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What to do when BO plays favorites?

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  • What to do when BO plays favorites?

    Sorry this is kind of long but I am looking for some advice about this particular situation. I board my horse at a small lesson and show barn. I really do like it there, everyone is really supportive of each other (usually) and the trainer/BO is fantastic at what she does. Only problem is that she plays favorites.

    example one: A couple of girls in my lesson group show up late constantly, which in turn causes the lesson to run over into the next slot (and its because they goof off in the barn when getting ready) . She just laughs it off. I think it's because one of the girls is the daughter of her best friend from college, and the other girl is the daughter's best friend. The one time that I know I am going to be late (work related), I call to tell her and she yells at me and basically tells me that I'm being selfish by being late and because of it the lessons after will all be backed up, its not fair to the other girls in my group who will have a late start, and that it will mess up the plans she had for after she was done teaching. my reaction:

    I was shocked at the reaction! That was the only time I have been late to a lesson in the entire year that I have been boarding there! I am usually down in the ring 10 minutes before the lesson is scheduled to start, warming up! And by being late I meant 10-15 minute max! I would not have had a problem if they started the lesson on time with out me (like I suggested when I called) and I would have just done my warm up really quickly and joined in. It didn't matter anyway really because once again, these two girls were late and by the time they got tacked up, I was also done tacking up and the lesson ran over like usual. But at least I was considerate enough to call.

    I just can't believe that after constant backed up lessons because of these other girls, I am the one that gets flipped out on because I am late for ONE lesson over the entire time I have been boarding there! Anyway I chalked it up to her already having a bad day and decided to let it go.

    Example two: I have a trunk in the tack room, your standard, run of the mill, vinyl siding tack trunk. I am obviously not the only boarder at this barn that has one. Anyway the hinges on it needed to be replaced and some other minor repairs done, so I tell her that it will be gone for a few days while I'm getting it repaired just so she doesn't think someone stole it or something any way she calls me later and asks me if I am going to be bringing it back or not. Of course I say yes. Once again, I just chalk it up to her having a stressful day and not remembering our conversation.

    Well, I get it repaired and bring it back to the barn and I see her friends trunk is in the same spot that mine used to be in! Her friend does not board a horse there and doesn't even pay for the lessons, the horses she rides in the lessons she does take, are either the BO's personal horses or horses that are on training board. I have no problem with this, she can do what she wants besides, her friend is a fantastic rider.

    I ask the BO about this and her response "oh she just got tired of walking back and forth between the lesson barn (where her trunk was originally stored) and the boarding barn "(where all the horses she usually rides are stabled.) then the real kicker was "But you can put your trunk in the lesson barn tack room, I don't care" and walks away. Once again: I thought it was quite rude, that as a paying customer, I can't keep my equipment in the same barn as my horse!

    I know its her friend but if this was me I would make sure all the boarders have a spot in the tack room for their trunks and equipment before I let someone who does not have a horse there, move their stuff in! Not to mention I told her TWICE that my trunk was coming back but she still let her have the spot.

    Example 3: Boarding contract states that the board is due by the 3rd of each month and I always pay it by the first. Well included in board is shavings right? Well sometimes, the barn runs out of shavings, especially towards the end of the month. When this happens, the BO goes and gets several bags of shavings to hold the barn over until a new shipment comes in. So why is it on those days some of the horses, including mine, are practically standing on the dirt ground in their own muck. While the horses of the boarders she favors and her daughter's ponies have nice fluffy stalls? I know all the horses can't have a deep of bedding as they usually do on theses days. But the bagged shavings should be split up evenly between all the boarded horses.

    There are other little incidents here and there but these are the big three that stuck out to me.

    I don't know what to do really, should I confront her about my concerns? Does she not notice herself doing this? I'm not really one for confrontation and I don't want to start something that will cause tension between us and possibly other boarders.

    Moving is really not an option right and I don't think I really want to move because I love the other boarders there and the BO really is a fantastic trainer. I have placed high at every show I have been at with this barn and all the boarders are helpful and supportive.

  • #2
    Sorry - the answer is to move.
    The BO/trainer is 'conducting' business based on feelings instead of treating it as a business. Been there, done that - finally left.
    You will be more comfortable long term in a business barn.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim


    • #3
      Really you have two choices. Put up with what the barn owner is doing or move. If I were you, I would move; life is too short to be upset about your boarding situation.


      • #4
        Speak up for yourself. Next time they run out of shavings, request more for your horse. And I would address the tack trunk thing immediately. That's ridiculous that your tack trunk isn't in the same barn as your horse. Life won't change unless you change it.
        Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.


        • #5
          I agree the choices here are limited.

          You can attempt to sit down with her and say something like:

          "Listen, I like it here and we are friendly but there are a couple of things I need to discuss with you with respect to the business part of our relationship.

          I was disappointed at how I was treated when I called the other day about being a few minutes to our lesson, particularly since it routinely starts late to accommodate the other clients. Also, I have noticed that Trigger's stall is not as clean or well bedded when the bagged shavings are used, although the other horses' stalls seem fine. Finally, I need to have my trunk put back in the regular tack room where the other paying customer's trunks are. It doesn't work for me to have it in the lesson barn.

