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Barn Drama -- Please Help!/Vent

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  • Barn Drama -- Please Help!/Vent

    OK, this is going to be a long one, And a rant.

    I board 3 horses at a barn where I have been boarding for 7 years. I have always been a good client, have been consistently in full training (even though trainers have changed a few times over the years), volunteer at all of the barn shows, help with all of the clinics, ride in most shows and clinics, support/advertise the barn in a positive way whenever I can, and pay all of my bills in full EARLY! I avoid gossip and barn drama, and have been boarding at this farm longer than any other boarder that is there. I have also been boarding there longer than any of the current workers or trainers have been employed there.

    I will take time out of my day to give barn tours to potential boarders or looky-loos to provide good PR for the farm when they stop by. I talk to parents with potential lesson students and give them advise and let them pet my horses.

    The list goes on and on about little ways that I help around the farm. I help bring in horses, I volunteer to help out when they are short a worker or two, I help make grain, feed, etc. just to be nice (for free, just because I'm there and they need help). The board at this farm is full board, and the cost is over $900 per month per horse. Yes, that is $2700 per month in board, not including training. And I still help out around the barn with chores. Board does not include worming, supplements, or anything other than basic care, bedding, food, blanket changing, and services like that.

    Here is the deal. I began working with a new trainer, who is a BNT. The other trainers at the barn teach mostly beginners. There are 3 up-down trainers and one trainer who teaches through 4th level. The (my) BNT is not associated with the barn. I pay the barn an arena fee when he comes in to teach me on my horse or ride my horse of $20.00 in addition to what I pay the BNT. So, this is a fee to ride my own horse in an arena where I pay to ride/board. WTF? It's not a money issue, it's a principle issue.

    Now, since the BNT is available to teach at this farm, several other boarders (8 horses) have moved into the farm. They are only at the farm for the BNT, who (((I))) convinced to come to the farm in the first place. 8 new boarders for BO thanks to me and BNT. This is about a 25-stall barn.

    Now, in addition to the cheesy arena fee, the BO is limiting the times that the new boarders and myself are allowed to lesson with BNT. The times that were selected were because the beginner trainers at the farm do not want to teach lesson kids while steering around someone in a lesson with BNT. All riders working with BNT ride at the FEI levels, and are surely capable of steering and avoiding safety issues. The indoor arena at the farm is larger than 2 20x60m standard arenas. Plenty of room for 3 kids in a lesson at one end and other riders, lessons, or boarders to ride.

    I really feel that this is a crock of s***. The BO is giving priority treatment to lesson students who ride school horses for 1 hr. a week for $55 in a group lesson over people who board at the farm. WTF!?!?!?! I think that if I was a BO, I would give priority to my boarders to keep them happy. Especially since 1 boarder and BNT just brought in 8 new horses, all of FEI level! That's a way to get some good attention for your farm. Esp. in FL where it is very horsey/lots of places to board. This BO also feels like she can schedule the times for the BNT. BNT is very busy, and does not really have an open schedule to make 2-3 trips back and forth to the barn in one day to fit in lessons around the beginner trainers. Why is the BO being so difficult! It is an honor to have this BNT at the farm. Very BNT, nationally known. Not only are the lesson times limited, so are the ride times! What difference does it make if BNT rides my horse or I ride my horse while a lesson is going on with 3 kids on ponies in a 50x200 meter arena!?!?! I don't get it!!!!

    For example, if the times of 9:00-10:00, 2:00-3:00, and 6:00-7:00 are open, the BO expects BNT to only teach during these 3 hours that day. BNT travels 1/2 hr. to the farm and would have to make 3 round-trips in one day to teach 3 students! The BO won't allow BNT to even ride horses in the arena during non-lesson times.

    By the way, the boarders have had to change the nights/days that they lesson on, the times of the lessons, etc. This means 8 horses worth of riders have to be inconvenienced to meet the needs of 1-2 beginner trainers and beginner non-boarder students. Not even a compromise here! The beginner/non-boarders did not even have to change times or anything!?!?!?!? Only the boarders have to be inconvenienced!?!?!

    What do you think about this? First of all, the stupid "commission/arena" fee; second of all, the idea of giving priority to the once-a-weeker students over the boarders; and third of all, assigning particular days/times and limiting when BNT can ride/teach. Many of BNTs boarders are now unhappy, because this wasn't the deal when they moved in. We used to be able to ride/lesson whenever we wanted to, and there were not any problems or incidents.

    It is not like only one trainer teaches at a time at this farm. Often times there will be 2-3 beginner trainers teaching at the same time. Why not allow BNT to come at a time that is convenient for the 8 boarders and the BNT? This is really inconvenient for us all.

