Carla Lake’s post How to Stay on Your Barn Owner’s Nice List was a big hit last week, but as reader James Powell points out, it works both ways.
After reading “How to Stay on Your Barn Owner’s Nice List,” I began thinking that it is a two-way street. A well-managed barn can elicit good behavior from a most boarders. Referring to the “Barn Owner’s Nice List,” these rules are also simple. Here are ways you can keep your boarders loving your barn.
Expect of yourself what you expect of your boarders. Clean up after yourself, especially if you own or are managing a barn with a high number of boarded horses. It is frustrating for boarders to maneuver around the manager’s tack and grooming supplies. Set an example. Leave the barn as clean as boarders are asked to do – and even cleaner.
Model efficient use of limited resources. When owners/managers give their horses more hay, shavings, rest their horses’ pastures and not others, dragging the ring for when the they and their friends ride is frustrating for the general boarder to witness. Remember the saying, “Do unto others…” This will help keep at the barn the boarders who are respectful and always follow the barn rules.
Recognize the boarders who turn it off after turning it on, and close it after opening it. It’s likely that more than one boarder is as energy conscious as the owner/manager and they go out of their way to turn off lights and close what has been left open. Let them know their help is appreciated.
Don’t create drama. Getting to the point – don’t gossip about people or horses. If an owner is having a bad day, remember it’s their bad day. Be aware that email isn’t the time to vent. Keep communication with boarders professional at all times. One boarder causing problems doesn’t warrant an email sent to the entire “barn.”
Who is managing the barn? This one is easy. Don’t expect boarders to be cognizant of the owner or manager’s whereabouts or if the barn is running low on resources. A portion of board fees goes to this being done by someone working at the facility. Also, post hours when you are available to be reached for non-emergencies and emergencies. Understand that some boarders ride their horses in the evenings, after typical business hours. How and when can these clients contact you?
Be aware of horses and owners that have behavioral problems. Barn owners and managers may be the last to know when a problem is occurring, and boarders aren’t always sure if they should get involved. Take time to watch what is happening around the facility. Professionally approach anyone who is behaving poorly or who has a horse that is displaying behavioral problems and work to find a resolution to the issue(s). It is for everyone’s safety.
Supervise boarders who bring their dogs and kids to the barn. Boarders may experience – almost daily – dogs or kids running through the barn, riding rings and pastures. This poses a safety risk to everyone. Even if the boarder is a friend, a “two strike, you’re out” rule should be enforced. Why two-strikes? Why chance that the third time is when things go awry?
Provide some transparency on how board fees are used and use fees efficiently. Feed the best grain possible. Provide quality hay that doesn’t pose a health risk to the horses. Throw hay in pastures during the winter. Provide a respectable amount of shavings. Repair damages to fences and the facilities as quickly as possible, and keep the ring footing in good shape. Bottom line – Not doing the above frustrates boarders and will motivate them to move to a facility that provides these services.
A positive, professional relationship between barn owners and boarders can make the experience of owning a horse enriching and enjoyable. Most boarders do not make the owners or manager’s lives difficult; they are simply entrusting the care of their horse.
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