From The Other Side of the Fence
I wrote last month on the topic of finding a perfect place to board - it's tricky! I have had the fortune (if that's the right word) to consider this issue of the perfect farm from many angles: boarder, coach, barn staff and farm owner. Today let's consider things from another viewpoint.
In no particular order, a perfect boarder:
Understands that each facility is unique and does things their own way. That is to say early conversations are not peppered with "at my barn we did it this way" ... or " ohh that's not what I was taught". The new boarder is friendly and quiet, smiles lots and says little. After some time there can be a time, place and way to make suggestions and share best practices. I can pretty much promise you it's not ANYTIME in the first month though.
Doesn't gossip. Tough I know but so very important. If you have something to say would you say it to the person's face? If not don't say it. It really is that simple. If you are struggling to know what to say check out this reference list for social media posts - the same principles apply - if the answer is no think of something else to discuss. Ideas, not people. Think of compliments not criticisms - you get the drift.
Is Clean and tidy. I don't mean personally (though that won't hurt) nor at home, or in your car (what is it with horse people cars so often!) I mean in the aisles, in the tack room, in any public shared spaces at the barn. People will notice if there is un-scooped poop in the aisle or the ring after every time you are there.
Is Thoughtful. Keep your eyes open - share compliments when you can. Notice something little you can fix? Do it. See that the school saddle soap is nearly done and about to get some for yourself? Get an extra one! Worried a horse in the field looks "off"? Report it.
Pays on time, In full, every month. You knew how much it cost when you moved in. If you find you can't afford it (yes we all miscalculate!) pay up, apologize and start looking for a place you can afford. If there is a crisis in the first 6 months you are there do everything in your power to solve the problem without asking to delay board payment. Farms have the right to be paid promptly and on time every single month by every single boarder.
Expects to pay for service. Yes if you are in a full service barn there is a long long list of inclusions that you won't pay extra for - holding your horse for the vet, changing blankets, maybe even clipping, tacking up and more. Discuss what is included and be aware - if the barn does something you ask them to that isn't on the list do not complain if you get charged for it. If you are constantly asking for extra services - ask how much you owe.
This list could go on for pages - having realistic expectations, being honest about your needs, providing blankets etc. It really does boil down to considering things at the farm through the lens of the owner/manager. A good boarder is a treat and you can easily step up to fill that role with a little forethought!