          None of these are life altering issues, but they have been adding up and bothering me, and I'd like to address them so we can move forward in a positive way."

          Now here's the hard part. You have to refuse to defend or argue your points further. Just listen to what she has to say in response, and if it is defensive or angry, you have to remain calm and simply say, "I'm sorry you feel that way, but these are things that matter to me as a customer, and I am not asking for anything that other customers don't receive."

          I think what you are going to find is that barn owner is trying to tell you something, and that is - she is happy to take your money as long as you are willing to put up with being poorly treated.

          If that's the case, you can either put up with it or find a new barn - and you can expect that if you do not challenge these relatively minor things, it will probably escalate.

          Sorry, BTDT, and it's not fun.

          Good luck.
          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


          • #6
            Remind yourself you're there for ____ (boarding, lesson, use of an indoor, whatever). You're not paying board to have an automatic friend. In other words, don't take any of it personally.

            If it's causing you to miss lesson time, speak up. Like with the tack trunk thing: you put her in control. Stop being a doormat. If that is your spot and a non-boarder put something in it, I'd move the non-boarder's thing out of the way and return your tack chest to its place and then I'd tell BO that NonBoarder must've forgotten her stuff in the boarder's tack room and you set it aside in such-and-such corner. I get the feeling that because you're not saying anything to anyone, they're just assuming you're fine with whatever they do. BO probably figures none of this bothers you because you never tell her. Don't ever feel bad about speaking up; if you don't speak up for you, who will?
            Veterinarians for Equine Welfare


            • #7
              You could try talking to the barn owner. One of three things will happen:
              1) The barn owner will realize the error of her ways and mend them (don't hold your breath on this one.)
              2) The barn owner will get pissed and throw you out, leaving you scrambling for a new barn.
              3) The barn owner will say yeah yeah ok, not do a damn thing to improve your situation, and possibly even get vindictive towards your horse and tack. Then you'll leave out of self protection.

              Or you could say nothing and just put up with it. My guess is that things will rock along unhappily for a few more months or even a year or two. Then the barn owner will do more things to annoy you, you'll notice your horse's care has slipped from second rate to third rate, and eventually you'll leave out of self protection.

              My opinion - start looking for a bolt hole in case you need to move your horse with no notice.


              • #8
                Just tell her you'll be paying the board check to her best friend !
                ... _. ._ .._. .._


                • #9
                  Move. Life is too short to be paying money to be treated like manure.
                  RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                  • #10
                    Wow! Sounds like the BO is walking all over you. Does she do this to other people, or is she just taking advantage of you?

                    I would look around at other places. It sounds like you need a backup. Next thing you know, your horse might be sitting outside while someone else is in his stall eating his hay.

                    But I would talk to her about it. You have a right to confront her. If it was me, I would have dragged that other tack trunk into the corner and put mine back, and then stole some extra shavings and put them in my horse's stall!
                    Just try to be assertive and have a discussion with her. If things don't change, move.


                    • #11
                      FWIW I think many people who deal with BOs have a like complaints. Not putting down OP feelings at all. These are ones Ive heard at my barn:

                      "My lessons got canceled this week (or month) and theres no attempt to make them up."

                      "My horses stall is wet from the leak and no one will fix it"

                      "My horse always gets moved to the worst stall when new horses are borought in--no light/no window/the door doesnt close/..."

                      It may seem like Bo doesnt like you but there may be a reason for whats going on. I dont know, and OP may not know.

                      Girls running late--play like a duck, let it roll. Not fair but life isnt.
                      Tack trunk--BO probably didnt want to tell BFF that her trunk needed to leave. My BO moves them for people. Put yours back, dont say anything, and see what happens. If your trunk moves 1 inch then you know its probably time for a 1x1.
                      Shavings--the problem I see if running out of shavings at all. Someone isnt planning well, or needs to increase board. Sure barns may run out but round here its in winter when sawmills shut down. Its not a regular thing and if thats the care Id be concerned.

                      Maybe you can ask "I notice youve run out of bags & I think Pookie needs more in his stall. How can I help?"

                      BTW IME you will always find something about a barn you dont like and something you do. If you liek the trainer (you do) and mostly you like the care Id try to lst some of these things go.
                      “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker


                      • #12
                        You really need to move, it will only get worse. You need to decide what is more important to you, high scores or a respectiful BO. What will happen next?
                        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.


                        • #13
                          It's easy for people on a board to say move. They are simply sitting at a computer desk. I've been putting up with similar annoying things. The problem is that after being at different barns over 20+ years, I've learned that every barn has its annoyances. Weigh in your mind what things you like versus what things you don't like about where you are. If the good outweighs the bad, then stay (because you will surely find things at the next barn that you don't like). Every barn I've ever been at, the owner seems to have favorites. How good a rider are you and do you spend alot of money showing? I find those are the clients the trainers treat better (money in their pocket and they love the best riders). I agree with the poster who said you need to be subtley more assertive. Try moving your trunk back (is there room to push the other one over but leave it in the same barn? As far as shavings, I'd put more in my horse's stall when no one was around. It sounds like this owner/trainer may have a cash flow problem. It's possible that the owner thought you were using the "I'm fixing my trunk" as a ruse to move barns and got stressed and didn't want the spot to look empty to others.


