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Help me ease the pain of raising my board.....

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  • Help me ease the pain of raising my board.....

    So I know that the economy is tough for everyone, but after running the numbers last night, I realize that I have no choice but to raise the board. We have basically been working our butts off and not making enough to make it worthwhile. Now, part of this is because we DID NOT have surcharges when gas, hay etc was at an all time high. We have kept our board the same for over a year, while the barns around us have been higher by as much as $75/month. Our barn is the nicest one around, no in house trainer - but your trainer can come here. With the drought and now the rain, we are keeping horses in more than ever which means double hay, shavings and labor. I have to have some relief here. So tell me - do you think an increase of $35-$50 month is fair with a 45 - 60 day notice? We will still be equal or lower than any nice barn around.

    And what about fees for horses on stall rest? I know some places charge $10 or more per day. I feel like a few days is okay, but extended lengths of time is too costly. What are some of you paying if your horse stays up 24/7? or goes out for 2-3 hours a day?

    I really want to be fair, but we are in this to make money. If I can't, it isn't worth all the early mornings, late nights and weekends.

    I'd love to know what you guys think is fair.....so give me the good and the bad....

  • #2
    If I have a boarded horse that needs to be on stall rest for an extended time (no matter what the reason) if it is a full stall board paying boarder I do not charge extra.
    To me, full stall board means you can keep your horse in or out as much or as little as you want. Generally they are out 24/7 here anyway, but they are paying for a stall and if they want the horse in it, fine.
    if it is a pasture boarder, they can pay a per diem fee if it's only a few days or a week, but if it's longer they need to pay full stall board for however long it needs to be in.
    If I need to be wrapping it, cold hosing, or the owner needs me to do whatever for it, if they can't make it out every day or whatever, then depending on what it is and how time consuming it is we will negotiate a charge.
    "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


    • #3
      A $50 increase with 30 days notice should be plenty fair, but what does your contract say?

      For layups you can state that for board the horse gets X amount of hay, shavings, stall cleanings etc. If the owner desires more they can supply the difference or pay Y amount.


      • #4
        The advice I got here....

        You are not in the business of subsidizing someone else's hobby - words to live by!

        The horses here are provided X for X amount. Over that they pay a surcharge or provide their own.
        "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


        • #5
          You've alreday said, you need to raise the board. You have to make the increase that will work for you.

          Someone may leave, but if you are really the nicest one around with lower rates, they'll stay.

          As for charging more for stall rest, on a full care horse. I wouldn't do this at our stable. What's standard for your area. Also, in all the barns I've worked at over the years, I've never heard of this one either. I think you might be able to charge if they are consuming additional hay, or shavings.


          • Original Poster

            Just to be clear, I have never charged extra for keeping a horse in....but, when they are staying up for a month or two, it is MUCH more expensive for me. Some of these big boys can eat a bale of hay a day (that's at least $180-200/mo) plus they use extra shavings, and labor to clean the stall twice a day. They way I break that down, it is costing me money- not bringing any in.

            Do you have any numbers to suggest for extra hay and shavings? I don't charge extra when the weather keeps them in....but this is becoming a real drain. I know of one of the barns that charges $10 per day to stay in....yes, that is in addition to board.


            • #7
              As a barn owner, I certainly understand your need to raise the board. As I boarder, what I would think of a $50 increase depends on how much I"m already paying. If I'm paying $200 a month for board, $50 is a 25% increase. If I'm paying $600 a month for board, $50 is not even a 10% increase. What does your boarding contract say about how much notice you need to give people? Obviously if it says 30 days notice, you can do that, but it is nicer to give people 60 days if possible because it can be hard to find a new place to go in that 30 days if somebody can't afford the increase.

              I'd just be honest with everyone. Write a nice letter telling them that you value their business and loyalty, and you are sorry to have to raise the board, but hay has gone up xx%, shavings are up xx%, etc.

              As for the issue of what to do when a horse is on stall rest, do you have this happen often? If it happens often, yes, you need to make some kind of rule. If it's not something that happens often, can you just talk to people individually about it? Explain that their horse is consuming more hay and shavings and it's costing you a lot more. (Although I know places where even if the horse is on stall rest, they don't get more hay or shavings.) I had one horse on stall rest for a while, and his mom came out every day in the afternoon or early evening and picked out his stall, because we do not clean twice a day.

