Board Changes

As of two months ago, my trainer made a few changes to boarding that I thought would be fun to lay out and discuss. 

With barn photos borrowed from our website for filler, because I am O-U-T of media.

Change #1:  We used to have two tiers of board, which basically amounted to the "extras not included" tier and the "full board" tier.  Now we're all on full board with extras included.

My thoughts: Don't care.  It means I no longer pay vet/farrier holding fees, so that saves me a few dollars, and now that I'm on full board, I feel like I have carte blanche to have them change his blankets whenever I want.  In the past, I either did it myself, 45 minute drive be damned, or I had them do it and felt guilty about it, because I used to be a barn worker and endless blanket changes will drive you crazy.  Now I leave blanketing instructions and don't feel guilty.

This doesn't live in this field, but it does usually live in the grass field across the street.  I think it was in this field for a clinic.

Change #2: Heated buckets are now $30 month or pro-rated if the entire month isn't cold.  If we don't want to pay it, we can provide Bucket Cozies.


My thoughts: I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate Bucket Cozies with a fiery passion, and I also hate colic, and I also know how much running a heating element 24/7 actually costs my trainer.  She's not making anything here, and I will cheerfully pay $30/month for a few months a year to avoid an impaction colic.


Change #3: The price of board went up.

My thoughts:  She brought it in line with what other area facilities are charging, we were actually fairly low, and you have to drive pretty far to find a facility as nice as ours.  Other horsey friends' pretended to hit me when I told them what I was paying before for an on-property XC course, Kentucky Horse Park footing in the indoor and outdoor, full day turnout, etc etc.  And of course, we've had a full waitlist the entire time I've known this facility, and a small price increase won't change that.  Supply and demand and reasonably priced goods and services, yo.

(That said, I really hope the board cost stabilizes where it is.)


I mean...since I've been there, they've put in an outdoor with GGT, built these stairs, added a storage loft, put in a bathroom with a toilet and a shower, added GGT to the indoor and built tons of new XC and stadium jumps.  It's not like increases aren't justified!

Change #4: We're now all required to either have two lessons or one training ride and one lesson per week.

My thoughts: I honestly think I was one of the only boarders sticking to one lesson per week, which has always been required to board here.  Everyone else has so many training rides and lessons on the calendar, my eyes kind of cross when I mentally tally what their bills must look like each month.


Overall, I'm okay with the lesson change.  We make a lot more progress with two than with one, it makes having one jumping and one Dressage lesson per week a possibility, and it gives me less time to forget things between lessons.  That said, it will probably decrease the number of shows I go to, because I do have a limit on what I feel is reasonable to pay for a hobby every month. 

We're like, a month away from everything looking like this instead of brown.  Come on, spring!

53 comments:

  1. I don't think I could ever board at a barn that forces me into taking lessons. I moved to my current barn because I hate being told what to do with my horse and my time and my money. That being said, I am so envious of how nice your facility is!

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    1. I think I would feel the same way you do if I didn't click so well with this trainer, and progress so much. I've always wanted to take two lessons a week with her, and have in the past occasionally.

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    2. I share this thought! Especially when my budget gets tight, lessons are the first thing I cut. Your barn looks absolutely gorgeous! And the other fee increases sound very fair.

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  2. Your barn is so gorgeous. Always jealous when I see pictures! The lesson thing would be a big no for me although I understand why some barns do it. Still soooo jealousss of how gorgeous it is!

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    1. True it does turn off some, but we also don't have a whole lot of options out here!

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  3. My barn requires at least one lesson per week to board there, so an increase to two lessons per week wouldn't be a huge change. Plus, as you said, you'll probably progress faster with two per week instead of one, so I think that and the other changes are great improvements!

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    1. Agree, I'm pretty okay with all of them!

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  4. The lesson requirements really turn me off too. But I guess I understand why some barns put them in place? Still can't get over how beautiful that farm is!!! You're very lucky to be able to board there!

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    1. Yeah, I understand, it would turn me off in 99% of situations too, but it's okay here. And if I said I would move rather than take two lessons per week, she absolutely would have let me stick with one. She did for the first two months of the year, when I said I was still paying off my trailer and couldn't afford it.

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  5. I love your barn and trainer, but the lesson requirement is tough. Maybe if the cost was included in the board it would be more palatable. Personally, I prefer self care since I am a bit of a control freak about the horses care. I do love heated buckets though :)

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    1. It more or less IS included in board, since it's required and I pay one check for both. It's just another line item on the invoice. I understand the desire to do self-care, and that's another reason I board here: it's the only barn in the area I don't have to be a control freak about, because they care for him exactly the way I would. I never have to worry. That means A LOT!