                          • #14
                            "well since I'm a boarder I'll just help susy move her trunk back to the lesson barn, I'm sure she understood the move was nice but temporary while I got my trunk fixed."

                            then move your trunk


                            • #15
                              Maybe turn it around and make yourself one
                              of the owners favorites.
                              I do have a favorite. She does not pay the highest
                              board, takes no lessons, goes to no shows, but
                              is always willing to help - I don't mean loading 100
                              bales into the barn, but going out and picking her
                              horses (and sometimes others) paddocks. Or noticing
                              that there is a lack of staff on a certain day and
                              offering to help me feed lunch. Or coming in and
                              saying 'I have an extra 1/2 hour, what can I do?'

                              I would like my barn to be a benevolent dictatorship.
                              That does not mean I don't notice who lends a hand
                              and who just pays their board.


                              • #16
                                I'm a freak about bedding, so there is NO WAY I would allow my horse to stand in mucky yuckiness. My comment to the BO would be,"Is horse going to be getting more shavings today? I notice his stall is a rather lightly bedded." She would tell me there were no shavings left and I would say,"No problem. I'll pick up enough bags to get horse through the week and just deduct it from the check for next month's board. While I'm at the grain store, is there anything else you need?"

                                It is very hard to be in a position where favoritism is being shown to those around you. You just have to realize there are some things you have no control over and let them go. I would personally leave this barn. If the BO is running out of bedding at the end of each month, she is either horrible with math or short on money. Her horses should be the ones who go without, not the horses who are having full board paid by their owners. If corners are being cut with bedding, where else are they being cut?

                                I could never board again. I have thought of doing winter board at a facility with an indoor, but I am way too much of a control freak. I think I would turn into a BO's worst nightmare. I would probably be there constantly and end up cleaning my horse's stall because I'm so particular.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Invite View Post
                                  I'm a freak about bedding, so there is NO WAY I would allow my horse to stand in mucky yuckiness. My comment to the BO would be,"Is horse going to be getting more shavings today? I notice his stall is a rather lightly bedded." She would tell me there were no shavings left and I would say,"No problem. I'll pick up enough bags to get horse through the week and just deduct it from the check for next month's board. While I'm at the grain store, is there anything else you need?"

                                  It is very hard to be in a position where favoritism is being shown to those around you. You just have to realize there are some things you have no control over and let them go. I would personally leave this barn. If the BO is running out of bedding at the end of each month, she is either horrible with math or short on money. Her horses should be the ones who go without, not the horses who are having full board paid by their owners. If corners are being cut with bedding, where else are they being cut?
                                  This is what I meant 100%. Thanks Invite.
                                  “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker


                                  • #18
                                    Hitch up the big girl panties. You already know the answer to "what should I do". She treats you like shit. Don't pay her to. Move.


                                    • #19
                                      I would move my trunk back into the boarders' barn, if possible rearranging things so as to not have to drag the other trunk into the aisle. But no way in h*ll would I put my trunk in the lesson barn if my horse wasn't there.

                                      As for shavings, when that has happened I have gone to the shavings pile and added my own. Trust me, BO will notice shavings in your stall when there previously were none. That alone will make a statement.

                                      If that doesn't change, then I would start looking for other barns. Once you have found a suitable one, then tell BO that you are leaving because of the shavings/tack trunk/late lessons issues.

                                      Furthermore, if you are being shorted in lesson time despite paying for the full time, then you should prorate the lesson check accordingly. If you pay $30 for an hour lesson and the lesson is actually 45 minutes due to others being late, then you write your check for $22.50, and make sure the BO knows the reason.


                                      • #20
                                        You should have a little sit-down with her, because unless you do, absolutely nothing will change. Except you will become even more resentful and angry. It doesn't have to be confrontational, but it should be direct and clear.

                                        As in,
                                        "I'll be moving my trunk back into the boarder's barn, where my horse is. Having it in the lesson barn is not convenient. Should I return it to where it was? I can move your friend's trunk back to where it was, or she can move it somewhere, but I'll be moving my trunk back in tomorrow."

                                        "My horse often does not have shavings at the end of the month, and is standing in muck. This isn't acceptable to me, as I'm paying for full care. I notice that other stalls are nicely bedded all month, and I wonder why. Are the stalls too heavily bedded early in the month? Or is there some other reason?"

                                        And if you are shorted on a lesson, you should say at the time, "I am paying for 45 minutes" or whatever "and I expect a full lesson. We started late, for reasons that did not involve me. I was ready to go at my scheduled time, and you were not."

                                        How people treat you is often to you. In essence, you are training her that it's OK to treat you unprofessionally, because you do not make any attempt to fix it.

                                        And in the meantime, start looking around in case you decide to move. I don't think most barns have people clamoring to get in, and so should be willing to work harder to keep the boarders they have. Some aren't, but they aren't good businesspeople.

                                        Good luck.