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Co op boarding - hints and tips

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  • Co op boarding - hints and tips

    There's a possibility that we might set up a co-op boarding situation. I know I've read a few discussions here but the search feature isn't helping me find them. So....for those of you with co-op boarding experience, tell me all you can think of. How to get started, pitfalls, how to price, ideal number of horses, how to organize work, etc.

    Thank you!!!!

  • #2
    6-7 horses works well. 1 day per horse. If you only have 6, the 7th day is rotated. This way every one has a dedicated day/time to come feed. Another barn I know of had 8 horses. The days were constantly changing for when any person would have duty. It made it very easy for folks in that barn to forget when they had duty.

    It can be hard to start from scratch. If you are the only person for the first months, or only 2 people, it can be tiresome to go to the barn 2 times a day 3-7 days a week.

    You have to have an agreed upon MINIMUM of care. If one person has higher standards, or lower standards than the minimum, you will have dissatisfied boarders and most likely a high turn over rate.

    At the co-op barns I've been a part of, mowing, cobwebs, weed eating of certain fence lines, minor fence repair was part of the work along with feeding, watering, mucking, blanketing, flymask, etc... The mowing and weed eating was rotated by the number of horses in the barn...if you have 2 out of the 6 you did 2/6 (1/3) of the spring summer. Setting a minimum standard for stall cleanliness, water cleanliness, and horses will be feed by "X" time with at least "X" number of hours between feedings. (It was very irritating to have a horse that ate 8lbs of feed per feeding only have 4 hours between feedings.) I found it worked best to have 2 major work days a year (spring and fall). This way you could get major improvements/repairs done that might require more than 1 set of hands to complete. If we didn't have any major projects we would each select a job from the list and have it completed by a set date.

    In our area a co-op that has stalls ranges from $90-$150 a horse. You provide your own feed, hay and shavings and labor. They provide electric, barn, pasture, major fencing upkeep.

    There are many times that I've felt I could have saved myself money by going to a full board situation. But I like being part of my horses care and having a reasonable say in his routine. I recently left co-op boarding and am renting a barn and pasture for my 2 all by myself. I hope in the next 2-3 years to have them at my own farm. I got VERY tired of having roommates. I felt that the minimum level of care among the other boarders had gone WAY below what I felt was acceptable. I felt I was the only one trying to maintain the previously agreed to standards. It left me feeling very used and abused. I had been in co-op boarding situation for 11 years. 7 of those years with this one particular group. It wasn't until the last year that things went south.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by jawa View Post
      You provide your own feed, hay and shavings and labor...

      There are many times that I've felt I could have saved myself money by going to a full board situation.
      The problems with co ops, in my experience (many many moons ago) is that they seem to attract thieves. Feed (hay and grain) and bedding would always be stolen, even when it was locked up (they would climb up into a locked stall for instance).

      I even had a guy who would hike out to the back of a 30 acre paddock to grab all of my loose hay (enough for 2 horses) and divide it up amongst his 10 horses and that was ALL his horses would get fed for the day.

      I also had an entire year's worth of hay stolen and taken off the property (different barn/different thieves). That one broke my heart because a kind old farmer friend of mine had sold it to me and helped me stack it (on the hottest day of the year) and had gone the extra mile for me to make sure I got what I wanted. I payed a little extra for it because of his kindness. None of that mattered to the 2 witches that stole it.

      So yes, in the end, I determined that paying full board was a lot cheaper than being forced to feed and bed other people's horses because they thought I had enough to spare.

      But times have changed and you can put cheap cameras everywhere. I don't think you should run a co op without cameras in plain view so that people who are there to take advantage of others can be quickly shown the door.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        This is all exploratory but it's in response to a full board situation that could come crashing down soon. I started looking for other places to board and it's slim pickins around here right now. So some of us full boarders, who have known each other for a long time and trust each other, are discussing perhaps pitching a co-op in our current barn. We shall see....

        Comment


        • #5
          The key will be like-mindedness on the horse care duties and good communication.

