Horse Powered Equestrian / Unethical behavior
Avoid this facility at all costs!
Where do I start? I guess let’s start with boarding and the outrageous costs. For a facility located in the southwest suburbs, it is extremely overpriced. Expect to plop down about $1300 your first month as a security deposit (that you likely won’t get back) is required. $665 per month, for a facility with no outdoor arena, a tiny indoor, no heat, 10 x 12 stalls (unless you want to pay $100 more for a larger stall), a filthy kitchen, laundry facility, and office, all stinking of cat feces and urine. Stalls are only given about an inch of shavings, which are kept in a padlocked area, and watched via a video surveillance system. You are not allowed to pick out your own stall and add any fresh shavings, even if they miss stalls that day due to a lack of barn help. You would think given the price, this would be allowable. My horse left the facility with horrible hock sores due to the shavings situation. On top of the $665 per month, you need to watch your bill for hidden costs. Owner adds in all kinds of “incidentals” each month until your bill soars well over the $700 mark. Oh, and don’t forget to ask for a copy of your boarding contract and review to ensure the copy you are given matches the one you signed. The owner is known to “alter” boarding contracts by changing the language of the first page which has no spot for a signature or initial area, and replacing the original first page with it.
Let’s talk about the care. Given the fact that there is no consistent barn help, you do not know whether your horse will be turned out on a daily basis, whether or not their stall will be cleaned, or what time they will eat breakfast or dinner. Depending on the owner’s state in the morning, especially on weekends, if she cannot find a boarder, or student to feed, your horse may eat at 7 am, or it may be 10 am. Another worrisome factor is the owner does not have consistant phone service. Her personal cell phone functions as her business phone, and service is interrupted on a regular basis, resulting in an inability to reach her and worse, her inability to reach you or a veterinarian, in the event of an emergency with your horse. She allows her personal life to carry over into her business and the care of the animals as well. There was a personal situation which took place recently which caused the horses to be fed at extrmeley varying times, not be turned out for three days in a row or have their stalls cleaned for several days. When I went out to see my horse, he was standing in puddles of his own urine and the barn wreaked of ammonia.
Part of the problem with the care is the fact the barn owner cannot keep good, consistent help. She brings in an employee (sometimes even friends) and if they get sick or injured and need a day or two off to recover, they are fired, sometimes having to sue to get paid their already earned back wages. Employees are treated as subhumans, spoken to in a way that is demeaning, watched on video survelliance from home and vacations (of which there are many taken, expect her to be gone all summer) berated for their “poor” work via phone, and just overall taken for granted to the point that if they don’t get fired, they end up growing tired of the poor treatment and leave on their own.
Lessons are another issue. Owner/trainer is almost never on time. Expect her to be running 15-25 minutes late on a regular basis. Once you are on the horse the clock starts. You will not ride a minute past the 30 she charges for, even if you are in the middle of working on something that needs more attention. She wil then run out of the barn to smoke and talk on the phone while you are left on your own to put the horse and tack away. In regards to lesson pricing, they are expensive. It is $50 for a 30 minute lesson from what is essentially a no-name trainer with no real show ring success other than local to the Chicago area. If you purchase a package of 4, the price goes down to $47 each but, don’t miss one! You will lose your money if you don’t make it up a missed lesson that week, whether you were sick, injured or had a family emergency, doesn’t matter, however, do expect HER to cancel on you at the drop of a hat with very little notice.
If showing is on the agenda for you, expect to pay out the nose, to the tune of $1000, for the opportunity to attend even a one day local schooling show. You will not only be nickeled and dimed for every “service” provided to you, you will be blatantly charged for items/events that didn’t even occur, such as schooling each day. You will be charged daily whether actual schooling takes place or not.
I can’t say it strongly enough, stay away from this facility as a boarder, a lesson student or an employee.