Once of the saddest and most difficult times I experienced was when a brand new horse owner bought a horse and brought it to my barn. Within three days the horse tried to bite and aggressively attack anyone that came close. The horse was not able to be handled at all. After the veterinarian came out, it was determined that the horse must have been drugged and now was at my barn. The horse needed to go but what were these people going to do and on top of it the poor little little was traumatized and scared. It was a heartbreaking scene to say the least.
In many cases talking with the owner about a serious issue their horse is having will go pretty smoothly but once in a while the opposite happens. The reality is no one wants to hear that their horse has issues. It becomes personal to many people and for some it is very hard to take. In fact you will once in a while run across a boarder that will be in denial about an aggressive behavior of any kind. That is when your job becomes extremely difficult.
A boarding contract is a must
The first and most important thing I want you to do is to make sure you have well written boarding contract. You need to have an area in it which states that you have the right as the barn owner to ask the owner of a dangerous horse to remove the horse within a certain number of days. This is to protect you and your business and above all else you need to have this written up by an attorney to make sure it is correct for the laws of the state you live in. In my boarding contract I give my clients seven days to remove a dangerous horse off the property. You need to remember that while that horse is on your property it still needs to be fed and watered and you are the one that is going to be doing this. I hope you never have to go this route but the longer you board horses the greater the chances are that you will come across a horse that needs to be removed quickly for reasons that are deemed dangerous.
When you come across a situation where you need to talk with the owner of a horse, I encourage you to stop and think about what you are going to say before you say it. If you run right out and tell them that their horse is dangerous and aggressive or any other choice words you might use, you will only make your client feel terrible and defensive. Learning to talk with clients about extremely difficult situations takes time and care. Choose your words wisely and try to encourage them to seek a trainer for help. If the issue is simply a behavior that can be worked on than you need to strongly encourage them to seek help and have a time frame that is appropriate. Many behaviors can be corrected but only if the owner is willing to more forward.
The way some clients look at their horse will be different than how you look at their horse and you need to be honest about the safety of handling the horse. You can't control how the boarder reacts but in most cases the response will be good and receptive if you lead them in the right direction without making them feel bad. They are already going to feel bad enough or even embarrassed.
Talking with your boarders is never easy when the subject is about the problems their horse is causing. You are going to learn and grow in this part of barn management and you will also learn how to talk with different kinds people. You will make mistakes along the way and think to yourself, "Why did I just say that?" Don't be too hard on yourself because we have all been there. It is all part of learning to run a business and you will change how you address tough issues a few times as you experience different problems with horses at your barn. Each problem you come across with a horse will be addressed differently.
Running a horse boarding barn is a great job and life and it will become so much easier the longer you do it. You are on your way!
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you want to read about how to deal with clients in every situation and horse barn management in a very real and honest way, please check out my new book, "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover." It will change how you look at barn management and it will give you the encouragement to run your barn with confidence. You won't be disappointed. This book is truly from the heart.
I wish you many blessings in your horse business,