    What do you think?

    Sorry for the rant! Thanks for letting me get this off my chest!
  • Original Poster

    #2
    OK, this is going to be a long one, And a rant.

    I board 3 horses at a barn where I have been boarding for 7 years. I have always been a good client, have been consistently in full training (even though trainers have changed a few times over the years), volunteer at all of the barn shows, help with all of the clinics, ride in most shows and clinics, support/advertise the barn in a positive way whenever I can, and pay all of my bills in full EARLY! I avoid gossip and barn drama, and have been boarding at this farm longer than any other boarder that is there. I have also been boarding there longer than any of the current workers or trainers have been employed there.

    I will take time out of my day to give barn tours to potential boarders or looky-loos to provide good PR for the farm when they stop by. I talk to parents with potential lesson students and give them advise and let them pet my horses.

    The list goes on and on about little ways that I help around the farm. I help bring in horses, I volunteer to help out when they are short a worker or two, I help make grain, feed, etc. just to be nice (for free, just because I'm there and they need help). The board at this farm is full board, and the cost is over $900 per month per horse. Yes, that is $2700 per month in board, not including training. And I still help out around the barn with chores. Board does not include worming, supplements, or anything other than basic care, bedding, food, blanket changing, and services like that.

    Here is the deal. I began working with a new trainer, who is a BNT. The other trainers at the barn teach mostly beginners. There are 3 up-down trainers and one trainer who teaches through 4th level. The (my) BNT is not associated with the barn. I pay the barn an arena fee when he comes in to teach me on my horse or ride my horse of $20.00 in addition to what I pay the BNT. So, this is a fee to ride my own horse in an arena where I pay to ride/board. WTF? It's not a money issue, it's a principle issue.

    Now, since the BNT is available to teach at this farm, several other boarders (8 horses) have moved into the farm. They are only at the farm for the BNT, who (((I))) convinced to come to the farm in the first place. 8 new boarders for BO thanks to me and BNT. This is about a 25-stall barn.

    Now, in addition to the cheesy arena fee, the BO is limiting the times that the new boarders and myself are allowed to lesson with BNT. The times that were selected were because the beginner trainers at the farm do not want to teach lesson kids while steering around someone in a lesson with BNT. All riders working with BNT ride at the FEI levels, and are surely capable of steering and avoiding safety issues. The indoor arena at the farm is larger than 2 20x60m standard arenas. Plenty of room for 3 kids in a lesson at one end and other riders, lessons, or boarders to ride.

    I really feel that this is a crock of s***. The BO is giving priority treatment to lesson students who ride school horses for 1 hr. a week for $55 in a group lesson over people who board at the farm. WTF!?!?!?! I think that if I was a BO, I would give priority to my boarders to keep them happy. Especially since 1 boarder and BNT just brought in 8 new horses, all of FEI level! That's a way to get some good attention for your farm. Esp. in FL where it is very horsey/lots of places to board. This BO also feels like she can schedule the times for the BNT. BNT is very busy, and does not really have an open schedule to make 2-3 trips back and forth to the barn in one day to fit in lessons around the beginner trainers. Why is the BO being so difficult! It is an honor to have this BNT at the farm. Very BNT, nationally known. Not only are the lesson times limited, so are the ride times! What difference does it make if BNT rides my horse or I ride my horse while a lesson is going on with 3 kids on ponies in a 50x200 meter arena!?!?! I don't get it!!!!

    For example, if the times of 9:00-10:00, 2:00-3:00, and 6:00-7:00 are open, the BO expects BNT to only teach during these 3 hours that day. BNT travels 1/2 hr. to the farm and would have to make 3 round-trips in one day to teach 3 students! The BO won't allow BNT to even ride horses in the arena during non-lesson times.

    By the way, the boarders have had to change the nights/days that they lesson on, the times of the lessons, etc. This means 8 horses worth of riders have to be inconvenienced to meet the needs of 1-2 beginner trainers and beginner non-boarder students. Not even a compromise here! The beginner/non-boarders did not even have to change times or anything!?!?!?!? Only the boarders have to be inconvenienced!?!?!

    What do you think about this? First of all, the stupid "commission/arena" fee; second of all, the idea of giving priority to the once-a-weeker students over the boarders; and third of all, assigning particular days/times and limiting when BNT can ride/teach. Many of BNTs boarders are now unhappy, because this wasn't the deal when they moved in. We used to be able to ride/lesson whenever we wanted to, and there were not any problems or incidents.

