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Did I do the right thing? -- boarding issue

Mare was boarded at Barn A for the first 7 months I had her. The living conditions were absolute shit despite being ran by people who had the experience and knowledge to do better, but they didn’t care. Some barn friends (married couple, older than me) bought a property and offered to let me keep mare there for free since they only have one other horse and their horse needed company. I said yes and asked if we could have a contract in place. I got hand waived away, which in retrospect I should have insisted for a contract. I haven’t paid board the two months Mare has been there at their insistence.

I have about 15 years of experience on these people. They have only been involved with horses on a very casual basis for 3yrs or less. They bought a horse only about 1.5yrs or so in, it was a bad purchase for reasons I won’t get into. Second and third horses were pretty much equally as bad decisions, but not my place so I have kept my comments to myself. Anyways, from the start I have been anxious about keeping Mare with them because of the big gap in experience and knowledge levels. In the last six weeks they have:

  1. Hand grazed Mare right by the road more times than I have been made aware of and once sent me a picture of Mare grazing outside of the fence with no one holding the lead rope… I gave them permission to hand graze her because I thought it was a temporary thing despite being uncomfortable with it but alas. I have tried to push away the feelings of anxiety because I did give them permission but it’s been a constant fear that she’s going to get away from them.
  2. The wife didn’t even know what thrush was until I had been there for a few weeks already so how am I supposed to trust they would know what to do in an emergency or if Mare colicked?
  3. They feed hay via hay nets that they tie right at the perfect height for a hoof or leg to get hung and leave empty for the entire day.
  4. Uncapped t-posts as fencing right at jugular level, maybe I’m being too paranoid with this one.
  5. Let the horses eat on the round bales, unrestrained, in the wood shop with smooth concrete floors. They told me while laughing that Mare got freaked out this past weekend and got stuck between the wall and the round bales and their kid had to get on top of the hay and back her out. I was horrified. I asked them to not let her in the shop loose anymore.
  6. I was helping them put in fence posts and the husband seriously suggested tying yarn around the fence posts to trick the horses into thinking it was fencing and turning them loose into the yarn-enclosed area instead of hand grazing them… completely floored he even had this thought nonetheless thought it was valid enough to verbalize.
  7. They are going camping and asked to bring Mare with them so the horses wouldn’t be separated. I said no, Mare has a soft tissue injury and I don’t want her going, but she also cannot be alone for an entire weekend. I will be there to see her multiple times obviously but it is only Mare and their one horse on the property. I obviously can’t ask them to not go camping with their horse but now Mare is being left alone for an entire weekend, to which they asked me to board her somewhere else for the 2 days they will be gone like she is a dog.

Mare is 3yo and while she is an absolutely fabulous baby she is still a baby. They handle her constantly despite not asking me for explicit permission to do so and allow her to be pushy on the ground, which they call “lovey.” So now I have ground manner boundaries to correct after they have undone them. They kiss and hug on her right in front of me. The husband told me he had a dream that I moved away and let them keep Mare since they had been watching her for me anyway. Guilt tripped me for not letting them take her camping. Insinuated that just because Mare does dumb shit in the pasture that she isn’t actually injured. Lots and lots of small things and now I’m over it, seeing how extremely careless they have been with my very expensive and very dumb baby horse (I love her to death) literally keeps me up at night. I am moving Mare on Oct 1 to a legitimate boarding barn that I really like because the peace of mind knowing she is at a facility equipped to actually handle and keep her properly is worth paying board.

I keep telling myself that I have to advocate for my horse and that they have consistently put her in dangerous or reckless situations in the very short time that she has been there, in addition to undoing my hard work with her ground manners. My SO thinks I am slightly overreacting but is also completely supportive of moving Mare because he agrees they have been reckless due to their lack of experience/knowledge/care. I am trying to be confident in this situation because my concerns are valid (I think) but these people were friends before this and the relationship has soured very fast.

Move. Period. There is no way to address the chasm between their standards of care and yours. Essentially any bullet listed would be a hard dealbreaker for any knowledgeable person on here.

