Why did they do that? Why won’t they fix that? I wish they’d stop complaining, my horse is perfect. I wish my barn manager/owner would kick those people out. That barn owner makes so much money on me they should be grateful and do extra stuff for free.
1. Boarders think the barn manager/owner is making a ton of money off them. Have you ever walked down the isle of a 40 stall barn and counted the all the money the barn manager/owner is making? Even if they are all partial board at let’s say, $200 per stall, they are making the bank each month! Think of how much money you can make if you had your own barn! Truth is, after all the expenses, your barn manager/owner is probably pulling money out of their own pocket to by the lease or mortgage. What expenses?
a. Rent or Mortgage: Yep they do have to pay for the place.
b. Electric: Boarders are notorious for leaving lights on and fans running and radios blaring. It’s not unusual for the power bill to run $500 per month.
c. Water bills. I have seen water bills run from $1500 to $3000 at barns because of a broken automatic waters or boarders leaving the hose running. Well water is good alternative to city water but to put in a well is expensive and then if you don’t put in a deep enough well, the boarders complain about the smell. (As a barn manager once, I had stinky well water tested once and, just so you know, in Pinellas Park, the Stinky Well Water is indeed potable for livestock.)
d. Broken stuff: Horses break stuff. Even your precious baby will break a board, pipe, entire sections of fence etc. They are big babies and they can break things like crossties by pulling back. Entire portions of stalls by kicking at their neighbors. Stall doors by chewing / cribbing on them. If the barn manager/owner doesn’t replace them, who will? I have boarded horses long enough to know that the horse owner usually won’t fix anything their horse breaks. Period.
e. Trash removal: Dumpsters, Manure Piles, Trashcans, they are all serviced and paid for by the barn owner/manager. It astounds me how people just fill up a trash can with their trash at a barn and expect management to empty the trash for them.
f. What about shavings? Does the barn provide shavings? They aren’t free. Last time I got a truck load it cost $600. That was 4 years ago, I am sure it’s gone up since then.
g. People who muck stalls, feed horses, turn out and in, don’t work for free. They are paid help and even though the barn manager/owner might not get a paycheck themselves, they must either do the work themselves or pay someone to do it for them. Most people want $10 per hour or $5 per stall. Then they want to be paid for all the extras.
h. What about the water bottles in the refrigerator (if you even have one) snacks, chairs, whips at the round pen, cross ties, hoses, water buckets, pitch forks and muck buckets at the wash rack? Who pays for those extras and who replaces them when you break them?
2. Your barn manager/owner sometimes feels like a kindergarten teacher. Horse people are not always STABLE. We know we are crazy! We are passionate about our horses and their care and we are passionate about the barn. We don’t always get along and that’s where the barn manager can feel like they are managing a group of children when they are called in to mediate between warring boarders. The drama is crazy sometimes.
3. Barn owner/manager are always on duty. While you come for a few hours, the barn owner/manager is always there. Sometimes they are there all day and most of the evening. They are devoted to the horses. They love to talk to you and play too but they also have a strict schedule they must attend to. Happy Horses like schedules so be mindful of your barn managers and employees time. They are lucky if they can carve out a few minutes to enjoy their own horses. Please don’t expect them to babysit your horse all day and night, even if it’s sick. While I am sure your barn manager / owner is attending to your horse while they are there, make plans to attend your own horse. The vet needs you there.
4. Sometimes the answer is going to be, “No”. No, you cannot turn out in the jump field. No, you cannot take your horse out of quarantine early. No, you cannot ride your horse into the barn. No, you cannot stay late to ride your horse after midnight. No, you cannot race a car in the driveway of the barn. No, you cannot leave your child unattended at the barn. No, your friends cannot ride without a release form signed by both parents.
5. Sometimes the answer is going to be, “yes”. Yes you have to have your horses feed set daily for us to throw it in the morning. Yes you have to have the Ferrier out every 5 to 6 weeks for your horse’s health. Yes, you must clean the stall every day if you are on partial board and sweep or pick up in front of the stall. Yes, I’ll put three hundred supplements in your horse’s grain. Yes, I’ll put the sheet on when it’s exactly 76 degrees out and I’ll take it off when its 77 degrees and I’ll check the temperature 20 times today just so there is no confusion. Yes, I will ride with you. Yes, let’s go on a trail ride. Yes, let’s go to that show. Yes, I’ll haul your horse.
Sometimes it’s easy to judge people looking at a portion of their day and looking in from the outside. There is more to someone’s day then just what you see or view. Try to be understanding and mindful of your barn manager’s time and money. Don’t take your Barn owner or manager for granted. While not everyone is cut out to be a barn manager/owner I truly believe people are doing the best they can with what they have to work with. If you are looking to purchase a barn or stable, please talk with a few barn owners or managers before hand and take their advice to heart especially if you are new to horses. This is not a glamorous position, it’s hot and dirty and you have to do it when your workers can’t or won’t.
Please feel free to add your experiences in the comments below!