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% Non-Paying Boarders?

I’ve always assumed that non-paying boarders (NPB) were few and far between. After a few conversations with my barn manager, however, I’m getting the impression that’s not the case.

Barn owners/managers, what would you say the rate of non-paying boarders is in any given month?

Zero, but I have a small private barn with 7 boarders, and I screen carefully!

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I knew of 2 at a previous barn (both eventually got booted and caught up on back board).

We have one now that hasn’t paid board in probably 8 months. I think they finally took her to court and STILL can’t get her out. And she’s crazy. And not the fun kind. In the 2+ years at the barn, this is the only one I know of.

I knew of one at a previous barn about 10 years ago (lower end, full board). Now I know of two who are plenty rich, but very forgetful. They end up paying 2-3 months at a time to catch up, then forgetting again.

If you are in the U.S. I think legally, the horse now belongs to the barn owners. They need to be sure that the lady doesn’t sneak in and remove the horse.

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This is only useful if the horse has any actual real value.
I would guess they would rather have it just leave.
I knew someone in this situation once, the boarder was asked to leave and would not leave. Their horse was worth nothing except meat prices. The barn owner just wanted her to leave. There was nothing they could do to make her leave. There is not an eviction process for this type of thing.


I understand that, but if they won’t leave and they can’t collect what they are owed, the horse can be sold (or given away) to get him or her off the feed bill and open a stall for another boarder.

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This is going to depend on how well the barn owner screens clients and how much late payments they put up with.

People whose lives are in chaos will cut themselves slack where they think there is no immediate repercussions. If the barn owner is too tolerant those kind of people will never pay on time.


Not quite so easy, and it depends on state laws. The barn owner can put an agister’s lien on the horse. In my state, it won’t take effect (be perfected) until 60 days after the last board payment. The one time I had to deal with this, some 20+ years ago, we had to send a certified letter and publish a notice for 3 consecutive weeks about the lien. The deadbeat boarder tried to pay part board, claiming it applied to the delinquent funds - which could have meant starting the whole process again. It was only after the 60 days + 3 weeks of notices that we could hold a sheriff’s sale of the horse. Fortunately, the boarder paid up in full the day before that.

As barn owners, we wouldn’t have been able to keep any proceeds from a sheriff’s sale beyond the money owed for back board (and maybe expenses? I don’t recall).

If you plan to board horses, don’t tolerate missing board payments, unless you’re wealthy enough and generous enough to board horses for free. We don’t do extensive screening of clients, but we do require a security deposit, we do charge a penalty for late board payments (and that increases the later you are), and we do stay on top of this. We also - just in passing, when we review our board contract with boarders - happen to mention that we have exercised the agister’s lien.


I think the post I was responding to, said the board hadn’t been paid for 8 months.

No doubt that non-payers make life difficult for boarding barns.

Even if the boarder hadn’t paid for years, the barn owner still has to follow the lien process - unless the state law allows it, the barn owner cannot simply take over ownership. Per my state’s law, we wouldn’t own the horse until the sheriff’s auction (that’s not your usual public auction, by the way). All the more reason to never allow any boarder to get that much in arrears.

I do understand that the legal process must be followed before the B.O. “owns” the horse. :wink:
After 8 months it shouldn’t be difficult.

The poster I was responding to said that the B.O. has been to court over the issue. I would think that after 8 months the B.O. is aware of their options and, that at this juncture, they own the horse, albeit with a bit of legal paperwork. I thought that this was self evident (this issue has been a topic here before) so I saw no need to mention that (obviously) a lien process had to be followed before taking the animals value from the owner.


if the proceeds exceed the amount owed the excess is call “surplus” …most jurisdictions require a surplus to be paid to the person whose property was sold

More often there is a “deficiency” which can cause you sue for a deficiency judgment to collect the balance owed,

I once was a bank officer, only one one time did we end up with a surplus which was refunded to the client

That may be the case, but these two horses are pretty much not worth anything. It’s a self-care barn, and she is still taking care of her horses (for now). She doesn’t have the money to pay the back board, much less keep current. No property, no trailer, and no money to take them elsewhere. I’m sure the barn owners (non- horse people) are hoping she’ll just pack up and leave in the middle of the night. If only we were so lucky.

Just be glad shes not your problem.

BTW, this happen at high ends barns too. Horse is worth more but the lien is higher, vet, farrier and often unpaid show charges mean theres a line to collect and sale rarely results in any excess.

It’s not extreme by any means, but one boarder currently owes for September and October. Another boarder just up and left mid-month with no notice, while still owing hundreds of dollars in board (she also owes the farrier AND the vet, to the point where the vet won’t deal with her anymore).

The barn manager hasn’t had to go the lien route yet as the non-payers seem to move before it gets to that point, however, it’s still costing her money which is all kinds of wrong as there’s not a lot of profit to be made in this business to begin with.

What do these “bad” boarders look like, has anyone been able to successfully weed them out? I mean, beyond the obvious (e.g. owners who just moved a month ago and are already looking again).

You check references. You start getting stroppy the moment a check is late. You give notice to leave promptly. You behave like a proper landlord. You don’t give anyone a free ride.

A BO is financially ahead with empty stalls compared to feeding a dead beat owners horse. The BO is ultimately responsible for the culture enabled at their barn.

It’s fine to give people a break on board but don’t complain about it. If it’s a problem, you need to act on it. Eviction notice and small claims court if needed.

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Typically they have a hard luck story. And sorry to say it but the last few that I’ve dealt with were all young and fairly impulsive.

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Oh yes, and probably quite chatty and personable, because they are likely conning their way through life. Check references.


Best way to weed them out imo is to require a deposit equal to a month’s board and actually go after them the second they’re late (especially without notice). That deposit, in theory, covers the barn for a month of missed board if the owner refuses to pay.