When you are boarding horses you are going to have many different people with many different views about horse care and what they believe is good and safe care for the horses at your farm. You will have some clients that will share their opinions without hesitation and if it goes against how you run your barn it could cause friction if they are persistent. How you handle it after they have voiced their opinion is what is truly important and will set you apart as a barn owner, manager and equine professional.
This woman at that point became very upset and even told me that if her horse got hurt there would be trouble. I spent the next twenty minutes trying to calm her down and reassuring her that I knew what I was doing and I knew the horses extremely well and I was not at all worried. I also was not going to back down and move horses. It was a very difficult situation because this woman had been with us for many years and was a wonderful client but I needed to stand my ground. She walked out of the barn and a few days later gave her notice. Just like that she was gone and it broke my heart.
The most important lesson for any business owner
The most important thing you need to realize as the barn owner or manager is that the issue is not whether you allow back shoes or not. If it wasn't the back shoes, it would have been something else when it comes to a barn, boarding and clients. You are going to have clients that come to your barn that want back shoes on their horse and you will have clients that don't believe back shoes are safe. You will experience both ends of the spectrum and you need to decide how you are going to run your barn and stand behind your decisions. There will be many issues and decisions to be made and your clients will either like them or not. What you choose to do in each situation that occurs at your barn will send a message to your boarders. If you are constantly changing your mind because of pressure from your clients than you will send a message that you are really not in control and leading your barn. That is when chaos happens and a barn starts to fall apart not to mention it will wear you out.
You need to look at the big picture when it comes to your business. I did lose a boarder because she didn't like the fact that I allowed back shoes but I had to be okay with that. I have a few horses with back shoes and I am very aware of their personalities and what kind of horses they are and it has worked out fine. If I would have went the other way and said no back shoes than I probably would have lost a boarder or two that owned horses with back shoes. Either way you will not be able to please everyone so you need to make a decision and stand by it.
Either way you will not be able to please everyone, so you need to make a decision and stand by it. That is what being a businessowner and professional is about. It may not be fun at times but it is part of the job.
When you become a barn owner or manager that shows strong leadership and is fair and consistent, that is what will instill trust in your boarders. You will have tough days when someone has a different view then you about horse care and that is okay. Learn from those days and change and grow when you need to but only make a change because you want to make a change. Not because you are worried about losing a client. If you always run your barn with fear of losing clients you will be making changes every day and you experience stress like never before. That is how barns and businesses fall apart.
The most important part of this article!
Remember the issue is not whether you allow back shoes or not or whether you mix the mares with the geldings. It is not whether you feed twice a day or five times a day or feed round bales or square bales and the list could go on and on. The issue is how you handle the situations that will come at you. Remember that boarders will leave because they don't like something but many will come because they love how you run your barn and they will stay for many years because they trust your decisions. That is what makes a barn successful.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are just starting out in your planning stages of your horse business or need some help now that you are in it, I would like to encourage you to check out my two books. My first one, "What it really takes to start and run a horse business" is my families journey of starting our horse boarding business and about learning from our mistakes especially during the first couple of years. My second book, "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover," is about the relationship between the barn owner/barn manager and client and how to resolve the issues that will come up when you are running a horse business of any kind. These books will take you deep inside the business world and will inspire and give you the tools to get through those tough days and situations. You won't find more honest books out there about running a horse business.
I wish you many blessings in your horse business,