Thankfully I’ve not yet been involved in the barn drama partially, probably, because since I work in HR I’m pretty adept at conflict management/avoidance but also because I’ve been nothing but pleasant and complementary to the owners of the facility. Unfortunately it seems to be one of those cases where if you disagree you become the enemy and I’ve got very little tolerance for that.
If you remember I posted a while ago about how the owners and kicked a couple of people out and I was happy that they were being proactive about it. At that point I believe the grand total of people they had kicked out was three but I found out later that they’d kicked out two before I ever got there. Since I understood the reasoning and knew that two of the people were actually endangering other boarders and their horses I wasn’t concerned and as I said then, I was actually pleased that they were taking a tough stance on that sort of behavior. After that though they’ve kicked out two additional boarders through a whole host of drama including the hay debate.
Now I understand as well as anyone else that the barn needs to be operated like a business. They have to make sure that they know how much hay and grain is going out so they can account for that in their budget and if someone takes hay or grain without asking it’s stealing. However, in my mind if you work something out with the owners that while your horse is offsite at a show you can take the exact same amount of hay and grain that they would have been fed at the barn that should be ok! They are still probably saving bedding and labor of looking after your horse during that time so they should be ok with it. However, at this barn the owners got into a huge fight with a boarder that wanted to do just that and told her that she could purchase a bale of hay from them for $10 (our hay is normally between $5-$7 per bale). This wasn’t me, I wish I were showing but I’m not, but honestly I probably would have just bought the hay since in the grand scheme of things $10 isn’t that bad. It’s just left me with a really bad taste in my mouth that they treated someone who was asking for something so reasonable so badly. I can even see if to keep things neat they wanted her to buy a bale rather than take hay, which might be tough to keep track of, but charge a reduced rate since that horse would have eaten almost that much as part of regular board. Or charge reduced board that month since the horse isn’t staying at the facility for three days. Any of these things would make sense or at least having an adult conversation about it but instead everything just blew up and the boarder left over it. I honestly can’t say I blame her.
I’ve been waffling over a few things including the fact that other than two other people the barn is quickly becoming home to only western pleasure horses and the fact that the owners are adding all these rules that aren’t in the contract I signed. Just for an idea, because I think this type of thing is interesting, I live in an area that charges about $450-$1000 for stall board and $200-$350 for pasture board. At J’s place I paid $300 for pasture board which included hay overnight when horses were brought into a dry lot, grain twice per day, and someone who put on and took off Katai’s grazing muzzle every day (and the pastures were amazing and well-kept with almost no weeds). At this barn I pay $325 for pasture board with no hands on care, no grain, and hay just during the winter. I would be paying $650 for stall board which does include blanketing and grain twice per day as well as daily hand walking to semi private pens and full day turnout. However, it seems that amount does not pay for poop pick up on the way to and from the pastures. I’m the first one to clean up poop anywhere in the barn or arena both indoor and outdoor but when the walk from the pasture to the barn is almost a mile down a driveway and my horse poops in the grass half way there I just don’t know that I should feel like I should be required to go pick it up while she stands in cross ties. What are your opinions? Am I being a spoiled brat that it’s bothering me? Between that, the hay debate, some of the complaints I’ve heard from other boarders and the fact that I wouldn’t trust the barn manager to notice if my horse were injured (a pasture horse is currently in surgery that had a two inch diameter and four inch long branch lodged about three inches in right above his right eye. Another boarder noticed when she brought her horse in that it had happened and they could tell it had been several hours and they had to call the barn manager who lives on site and tell her) I’ve been seriously thinking about moving Katai again.
Trust me, it’s the last thing I wanted to be considering at this point :-( I hate moving barns anyway and rebuilding all these friendships and I’m sure Katai would really like to not have to move and adjust again. There are some great people at this barn it just seems like I only see them about once a month. I honestly was thinking I’d just stay where I am but then I heard from a friend that the manager of a nearby barn that is dearly loved by the local dressage community was opening up a second barn. This is new barn is actually a location I’d toured when I was going to leave J’s initially but I didn’t like that manager who did really odd things and was known locally for being flaky when it came to things like turning horses out. Now that this new woman is taking over that facility I’d jump at the chance to board there.
When I went to tour the barn they were having a spa day and they welcomed me in with open arms and a glass of wine (seriously, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven) and I got a tour of the new and improved facility. There is still some work to do before it is ready but they’re aiming to have it ready in about two weeks and it already looks amazing. The arena has been completely redone and she’s been working on footing daily. The pens are semi private, full day turnout, nice large stalls, and trails on the property that aren’t overwhelmed with bicycles, joggers, rollerblades, and poorly behaved dogs. It sounds like L will be teaching there probably but even if not, there are a couple of other dressage instructors. Plus it will be a truly mixed barn with other people who ride various forms of English (hunter, jumper, dressage, eventing, etc.), some people who drive their horses, and some western people. Plus they have an area for dogs to hang out on the property so that I can actually bring my puppy while I ride and he wouldn’t have to go back into his kennel :-)
If you can’t tell from the above I’m already fairly convinced but what do all of you think? What would you do in this situation? The care at the current barn is far from bad and actually Katai has been doing well. I’ve got friends there and so far have been getting along great with the owners. Is it worth the risk to move again in your opinion even with some of the big concerns I have about the current barn or would you just go ahead and move to the new barn with the manager/owner that so many people have said great things about?
I promise there will be more Katai centered posts soon!