    It is not like only one trainer teaches at a time at this farm. Often times there will be 2-3 beginner trainers teaching at the same time. Why not allow BNT to come at a time that is convenient for the 8 boarders and the BNT? This is really inconvenient for us all.

    What do you think?

    Sorry for the rant! Thanks for letting me get this off my chest!

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, it sounds like the BO just has very different priorities that aren't in line with yours. Is she being a huge pain in your butt? Yes. Do you deserve to have to deal with huge hassles because you want to work with a BNT? No. Is it unfair that she's privileging her lesson students over her boarders? Well, that's a matter of debate. If it's HER barn, she gets to decide whose business is more important to her. I agree that she's not making a very good business or financial decision to privilege the lesson kids over the needs of her boarders, but it's her right as the owner.

      I can see perfectly well how a BO might not be thrilled to have a BNT swoop suddenly into his/her barn; it's a huge honor, yes, but it's also a logistical nightmare, especially if said BO is more interested in being primarily a beginner lesson facility. Unless the BO herself invited the BNT to come to the facility, I'm not sure that you have a gripe. It is terribly unfortunate if your goals are no longer in line with a barn that you've had such a great run at and have been such a loyal customer at, but it's a sad reality. I'm sorry that you have to deal with it, though, it sounds awful.
      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Maybe the BO is intimidated by the BNT.

        Maybe they have some sort of ego thing going on.

        Maybe the BO just prefers a simple "beginner" type of barn (it is where the new boarders will come from. They know the "butterflies" will follow the BNT and they're not going to probably be there for very long.

        Perhaps the BO is looking down the road and figures better to train future owners than placate prima-donna's with money who might be as capricious to her as they are to their last barn (they did, after all, have to come from some other barn).

        Perhaps at $2,700 you might consider leasing or buying a place....doesn't sound like a long future between you and the BO.

        Good luck.
        "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

        Comment


        • #5
          No offense, but I wouldn't give a rat's a** how big a "BNT" this person is (and I have ridden with plenty of BNTs). Any client at my farm would be treated the same -- i.e., well, in my opinion. And I would care as much about the walk-trot kid as the FEI rider.

          I actually do think the BO has a reason to be concerned about mixing the groups, even if the ring is large. Little kids, esp beginner riders, can get very intimidated by others in the ring, particularly a bunch of adults flying around on big WBs.

          Perhaps B0 could do a better job of consolidating lessons so BNT could block time. But as to whom should have priority, purely from a business perspective-- consider this. Should the BO upset several trainers, each of whom potentially could bring in clients, just to make 1 trainer happy? From what I have seen, there is high turnover at boarding barns. If BO re-orients her entire barn to cater to this 1 trainer, what happens when this trainer laeves and takes his/her 8+ clients? You can't put all your eggs in one basket.

          Finally, regatding the amount of help you offer around the farm, I hate to say it but stop being so nice. You pay board there and are a boarder. If you offer additional help "to be nice," well, that was your choice. I wouldn't expect anything in return for that. That wasn't the deal. The deal was that you pay board and the BO would provide whatever services full board entails at her place. Sorry to sound harsh, but I think that is the reality of the situation.

          In short, I would try to work with BO on improving the scheduling of ride times.

          Good luck
          Roseknoll Sporthorses
          www.roseknoll.net

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks for the responses. I think that the BO might be intimidated by the BNT, now that you mention it.

            She could have a good, solid boarder base from these BNT follwers that would stick at her farm and attract more higher-end business. It seems silly to snub regular boarders for fly-by-night lessoners. She would probably attract more boarders by supporting/cultivating business around BNT than by catering to lesson students that come and go every few months at a whim. If the boarders were happy, they would share this info., bring in other boarders that way, in addition to boarding additional horses that they purchase at this barn.

            Although you have a good point about lesson students becoming future boarders, that is not really the case at this place. Most of these lesson students pay $55/wk for one lesson. The majority of them or if they are young, their parents, will not be affording $900+ per month board. Also, the BO has a strict policy of no children under 17 being unattended by a parent at any time. Most parents do not want to have to "babysit" their child all the time, so they generally choose a more kid-friendly barn.

            I can't really lease/buy my own place; I'm not particularly able to do all the barn work myself, 24/7/365. Also, I have a full-time+ job, and have a non-horsey SO.

            What do you think about the "Arena Fee"? I think it's a little bit tacky when you are already making a heaping load of money off of boarders with at least 2 horses each.

            I know it is her farm, her rules, and I certainly respect that. I am just wondering if I am crazy for thinking this is a poor business decision on her part.

            Comment


            • #7
              It could have to do with math...

