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How to leave your awesome barn without burning bridges?

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  • How to leave your awesome barn without burning bridges?

    I'll start with this- I LOVE my barn, I have since the day I moved in 4 years ago

    But in the past 4 years, things have changed-namely, I graduated and moved slightly farther away (which I will do again, in about 3 months). I used to be a quick 30 mins from my pony, with time out the wazoo to spend with him. Now I am 45 mins away from home and at least an hour from work, so I only have weekends. In 3 months I will be over an hour away (but a quick 4 exits from work!!).

    The travel, on top of my darling horse not getting any younger, has led me to look at other facilities (which made me sad to begin with ) but darling horse hasn't been ridden more than 3x since Novemeber due to rainy season/ BLACK MUD.

    I have found a place that included in board is 2x/week rides or lessons, which means darling horse could be ridden 4x/week because there is NO BLACK MUD! It's still 45 mins away, but only 35 mins from work.

    So, my real question is- how do I break it to BO that I am leaving? I may in the future want to move back, but I don't want to burn any bridges!

    I love this place, tons of open space and RIDICULOUSLY cheap board (like 1/4 of the new place), and overall friendly people.

    But I love my horsey more, and selfishly want to see him more and have him stay in better shape (there's also the insurance factor- horse is in better shape => going to shows => results => happier insurance company willing to insure my almost 18 yo for what we bought him for as a 9 yo still...)

    Any advice on how to leave but keep the door open to come back in the future (possibly)? Thanks!

  • #2
    Tell her exactly what you just told us. Thank her for providing such a great facility and taking such awesome care of your horse. Mention that should you move closer to the barn in the future and she has stalls available, you'd love to return.

    This kind of thing really doesn't have to be as big of a deal as horse people insist on making it out to be. There's no need to fear bridges being burned if you are leaving for reasons as simple as you're too far away to ride your horse regularly. Any BO worth their salt, and it sounds like this one is, will understand that. If you are a great boarder there is no reason she wouldn't want you back should you move closer in the future.
    "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
    "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


    • #3
      I suppose it's like breaking up. "It's not you; it's me. Can we still be friends?"
      “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

      St. Padre Pio


      • #4
        I moved my horse to school with me, then moved him back home, then moved him back here (had an issue finding a barn that wasn't crazy and/or more than my rent per month in board for a mediocre facility).

        In April, I'll be moving him back home (again!) in anticipation of my graduation. The barn owner understands how important it is for me to spend time with my horse and has always told me that as long as there's room, I'm welcome back.

        I'm sure your current BO would be happy for you wanting to spend more time with your horse and wouldn't see it as 'burning a bridge'!
        To be loved by a horse should fill us with awe, for we hath not deserved it.


        • #5
          As a BO, I have had a boarder in this situation. Her life circumstances changed and she needed to move her horse closer to her new location. It was no big deal as this stuff happens in life. The last time I checked my boarding contract, it doesn't say you promise to board with me forevermore.

          FWIW, it's been a good 6 or 7 years since she left and we are still on very friendly terms.
          Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


          • #6
            We have been boarding horses for over 20 years and still have some sort of contact with most of my former boarders.

            It is the nature of the business that people and horses will come and go. The important part is how everyone invovled handles the change.

            I am sure your BO understands you current situation and if she is as wonderful as you think she is, she will only want what is best for you and your horse and wish you all the best.
            "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." --Ghandi


            • #7
              Keep it friendly. Tell everyone why you're leaving and that you will miss the place. On your last weekend, bring doughnuts or cookies, and tell everyone you're leaving and how much you will miss them. Friend a few people on facebook and keep in touch occasionally.
              It's 2017. Do you know where your old horse is?

              www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


              • #8
                I think boarders sometimes get overly stressed about telling the BO they're leaving. Honestly, unless you're a jerk about it, your BO probably will be fine with it (theres always the crazy one that flips). Just be honest.

                "BO I really love your facility and the care you provide but unfortunately I'm relocating soon and your barn will just be too far away for me to continue boarding here.". Keep it simple, praise the BO for what a great job they have done, and leave it at that.

                I haven't been running a boarding barn for very long, but I've had two boarders come and go. One moved her horse to college and the other moved to ate neighbor's barn. I just had the one at the neighbor's barn stop in yesterday, I keep in contact with everyone. That is the professional way to do things, don't let the crazy BO horror stories scare you, most of us don't overreact like that!
                come what may

                Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


                • #9
                  " BO, my needs have changed since I started working, moved farther away and gas is dancing with 4 a gallon? I need to move Dobbin to a more convenient location I can get to easier and more often. Thank you for all you have done for us."

                  Leave the black mud out of it and there is nothing there to start any drama.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                  • #10
                    Honestly, if the people are great, the BO is great, and there's no drama involved in you wanting to leave, you won't be burning any bridges. Really

                    A plain old "Hey BO... I hate to do this because I love it so much here and have so many great times/memories here, but the drive is killing me and I think I need to move so I can have more riding time. I love you so much and everything you've done for us and will miss you guys so much" will work fine.

