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.
Last 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.
For 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!