              3 lesson kids on ponies x $55 each = $165/hr, most of which will go to the BO.

              1 student with BNT for an hour = $20 arena fee.

              If you were in business, which would be your preference?

              I agree, the arena does sound like it's large enough to accomodate you all, but some people are more comfortable keeping the beginner atmosphere as calm as possible. If the two lessons are separate, the BNT and student can't complain about interuptions from the beginners. Likewise, the upper level horses and rider can't be held accountable for a spooky pony or other distraction if they aren't there.

              Lesson kids come and go in quantity, especially when you have a good program. I know several up-down trainers and beginner oriented barns with long waiting lists. Although those won't be the same individuals shelling out the $$ for board, the profit is generated in the training, not in the board.
              "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                I was just saying that I was helpful around the barn and in general. I don't want people to think I am a huge DQ just because I ride with BNT. Not saying I am better than anyone else or anything.

                About the beginners, But, but, but...new riders (even beginners) need to learn how to ride in company. I don't think that is such a bad thing to learn. You don't learn how to drive a car away from all other drivers; you hit the road like everyone else from the start.

                Also, there are 2 outdoor all-weather footing arenas, a grass arena, a cross-country schooling area, an outdoor stadium jumping arena, and a huge 50+ acre flat field at the farm. Plenty of room/arenas for everyone to even be in a seperate arena, teaching at the same time, but still a no-go with the BO.

                Comment


                • #9
                  <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Perhaps the BO is looking down the road and figures better to train future owners than placate prima-donna's with money who might be as capricious to her as they are to their last barn (they did, after all, have to come from some other barn). </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                  I agree with all that has been said. I think the above point might be a big one. These riders/boarders came for the BNT who is not resident at this barn, I would expect that they would not be there for long, at least I wouldn't count on it.

                  Also, barns have reputations and fill their own niche in the local equestrian picture. If this barn has been successfully teaching a steady stream of beginners for a long time....why would they want to disrupt this for an outside trainer, one good regular client and a bunch who might be gone tomorrow?

                  I brought BNT into my former barn for lessons. I had to schedule a time that the in-house trainers were not scheduling lessons - period. It was a scheduling nightmare, especially since a couple of people trailered in for their lessons with the BNT.
                  I felt it was worth it and I was glad that my barn ALLOWED me to bring in an outside trainer, that was certainly not part of my board agreement.
                  Nina's Story
                  Epona Comm on FB

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's the BO's barn. Up to them to decide what they do and do not want.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Arena fee is standard....
                      In all kindness to you and your fellow boarders...get over yourself.....
                      Doesn't seem as if BNT is too troubled by this...'cause this is how it's done.
                      If George, or Joe, or Aaron, or Anne or Margie started making demands on my property regarding my business practices, there'd be a lock on the gate....
                      *************************
                      Go, Baby, Go......
                      Aefvue Farms Footing Inspector

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        All I can say is, I feel your pain.

                        I am also at a facility which juggles lesson kids as well as boarders in training programs, and sometimes find that the mix doesn't work well. It's not a problem for most of the year, but when everyone is stuck inside sharing the indoor, it can be tough. Boarders at our facility pay $1100/mo for base board, and lessons are at the same rate you quote. Sometimes it does seem like the boarders get short shrift having to accommodate the walk-trotters, but we put up with it since the facility is great otherwise, and the instructors DO work with us to schedule lessons so that everyone can accomplish the work they want to do.

                        We are a H/J barn so in addition to navigating around the beginners, there is also the issue of having cold/fresh horses jumping around their courses while their riders additionally have to navigate around lesson kids who can't steer too well, regulate their horse's pace, etc. It isn't a whole lot of fun to land off a big oxer on the diagonal, try to balance up for the corner, and have to dive to one side or the other to avoid the lesson kids, who frequently seem to panic, drop the reins and start crying if one of the boarders "rides too close" to them.

                        I think Aggie probably hit the nail on the head with the economic assessment. The BO gets more money from the lesson students than from your arena fee, and is probably also a bit intimidated by the BNT you ride with - possibly even worried about the BNT "taking over" the BO's facility (by running off all those profitable hourly lesson kids, and p*ssing off the beginner instructors who generate all that $$.) It's a dilemma.

                        If I was told that my ride times were as limited as you describe, I think I would find a new place to board, to be honest. That sounds very unreasonable to me, and frankly like the BO's way of telling you the BNT isn't welcome.