              Also, what is typical for barns in your area, or barns that you are competing with for business? Do they charge extra for horses on stall rest? Do they give extra hay and shavings to horses on stall rest? You say that even with an increase you will be cheaper than comparable barns, and that's always a good thing. How long are your horses usually turned out for? I know some barns where the horses only get out for a few hours or half-a-day, so having them in all day doesn't result in much greater hay consumption. Or they are out on dirt all day, so they still need just as much hay as if they were in all day. But if your horses are typically on grass most of the day, yes, you probably use a lot more hay when you keep them in.


              • #8
                If you can give 45 to 60 days notice, that is much nicer than 30, regardless of your contract.

                I think no apologies, just say, these costs have all gone up, we did not raise last summer, but costs have not gone down.

                I have never been charged extra for stall rest, but I have only boarded in California, where the horses are already on hay and bedding full time.

                And yes, remember that you deserve a fair wage for your work and your facility. You're not supposed to subsidize someone else's leisure.
                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                • #9
                  The farm where I board charges on top of stall board for horses that are on layup. I don't have my contract here at work with me, but it is several hundred dollars more to cover the extra hay and shavings and someone to clean the stall or layup paddock. At this farm the horses are currently on summer turnout(out at night in during the day). I think that a month and 1/2 is a good amount of time to notify the boarders.


                  • #10
                    Last Saturday I went to an auction to buy ponies at one of the UK's largest equestrian centres that is in liquidation and being managed by Administrators in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy.

                    I tell you this because you CAN'T run a business if you're not making profit. If your costs are greater than you're income.

                    You need to work out your cost base and that will determine your pricing structure. If this were a new business I'd be advising you to do some research into your market and to whether it's there and sustainable but as you already exist, it sounds to me like you have to recover your overheads.

                    You can only do that in one of two ways: You either cut your costs or you increase your income. Simple

                    Whether people on a bulletin board think its "fair" is irrelevent.

                    Oh and as a "by the way", I don't think your said what your current cost is so how can we say whether it feels right. I note though you said you were undercutting neighbouring barns and even after your increase you will be. Now that just doesn't make sense. (presuming you're providing the same level of service)

                    But then I always think it's a busy fool that competes on price alone.


                    • #11
                      It's typical in my area to get 30 days notice of board increases -- A $25-$50 increase is not unusual -- Got hit with a $100 increase once, but that was a situation where management was changing, and they hadn't had an increase the previous 2 years --

                      I've never seen a barn charge for stall rest -- I've been at 2 that will charge for extra hay -- I'd rather see a BO budget to handle the occassional need to cover additional expenses than be charged for each item individually -- And it makes billing easier for the BO if additional fees are kept to a minimum -- When I see a barn that charges additional fees, it makes me suspect their budget is so tight that they're liable to cut corners -- I'd rather pay an extra $25-$50 per month and know my horse will get what he needs when he needs it --

                      My retired mare is field boarded -- Her barn has a few stalls that boarders may use as needed -- The deal there is that you do your own mucking and provide your own bedding if you want to use a stall -- Boarders use the barn's hay at no additional charge when they keep their horse in a stall -- If the BO has bedding on hand (sawdust from a local mill ... it's inexpensive, but getting it takes time and effort) she typically offers that at no additional charge -- She just doesn't always have sawdust on hand, so it's easier for her to set the expectation that the boarder will buy bedding --
                      "I never mind if an adult uses safety stirrups." GM


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dab View Post
                        I've never seen a barn charge for stall rest

                        -- I'd rather see a BO budget to handle the occassional need to cover additional expenses than be charged for each item individually

                        When I see a barn that charges additional fees, it makes me suspect ... that they're liable to cut corners

                        I'd rather pay an extra $25-$50 per month and know my horse will get what he needs when he needs it --
                        Yup, yup, and yup.


