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Being nickeled and dimed at boarding barn

I understand that boarding barns have to charge high rates for care, and I’m more than willing to pay a premium for my horses’ care. But I feel like I’m being nickeled and dimed in ways that don’t really make sense. A little context I moved across the country in January with my two horses, and I’ve had a very difficult time finding a good situation for them where I’m happy, and they are happy. I moved from a full self-care barn that was extremely cheap, but I had to provide my own hay, food, etc. I’m fine with buying my own feed and hay and doing the work, as my horses are used to a certain type of hay, and I don’t want to switch them up for various reasons. I moved to this new barn two months ago, hoping it would be a good fit as there are not a lot of barns in my area that have availability.
I honestly feel like I am overpaying for what I am getting and their level of care. I would love people’s opinions on this.
I am paying $650 for partial care pasture board. I do morning feeding and all the cleaning of the pasture. I pay for all my feed. I will add that they mostly eat grass at the moment.
There is an arena, but it’s grass, and half of it is waterlogged with big sinkholes in it. There is a round pen but the same situation, very poor footing. The trails are pretty great and probably the biggest reason I moved there. Other barns in my area are going for around $750 pasture board full care with indoor all the amenities.
This is a brand new barn, and some red flags have come up about her knowledge of horses, leading me to believe that she has zero horse experience. She didn’t know how to halter a horse. She has consistently fed my horses treats after I told her not to three times. She was giving them baths and grooming them every day without asking me, and when we sat down to talk about it, she wanted to charge me $40 a time for it. She wants me to pay more mid-month since I am unwilling to put my horses in with a mare (not what we agreed on).
I understand the cost of horses and am willing to do what it takes to battle the rising cost of board, but I am a student and my husband is in the Navy, so extra charges are important at the moment.
I, fortunately, got a job at a H/J barn, and we’ll be moving them in 30 days’ time.
But am I going crazy, or is this a reasonable thing for boarding barns to do? I do live in the south now, and I’m from the west coast so maybe a cultural thing? What do you guys think? Am I overpaying?

Additionally, I have the spot open at the new place immediately. I don’t have any contract at the current barn, but I was trying to be nice and give her the 30 days as we verbally agreed on.
I don’t want my horses in with another for two weeks’ time and risk them getting hurt, and I don’t want to pay her more. Am I the difficult one here? Any advice on how to deal with this?

**Edit I pay $650 per horse, not total.


Pay her whatever it takes to not burn a bridge (the horse world is small), and move.

Problem solved.


The treats, grooming, and hosing my horse off without my permission would be enough for me. If she will not pro-rate you when you provide notice, just count your losses and move the horses.

I think you’re being completely reasonable given what you have described.


We can’t really speculate if you are overpaying because board rates are such a regional thing. I am in South Georgia, if this helps, and I pay MORE than the average in my area. I’d say most barns around me are about $375-400/month for pasture board with feed included, all inclusive. For the facility I choose to board at, however, with the amenities they offer, I pay $450 per month for pasture board PLUS all grain and hay costs, but it’s full service.


I’m from the Deep South but there’s such variations in locations that I can’t speculate if you’re “over paying” but it does seem like your regular board rate is a bit on the high end of the spectrum for partial care pasture board if that’s 650 per horse. If it’s 325 per horse I’d say that’s more middle range.

I would be upset for being charged for non emergent non authorized additional services! Not cool!

It’s not terribly uncommon IME for some barns to give extra muddy horses a quick groom before blanketing or a very sweaty horse a quick hose off at the barn’s discretion as part of standard care package with no addtl charges.

I would expect additional fees for a more emergent situation like “hey we found Dobbin not sweating and panting in the paddock so we brought him into the shade and ran the hose on him for an hour waiting on you and your vet”.


When you moved into this facility, you knew what the ring, the pastures, and the round pen were like – so no, these are not things that detract from the fairness of your board costs. When you agreed to board, these things were presented “as-is”. Let this be a life lesson to always vet the the place thoroughly and also sign a contract.

