in your own interest that they be willing to communicate with you, so count it as part of the cost of doing business.

                                If all these moves happened in a relatively short period of time I'd have no choice but to take a hard look at myself/my horses. It's possible that 5 barns in a row provide totally inadequate care, but how likely is it? Were other boarders at those barns happy?
                                Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia


                                • #17
                                  My young horse drinks a lot, which I am not complaining about (not an unhealthy amount I don't think), and he pees outside in the attached run, but he also has a great personality that makes the BO overlook the negatives. Such as his water drinking, his pesty donkey buddy, feeding issues due to pesty donkey buddy, etc. If he was a surly bastard, I'm sure she'd be less inclined to overlook some of it.

                                  Sounds like your bay horse may be the problem, and not the staff.
                                  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


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Coanteen View Post
                                    If all these moves happened in a relatively short period of time I'd have no choice but to take a hard look at myself/my horses. It's possible that 5 barns in a row provide totally inadequate care, but how likely is it? Were other boarders at those barns happy?
                                    I have dealt with all the things the OP complains about, at pricey barns and not-so-pricey barns, so I find it absolutely believable that she has had these experiences. I could tell stories that no one would even believe. And you know, no matter what kind of hell-hole you find yourself in, there will be other boarders who keep happily (or ignorantly) signing their board cheque every month. So to ask the OP to compare herself to someone who doesn't give a rip if the horses have no water, or if they get fed or not, or if they get their stalls cleaned, or if they get fed different types of grain every week, or if they get turned out with the wrong turnout groups all the time, or if the stalls are disgusting, is just dumb. It's not a good reason for someone to lower their own standards for horse care!
                                    Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by saultgirl View Post
                                      I have dealt with all the things the OP complains about, at pricey barns and not-so-pricey barns, so I find it absolutely believable that she has had these experiences. I could tell stories that no one would even believe. And you know, no matter what kind of hell-hole you find yourself in, there will be other boarders who keep happily (or ignorantly) signing their board cheque every month. So to ask the OP to compare herself to someone who doesn't give a rip if the horses have no water, or if they get fed or not, or if they get their stalls cleaned, or if they get fed different types of grain every week, or if they get turned out with the wrong turnout groups all the time, or if the stalls are disgusting, is just dumb. It's not a good reason for someone to lower their own standards for horse care!
                                      I agree with saultgirl. I've had seen all the things the OP has posted and then some. I, too, could tell some stories...

                                      I don't tolerate the lack of watering. I say something right away. Sometimes the problem gets taken care of. Sometimes it doesn't. I always check my horses water - every single day, because I've been places where watering doesn't always happen. I've also seen well mannered horses turn into evil demons or terrified loons when the barn employees clean their stalls because some of these guys hit the horses with the pitchfork. I know of one mare whose stall didn't get cleaned at all because she would bite if someone hit her with the fork. The guy got away with it. Not a place I want my horse.

                                      I have had barn employees not talk to me. I yelled at a 17yo for turning a hyped up 17H horse into the arena where two 16yo girls were walking around bareback on ponies. He wanted to impress them and I deflated his ego by embarrassing him in front of girls. Nevermind that they could have gotten hurt. He didn't talk to me again for months.

                                      Unfortunately, a lot of barn employees can't get any other kind of job. And a lot don't really have horse experience. Most of the ones I've dealt with are male in the age range of 15-22. Arrogance and ignorance can be a deadly combination.

                                      Would I move? Probably. Doesn't sound like the barn employee is very happy with the OP. I wouldn't want that person taking care of my horse. BTDT.


                                      • #20
                                        OMG where in the Heck are you located? sounds like they all suck. no way would i board at any of those. most important is water, feed and turnout.