          Unless the landlord does a the maintenance, there is fair amount of "non-horse"work like weed eating, mowing, fence repair etc. It can work well with the right set of people or become a complete dump with the wrong set.
          Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
          http://www.ironwood-farm.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by coco View Post
            The problems with co ops, in my experience (many many moons ago) is that they seem to attract thieves.
            But times have changed and you can put cheap cameras everywhere.

            I've had two recent self-care/co-op board situations. One was just me and another girl taking care of 5-7 horses between us. Only the tack room was locked, and while I never had a big theft like coco mentioned, I was only there for a few months and I had a lot of "little" thefts. People were constantly stealing a few flakes of my hay when they wouldn't purchase their next load in time. Or stealing my grain/hay cubes. I had countless pairs of scissors stolen, to the point where I just started using scalpel blades to open bales.

            The second situation had everything locked and cameras everywhere. Nothing of mine was ever stolen, but it made "co-oping" very difficult because everyone's stuff was locked in a different room with a different combination. So I just ended up doing my own care.

            As for others actually doing the care of my horses, it worked best for me when one other person and I would split daily chores. I'd do morning, she'd do afternoon/evening, and we'd each be responsible for our own stalls. But while my routine was set, to the point where I would barely deviate 30 minutes on either side of regular morning feeding time, the other girl would come anywhere from 2pm-10pm to do evening feeding. That was ridiculously irritating for me, as I feel horses do best with a routine.

            Lastly, I feel uncomfortable being solely responsible for the care of someone else's horse. When you're at a barn by yourself with a significant emergency, it's very overwhelming, but generally at a full-care boarding situation the BO/BM/barn help is nearby and you can call for help. When it's co-op, you're generally all alone. When it's my horse, it sucks but I know what to do. When it's not my horse and I have no idea how they'll react to the situation/me helping them, and you're constantly worried about whether the owner will wig out on you for not/giving them banamine/bute/tranqs, etc, then it's 10X worse.

            Comment


            • #7
              We co-oped for 2-3 years. But it was our trainer, a friend and myself, plus our kids. Our trainer had decided to take a break from trying to run a boarding barn and lesson program and spend more time with her kids. Since we had a "resident expert", she set the care taking standard and such. We divided the rent three ways. We set up a checking account for maintenance, round bales and shavings (bulk is so much cheaper), etc., and contributed x amount per horse.

              We each bought and stored our own grain and hay. Each of us took a day of the week to do the barn. Wednesday's we all scheduled to be there and did our own stalls, etc., so we had one guaranteed day we'd be out there together in case something big had to be tackled. We made the weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday and covered every third weekend. Trainer had a few more horses than the rest, so there was some adjustment in work for that, but I don't remember exactly what.

              But, we were all friends (and still are) and we had kids of an age to be helpful. But having a designated "resident expert" really helps. And setting times when everyone is "on deck" to keep communications open really helps.

              Comment


              • #8
                I was at a barn that was mixed co-op and full board. I was on the co-op part. The co-op partners helped take care of the full board horses. Most of the time there were 4 full boarded horses. There were 3 of us doing the co-op part. I fed mornings M-F and fed and evening chores 2 days a week. The individual that actually leased the barn, John, picked up 3 evenings a week since he had teenaged boys and more horses than anybody.

                We would split the price of grain, shavings and hay and buy it in bulk. The full board horses helped to cover a large portion of the hay/grain.

                We all used the same farrier who was Amish. John normally was the one who picked him up and I would drive him home. John got off work earlier.

                We would all pitch in for repairs of fencing, cleaning the trough. DH fixed the heating element in the trough.

                I wonder if for a co-op if it may be best for there to be one main person that is the leaseholder with the BO. They are the one that sets the rate on stall price but not have it be a dry stall price. Maybe have it include at least the hay. This way there is no stealing/borrowing hay. Or set up the co-op so that the main leaser arranges for a couple of months of hay and everybody chips in their portion of the price prior to pick up.
                Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I was at a barn that was mixed co-op and full board. I was on the co-op part. The co-op partners helped take care of the full board horses. Most of the time there were 4 full boarded horses. There were 3 of us doing the co-op part. I fed mornings M-F and fed and evening chores 2 days a week. The individual that actually leased the barn, John, picked up 3 evenings a week since he had teenaged boys and more horses than anybody.