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  6. You could always make a DIY bucket cozy. I think I'd rather give my horse a plaything than add another possible fire hazard.

    But, I'm also the person who is nervous about fans being plugged in and left on all summer... Such a field boarder. ;)

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    1. Ha, yeah, my one heated bucket is definitely not the biggest fire hazard in any barn. Definitely a field boarder.

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  7. interesting set of changes - sounds very similar to some of the barns i ship in to for lessons. my barn is just... so very very different haha, not least because we don't really have a trainer in house. so i've never been totally sure how i would feel about the intermingling between "board" rules and "training" rules, but i guess it all depends on who the trainer is haha. your barn is gorgeous tho, super jealous of all that nice footing!

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    1. Yeah, if it was a trainer I didn't click with and wasn't progressing with I would be having a completely different conversation right now, but thankfully, there's nowhere else I'd rather be. Yes, I never take that footing for granted! I really think (knock on wood) it's why we've never had a strain/overuse injury.

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  8. Heated buckets are the best thing ever. The bucket cozies don't keep the water from freezing overnight in our barn, so other than maybe prolonging it a bit, they're useless. $30 really is reasonable, considering the power usage plus the hassle of unplugged them to dump,etc.

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    1. Totally agree with you. Those stupid bucket cozies are a barn worker's nightmare. They don't keep it from freezing and turn into heavy wet frozen diapers quickly. Good point on dumping the heated buckets being harder, too!

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  9. Interesting! Yah we have several barns in the area that require lessons and that's just how it is. Others are just public boarding stables with several trainers. Neither bother me, but luckily both of the trainers I ride with come in to teach at barns that I like boarding at. But both have their own barns where you have to be "in training" which I think is 2-3 lessons or rides per month.

    It's great when you can find a barn where you love the facility and the training!

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    1. You also have a tearjerkingly annoying amount of barns to choose from in your area! Haha. For me, it's either this barn, which I love for a lot of reasons, or a western barn with questionable footing and care that doesn't inspire confidence. It's a good thing I'm happy here because it's my only good option.

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  10. I have always thought your barn sounded like the near perfect situation for anyone serious about their horse/riding passion. It looks beautiful in all the pics. A facility like yours would fill up in no time near us!

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    1. I think that's an important point you made, she's definitely gone out of her way to create a culture where only someone serious about improving and showing is going to want to be. Showing isn't required, but when you're working this hard on improving and everyone around you is having success in the show ring, you're going to want to show too. It's a good place to be, but it's not for every rider and every stage of your riding career.

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  11. I totally understand why barns do this and have these types of requirements but my preference will now be to be at a barn where I am not required to work with a resident trainer. I love the trainer that I am working with but I also love that I have the flexibility to determine how much money I spend on lessons and training in a given month as well with no set requirement. I find great comfort in the fact that my BO is not also my trainer and has no vested interest in how much I pay for training.

    That said I totally understand why you love your barn - the facilities and care look great. I hope you continue to make great progress :)

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, there are positives and negatives to any situation. I always have an exit plan barn waiting in the wings, but as long as we're both happy and making progress, I'm okay with it all.

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  12. Finding a good facility that takes excellent care of the horses AND has a good trainer is nigh on impossible. Sometimes it's really worth the extra $$ for the peace of mind!

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    1. Word. Especially when he has to be too far away for me to pop out and check on him.

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    2. Truer words never spoken. I understand why some of these requirements turn people off, but there's an awful lot to be said for setting things up so that everyone is on the same page and a baseline of care and engagement goes without saying.

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  13. It's so interesting to hear about the different ways barns are run! I can't decide how I would feel if I boarded at a barn that had a lesson requirement. One on hand, I'm certain I'd benefit from regular instruction. On the other, I don't think I'd like the extra expense on top of my regular board. As you say though, you really like your trainer, so that's good!

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    1. Yeah, totally. It would be nice to take a break from lessons money-wise, but when I do that, my riding really suffers. It just depends on the trainer. If it was a terrible trainer requiring me to take lessons, I'd be out in a flash.

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  14. Sometimes I actually wish our barn required a weekly lesson. To me twice a week is too intense to require, but that's mostly because of where I am in life right now. When things were a bit better I would do either two lessons a week or one lesson and one training ride.

    Your facility is gorgeous. I wish we had that here.

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    1. I'm with you, I'm honestly struggling to fit two in per week, but I also don't need training rides at this moment in time. It's definitely helping me improve though. Thanks! Come see it in person sometime. :)

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  15. I love your barn. It's just so pretty. I want to board there. But not live there. I want to move it here. A few years ago I would never have wanted to be in a lessons-required barn, but now I think I'd like it. I wish I had easier access to trainers. It's really hard to find good trainers who travel, the good ones usually have their own facilities. My trainer comes in literally as a favor to me because she likes Nilla. I'm her only traveling client.

