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How do you calculate & pay your board?

I’ve been at quite a few barns now, and I’ve had my board calculated differently at each of them.

At my first barn, I paid after the fact for lessons on a monthly basis. I also worked at that barn regularly because I was flat broke, so the amount I owed each month was very different, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. I kept a running tally myself, but I can’t for the life of me remember how they let me know how much I owed. I think it was verbal, honestly. Everything at that barn was verbal, which is amazing considering it was the tightest-run barn I’ve ever been at.

Barn #2 I only paid two months of board, one of those a sacrifice month due to leaving without notice, so that doesn’t count.

Barn #3 was precisely the same base amount each month. There were no extras. I used an outside farrier, a different vet, and never lessoned with the barn’s trainer. When I took lessons it was with an outside instructor and I paid that person directly.

Barn #4 was also precisely the same amount each month, and it included four lessons per month, as required. I am still really torn on that system. On the one hand, it was terrific to have a guaranteed weekly lesson, and I really improved quite a lot under that system. On the other hand, my schedule could be unpredictable, and when I missed a lesson it wasn’t easy to make up. When Tristan was off for so long, I did some lessoning on other horses, but not consistently. I built up a HUGE bank of lessons that was basically money left on the table, which was hard.

My current barn does it my very favorite way: they invoice me. It sounds so sensible and business-like that I’m amazed I’ve never seen it before!

F’rexample, here’s my July board bill. It’s all itemized out: fecal samples, the farrier visit, and the basic board. When I work off lessons, that’s accounted for, as are lessons or training rides or other services. They’re also dated, so when I file these I have a really good records system. I love it. I also love that the barn covers the farrier and bills me monthly. It baffles me, I have to be honest, but I do like it. It eliminates one of the “did you leave a check?” conversations each month.
Every barn I’ve ever been at I’ve paid by check, though. If I could pay by credit card, that would be truly living the dream. I would love to add the points to my stash, especially right now since I’m saving up for the honeymoon in travel points.

8 thoughts on “How do you calculate & pay your board?

  1. That's interesting. I haven't boarded at barn that invoices at the end of the month or paid my barn for vet or farrier services. And I think I would personally hate that.

    At past barns board has always been a set rate and I always paid prior to the start of the month – keeping track of any additional fees that I owed so that I could pay them upfront or with the next months board.

    I have always paid my vet and farrier separate of my barn and personally like it that way. I have never been at a barn that invoices the way you are showing above though…

    I prefer to pay for board and lessons up front so that I have a credit as opposed to owing the barn anything. When barn and trainer are not one in the same that isn't always the case though.

    Interesting post. I never assumed there was a lot of variation to board and how it's paid 🙂

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  2. Because I am at a small, private barn, I only have to write 1 check for board, which includes a lot of extras that most barns would charge extra for (blanketing, administering supplements/bute/meds, worming, etc). I pay the farrier and vet separately and on my own, although my trainer/BO tells me when the farrier is coming next so I can leave money ahead of time. The vet sends the invoices straight to my house, and I pay them with a check through the mail or over the phone. I prefer to keep the vet and farrier separate from board, so I can keep track of what everything costs. My board is due on the first of the month and I pay for lessons 2 at a time.

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  3. our barn has a flat rate for full care (feeding, blanketing, turnout, etc), and then vet, farrier, and training are all separate. the only difference for me is that isabel's owner and i have set up our lease such that i pay my portion of the horse's costs directly to the barn. i work some of that off so my monthly cost can vary – but it's my responsibility to track my hours

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  4. I like invoicing too. I pay board to my barn by the 1st every month, without an invoice. This place doesn't charge sales tax, but some do, on all or a portion of board. I supply my own grain so I just pick that up the first week of every month and drop it off for him. Everything else is separate – farrier, vet, lessons, so I pay those bills myself. I could just shorten the process and let Tucker eat my actual paycheck, though.

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  5. Flat rate for board and trailer parking. During the winter I can blanketing. Only other cost is if I want an extra bale of hay for feeding extra after a ride or when we haul out. No barn trainer (I wouldn't board there is taking lessons was required) and I use my own farrier and vet. We do have a sweet deal where a mobile vet office is located on property and they don't charge us a trip charge. However, we are not required to use it.