Between unsafe practices and cutting corners on the facility you risk having a career ending injury or worse with a young horse.

Find a barn, frame it as an amazing opportunity for whatever reason you need, and be out in 72 hours. Give a warm thank you gift and be prepared the relationship may never be the same. Your horse is what matters here.

Free grazing by a road…you can’t fix stupid.


Can the boarding barn take you in any sooner? Yesterday perhaps?

You are totally doing the right thing.

If you wish to try to keep them as friends, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake accepting your generous hospitality. My young horse and I need the structure of a boarding barn so I don’t make mistakes raising her up. I thought I could handle it by myself, but I’m letting her manners slip and it will soon be time to start serious training so I need help.”


I think you should move your horse pronto. Keep it short and sweet when you let them know.


You are doing the right thing. In fact, I woujd see if you can just move now. Or maybe yesterday.
That place is at the very least a vet bill waiting happen and at worst a dead horse .


The owners of Barn C also have a shipping business and I’m moving across the country in the next 6 months or so. When I told them I would be gone by Oct 1 I said that it was best for Mare to be at this facility so when it comes time for her to be shipped to wherever it’s with people she’s familiar with and trusts. She’s still going to be alone for 72 hours while they are gone this weekend. ugh.

I go to see Barn C next week and may ask if I can just toss her in a paddock until the stall opens up on Oct 1.


If possible I’d take that approach. So no one will be on the property for 72 hours?


The whole family will be gone and their horse will be gone as well. It will just be Mare. They told me while laughing after the “she got stuck between the round bales and the wall” story that when their kid took out their horse to lunge it, Mare was galloping all around the pasture and they “thought she was going to jump the 5ft fence.” To which again I was horrified. They asked me today to sign a liability waiver for this weekend since she’s going to be without another horse after I said no to their request to take her somewhere else for the weekend, it is not possible to board her somewhere else for just 48 hours. But I will be there when they leave for the weekend and plan to come out and see her 4x a day while they’re gone. Idk what else to do.

Can you take her to Barn C for the 72 hours-that-turns-into-the-6-months-until-she-ships?


Agree with what everyone else is saying.

They are confusing your horse as being their horse. They are keeping your horse for nothing, so they don’t see your horse as having any particular value. Your horse is a pet, a toy, an amusement, as far as they are concerned.

As everyone has said, they won’t change. Their mindset or their behavior. As long as your mare is there, this stuff will continue to go on.

And they may take her camping with them no matter what you say. Because they think that she is as good as theirs. They are providing her keep, after all.

Your real decision right now is what plausible story you will tell them to smooth over moving her right away.

Protect your horse, whatever that means. If you don’t have another place for her right away, can you move out to this farm in a spare bedroom until you can move her, so that you can manage what happens with her daily? Work from home so that you can be with her. They are keeping your horse for free, they might keep you, too. I’m sort of not kidding about this idea. They are jeopardizing her safety on a daily basis.

Make moving her your top life priority. Good luck.


Once she can’t see the other horse or if doesn’t answer her she will settle down. But I woujd still move her now if you can at all do it.
And no way in hell would I let those idiots take her anywhere


Pony doesn’t get the idea that they want to take the Mare with them camping. This doesn’t sound like the humans thought this out.

So are they going to ride thier horse and do what with Mare while they are out riding?
I mean if she freaks out being left alone in the pasture what would she do in strange surroundings, when her buddy walks off.

This is a HARD NO for Pony and it seems that it is also for the OP.

Pony says it was nice that they let you move Mare in, but I would make tracks out of Barn B as quickly as possible, and yes a parting gift would be appropriated, since there was no board payment required.



It’s time to talk to your vet about chemical assistance for getting Mare through the weekend. And, consider stalling her for the weekend and just taking her out on long hand walks/hand grazing as many times a day as you can manage.



Move your horse yesterday. Even if it’s to a friend’s paddock, because the fencing at this place + mare alone = no sleep for me if I was her owner.