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    1. Understandable, Indiana's not for everyone! There aren't any trainers around here that travel. The one that I can think of makes you lineup a whole day of students in order to come out, and charges a whole lot more than I pay for lessons.

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  16. I grew up riding in a h/j training barn where it wasn't REQUIRED to be in lessons, but we couldn't jump without being in a lesson. And to show with our trainer you had to be in 2 lessons a week. When I left for college and moved to a smaller barn it was really weird for me to not have those constraints. I go back and forth as to whether I could go back to ridged barn like that agin, there are things I really like and things I really dislike.

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    1. I can see that. If you're showing/representing the barn, they're going to want you to be on your A game. It's good in some ways and bad in others, yeah.

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  17. My current barn has had some very similar changes. At first I was like "AHHHH more money, cannot afford", but now I'm in agreement with you - it's just so much easier knowing everything is taken care of, and I'm really enjoying the progress regular lessons/trainer rides bring. I know what it costs to run the place - trainer seriously was making no money on board alone, and it's nice that everyone boarding there is all on the same page and the horses all get the same care.

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    1. Exactly. She leases the barn, she's really not making anything on anything but training/lessons.

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  18. I would be okay with a mandatory minimum number of lesson if my trainer actually could accommodate me.

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    1. Yeah...your trainer seems like she has commitment or time management issues or something. But she also seems to be a really good trainer, so IDK? Mine went to online scheduling and it is AWESOME.

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    2. OMG, online scheduling would be HEAVEN. I pick every possible service provider based on not wanting to pick up a phone!

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  19. I just love your barn. Royale (the saddlebred) lives right down the road, so when I visit him I drive by your place and admire (and secretly stalk Conner). A facility like yours is so hard to find in Indiana.

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    1. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat you have to stop and say hi sometime! I'm sure you see Connor if you drive by, he's front and center in his "Special Needs Child" paddock. I'm out there Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends if you're ever around!

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  20. I totally get mandatory lessons but man I wouldn't be able to afford a nice facility if I had to pay for regular lessons! #horsepoor

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    1. You'd be surprised by how little I pay for board, I think. It's not an expensive facility, or a fancy facility, just well-maintained.

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  21. I don't mind working with a resident trainer and I think I can handle one lesson a week just fine but two is over my limit. Especially when it's freezing cold or life gets in the way, or when I want to give my horse a week off after a show, or just goof around all week. I have never heard of two lessons minimum. One is MUCH more common with barns that have resident trainers.

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    1. Yeah, it is, but like I said, almost everyone was already on two anyway. I prefer two as far as my own riding education goes, just needed the kick in the pants to actually commit. It wouldn't work everywhere or for every trainer, but it does here.

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  22. Your barn is just gorgeous!! I hear ya on the 45 minute drive. I have to do that every night after work to feed ride and care for my babies. As I am super fussy and like to do it myself.

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    1. Whew! I could not do self care with that commute! More power to you!

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  23. hmmm... I can understand why the new lesson rule... but I can't say that I would go for it. Not everyone can afford lessons on a weekly basis or believe in that certain trainer's training regime... Difficult for me to say yay or nay.

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    1. Yeah. I think it's hard to understand unless you understand this particular facility, clientele and trainer. It wouldn't work everywhere. And even a year ago, I wouldn't have been able to afford it. But if I hadn't, she wouldn't have held me to that rule I don't think.

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  24. The board at my barn just increased as well but like you I feel like it was due. It's still the cheapest good barn in the area that offers the amenities we have. My barn doesn't require lessons but my friends barn does require two lessons per month. Either way I'd take one per week.

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  25. My barn recently had a board increase as well, and I thought it was completely justified. There is a brand new barn just down the road that opened and I looked at their prices out of curiosity and was FLOORED at how expensive it was soo.... yeah. I guess we're still cheap? LOL

    I do agree with others that I don't like the "required services" type of boarding. What happens if your horse gets hurt and you can't ride him?

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    1. Lol yeah, cheap is all relative! My trainer would totally work with me if he was hurt. She's a good friend as well as a trainer, and I know that can be a touchy situation, but it's worked for us for five years now. She's my age, so that helps. When my husband was unemployed, she worked with me on payments and discounts to make sure I didn't have to leave the farm. We've got rules and fees, but we're still casual.

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  26. Yikes, price increase and an increase in required lessons/training seems a bit rough. I know that trainers/barn owners need to make money, but doing all that at once seems a bit much. I would have staggered it if it were me. I'm glad that I have never boarded at a barn that has a required amount of lessons/training per week. Some weeks it just can't happen for me.

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