Unsafe horse owners

There are 2 horse owners at my barn that let their horses wander off lead in barn area. Barn owner is aware and does not say anything.

Can you clarify the situation? That isn’t much detail. I think maybe you are assuming we all know the layout of the barn area. And the situation with the horses, do they have halters, how long are they allowed to wander, where do they go … etc.

In several barns where I have boarded, after a ride it has been fairly common to allow tame, calm, easily catch-able horses to graze on their own near the barn for 10-15 minutes while the owner puts things away. If there isn’t much grass in their turnout area.


Other than offending your sense of horsemanship how have these horses been bothering you?


Agree that there needs to be more information here.


Are they wandering from stall to stall to visit other horses and causing squealing and striking behaviors?

1 Like

It is very common to let well behaved horses graze around the barn while owners put stuff away - this assumes an attentive owner and nothing particularly dangerous out and about for the horses to get caught up in. Is it risky? Yeah, like anything, horses can find ways to get hurt in a padded room. It ALL depends on your set up.

However, none of this matters to OP’s situation. BO knows. BO is fine with it. That means everyone else has to be fine with it, work around it, or find somewhere else to board.


At competitions, I’ve been known to sit in my lawn chair and watch my hobbled horse eat grass around our campsite.


Thank you for all the feedback. The area is small with 2 washstalls to the left, the main gate to arena 15 feet away, a bathroom, and one of the barns 30 feet across from washstalls. The area is the main path to the arena. I have been boarding here for over 20yrs. The one horse owner just walks away and leaves her horse to graze. And yes both horses have wandered into barn, into stalls. One started to come into my stall while grooming my horse who was tied on lead rope. I believe it is unsafe practice, but until something serious happens as a result, I will just have to steer clear.

1 Like

Can’t you just tie the loose horse up somewhere safe if the owner isn’t around? If they ask, you can just say, “he was getting into my and my horse’s space and I decided it was unsafe.”

It is dangerous.
Right now, it appears the BO is okay with it, because it hasn’t cost the BO money.

When BO has to pay big bucks , it’ll be a totally different story.

Have you discussed this with the BO yourself, or have the offenders told you BO is okay with it?

You can always respectfully ask the BO, without accusing anyone or bringing up names, about it in general terms.

If BO says it’s okay, then you have the option to remove your horse or find a way to work around it.

Just don’t go out to the barn when you know they are going to be there.

This situation would annoy me, but if the care and facilities are good I would suck it up and stay.

If it’s the tip of a possible ice berg, get out while the getting is good.


If this has been going on for 20yrs (or more?) I’d say there’s only Murphy’s Equine Law* to cause a problem :woman_shrugging:

If these are new boarders & BO is allowing the behavior, again: :woman_shrugging:

Many years ago when DH & I moved to a new barn, we had our horses out to handgraze & here comes this ancient paint mare, with a huge knee, wandering towards us :open_mouth:
I sound the LOOSE HORSE! alarm & am told - by a BO:
“That’s just Hopi”
K, unlikely mare would be going anywhere soon & if MGMT was okay with it, we just had to adapt.

Thanks for clarifying. I agree wandering into the barn is a problem.

Unfortunately if the barn owner is aware, steering clear may be your best bet. If you think you can broach the subject tactfully with the boarder, then I would speak up and say what you said here. “Hey, I don’t know if you realize this, but it is an unsafe situation when your horse wanders into the barn and horses are tied in there.” However, depending on the person and the barn culture, sometimes even professional adult communication can be hard.


Is the barn owner aware that they let the graze AND that they wander into stalls and such?

Because I can see a barn owner being OK with the first (even though I do not own a critter I could do this with) for a horse that just grazes and does not cause a problem. I would hope that as soon as the barn owner knows that Dobbin is wandering into small spaces with tied horses that they would inform that owner that Dobbin can no longer be left to graze freely.

You might want to pull your phone out next time Dobbin wanders into a confined space and document it, so Dobbin’s owner can not tell the barn owner that Dobbin does not do such things.


What do you mean “just walks away”? How far does she go? Is she supervising them at all? Does she leave the property?

For how long? To me, the length of time that the horses are unsupervised matters. If it is 10 minutes it may be annoying, but unless it is likely they will hurt themselves, some other person or horse, or do damage, or escape the property, that length of time probably isn’t a big deal. If it is 1 hour or 4 hours, that might be a different matter.

