Can you help with any advice?
It never failed we would go out to the barn and there would be lights left on, tack left in the aisle way. Manure was left in the arena quite often and we even had a couple of stall doors left ajar with the horses still in them! We didn't feel comfortable going to bed until we knew all the horses were safely tucked away for the night and we sure didn't want to pay for lights to be on all night long.
By the time David or I got back in the house it would be close to ten thirty and we had to get to bed so we could get up early to start chores again. Then winter came and it became even more difficult to walk out in the barn late at night to do one last check. We were definitely burning the candle at both ends and it was becoming increasing difficult. We didn't feel comfortable having people out riding in the arena at ten at night while we were sleeping and it never failed we would get a phone call because something was wrong just when I was headed off to bed. We finally made a decision to change the barn hours. We had to do it for us and our family.
When you offer something as part of the board and then need to modify it or take it away, it is only natural that it is going to upset some of your clients. They came to your barn for many different reasons and if one of them was for your late barn hours then that might be the reason they leave. The adjustment for our boarders when we changed our barn hours was difficult for all at first but we never lost anyone because of it. They just adjusted how they did things to stay at our barn.
I have had a couple people over the years that have chosen not to board at our barn because they got off work too late and it didn't leave them enough time to ride their horse. They were very nice people and they found a barn that better suited their needs. Once you decide on barn hours, the right boarders will find you and those hours will fit them just fine. I would encourage you not to set your barn hours to what other barns are doing. Their situation might be completely different than yours and you can't compare. Just be true to yourself and your family and do what works best for you all.
You might get some complaints at first once you change your hours and you might lose a boarder or two but you need to be okay with that. Keep giving great care for the horses at your barn and everything will settle down and you will start to regain your life back. Change is never easy for anyone and be open and honest with our boarders on why you need to make the change. I always think a letter to your clients with a two month notice is professional and very fair for changes that are big. It will show them that you respect them as clients and that they are important to you. You will be surprised at how many of your boarders will be understanding to the change.
Thank you for the great question Abigail!
I wish you the very best,