This part confuses me. In my region “pasture board” is at direct odds with “full care”.
Pasture Board is a term that refers to boarders who have full access to the facility’s amenities, but do not have any care provided (or very little). Typically this is offered at a reduced rate versus Full Board. Some barns might have basic care included like dumping grain, but the owner is responsible for cost of feed/cleaning stalls/etc.

Full Board in this area means it is a full service barn - every aspect of care and cost is included as outlined in the barn’s contract.

Whether or not you’re overpaying, we cannot say without understanding your region and the barn demographics. In my area, for what you are describing, you’d be paying significantly more. I’d say as a general rule in the South, depending on how south you go, board with feed provided seems to run from $400-900 depending on area, amenities, and board type.

If you are bringing your own feed AKA you do not want to feed what the barn provides, it is ABSOLUTELY reasonable that the barn requires you to pay for your own feed at no reduced board rate. They build their business model around specific grain/feed costs and if a boarder comes in with special feed, that is additional time, labor, and storage for the barn and not free.

Now, I’m with Endlessclimb - do whatever you need to make this move seamless, and move on. Give her 30 days notice and keep it business with no blame or emotion: “Hey Susie, I got a job at a local barn and they have a stall open for me to bring a horse. This is a tremendous opportunity for me to keep him where I work and I can’t pass it up. I am going to move Dobbin there on September 1st (or whatever date after 30 days notice). Thank you for taking good care of him for me. If you have any questions feel free to call/text/email.” Do not say why you are moving or point out any flaws; you want to keep BO happy to take care of Dobbin and you want to keep your nose clean.

How does someone who doesn’t know how to halter a horse run a boarding barn? Is the BO the one providing the care?

No, it is not reasonable for them not to know how to halter a horse, to feed your horse treats when you’ve asked them not to, and add charges to board that weren’t clear in the beginning. Tell her you do not want your horse bathed/brushed but you appreciate her looking out for Dobbin.

In your shoes, I’d be moving too. If you really want to get him out of there, you can pay the 30 days and move him tomorrow. You’ll eat the cost of board, but he’ll be out. Sometimes its worth it if there is a genuine concern for injury risk or neglect.


If you can move today, move today. Just make sure you are paid up with whatever you owe her per your agreement. I have yet to see a BO that cares about anything other than the money in that case, it shouldn’t matter if your horse is physically there if you’re paid up. When I switched barns this spring, I was ready to move the second my stall opened up for the indoor arena access (it was a wet spring here). I told my BO I was moving on X day and that I would pay whatever I owed her for the 30 days notice. She didn’t charge me anything because they had someone ready to move in to my stall so that was nice.

On your other questions, I’d be pissed if BO was doing anything with my horse that I didn’t request and then demanding I pay for it. Nope. Especially if she can’t put a halter on and shows zero experience. Double nope. That seems off if she can’t halter a horse, how/why is she grooming/bathing?

Costs I agree it’s hard to say. I’m in the midwest and pay $425 for partial care, full care is $550. On partial care, I clean my stall and provide feed (which I do anyways since he pretty much just gets a forage balancer and some supplements). They provide hay up to a certain amount and if you need more you can supplement on your dime. They do feeding/turnout. We have long turnout with dry lot options (important for me), an indoor, and some trails. Nice tack room/lockers and additional storage. If you need extras like blanketing or hosing legs, there are additional fees. Also an extra $10 for fans in the summer time due to the increased electricity usage.


I am unclear if you are paying 650 per horse or total, I’m unclear what it includes, I am unclear what she does vs you.

It is clear that she is feeding your horse treats after being told three time not to do so and bathing, grooming them and then wanting to charge for doing so after the fact. That’s not ok.

I would just move them now and not pay her anything like 30 days because you do NOT have a contract, you are month to month. You’re paid up. Pack your stuff and leave.


I was totally fine without an arena as there are lots of trails, and that’s something that was really important to me. I was also promised that the ring ready in a few months, but they still haven’t started on it. I have learned my lesson, but I was in a rush to get out of the old barn as my horses were really struggling there.
As far as part-care board, they just dump grain for me on the weekends in the mornings, I do the rest. I really didn’t want them to handle my horses at all. I mean full care I guess they feed/clean and provide all feed.

