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Not Having Boundaries Will Hurt Your Horse Business

What do you do when your clients don't have boundaries and you are losing your privacy? If you are boarding horses and you live on the same property then you might be in for an awakening when it comes to boundaries and your clients.  Running a boarding business will come with its own unique challenges. 

Let me first start off by saying that I truly believe most boarders will be great clients.  I don't believe most people go to a barn with the intention of making trouble or making others feel uncomfortable. Sometimes it is something that happens slowly and is very subtle and hard to recognize.  What can make it more difficult is when you need to finally talk with a person that has no boundaries. That is when your job as the barn owner or manager becomes extremely tough.

Giving free reign to my clients During our second year of running Vinland Stables I was definitely learning a lot about running a barn and myself. I wanted to make myself as available to my clients as possible but I started to get phone calls late int the evening and sometimes as late as eleven o'clock at night! Most of the calls were not emergencies at all and because David and I got up so early to do chores it was becoming very hard on both of us.  Some of my clients were becoming too comfortable with me (because I allowed it) and it was beginning to cause new issues.  My home was becoming an open door for some of my clients and they would walk in without knocking. I had clients that were using our personal farm equipment without asking first and even though they took good care of it, David felt things were getting out of control.  I had one person ride their horse right up to my dining room window while my family was eating dinner and that did not sit well with my husband either. We were losing our privacy and family time and I had no idea at the time how to fix it.  It just happened and no one could have prepared me for it.  

Looking back to those early years I was scared to say anything to these people that crossed the boundary line because I didn't want to hurt them.  They were good people but didn't understand that my family needed our privacy and time away from the business and our home was that place.  This is extremely hard for anyone that lives on the same property as the business because many of your clients will just assume you are available anytime you are on the property.  

Setting boundaries for your boarders Learning to create boundaries for my boarders took a few years to establish with mistakes along the way. Because I had no boundaries with my clients in the beginning it was extremely hard to reverse it without hurting their feelings.  I had given them free reign without realizing it and it went too far.  The worst part about the whole situation was as I started to grow and a businesswoman and set boundaries it offended some people so much they ended up leaving my barn.  They took it personally and I learned a tremendous amount about running a business just from those situations.

When I talk to new barn owners now, I always try to get them to understand that in the beginning of their new business venture everything will always be  great.  You have a lot of energy with a barn full of happy boarders and you will do anything for them including losing yourself and time with family in the process. That is when things get out of control and can be dangerous for your personal life and ultimately your business. You won't see it coming but it just happens and when it does you will start to wonder how it ever got to that point.  It is not healthy at all for you, your family or your barn.  It will eventually affect how you run your barn and burnout is a huge side affect of it. 

Learning to run your barn like a business Over the years I have learned to run my barn like a business and part of that is being professional. I now believe when you run your barn in a professional manner in all areas, most of your clients will naturally understand where the boundary line is and it is something that you won't have to deal with much.  As for the saying, "There is one in every crowd," you will always have a client or two that doesn't understand boundaries and it will be your job to make it clear.  If done in a nice and professional manner most of the times they will understand and get it.  The more you do it the easier and more natural it will become.  It is no different than any other business that you get into and your boarders will start to see that and respect it. 

I am so blessed to have wonderful boarders after all these years that truly understand boundaries and that my family needs our privacy and family time.  They also know that if there is an emergency I will be there as fast as I can.  It is all part of it and once you hit the sweet spot where you and your clients respect each others space, time and everything else that goes into the relationship then you truly are on your way to strong and healthy horse business. 

If you are new to my blog, then welcome!  If you are looking to make positive changes in your horse business when it comes to your clients or any other equine professional you work with, then I encourage you to check out my newest book, "A Step By Step Guide To Starting And Running A Successful Horse Boarding Business."  This book is a comprehensive guide into horse boarding and you won't find another book that covers in great detail every aspect of this business. 

Wishing you many blessings in your horse business,  ​Sheri Grunska

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