Black Monday

When looking at a facility, one of the first questions we ask is: ”Are you closed on Mondays’”

A growing trend in horse boarding is to restrict access on Mondays. This policy more often happens at upscale facilities that offer full board, including grooming and tacking up. The usual reasons are to give staff a day off and to have a day free for maintenance.

We find this trend to be particularly unsettling. For one day out of every seven the owner can’t go anywhere near their own horse. They can’t ride, groom or check on an injury. If their horse competed over the weekend, they can’t longe or hand walk to keep their horse loose. If they’ve been traveling the previous week, then that’s another day off that they can’t ride, train and condition. If the horse has a loose shoe, that’s too bad.

We understand that boarders are often insensitive to the needs and the privacy of barn managers and interrupt them while riding their own horses or hassle them in their private quarters even when there’s no valid emergency that necessitates the intrusion.

But if barn management needs a full day off from being pecked at by boarders, this means they’re not setting clear and reasonable boundaries and don’t have an effective method of communication, such as a way to leave messages.

There are creative ways to meet the needs of boarders while still keeping Monday as an ”off” day. For example, limit the hours open on Monday rather than close altogether, or give dispensation to ride for boarders who’re gone over the weekend, or allow boarders whose horses require care to do so.

Staff is still needed anyway on Monday for feeding, stall cleaning and turnout, but boarders should be able to do anything else for at least one day and in the evenings as well during the week if that will help to give the staff a break.

What kind of boarder do you want to be’ Do you trust the barn management to care for your horse when you’re not present but accept that the ultimate responsibility for your horse’s well being rests with you’ Can you respect the stable management as your partner in horse care and expect that they do so as well’ Or do you want the stable to be in full charge of your horse and treat you as someone who just drops in to see their horse during the stable’s ”visiting” hours’

Boarding facilities, of course, have the right to set any policies they want, including being closed on Mondays. If you can’t accept those policies, don’t move your horse in and then start complaining. If you choose a stable that has a total closed policy on Mondays, you shouldn’t fret if the barn management feels horse ownership is a six-day lifestyle and that one day a week your horse will never need your attention.

Look at it this way: These stables want hobbyists for boarders, not horsemen. Which are you’

-Margaret Freeman