And yes, the BO is providing the care, and her bother, also doesn’t know anything about horses.

I’ve boarded horses all over the south, especially when my husband was active duty prior to purchasing my farm. The whole arrangement is unusual. I’d move your horses now. I moved my horses frequently on short notice because if it wasn’t working out, it wasn’t worth the risk of staying. For example, if they weren’t feeding enough hay, I wasn’t going to allow my horse to sit and develop ulcers (one barn was feeding literally 2 lbs of hay for 12+ hours in a stall). If she can not respect your request and boundaries and is still grooming/bathing your horse, I’d question what BO is doing that you don’t know about. I’ve managed a lot of horse facilities and I wouldn’t dream of crossing those boundaries. I’ve learned that no boarding situation is perfect but I’ve also learned not to deal with BS and just move on.


“I was totally fine without an arena as there are lots of trails, and that’s something that was really important to me. I was also promised that the ring ready in a few months, but they still haven’t started on it.” (Sorry, having issues with quotes).

Unfortunately you should expect nothing to change from when you see a place to when you are there. If the ring is not ready, don’t expect that to change. If the level of care is not up to your standards, don’t move there and expect that to change. What you see is what you get with boarding barns. Promises are worth nothing but hot air.
I wish it was different, but that seems to be the “rule” in most cases.


This 100 per cent.

Also, its worth vetting barn owners a bit. Just by engaging in social chitchat about horses. Ask nicely oh how long have you been running this barn, what kind of horse do you ride, ask a few innocent questions about horse care. There’s a few things that are personal red flags for me. I watch for them. I also watch for overpromising, for lying, for contradictions, for craycray. Get them chatting about other boarders or horse community or the perils of horse boarding etc. You can start to find the knowledge gaps if you listen carefully.

Look at the horses already there. That’s how your horse will look in 2 months.

I like a place that really understands the basics but I’m unwilling to pay for decor or matchy matchy or OCD levels of tidyness I can’t maintain (but then I’m a self board person).


I agree and its been very hard where I’m at. It does make me worried, and this whole move has been really rough and added to it are crappy barns and people. I questioned her, and it exploded in my face today. I’m going to try and get them moved as soon as I can and move on from all this.


yeah I’m learning this.

It’s prob too late given this, but if you have stalls open and know your going to move, put your energy into getting your horses to their new home asap. Pissing current BO off before you have a plan is something I’d try and avoid if you’re already questioning things there.


I’m sorry it went badly. I went through a ton of boarding barns, some quite quickly. I’m not a difficult boarder not do I have unrealistic expectations. I was often in areas with poor horse resources such as coastal areas where keeping horses was expensive so people would cut costs. That often meant not maintaining safe fencing or horses going 8-10 hours without hay in a stall. Or pastures would be inadequate but they wouldn’t supplement enough hay, etc. Feeding low quality grain. Or care was good and the barn owner was just awful. I was paying $150 for self care in NC, BTW. Super cheap and was maybe 2 miles down the road. I know that price isn’t common. I did everything I just rented the space. I’m in TN now and board is about $550 - $750 for full care at a regular facility. Pasture board is usually $250-$400 with barn staff feeding. I pretty much always had to pay extra for hay to be in front of them all the time or to upgrade feed and add supplements or blanketing, which is fine. My horses never looked as good as they do now under my care. It’s can be extremely frustrating boarding horses. I feel for you. Not sure where you are in the south, but that’s quite a bit unless you are outside of a large city or in an expensive area. I know many will disagree but I’ve boarded horses all over many states in the south. If it were me, I’d get my horse out of there to your new place. I hope it all works out for you.


This is not being nice, this is following thru on the agreement you made. A verbal agreement is a contract.


People not following through with verbal agreements - whether or not there is a written one - drives me nuts! You promised to give her 30 days. Do it and either move early (after paying her) or wait it out.
You would feel differently if she was the one saying - we dont have a written agreement, I need you out tomorrow.


I feel it’s hard just to have a conversation about my horses with her and there not be some conflict.

Honestly I would always give 30 days, no matter what. sorry if you took that the wrong way.