                  We would split the price of grain, shavings and hay and buy it in bulk. The full board horses helped to cover a large portion of the hay/grain.

                  We all used the same farrier who was Amish. John normally was the one who picked him up and I would drive him home. John got off work earlier.

                  We would all pitch in for repairs of fencing, cleaning the trough. DH fixed the heating element in the trough.

                  I wonder if for a co-op if it may be best for there to be one main person that is the leaseholder with the BO. They are the one that sets the rate on stall price but not have it be a dry stall price. Maybe have it include at least the hay. This way there is no stealing/borrowing hay. Or set up the co-op so that the main leaser arranges for a couple of months of hay and everybody chips in their portion of the price prior to pick up.
                  Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm in a sort of co-op right now. There are 7 horses up there. The BO takes care of her four and the single gelding. The other boarder, L, and I share chores for our two mares. L does mornings and I do evenings. On weekends we are usually both up there.

                    The boarders who owns the gelding lives on the property. I don't know how they split labor with the BO. If the weather is REALLY bad and neither L or I can get out, they will throw feed for us. We have a cheat sheet hanging in the tack room with what each horse gets.

                    We have a good system of communication via text/phone calls, and got a white board that we leave notes back and forth on. We also have a calender that we sign, with the time that we fed and anything out of the ordinary. We have the same high standard of care, so that makes it easy. We each buy our own grain, and then take turns buying hay 40 or so bales at a time.

                    When big things need to be done, like the two new run ins that went up, everybody pitches in and helps. The BO's husband enjoys lawn mowing and manure spreading, so he does that on the weekends.

                    I really, really enjoy it there. There is NO drama, everybody is friendly and helpful. The BO is super accommodating and easy to talk to. It really is about the horses, and what is in their best interests, so Wills really gets everything that she needs, when she needs it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you know the people and the horses ahead of time, that really helps. I would be really cautious to start up a co-op with people you don't already know.

                      The barn I board at is some mix in between co-op and full care. We have a professional stall cleaner that cleans 7 days a week. We have one AM weekday feeder/TO, one noon weekday feeder/TO and 2 ladies that split evenings/TI. They all get reduced board. Everyone is required to do one weekend day a month of barn chores. That includes all three feedings and all turn outs. However, we have hired help that controls all the fence repairs, tree clean up when they fall, water/septic issues, etc. The owner of the property oversees and manages it all. If there wasn't a leader I think it would all come crumbling down. We do get bickering fights still about standards of care, where one horse should be placed in TO, etc. Barn duty days are posted two months in advance. If you can't make a feeding you pay someone $25 or swap a feeding.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I did a co-op boarding situation for 8 or so years and it worked very well for the most part. The owner of the property had 2 or so horses, I had one and my friend had 2. We 'paid' $150 for rough board, provided all feed, hay and shavings, and did the labor. But my friend and I worked off the $150 a month by taking care of the BO's horses and mowing and doing odd stuff that needed to be done. Major repairs were handled and paid for by the BO - such as putting a new water line in. Minor repairs such as fixing electric wire that wasn't working were handled by my friend and I and were considered part of the hours we worked to get free board.

                        I fed mornings and one full day on the weekend, and my friend fed evenings and the other full day on the weekend. I would clean my horse's stall and the 2 BO stalls. The BO's horses were show horses and stayed in all the time. My friend would clean her stalls and the BO stalls again in the evenings. We would cover for each other if one of us couldn't make it - ie, working OT at our real jobs, or vacation, or whatever.

                        As far as hay, my friend and I went in together and kept our hay in another shed. She paid 2/3 and I paid 1/3 of a load. We bought our own grain as we fed different kinds. The BO had her hay in a different spot and bought her own grain. And when we bought shavings we wrote initials on the bags so we knew who had what.

                        It worked really well with 2 of us doing the work. We tried several times to add a 3rd person and that just didn't work for various reasons.

                        Towards the end the BO started getting a little wacky and started adding regular boarders and expected us to care for them 100%. I figured I was getting 'paid' $2/ hour for the extra work. My friend ended up taking her horses home and I ended up moving to a regular boarding farm. But in the right situation I would do it again.

                        Comment

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