Ground Rules

Last week I saw a blog post shared from ProBarn Management that was a bit of a Q&A post about what is included when it comes to using barn hay, shavings, and water for your trailer/ shows.

I think that more often than not people do not take into account that boarding is generally speaking not profitable for the farm owners. I have dealt with many different scenarios and my current is definitely my favorite in terms of boarding. I genuinely hope I never have to leave because not only do I trust these people explicitly with my horses care I also know that I am not just a bottom dollar to them. Boarding horses is not their (or anyone smarts) way of getting rich quick and what you see is what you get. My horses are provided quality grain and hay, never without water, and always have clean stalls. The owners notice when things aren’t right with any of my creatures. The facilities are safe and well maintained… The list goes on. It isn’t the fanciest barn but it is home.

img_1909.jpgLast year was my first year as a trailer owner which meant that it was my first year doing a lot of traveling without a trainer (in my case the resident pro at a barn) hauling my horse. You take for granted things like who is paying for the extra hay my horse is consuming on the trailer and where did the shavings come from. My general MO is to ask and that is what I would recommend for anyone that boards and wants to have a good relationship with their barn owners. I am very lucky in that within reason my barn owners don’t charge me for every flake of hay that’s gone on my trailer for short hauls but I do ask them if I can take it or how much I owe them in these situations.

img_3222For the most part I think that when it comes to boarding and showing you don’t get a break from your board just because you are gone 10 days out of a month showing… You should however have access to the grain and hay your horse would consume at home – shavings are case by case I think depending on the barn. I personally make sure that Annie always has hay in front of her at shows and that usually means that I have to buy a bale of hay from my barn owners or a local feed store to supplement what she would regularly get. Same goes with shavings. Don’t assume that you can go take 3 bags of shavings for a horse show because you pay board. If your horse will be gone for more than 2-3 days ask your barn owner how much, if any, shavings they are okay with you using. If you need shavings in your trailer you should ask before using the barns supply. What might not seem like a big deal to you adds up if every single boarder just dips into the pot.

In summary: be respectful. None of us are perfect and don’t kid yourself by thinking that you are the perfect boarder or that you have the perfect horse(s). My horses in summary are big and pushy (Houston), a beaver with an attitude (Luna), and a cribbing stall annihilator (Annie). We may not all be the best boarders but there are really easy steps you can take to not be the worst. On top of that list is respecting the owners/staff, other boarders, and facilities. If you move it put it back (if a course is set don’t drop all the fences to cross rails or mess with all of the distances unless you intend to re set it!), if you use it (or break it!) ask and pay for it, and be grateful regardless. It is a privilege to keep your horses on someone else’s property not a right.

What is your barns policy? Are there things you wish your barn allowed or provided? Interested to see how these policies vary farm to farm.

*This is just my personal opinion of one side of the equation. Obviously not all barns are a safe haven (I know this from first hand experience) and not all barn owners/ management provide the same things. If you have it good don’t mess it up!

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  1. I board in h/j land so going to shows means going with the barn and paying a hauling fee and a day/per diem fee for off-property services that include set-up, watering, and feed or hay. I think if I did have my own trailer, most definitely I would buy shavings for it and not expect them to come from the barn. I pay extra for daily extra hay at home, but if traveling off property I might expect to pay for that, too, unless I just needed a few flakes for a short trip. I also buy Eli’s feed myself so obviously I would do that regardless. I think this would all be considered pretty standard in h/j land, but maybe not for other disciplines.

    “It is a privilege to keep your horses on someone else’s property not a right.” I wish more people understood this.

    1. Definitely makes sense. HJ land is a whole different situation haha but I wouldn’t want to be charged for the actual hay or grain at a show unless it was more than what my horse got at home – or if the hay was not from home? But yeah preach. Too bad the majority of boarders aren’t of that opinion and make it worse for the few that do feel that way.

