10 Tips for Being a Better Boarder0
We all want to be that boarder that barns just love to have and beg to keep. We’ve also heard the stories about so-called ‘barn drama’ but does such a thing really exist? If boarders followed the tips below, many barns owners would be in a much mood, caring for you and your horse. Feel free to comment and add suggestions of your own.
- Pay your bills on time! Nothing creates more stress or damages a relationship more quickly then being tardy on rent or board. Consider paying early to give a good impression that you value your partnership. It doesn’t matter what excuse you may have to being late, it’s the first thing that gives a property owner legal rights to have you removed.
2. Be honest! If your horse has special requirements, let management know ahead of time. They may or may not be willing to accommodate and it’s easier to address this before you move in rather than after the fact. If your horse can be difficult at times, it’s better to let management know in case they lack the ability to handle him safely.
3. Be realistic with your expectations. If you’re paying $400 a month for board, don’t expect services such as multiple blanket changes in a day, your horse tacked up for you, or their legs hosed off when they come in from outside. A small backyard barn may not be able to hand walk your horse multiple times a day whereas a large training barn with many staff members could. Yes, a minimum standard of care is expected but is your horse really going to die if they get fed at 9 am one day instead of 7:30? When checking out places to board, make a list of what you absolutely cannot live without.
4. Follow barn rules. This sounds straightforward enough but can be difficult if you don’t agree with the rules. Remember, although you are paying for a service, you are ultimately a guest on someone else’s property. Respect their rules as they are most likely there for a reason such as safety.
5. Communication is key. Communicate with management ahead of time to let them know when you’ll be arriving. If you are going to be early or late, let them know. It will be greatly appreciated as we all know, there are only so many hours in a day to get things done and there is always stuff to be done on a farm. Whiteboards in the barn should be used to let others know what is going on. Is the farrier/vet coming? Did you schedule a lesson? When people know what is going on, they can plan better (and keeps surprises down as not everyone enjoys them). If it comes time to leave a barn, speak to management in person and give them a timeline. Again, if things change, let them know. They may have a waiting list and need to let the next person know when that stall will be available. But at the same time, don’t be a pest. Barn management and staff are very busy and while there are occasional times it may be appropriate to call/text with a question as to how your horse is doing, don’t call every day, several times a day requesting updates.
6. Don’t Blame! If you spot a mistake or issue, talk to management face to face in a courteous manner. Almost all of us have experienced walking into the barn or field and the water buckets are empty or halter, boots, etc. were still on the horse in his stall. Before you go and freak out on someone, find a staff member and say “hey, I noticed “such and such” It’s unlike you to make mistakes. Is everything ok? There could have been an emergency that needed tending to first or it was an honest overlook. Either way, you can talk it out in a professional manner and if it was a genuine mistake, if you approach the situation with the right attitude, you can bet it will probably not happen again.
7. Management is your Friend. Along these lines, take your issues to management, not fellow boarders. Is there one boarder that never seems to clean up after themselves, doesn’t abide by the ring rules, or is constantly using other people’s equipment without permission? Bring these issues up with management. Even something simple like, “I feel like (insert boarder here) has been going in to my tack trunk and I want to talk to them about it” can avoid a lot of drama. They may already be aware and have a plan in place to deal with it. Some of the least fun places to board at are places where it is a management vs. boarders mentality. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to management, maybe that isn’t the right barn for you.
8. PAY ON TIME! Again, this is common sense but people have a hard time with it. If you cannot afford a barn, you need to reevaluate what you can live with in a facility and find a cheaper spot, perhaps a place where you can work for board or have your horse used in a lesson program for compensation. The barn owner has their own bills to pay to keep their barn running (hay, electricity, maintenance, feed, etc.) and rely on your board check coming in on time.
9. Ask permission before you borrow equipment or feed. Label your own items so they don’t go walking.
10. Clean up after yourself. Sweep alleyways and cross-tie areas when you are done. Pick poop out of the arena before you leave. Shut off lights and water taps and put away hoses and buckets when are done with them. Also remember to close all doors and shut all gates if you open them. Put it back the way you found it and no one will ever know!
A boarding barn should be an enjoyable place, one that you look forward to visiting. One of the biggest drivers of barn culture is the people. What characteristics do you think makes a good boarder?