Have you said anything to the BO?

If not – Even after 20 years, the BO cannot read your mind. If you mention that the horses are wandering into the barn and interfering with your time with your horse, there could be a simple solution that would allow the horses to graze and you not be bothered by them. A closed gate, something like that.

Saying “the BO has seen it” isn’t enough. The BO doesn’t know that it is specifically bothering you. Your feelings do matter. But no one can know what they are until you share them.

I have my horses home alone and do let them “free range chicken” on a regular basis. I think it’s good for their minds and we communicate at liberty. But… I would never do anything like that with someone else there with their horse. Period.


I’ve often wished that a board barn with a nice grass area would set up a few 24x24 (roughly) paddocks for letting horses graze and relax during this let down time after rides. Limit 15-30 minutes at a time. The horses would be happy with that in an abundant grass area, and we would all know just where they are and what they are doing. :grin: But I understand that it would be expensive to set up. And that it would need to be mowed occasionally to keep it from turning into a weed lot, and the mowing might be hard in that configuration. (Although those magical zero-turn mowers … )

I boarded at one barn that had one little paddock set up in the grass beside the barn for just that purpose. They called it “The Salad Garden”. It was great! :slight_smile:


I’ve seen a couple of barns with a small paddock or two in the courtyard. Both barns were u shaped shedrows.

I’ve also boarded at barns where free range ponies wasn’t uncommon. Not my favorite but not the highest on my list of problems either


Definitely not okay, especially if they are doing that while a horse is tied or crossties. It could create some accidents. I would bring it to the BO as a case of liability and let her know that they are coming into the stall/aisle when other horses are there… I don’t usuallt recommend, but maybe also exaggerate a little " the horse came in while Dobbin was still tied and he started pinning his ears and threatened to kick out with me right there beside him!". Framing it in a way where a fellow boarder could get injured or the property may allow the BO to see the potential consequences.

This is a peeve of mine, and I don’t blame you for not liking it, OP. A loose horse is a loose horse, and if the horse is where it can reach other horses that are being handled, tied, groomed, tacked up, ridden, led, etc. it is just an accident waiting to happen. If you want to hand graze your horse after a ride, stand out there and hand graze him. If you don’t have the time or desire, put him in a stall or paddock or pasture or wherever he’s secure.

At a barn I used to board at, there was one boarder who insisted (and as far as I know still does) on turning her horse completely loose to roam the farm. Nevermind the fact that he’s out in a huge pasture 24/7. She would come to the barn every afternoon and take him out of the pasture and turn him loose. He’d go into the barn, over by the ring where people were riding, etc. His owner? She’d go back into the barn. Totally ignore the horse.

One day I was riding (thankfully on the other side of the farm, but still within sight of the loose horse), and my friend and I saw the horse get all the way down the driveway and to the entry gates. He was just steps away from walking out onto the road, which has pretty heavy traffic. His owner was nowhere in sight. We had to call her (thankfully we had our phones) and tell her where her horse was. If that horse had gone onto that road, he could have not only hurt or killed himself…he could have hurt or killed people driving on that road. And the BO (who is best buddies with the boarder in question) would have been liable since there was a horse not being controlled properly on her property.

After that day I thought for sure the boarder had learned her lesson and would stop letting the horse run loose. Nope. The very next day the horse was free range again.

That whole experience has soured me on the idea. They’re horses. They get spooked, they can run fast, they do stupid things, and they seem to invent ways to hurt themselves. Why on earth turn one loose? It makes no sense.


I can’t stand that either. Back when I had to board, pre farm ownership, there was one person that did this. Her horse would wander into the barn and make a huge mess. The barn owners were not horse people so the feedroom had no door. You can see where I am going with this. Said horse wandered into the feedroom ripping open sacks of feed and supplements and spilling it all over the floor. I swore I was never allowing this and built a barn with dutch doors to the outside into the pasture.

So this summer the Cushings pony isn’t doing so well so he gets special privileges. I do not have boarders - only me. My property has exterior fencing so he isn’t going anywhere. I closed up the barn so he couldn’t go in there and trash it. He still managed to pull up and kill a Japanese maple and destroyed my favorite rose bush. He lost his special privileges and I don’t want to have another horse loose unless I am chasing them to catch them. I can’t stand the loose horse in barnyard deal - too many things to go wrong.