Saturday, January 29, 2011

Barn Rules

Part of the process of building a Business Plan is defining every process of your day to day business.  For a boarding/training/lesson facility it's uber important that you have basic "barn rules".

You would think something so basic as "Don't Run and Scream" wouldn't have to be posted to a wall where all can see, but as a long time boarder I can tell you that even the obvious need to be stated.  

My goals for a "Rules List" was to keep it precise, covers all the obvious, and keep it to one 8.5 x 11 piece of paper!  I started by putting my absolute must type rules like:

2. Helmet MUST be worn by EVERYONE when mounted.  NO EXCEPTIONS!
3. Pick up after yourself and your horse

I ended up with 20 + line items.  To fit my paper size requirement I needed to pair that down so off to the internet I went to get a sampling of "Barn Rules".  I'm stilling giggling over the barn manager who had to explicitly state:

"No riding of bicycles allowed in the barn aisles"

Seriously ?!?

I ended up with the following list:

2. No smoking on property
3. No drinking of alcoholic beverages allowed on the property associated with stables.
4. Helmets required when mounted for everyone – no exceptions! 
5. Children under the age of 16 must be supervised at all times, unless certified by a J & J Stables authorized trainer or manager.
6. Do not leave your horse(s) unattended in crossties.
7. Always mount and dismount outside, unless you are riding in the indoor arena.
8. Keep the aisles and wash stall clean of tack, brushes, halters, hoof pickings or manure if you or your horse put it there, pick it up!
9. Do not ride on properties not designated as allowed riding areas. The stable will not be held responsible for any injury, accident and/or death occurring because you failed to stay on proper trails, fields or roads. The stable will not be responsible for any fines and/or jail terms for trespassing on posted or non-posted properties.
10. No running or yelling in the barn or courtyard. The stable cannot be responsible for any injury, accident and/or death associated with scaring or spooking an equine due to inappropriate behavior or misbehavior.
11. All injuries, accidents and damages must be immediately brought to the attention management.  Failure to report injury or accident may result in termination of boarding, lease, and/or lesson contracts.

What would be on your "Barn Rules" list and what was the most absurd "barn rule" you've encountered?


  1. I like those. Maybe a "if you break something, tell the owner/manager" type rule as well?

  2. Jeni, those all sound like good rules, having never boarded a horse I can't give you any help here. Sounds like you are off to a good start, rules are good! :-)
    It's exciting to hear about this great adventure in business you are starting on! I wish you good luck and much success!!!

  3. Sounds like a good and reasonable list . you might wnat to throw in there , no unauthorised use of equipmentnot belonging to you,or horses (ie,if it aint' yours , don't use it )Beleive it or not there are people who will "borrow" your horse if they are not stopped

  4. Do you plan to have any rules about people bringing their dogs to the farm? After a couple of decades working at boarding stables I strongly suggest you consider having some kind of guidelines about that.

    I've seen WAYYYY too many people bring their dog, turn it loose, or tie it in the aisle or even leave it in their car where it then climbs out the tiny open window to run rampant and terrorize every living thing on the property.

  5. I agree with WarPony about the dogs thng. You would NOT believe how many people I've had to send away because they wanted to bring their dog in the barn. One lady even yelled at me about it...

    And I also agree with fernvalley01 about the "no taking other people's stuff." Not as much for the horse part (though that's a biggie), but for the stuff part. You have no idea how many "issues" my BO has had to resolve just because people get into the boarders stuff or the BO's stuff or whatever...

    Are you/your insurance company going to require a liablity release for everyone who's handling/riding a horse? We do, and one of our rules states that no one can handle a horse without one.

    BTW, I am require to dislike rule 5 for another 6 months (I'm kidding)...

    I think these are all perfectly acceptable:)

  6. @ Pony and Mare - thanks! Dogs, hadn't thought of that.
    @ Mare - #5 isn't to offend anyone, it's to keep the unknowing crazy kids safe. I need to come up with a small short, basic horsemanship test. Grooming, leading, etc. My kids have to pass same sort of test every summer at our community pool.
    @Fern-01 - the "stuff" part i'm hoping to eliminate with locking lockers or cubbys =) This is one of my main complaints about boarding.. I'm currently missing 2 padded break away halters, and 1 natural horsemanship 12 ft lead.

  7. I think those are all great rules. When I first started my blog I did a post on how to be a good boarder (7-4-08): (
    You might find some advice in there that you could use...or not. I think You've got everything covered pretty well.

  8. HI Jeni-

    Thanks for stopping by my blog :) Just found yours this past week too - from Carol @ Dressage Training Journal.

    Congrats on your new venture!

  9. Seeing as I've never really boarded a horse, I have no experience with barn rules, but yours sound great. I would probably keep the wording for this "The stable will not be held responsible for any injury, accident and/or death occurring because you failed to stay on proper trails, fields or roads." to "The stable will not be held for any and all injuries and/or death caused by working on or around any horses on the premises".

    That should cover al the bases. :)


  10. Oh gah!

    "not be held responsible" I knew I typed that in there before I clicked publish...where'd it go?!


  11. I think good, clear rules are so important to prevent conflict. I don't know whether it goes on this list, but I think you should consider a policy regarding whether people are allowed to bring their trainer / teacher on-site. For me, it's a prerequisite to be able to bring my teacher, so I check first. I totally understand if a barn doesn't want this, but we both have to know up front.
    This is such an exciting venture. Are you excited? Nervous? All of the above?

  12. i don't board but have a liability agreement which a list of rules accompanies it. state law requirement. i mentioned my dogs and my rule was no petting them to avoid potential bites. and of course i mentioned that they could not bring dogs either. also have an extra balloon policy that covers farm liabilities. good luck!

  13. @ All ~ excellent feed back THANK YOU!

  14. Like others, I haven't boarded in years. It might be interesting to ask the current boarders (when you can) what they'd like to see or not see on a list and/or what issues they've had in the past.
    From my years of teaching I know that it was helpful to craft rules with those involved (even though I knew what I wanted on the list) and to keep them as simple as possible, and when possible, phrased in the positive.
    A stable I visited recently allows only one saddle per horse due to space limitations and all other tack and equipment must fit in a trunk or provided cabinet.

  15. Great list of rules. When I boarded a few years ago, the stable had trouble with parents dropping their kids off, expecting the barn staff to supervise them and entertain them for hours. It was a problem, so your rule about kids is a good idea until you know they are responsible. Boarders bringing dogs was a problem too. Might want to add a rule about feeding treats to horses, if you don't want that going on. I never liked it when kids and their parents went from stall to stall hand feeding treats to all the horses.

  16. Hehe, I know you have to have some sort-of age limit. You can't have kids running around all over the place. I was really just kidding:) It's not offensive in the least, actually quite practical. We too have a horsemanship test for the younger kids:)


Happy Trails!