                        I do think it is worth trying to discuss the issue of reasonable lesson hours with the BO and try to work out a compromise. Approach it with an attitude of wanting to find a good solution for everyone and you might have a shot. I wouldn't challenge the ring fee as that is a pretty standard charge, and the barn owner's right given the investment that they've made in the property, which your BNT is getting to use to further their business.

                        As for all the helping out etc... I hate to say it, but in my experience that type of thing comes to be expected or taken for granted and rarely seems to be recognized or compensated in any way. It sounds like it is time for you to re-establish a more businesslike relationship with the BO, and to quit the freebies.

                        I take it that this facility is particularly convenient for you in some ways, or you would be moving your horses elsewhere. I think if this situation doesn't improve and you want to continue training with the BNT, you may end up having to move to somewhere more focused on the upper levels, and possibly not open to public lessons. (I also know that can be easier said than done.)
                        **********
                        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                        -PaulaEdwina

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">About the beginners, But, but, but...new riders (even beginners) need to learn how to ride in company. I don't think that is such a bad thing to learn. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Yes, but you are not their trainer. When they learn this is up to them and their trainers. You don't HAVE to learn this from the start. It can be very, VERY scary to ride among others, especially those way more accomplished than you are, when you don't know what the heck you're doing or whether you can control your horse.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Everyone one who takes lessons at my barn (no school program, just outside trainers) pays an arena fee. It's not ideal, but it allows the barn to get a piece of the training dollar. It's $10 a lesson. I bite the bullet . . .

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've worked at some lesson barns and the general thinking always was the money is in the lessons, not in the boarding. This sounds like a state of the art sort of facility. $900 a month is awfully steep, but the profit off your horse compared to the costs of running that facility might be not so terrific. That BO could be making her profit off those students equal to what she makes off you or MORE. To her, they could be the bread and butter, not you.

                              I sympathize with you,and it DEFINATELY sounds like shes being a bit too inflexible here...it sounds like there could be a compromise.

                              Good luck - and I agree, have you considered getting your own facility?

                              martha
                              Proud member of the * Hoof Fetish & the NervousNellieWorryWart* cliques!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I think the BO could be more flexible regarding hours, etc- have you actually sat down in a calm, professional manner with the BO to discuss all of these issues? I udnerstand your frustrations very clearly from your post, but your BO may not understand your perspective and is not likely to come around through hearing second-hand complaints. Plus you will get more and more disatisfied...

                                As for the arena fee, you should think of it as the BO charging the trainer to conduct his or her business at HER farm. If the BNT then passes on the fee to you, well, that's between you and your trainer. I got good advice once about NO ONE coming on to MY property to conduct their business without me also making money. After all, I pay for the footing, lights, electricity, the tractor to pull the drag, maintaining the fencing, maintaining the jumps, etc etc. $20 is cheap at the price.
                                ~Living the life I imagined~

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                                • #17
                                  I also agree with the sitting down and dicussing the schedule and come to an agreement.

                                  My trainer (who runs her own facility) has a closed barn policy. No other trainers allowed... and I know a lot of places do this. At least your person lets someone else in so I'd pay the $20. Plus as someone else said... the money is made in lessons... not boarding.

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                                  • #18
                                    $20 seems like a lot when you already pay the board. At a $20 ring fee, I would expect to work alone and not have to dodge lesson ponies.

                                    As for the lessons mixing, I can't imagine beginners mixing with FEI dressage. Yes, beginners need to learn to steer and FEI riders can scoot out of the way, but it seems like it would be hard for the beginner to predict what you will do next and hard for you to focus on advanced flatwork during a beginner lesson.

                                    I'd find a new barn. If your BO wishes to focus on beginner lessons, that is her perogative and you may simply need to move on. Although from a business perspective, if board is $900 a month, she might be better off catering to people wishing to learn from big name dressage trainer and not beginner riders.

                                    By any chance, can you ride in another ring or is there a decent pasture you could ride in? That might help with the scheduling....
                                    The witchy witch witch of south central NC.

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                                    • #19
                                      Reply to the OP: Are you at Pine Ridge Stables?????
                                      FREE TACK/APPAREL ADS: BITS AND BARTER BOARD: http://bitsandbarter.proboards.com/i...ay&thread=5450

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                                      • #20
                                        <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Aggie4Bar:
                                        It could have to do with math...

                                        3 lesson kids on ponies x $55 each = $165/hr, most of which will go to the BO.

                                        1 student with BNT for an hour = $20 arena fee.

                                        If you were in business, which would be your preference?

                                        </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                                        Agreed.
                                        Jessi Pizzurro ~~ Pennyroyal Stables
                                        Racehorses, OTTBs ~~ 330 383 1281
                                        Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway. -- John Wayne

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