                        • #13
                          I too have never seen anyone charge for horses on stall rest. If it's a full care barn then it should be full care and if my horses need to stay in (and they have been on no turnout for a couple months before due to injuries) then they should be able to. That being said our BO tells you when you come in that the horses only receive six big flakes a day or seven-eight smaller flakes (she also shows you what the sizes are) and x pounds of grain a day (I can't remember what that is...). She also just uses enough shavings to replace the urine spot but you can purchase bagged shavings from her to add, which we usually do because it never seems like enough shavings. Perhaps you can do something like that because even if a horse is on normal turnout they still might require a lot more hay or they could be a pig in their stall and need more shavings so then you're covered.
                          No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
                          For Hope, For Strength, For Life-Delta Gamma
                          www.etsy.com/shop/joiedevivrecrafts Custom Wreaths and Other Decorations


                          • #14
                            I'm paying a $6 per day markup for my horse's stall rest. For the last 4 months. On the one hand, it's pricey, on the other: she eats more hay and has to have her stall picked out 2x a day and has gotten 1 - 3 meds daily through this period. Most barns I know have no markup, but if your horse is confined to a stall for a long time, one can be made to feel as if their horse is a 'problem' and unwanted source of extra work. So in a way, it's less stress to just pay for it instead of feeling like it's a problem.

                            And yes, we are already paying for full stall board which consists of a stall about 12hrs. a day and turnout all day (winter) or all night (summer).
                            I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                            I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


                            • #15
                              I board mostly retirees and I do charge extra for stall rest-my board price is set expecting for the horses to be on turnout at least 8-12 hours per day. Keeping a horse in 24/7 if that is not how your farm is set up does greatly increase labor and supply costs. I calculate what the difference in price is and charge accordingly-it does really depend on the horse as far as the extra shavings, grain, labor,etc. If the stall rest is for 3 or more days, I do charge extra. If my barn was set up with only a few hours of turnout per day or I charged alot more per month than I do, then I would not charge extra for stall rest. I charge $400/month-there is no way that I could afford to do 24/7 stall rest on that price.
                              I have found that if you use the small mesh hay nets that there is less hay wastage for a horse on stall rest and the horse is occupied all day (similar to grazing) instead of gobbling down the hay and then being bored waiting for the next hay feeding. Essentially you would be feeding the same amount of hay, just picking a lot less out of the bedding.


                              • #16
                                As a boarder who has recently become one of the unwashed unemployed, I am actually scared of having to get rid of my horse. I've boarded at the barn for just about 12 years and have only seen 2 very reasonable price increases.

                                I would NEVER think to ask the BO to administer meds or anything "extra" unless I was willing to pay for his time. A stall bound horse requires extra care as in cleaning & bedding more frequently, so yes, I would expect to pay more than the regular monthly board.

                                My BO does not know I'm unemployed (although he sees me during typical work hours lately!) so if he raises board before I get another job I'd request to remain at the same price and give up my stall for outside rough board. If worst comes to worst, I'd look for a cheaper barn, not a great alternative.

                                He has phased out boarders with his own pasture ornament collection, making his income dwindle. Of course, the market for yearlings has tanked, I feel for him. But I'd feel like I'm subsidizing HIS hobby if he raises board because of it!

                                Hey, 1 unemployed computer geek + 1 BO needing to sell yearlings = professionally designed flyers & internet ads!


                                • #17
                                  We plan to revamp our pricing structure in the fall with plenty of notice to our clients. We have one of the nicest facilities in town, excellent care and a great training program that we work really, really hard at. We pride ourselves on doing a great job. We've also been working for peanuts compared to our competition. Not surprising, we have a full barn with a waiting list. It has occurred to me that folks don't leave our barn that often, and when they do they pay more. It really doesn't make sense to work that hard for less than everyone else. It's just too hard. If we charge a little more and lose a few that were on the fence anyway? I say, just do what you have to do.


                                  • #18
                                    Sounds fair. The only thing is to do some kind of "ala carte" pricing, like as of 8/1/09, you will be charged $10 a day for lay up board. My old barn did that instead of raising board. Basically your monthly board included 4 flakes of hay and 2 scoops of grain a day- if you wanted more (food, services etc), you paid more. It worked well too.

                                    The alternative is that you keep the same fees and cut services or quality and people seem to get angrier at that than paying more.


                                    • #19
                                      Around here, you would be charged "Lay-up" board if your horse is on stall rest for more than 2-3 days, which is typically about 20% higher than regular full board. Or you could price ala carte. For example, horses get 20-30lbs of hay/day, all extra hay is billed to owner. Horses get 1 wheelbarrow of shavings every 2 days, more is billed to owner. Includes 1x/day stall cleaning. Another cleaning is billed to owner (or they can do themselves). Make sure you specify that horses in 24hours need stalls cleaned 2x/day so it's not optional.


                                      • #20
                                        I have never had to pay extra for a horse on stall rest, anywhere, in any state that I lived and boarded. I have had to pay extra to give the horse medications though.