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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 27, 2010
    Location
    SE VA
    Posts
    1,165

    Default BO's: Is this a terrible idea??

    I have a really nice boarder. She always pays on time, is friendly, and pleasant to be around. Her horse is pretty well mannered, and an easy keeper.

    This boarder told me tonight that her husband lost his job a few weeks ago, and she found out monday that as of december, she will be laid off. So she needs to move her horse to a cheaper barn. She found a place for $300 a month. I charge $475 a month. She was in tears telling me all this and gave me a hug and said how much she loves the barn and me, and how she thought her horse would die here and she wants to come back as soon as her finances are back in order.

    DH suggested asking her if she wants to stay, and as of dec 1, have her pay $300, and write the rest off until she can go back to full board.

    I see several potential problems with this. First, she may feel extra pressure to be able to pay me in full asap. Second, she may abuse the privilege and take her time getting things back to normal (I would not think she would do this, but ya never know with folks and there money). Third, I would tell her not to tell ANYONE, and what if she did tell another boarder, would that set me up for more boarders "suddenly being laid off and can only pay x% of board?"

    On the flip, she's a nice lady, I feel bad for her (famous last words, eh?) I want to help her out, esp since she wants to move back asap. Horsie costs me about $20 a month in grain. All my fixed costs are of course still there. If I am taking a hit for a few months, it beats having the stall sit empty. However I have had a lot of interest lately, and the barn is currently full, so don't think I would have a problem getting SOMEONE, but I like her. Could get a "problem/bad/whatever boarder/horse" in her place, ya know?

    So, should I just say sorry for your luck, see you when/if you can come back and leave it alone? I know no good deed goes unpunished...



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 28, 2007
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,447

    Default

    Can you ask her to work off the difference? That way she could maintain her dignity.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    May. 20, 2008
    Posts
    851

    Default

    Personally, I think this is a bad idea. Telling her not to tell anyone....well, that'll never happen! Word does get around, and I feel will bite you in the behind! I would be in the camp of what your last paragraph said.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 18, 2011
    Posts
    1,290

    Default

    I'm probably stating the obvious but...Got some regular work for her to do around the barn? Sounds like there is a pretty good chance she'd be a dependable, honest worker and would probably jump at the chance to be able to stay there. Give her $150 worth of labor to do a month, she still pays the $300, *could* be a win/win if it works out.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 15, 2008
    Posts
    4,552

    Default

    How long has she been a boarder with you? Long time client? Newish (a few months up to a 2 years?)

    Are you absolutely sure she wouldn't tell anyone else? I know that sounds crass, but at the end of the day, as long as what she's able to pay will cover your costs and you're not losing anything monthly your biggest downfall might be other boarders getting angry at her deal if she gets loose lips.

    I think you might need to have a serious chat with her if you make this offer about time frames and expectations etc.

    That being said, I completely understand what a good boarder is worth. It's not always money related. And taking a small hit to maintain a great boarder (which is an asset in every sense of the word) can be worthwhile.

    As a a former BO, I should tell you hell no, but honestly it's something I'd consider for the right person. As long as you are comfortable with the risks and the possibility of it going pear shaped.

    *Shrug* Only you know the real answer.
    "Aye God, Woodrow..."



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 17, 2004
    Location
    Rixeyville, VA
    Posts
    6,367

    Default

    This is a tough situation, but I would try to keep her. Since she is going to be unemployed, theoretically she would have some free time. Perhaps she has some skills that can be used for working off board. I am not thinking of barn chores as much as marketing or admin work. I happen to work FT as well as run a farm and honestly, I would love to have some competent admin help particularly around the holidays.

    And I would leave it as something short term -- say until spring or when their employment situation improves, whichever comes sooner.

    Given that this is a nice boarder, I would try to salvage the situation. It's that bad ones that are hard to lose!
    Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
    http://www.ironwood-farm.com



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 12, 2008
    Posts
    786

    Default

    If both she and her husband are soon unemployed, keeping the horse at all may not be possible. If horse is nice and ridable, perhaps a lease would be a more suitable suggestion to help pay horses bills for a while and keeping her at your place. Lesson horse? Part or full lease for 6 months?



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr. 27, 2012
    Location
    SE Pennsylvania
    Posts
    104

    Default

    I guess for me it's about the fairness to the other boarders. Once I made her that deal, I would feel like I would have to extend it to anyone else in a similar situation. I think if your other boarders find out that you are making her a deal they may feel resentful that you have not helped them. They may have similar situations that they have not shared with you.

    In the end, would you want to or be financially able to extend this deal to all of your boarders? I just think you are being kind and generous and have good intentions, but it could really be something you regret doing if it causes your other boarders to feel that you are giving one person preferential treatment. Just my two cents.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2000
    Location
    Chesterland, OH USA
    Posts
    2,714

    Default

    Hey - it is your barn so you can set whatever rules/fees you want. And it is very generous of you to consider.

    But I would put an end date on it...



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2004
    Posts
    6,555

    Default

    What she sadly needs to do is sell her horse. Her husband lost his job, she's losing hers and she's keeping her horse at $300 month...forget the additional costs of vet/shoeing etc. added to just the board.