                    I think the only time "burning bridges" comes into play is if you're somewhere that has a lot of drama to begin with, and especially if you've had a problem with care or feel like you need to move RIGHT AWAY without the 30 day notice or something like that. It sounds like it's a good place and you have a good relationship with everyone, so it's very unlikely to go bad.
                    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                    My CANTER blog.


                    • #11
                      Ditto the others.

                      "BO, I hate to have to do this, but I'll be moving Dobbin next month. I absolutely love this barn and I am so grateful for all you've done for us, but living and working so far away has made it so hard to see Dobbin. The new place is closer so I can spend more time with him. I'm really going to miss everyone here, and I hope you won't mind if I come to visit! If things change in the future, I'd love to bring Dobbin back."

                      If the BO is half as good as you say, s/he'll totally understand that circumstances have changed and your moving isn't a comment on the care at the facility.
                      Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                      Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                      VW sucks.


                      • #12
                        Agree with all the others. I am at my third barn, and felt terrible about moving each time, because my barn owners in both cases were so nice. But I just told them the basic, non-accusatory reasons for leaving (one was too far after I moved, the other had too many teenagers all of a sudden), gave plenty of notice, and both were totally understanding. Both also told me I always have a stall with them if I need it. Just be professional, considerate and concise.
                        "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                        Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                        • #13
                          I hope the reasons you listed wouldn't set any bridges on fire! If so, your BO (while she may be awesome in all other ways) is overly sensitive.

                          Not to say some BOs aren't overly sensitive. I've known great BOs who wouldn't speak to former boarders who moved just because of location or other normal "nobody's fault" type reasons.

                          Hopefully yours won't be like that, though. And if she is, she'll probably get over it. In a couple of years she may even be speaking to you again.
                          I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                          • #14
                            I did the same thing. Bought a house too far away to board at the barn (well, not much further as the crow flies, but a ferry boat away from where we were). It was a difficult topic to bring up with the BO (mostly because I was sad about it), but it was an easy "break up" and the BO and I are still friends. I still miss the barn and If I was ever in that area again I would board there again in a heartbeat!

                            As long a your BO is a rational human being (which certainly isn't always the case), it shouldn't be a big deal.
                            Flying F Sport Horses
                            Horses in the NW


                            • #15
                              I did this last year and it was a tough thing to do. I LOVED the BO but I really wanted to bring my mare closer to home as I never got to see her where she was. The barn I was moving to was a beautiful facility with an indoor and NO MUD (much like the one you speak of). The day we moved, I cried, the BO cried and we kept in touch through facebook.

                              I will say that the former BO set the bar high for the next BO. Within a few months after the move I had some serious issues with the new facility. The reason there was no mud was that the horses never went outside, even though I had said that my horse needed extended turnout every day and this was noted on my boarding agreement. 15 minutes of turnout in the arena 2x/week wasn't going to cut it for me. This absolutely crippled my old mare and the first person I called was my former BO. She told me to bring the mare "back home." And I did. So while it's not a fancy facility with the white fences and indoor arena, my horse is happy and fat again. And that is ultimately more important to me.

                              So, I can attest to the fact that if the BO is a true professional you won't be burning bridges at all.


                              • #16
                                Some very good advice already shared in this thread. The two suggestions that I can add are:

                                1) give as much notice as you can so they have time to look for a new boarder
                                2) let them know that you would be happy to recommend them/be a reference for any future boarders
                                Sarah K. Andrew | Twitter | Instagram | Flickr | Calendar


                                • #17
                                  I'd also add: If you really want to maintain the relationship, stop by once in a while to say hi to the BO and other horses/boarders, say how much you miss everyone, how much you enjoyed being there, etc. If you never follow up, there's a chance she might think that you're secretly mad about something (like the mud) and that you are spreading bad press behind her back.

                                  But if you're sincere and honest with your BO and lay out your reasons and regret for needing to leave, I doubt there will be any bad feelings.


                                  • #18
                                    I recently moved from the farm where I'd boarded for the last 6 years, for similar reason. "Our circumstances have changed and I need to bring Pony closer to home. Thank you so much for everything. I've really enjoyed being a part of the community at this barn and I would love to be able to return in future if circumstances permit."
                                    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                                    Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                                    Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


                                    • #19
                                      I've been through this. I gave my BO over 30 days notice even though I had no contractual obligation to do so (no contract!), and tried my best to find someone to fill my stall. I wasn't successful but still left on great terms.

                                      Custom Painted Saddle Pads and Ornaments


                                      • #20
                                        Second what everyone said. Just tell BO what you told us. She can't fault you! I was in a similar situation (but I was moving out of state), and I tried to give my BO as much time as possible. Even though I couldn't give her a specific date (as it depended on the shipper's schedule), I kept her in the loop "OK, they'll definitely be leaving early August.... ok, we've narrowed down to the second week... ok, it'll either be Tuesday or Wednesday..." So she knew when my stalls would be available to fill (or move horses around, which is what she did).
                                        I also recommend her place to everyone, especially on COTH.