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  6. I've pretty much always paid a flat rate for board with no invoicing and we're going on barn…9?? in 22 years of owning horses in PR, FL and MD. I usually buy extras and administer them myself: extra hay, my own grain, meds, etc. I won't board at a barn that requires lessons to be taken to board there (because life. And what if I don't like the trainer but love the barn?)I like having my own vet and being able to choose my farrier if I decided to go back that route (currently do my own trimming on both horses.)

    There have been 2 exceptions:
    The FL barn where I bought Lily: it was run as a co-op. We paid the BM $350 for board: this included the stall and attached run, night turnout in a paddock, the BM dropping morning and afternoon feed that we set up prior, and bringing the horses in from turnout in the morning. We did two additional feedings (lunch and late evening) and us boarders split that: I did the late evening feeding, for example, because I had a late shift at work, and another barnmate did lunch. Boarders bought their own hay, grain and shavings and set up what they wanted fed at which times. We did our own stalls. Boarders that helped out with chores and with the BO's horses got additional discounts on a per-hour work basis. I was one of these boarders. At one point I had whittled my board down to $200/month. BM would let us know towards the end of the month what board would be via e-mail if anything in our routines/workload changed. Otherwise, it was a pretty set thing.

    1st MD barn: They had a lot of additional charges: we could provide our own grain, use the barn's grain (Legends brand; included in board) or their premium grain at an additional cost (Triple Crown: I was feeding Low Starch for an extra $27/month. Price was calculated by lbs of grain the horse was consuming per month which stayed the same unless we wanted the horse to gain or lose weight.) 12-hour group turnout in the big field was a set price ($650), with semi-private turnout an additional $50/month. If a horse had to be on stall rest, it was an additional $3/day. Lily was at that barn when she had her annular ligament strain and had to be on stall rest for 4 months; she had been on semi-private turnout prior, which I continued paying for to hold our spot. I was paying close to $800/month during that time. I used the farm vet for convenience (I didn't know any of the area vets yet) but was billed directly by the vet. This and my first PR barn have been the only times where I didn't provide my own grain. Otherwise, I leave baggies set up with both the amount of my grain that I want fed and the supplements already added to the grain. All that the staff has to do is dump it in my horses' buckets. (This can be a significant time saver for barn staff and it's a way of guaranteeing that your horse gets what he's supposed to if the barn staff can be iffy. Yes, I am a MAJOR control freak when it comes to my horses…hahaha…Which is why I tend to choose barns that will let me do a lot of stuff myself that will sometimes be included in the board price at pricier barns.)

    My current barn doesn't invoice either; right now my BO calculated the stall board charges for Lily based on a self-care rate that she came up with just for me, simply because I'm willing to do most of the work (stall mucking, feeding, and I continue to provide my own grain). She's still supplying unlimited hay and shavings, which is a pretty sweet deal. She came up with a price per day and that's how we'll determine how much I pay at the end of the month. Board at this barn is due on the 1st of the month, with it being considered late after the 6th of the month. So we have a sort of 6-day grace period. The barn has their own farrier and vet, but they are an additional cost to boarders regardless and we are free to use whomever we want. We also pay for trailer parking if we own a trailer.

    Definitely an interesting post! I hadn't realized that so many barns will invoice like yours have.

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  7. I've always paid the same flat rate every month unless the barn owner let me know that prices were going up or something. I pay farrier/vet/etc individually, except when I was in full training. I'm kind of a control freak so I didn't like that very much!

    I like the invoicing system! I've had a trainer that did that but never a barn.

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  8. I've always paid a flat rate each month at every barn I've boarded at (5?)- have never been invoiced (but that would be a nice feature. I also don't board where lessons are required and I cover all my own extra expenses (shots, trimming) at the time of service. Sometimes the rate includes blanketing, sometimes it doesn't. I get one blanketing per day at my current barn. Once it stops raining and starts to heat up, I will have to pay a surcharge for adding a fan to the stall.

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