    Reality may be rearing it's ugly head...but board is the least of her worries at this point.
    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
    Posts
    1,935

    Default

    I actually think it is a terrible idea. Your boarder is in a situation where neither she nor her spouse have jobs, I think that they may possibly find horse ownership at all to be a stretch and I think that you could reasonably predict that they could have difficulty covering other horse expenses (farrier? a big vet bill?), or even the $300 board and you could end up being caught in the middle. Boarding horses for owners who aren't financially solvent can be a real mess.

    Secondly, giving away the service that your business sells devalues that service. If a client knows that when pressed you will offer the service for $175/month less, then anything else will seem overpriced. I also think you can safely assume that other boarders will find out about any special deals that you make and it doesn't set a good business precedent to put it out there that you will give away your services to anyone who pleads financial struggles, or to let people think that you set your fees based on how much money you think the client has in their wallet. This will drive off your paying clients for sure! Paying clients may feel like their "full price" board is subsidizing other people's horses. Good businesses charge all clients fairly across the board.

    Horses are a luxury, not a necessity. It is appropriate that your boarder should manage her horse in a manner that is consistent with her finances, or even sell it if need be. I always encourage people to be realistic about what they can afford when horses are involved because horse ownership can be very expensive and there is a live animal involved. When people get in over their heads with horses it can be VERY hard to get out because the expenses are ongoing and it can take a lot of time to sell or re-home a horse.

    Personally I don't think that allowing people to work off board is a great idea. Sometimes it works out, but more often would be workers dramatically over-value their time, want to cherry pick working hours and tasks, do not have the actual practical experience to do the job correctly, and/or work less efficiently than regular help.

    Edited to add, most likely this boarder is telling you the truth, but you never really know the full extent of someone's financial situation unless you have access to their bank accounts. Maybe they have lost their jobs, but they have a super wealthy parent who is quietly bankrolling them. I have one client who is always complaining about her dire financial straits but then she showed up one day driving a really fancy new car. Just pointing out you may not always know the full story.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
    Location
    between the barn and the pond
    Posts
    13,680

    Default

    If you do this, you risk resenting her purchase of ____ in two months, when you find yourself thinking umm....that looks like you could be paying full price for board. Or three months from now, when she does (____) and she is paying a reduced rate.

    Let her go. She'll come back when and if she can afford your place.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. (Steven Wright)



  13. #13
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2012
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    383

    Default

    I think the only fair thing to yourself and the other boarders is to offer her a way to work off board. And/or do you have a cheaper field board option she could do? I think her finding a lessee is an excellent idea as well. Depending on her financial situation $300/month board may soon become too expensive.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2006
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    1,610

    Default

    Okay, not a barn owner. So, FWIW, would it be worth it to you to have her clean your house once a week in trade for the difference between what you charge and what she's budgeted?



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2010
    Posts
    2,050

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Trakehner View Post
    What she sadly needs to do is sell her horse. Her husband lost his job, she's losing hers and she's keeping her horse at $300 month...forget the additional costs of vet/shoeing etc. added to just the board.

    Reality may be rearing it's ugly head...but board is the least of her worries at this point.
    Exactly. Horses are a luxury. I would offer to help her sell him rather than lower board. Come December there could be A LOT of folks laid off in SE VA looking for work as well. Sorry to be grim.



  16. #16

    Default

    Suggest that she consider half leasing the horse and helping her find someone to lease the horse is an excellent idea. Trying to sell the horse (unless she prices it at a fire sale price) isn't likely to be a short term solution.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan. 17, 2008
    Location
    Dutchess County, New York
    Posts
    3,927

    Default

    I would definitely not lower board for all the reasons stated above.

    She sounds like a fantastic boarder, and I would offer to let her work off board. I've just started doing that with two of my boarders and so far it has really been working out well. They get $20 taken off the board bill each time they feed the 10 horses here, which takes about 45 min. in the summer and 1 1/2 hour in winter.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr. 11, 2006
    Location
    Southern Ontario
    Posts
    1,021

    Default

    I agree with the "work off the difference" idea. It's the only way to be fair to the other boarders.

    The only personal experience I can bring to this is that for years I boarded at a barn where it seemed that every single boarder paid a different price (there also seemed to be a different set of rules for every boarder, but that's another story). It sure created a lot of resentment.

    You are obviously a nice person for trying to help. Hope it all works out.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec. 31, 2000
    Location
    El Paso, TX
    Posts
    11,725

    Default

    You sound like a very nice person.

    Consider doing a WRITTEN contract where she works "X" number of hrs per week doing "x", in return for reduced board for 3 months. Make it clear in writing that doing more work results in no difference in board (so she can't say, "I worked twice that many hrs this mon, so should pay even less), and failure to complete the hours satisfactorily will result in higher board or more hrs. Make SURE there is an end date and the stipulation that board after that date is back to "x".

    Also see if it's possible to do a part lease on her horse. It may help her out.

    She may not be in a position to keep the horse if neither gets back to work, and a 3 mo limit will not let you get deep in the hole. You'll know if they are having more serious financial problems, and need to sell/move by then.

    But if you do something get it in writing in detail. Stress to her that this isn't a freebee, that it's a business agreement. Verify before doing it that they have the financial means to cover hoofcare/routine vet care when needed. You don't want to get stuck with a horse that desperately needs a farrier, and they can't get one due to money.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug. 18, 2012
    Posts
    79

    Default

    As stated above do a contract. But in it put a clause that if she were to tell anyone it voids the deal. That way she would be scared to tell anyone cause it turns it around that she loses out. Not you worrying about your business reputation.



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