I mentioned in Friday's post
that I am seriously considering leaving the barn where I'm at. In less than a week, I'll have been there an entire year — the longest I've been at any one barn.
And actually, for the first five or six months, I was pretty happy with the place. I felt like the barn owner wasn't really a horse person, and therefore didn't seem to catch on to certain things, but the horses were always well fed, their water was clean, and the facility and location suited my needs better than any barn I'd boarded at before.
Unfortunately, the care seems to have gone downhill. Here is a list of my major complaints:1) Late morning feedingsBack in June
I had to talk to the barn owner about feeding the horses their breakfast a little earlier — the gradual sliding of their morning feeding seemed to be coinciding with the more often I saw him drinking. After I talked to him, it got a little better for a while, then started sliding again.
In July or August, he realized I was often coming to the barn early in the morning to feed Panama myself so that he'd be done eating by 10:30 or 11, when I usually rode. He claimed he usually tried to feed around 8:30 am (it was all I could do to keep from laughing at him when he said this), and for a while he was feeding around 9:00 every morning. But of course, that only lasted a few weeks.
Feeling like I have to babysit the barn owner's feeding schedule is excessively annoying to me. I considered telling up, straight up, that with him losing half the property
there isn't much of a reason for me to stay if he's not going to keep up on the care, but what's the point? He might shape up for a little while, but how long will it last?2) My stuff getting used
This one is excessively annoying too, mainly because I never had this problem at the bigger barns I boarded at. You might remember my post with the tantrum title (MINE
), where I talked about discovering (not for the first time) that someone was using Panama's stuff. It's happened several more times — I noticed I was going through fly spray awfully fast, and then one day found my fly spray in the grooming tote that is used for the alpha and the barn owner's mare.
I talked to pretty much everyone I could think of — the neighbor girl's mom, the instructor who gives lessons on the mare — and none of them were using my stuff. It turned out to be the barn owner's daughter, who lives with her mom but sometimes gets a wild hair and decides to ride her horse.
Every time I found my stuff being used, I complained to the barn owner, and he claimed he'd told his daughter not to. After this last time, when I found my fly spray in the other box, I complained again. On Saturday when I showed up, she was doing a lesson, and I noticed she had her own fly spray. But on Sunday when I came, at a rather unusual time for me, I discovered that she was riding and had left my treat container standing open
So that's why I'm going through treats quickly, too.
I didn't even say anything to her or her dad. I am just so sick
of having to complain. I mean, seriously, why should I have to tell them on every little individual thing?3) The foreclosure
I've posted already about the barn owner losing the neighboring property, which he uses for the horses, to foreclosure. He hasn't offered to drop the price any, and initially I was thinking I wouldn't ask, since I didn't want to do anything that would encourage him to board too many horses on half the land. But with the quality of care a constant challenge, why should I continue paying a premium price for something that doesn't offer me the same amenities?
Part of the appeal of the place, when I moved Panama here, was the fact that there were two pastures. The second pasture — the one on the property that was foreclosed on — provided a place to ride without the other horses around. I was also able to set up a makeshift wash rack — there was a good, solid post over there to use as a hitching post, and the hose hookup was inside the pasture, so with the addition of a rubber mat I was able to pull together a pretty decent place to groom or hose down a horse.
But soon we'll lose that, and I'm not optimistic about how it will affect us. After my fall on Friday, I hosed down Panama's leg where I've been tying him lately, by the tack room, and the barn owner complained. When I pointed out that pretty soon that would be the only place, he got annoyed with me.
I suspect that he is not really taking the foreclosure seriously. He claims he wasn't given an official eviction notice, that only his tenant was. I wonder if that's true since he's using the land, too. But in any case, the deadline is October 29th, yet he told me that he'll continue keeping the horses over there for a while longer. His reasoning: They won't be able to sell it right away. Absolutely no respect for the fact that the property doesn't belong to him anymore
. Or that he could be putting people's horses in danger of being taken my animal control, if they are on the bank's property and the bank doesn't feel like playing nice.
Finally, after overhearing him on the phone talking about the foreclosure, I check the county's website and discovered that the foreclosure process was started on all three
of his properties last October (he owns another house a few blocks away, in addition to his residence). Sure, with the other horse property gone, he has fewer monthly expenses — but he also has less income, since he no longer is getting rent (which he obviously was not using to pay the mortgage) and he doesn't have room for as many horses.
So my personal feeling is that it is only a matter of time before he loses his other properties, as well, including the horse property. And I'd rather not be there when he does, since I already know that he won't be forthcoming with that information.4) A general feeling of unease
All of this has helped to contribute to my feelings of unease, but there are other things too. Over a year of boarding here I've come to realize how much the barn owner is NOT a horse person. He doesn't make much of an effort to learn or retain anything pertaining to what he ought to be viewing as a business. For example, he asked me earlier this year what brome hay was. Admittedly, I didn't know either, so I looked it up and then passed the information on to him. But then, several months later, he asked another boarder the same question. If you were in the business of buying hay every few months, don't you think you would want to learn — and remember
— these things?
And of course, at least part of my unease is fueled by his drinking. For a while after I talked to him back in June, I noticed that he was sharper when I'd talk to him. But I think he's sliding again. He doesn't come around me carrying a drink in his hand anymore, but the signs are still there: several huge trash cans full of beer cans on trash day, for example, and I've even found beer in MY mini fridge
that I bought to store Panama's colic shot in the tack room. And since I went the very next day, I also know that he drank six
of those beers that night, after
returning from taking his boys to a beer festival downtown (where I'm sure he had at least a few).
There are times when I talk to him and I'm pretty sure he's drunk. For example, just last Thursday
when I was tacking up, he came out to talk to me. He's kind of a stumblebum, so there's not much of a difference when he's drunk — it's more of an impression, and I definitely got the impression this time. Also, I'd thrown some hay over the gate to save part of Panama's dinner for him, and when I came back from riding I found the hay thrown back
over (even though he should have known what I was doing, as I've done it before with him around), and the gate left unchained.
So there you have it: why I'm looking for a new place for Panama. I've given this barn plenty of second (and third and fourth) chances, and the only reason I can see staying longer is because of the difficulty of finding a new barn. But ideally I'd like to be out by October 29th, so that I don't have to worry about the consequences of him violating the eviction deadline.
Labels: barn life