In every business there are risks. Owning and/or running a stable is no different. Just be knowledgeable about the risks so you have an idea of how to prevent them. Thefts, people who come for lessons without an intention of ever paying and rider accountability are just three of them. Here are a few tips on preventing either of them.
While boarders generally won’t steal from each other, it’s outsiders you have to be careful of. There are numerous stories of strangers arriving at barns while no one is around and helping themselves to equipment. If you think about it, most barns aren’t very secure in terms of locked doors and supervision. Many barns do not have lockable doors and try as you might, there are times when a barn owner has to run out for something or is simply asleep at night while there’s a thief in the barn.
To prevent this from happening, put a lock on your barn doors. There isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t. In terms of having open doors for your boarders, either give them individual keys or have set barn hours for which you are around for and close up afterward. For boarders who want to come after the barn is closed, simply have them come get a key from you and return it after they’re finished.
Any barn that runs a lesson program has stories of people coming by for a ride and “forgetting” their payments, promising to bring it next time. Next time comes and they forget again and promise to bring it another time, only you never see them again. This one is fairly easy to prevent. Simply insist all riders pay before a lesson has begun. If a rider has forgotten their money, politely but firmly state it goes against your barn’s policy to allow an unpaid lesson to progress but that you would be happy to reschedule. If money is an issue on the rider’s end, offer to take a post-dated cheque.
No one wants an accident to happen for which they are liable. Most barns require a contract to be signed by the boarder absolving them of liability in the event of an accident. However, most people want to show off their horses and will invite friends and family to come ride. Every barn should have documentation outlining a simple contract that states anyone who rides on the barn’s property will not hold the owner accountable. Simply leave these contracts in the tack room and make it a firmly enforced barn rule that anyone has to sign these before riding. You can write this kind of contract up at home and always check to be sure the barn has several of these hanging around.
Also, make sure you know which of your boarders are under 18 and always make sure they are wearing a helmet and are being supervised by a legal adult at all times; it’s the law. If they have a bad fall while going against one of those laws, there’s a strong chance the barn owner can be help partially accountable and charged for lack of due diligence.
Luckily for those who work for, in or around barns, it’s a fairly small environment where risk can easily be controlled. So do what you can, keep aware and watch out for anything that may cause unwanted behavior towards or in your facilities.