Can you offer some advice and direction?
You can hire the best barn manager around but at the end of the day everything will fall back on you as the barn owner. The decisions the barn manager will make on any given day can determine income coming in or going out on many different levels. And if you are losing money because of decisions that the barn manager has made than you don't have any choice but to sit down and explain how things need to be done with no exceptions.
I have heard of boarders leaving barns and even one extreme case where the barn manager was doing a poor job running a barn and it closed down. In those situations the barn manager doesn't have a business mortgage to pay along with all the other bills that need to be addressed. They really have nothing to lose but a job, where as the barn owner if you don't have money saved and money is tight, any loss of income could make the difference on whether a bill gets paid or not. When that happens it is time to step up to the plate and have some serious talks with your barn manager. I say serious talks (plural) because you might need to have a couple before you are both on the same page and working as a strong team.
Your barn manager might be the sweetest person in the world but it is still a business first and it needs to handled as a business. I believe if you sit down and have a heart to heart talk with her and lay it all out so she can see how her decisions are affecting your business, there is a good chance she will figure it out. If you want me to be totally real and honest, you need to be prepared for the chance that she doesn't understand and keeps doing what she is doing. In this extreme case you might need to severe the ties and look for a person that can work independently under the guidelines you have set up for the barn and business. It is never easy but once in a while it needs to be done. It is one thing to lose a barn manager but nothing can compare to not being able to pay your monthly business mortgage or worse lose the farm.
I encourage you to sit down and be honest and direct about how the barn is to be run and back it up with examples of financial numbers if you need to make it very clear. Even a little thing like allowing boarders to take extra shavings weekly can add up very quickly. As the barn owner you don't go into business to lose your business. You need to remember this.
Also if I can give one bit of advice, when you do sit down to have a heart to heart, take some time to tell her all the good things she is doing and let her know she is of great value to you and your barn. It is always difficult to hear what we are doing wrong but if it salted with encouragement and words of appreciation for the hard work done, than the rest is easier to take.
This is part of barn ownership that is not easy at times but necessary to keep your business healthy and strong. Think of the times in your life when you needed to be reminded or corrected about something and think of how each situation was presented. I am sure there were people that handled this area with you much more professional than others. We have all been on the receiving end of correction and direction and we know which ones were done well and which ones were not. Learn from some of those times and use them to help you find your way to communicate in a manner that is honest and true leadership.
Don't give up on your barn manager if you have a great working relationship. Take time to try to solve and correct the issues because if you can get through the bumps in the road than it will make your business relationship that much stronger. When you have a great team they are worth their weight in gold!
I wish you the very best in your horse business and if you want to take your leadership and barn management skills to a positive new level, than I encourage you to check out my newest book, "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover." It will change you from the inside out and help you see barn management in a whole new way.
I wish you the very best and thanks for the great question!