  2. As a barn owner, I would raise my eyebrows at my boarder taking hay with them to a show, etc. since my herd is on straight up turnout with lush grass and no hay unless it is winter. I only really buy hay for winter and don’t feed any during the grassy months. And since everyone is field kept, it’s rare to find an unopened bag of shavings in the barn. haha. But yes, I think if it is something the horse would generally be consuming while they’re there, they are welcome to take it. For instance, I’d probably let them bed the trailer if they were typically stall kept, but I don’t think I’d send shavings with them. A lot of facilities around here are snippy if you don’t buy their shavings anyway…

    1. Understandable if you don’t offer hay. But all of my horses are fed hay at some point in pasture or stall. My pasture boarded horses I wouldn’t take hay as theirs is a round bale but I would be pretty irritated if a BO told me that I wasn’t allowed to take the allotted amount of hay that my horse gets per day in her stall. Shavings are more of a grey area. 🙂

  3. I keep my 3 horses here at home and one as a boarder (owner is great btw). You are right about profit- there isn’t much, if any at all. And you have to be ok with that to do it because whatever you do make on it, you’ve worked your butt of for. My approach has always been to take care of the boarder like I would my own. I have also been a boarder and that has helped me understand what it’s like to trust someone with the care of a large, sometimes fragile, and expensive animal.

    I think your approach to shavings and hay is great! Sometimes, all that is needed is to be appreciated and taken into consideration. Your barn is lucky to have you.

  4. Yes to all of this. I typically show a lot during the season and have always asked before taking hay. I always buy my own shavings for the trailer and for the stall at a show. I do think that hay and feed should be fair game, unless you need to take more than what your horse would normally consume at home.

    You know my boarding situation is slightly weird right now. I have more issues with the BM respecting my stuff than vice versa… but I’m happy overall and very lucky to be where I am. Siggy gets top notch care, and that’s what really matters.

  5. I’m lucky in that our barn allows us to take whatever hay and grain we need off property. We don’t have bagged shavings, so that would just be a bigger PITA than it’s worth to buy $20 at TAC

  6. My barn owner lets me take whatever I want whenever I want to. She’s awesome like that. Just kidding. I am my barn owner.
    I agree, you should definitely have a conversation with your barn owner if you plan to take shavings or hay for your trailer or a show. I’ve always ordered hay and shavings at the show, so I just brought grain with me and whatever hay/shavings we needed just to travel. Usually a couple flakes of hay and a bag of shavings. When I was boarding, my trainer/barn owner didn’t mind me taking that little bit of stuff. But I’m certain she would not have allowed me to take shavings or hay with me for the entire show.

  7. When I boarded, my barn owner was definitely okay with me packaging up my horse’s feed and hay and taking it with me. (When I went to Texas for 3 days last year, she insisted I take 3 bales of hay for ONE horse, just so I wouldn’t run out!) I always provided my own shavings for my trailer and my horse’s stall at a show; I didn’t expect her to provide those.

    I think you’re absolutely correct in that having a respectful dialogue with your barn owner is essential!

  8. We provide our own grain (in our case beet pulp and ration balancer) and shavings aren’t allowed so we buy our own for shows/trailer. For hay, we are allowed to take whatever our horses would have eaten had they been at the barn. As we usually feed extra at endurance rides and shows, we will buy an extra bale if necessary, but she’s very generous and often just let’s us take the extra. We do have to pay for extra hay (like Nilla gets an extra bale a month and we pay extra for mid-day feedings), but that’s a rather normal thing in this area.

  9. We pay a winter fee and a summer fee, and that includes everything: stable, field, bedding and haylage. We are extremely lucky as our YO just has a great knack of running a knowledgable, fun and zero drama yard. All the liveries are lovely and I think we all try to keep things clean and tidy and not to take advantage of such a great set up. When my horse was on box rest I asked if I needed to put in extra for bedding and haylage, the answer was ‘No’ but I agree it is respectful to ask anyway as I never want to outwear my welcome 🙂 I am never moving ha ha !

  10. Back in the day I was at a HUGE boarding facility. They had bulk shavings and hay so we used what we needed if we were leaving. But we only went to day shows so we really didn’t make any dent in it. These days I will take hay if my horse is boarding but I buy my own shavings because I use way more than what he would have gotten in his stall at home