Can you call up the new place and explain the situation (just facts, don’t get any emotion involved) and ask if your mare can stay in a paddock or stall in the meantime? Or if they know someone who would lay you over? You can simply say that the facility is not working for your young horse and you’re concerned that the she is going to get hurt, in part because the owners are leaving with the only other horse for a weekend. Actually this weekend would be a perfect chance to load her up and leave with minimal drama.

Is there a chance they’ve been riding this horse when you’re not there? A whole family going camping with one horse seems strange. I feel like it’s more likely that they want another mount for the trip, and might just load her up and take her “because she was freaking out and you didn’t find a boarder for the few days, we couldn’t just leave her!” Might be crazy, but might not.


Why are you at this place? You have no respect for their horse keeping, and no trust in their judgment.

Move, yesterday. October 1st won’t be soon enough for your own peace of mind. Call the place and ask them if they can fit you in.

Make sure you thank your friends for their generosity in not charging you board - and if you want to keep them as friends, think of gentle ways to guide them to a more educated approach to horse husbandry. But find a new place, because this one is not worth the anxiety it is causing you, potential harm to your horse, or the potential loss of a friendship.


There are way too many safety issues there. Definitely look into whether you can move to Barn C earlier, even if she has to live outside for a few weeks. If you can’t, I’d just go over and stay with her for the time while the family is away camping. If you’re already planning to go 4x a day this is probably easier. Put up a tent, throw an inflatable mattress down in the barn aisle, whatever. I’d also be there when they are loading up and leaving to make sure they don’t take your horse along without permission. It seems like they have no boundaries and think they can treat your horse as if she is theirs.


Get out before they call to tell you she got out and was hit by a truck.


Move as soon as you can. I will say I was in a similar situation and was just bummed that I didn’t see it coming. Horse people who have never run a barn or kept horses at home just don’t know what they don’t know. Even if they talk like they really know horses it’s a totally different ball game being in charge themselves. It takes years of guidance to be able to make smart decisions like you would make in the same scenario. I was at a barn not feeding the hay they should (ice covering all grass and zero round bale for days on end) my horse had dropped significant weight and needed out then. Another boarder was in the same situation and was moving her horse home and offered me a spot…seemed perfect. God the mountain of little tiny things and little decisions just made me have zero trust in anything. I left amicably said I found a place with an indoor thank you so much for helping him get out of the no hay situation and hauled him out as soon as I could. I cannot explain the level of relief pulling him out of that place. It’s hard when they’re friends and it’s hard when the intentions are good but they need to buy themselves a second horse that they can baby and do whatever they want with.


I can’t even with this one. Everything else is horrific enough (especially the “hand grazing” by the road - WTF??!), but this - THIS would have heads rolling if it was my horse.

They may once have ben your friends, but friends don’t pull this kind of sh*t. Unless you have never actually specifically told them “do not do this,” this is just blatant disrespect for you (and given this description, borderline abusive for the horse - what was the kid doing, chasing her with a whip until she was so frenzied she didn’t know where she was going?).


I think the kid took THEIR horse out to lunge it. When they removed the other horse, OP’s mare freaked out and was galloping around and presumably doing the skid-to-a-stop-at-the-fence thing.

The round bale story was separate, but it appears that after the BO’s told OP about the round bale incident, they went on to tell them about the mare freaking out about being alone in the pasture.

Overall, if the tone is being conveyed correctly, it would seem that these barn owners believe these incidents to be funny rather than dangerous.

I get the feeling that OP has not come out and said “do not do xyz again with my horse, and please contact me/put mare in a stall/do abc if she’s galloping around”. This assumption is based on the fact that they haven’t banned the hand grazing, despite it clearly being an unsafe setup and obviously the BOs have no clue (no one sends cutesy pictures of themselves doing things they know are wrong or not allowed).

I agree that OP needs to move. But also, I get the feeling that these people are ignorant but unknowingly so - and OP doesn’t appear to be the person to kindly guide them in the right direction. I certainly wouldn’t risk my own horse in their learning curve, but it doesn’t appear that any action or communication with a chance to fix the issues has happened. Not OP’s job, but I feel for the horse(s) that will pay the price here.