I met the owner and instructor (sisters) when the owner contacted me to work with an aggressive pony for them. We are close in age, and we soon became friends, or at least they claimed to be my friends. I purchased a horse in March 2011 and immediately took him to their Johnstown facility, then moved my other horse there in June 2011. It was great to begin with, a huge relief from the previous facility.
Stalls: at first were cleaned great, and I could rely on them getting done every day. Unfortunately they've had trouble hiring people that continue working well after the first 2-3 months, and they have trouble properly disciplining bad work ethics and/or replacing bad employees in a timely manner. My youngster had thrush for 10-11 straight weeks. I tried four different treatment products to no avail. My farrier said each time he came out that he had to have a dry stall at all times. However, his stall was only dry when I cleaned it myself. The stall cleaners seemed to not know what a wet spot is, and NEVER picked his out. Also, the stalls are not matter, which meant that his wet spot would grow and spread through the dirt/screenings every day that it didn't get picked. I would walk in his stall and liquid would squish out from under my shoes. Disgusting. This went on for months, and was still going on when I left. From what I know, the same stall cleaner is still employed there.
Arenas: Indoor is small but usable. New sand was installed upon move in, as it was a newly built facility. However about a year later, all the sand was settled, and the arena was rarely drug, to the point where it was extremely hard, too hard to jump in, I even felt bad flatting some days. The outdoor "arena" is a turnout lot that was supposed to have been converted to a sand arena over a year ago. It's a great size, but we were told October 2011 it would have sand. Then they waited until after winter so as not to waste new sand since it would soon be unusable. A date in March 2012 was promised, and went by without a word. A date in May, a date in June, a date in July. Specific dates were given for when sand would be delivered, and they went by with no sand coming. I had to put shoes on my young guys' front feet, when the summer before I was able to jump him several times a week without a problem barefoot. Coupled with the hard ground outside (drought) and the hard un-drug arena inside and his constant battle with thrush, he started coming up lame quite frequently, forcing me to put front shoes on him. Please note that at my new barn (moved two months ago) I have been able to take his shoes off and jump him 3' with no problem.
Feed: Started out okay - not amazing, but not difficult. For my 14 year old I purchased Corn Oil, Alfalfa Cubes, Cool Calories, and Gleam & Gain Supreme in addition to his regular hay and grain. I was told he was getting 8 flakes of hay a day and a scoop of grain at each meal. His weight was more of a battle than it had been at any other barn. My 6 year old is not a hard keeper at all, who actually started out the first winter getting fat on just hay and grain, I had to put on Cool Calories eventually because he started becoming thin. Right around the time I left I found out they had cut both boys' hay down due to the increase in prices, and never bothered to tell me. Also, their idea of a scoop is about 2/3 of mine, and their "2 flakes" was about a 4 inch wide section of hay - barely one flake in my opinion. They both left this facility hinner than they've ever been. Now, at my new barn, I only have my 14 year old on two scoops of a weight gain supplement, and my 6 year old on nothing, in addition to their hay and grain. They both look better than they have anywhere before. They've easily put on 150-200 pounds each since leaving Fairy Tale Farm.
Lesson program: Because I thought they were my friends, I stupidly let the owner and instructor use my 14 year old in their lesson program. He was supposed to have three set days a week that he was used. They constantly asked me to use him other days and said they "wouldn't use him the original day he was scheduled for." He's never had back problems, but the chiropractor had to spend about two hours on him at the end of the summer 2012. Because he's 17hh, they used him for all of the adult beginners. I understand beginners don't have control of theri seat yet, but I'd arrive at the barn during lessons and they would be "posting" and slamming their 200+ pounds on his back without either instructor even attempting to teach them how to post/sit softly. Additionally, I suspected as much while I was there, shortly after leaving the facility I found out that they used my horse MUCH more than 3x a week - more like 5 times almost every single week. When a horse is in their lesson program, they seem to think they "own" the horse and can do whatever they want with it. They took him to shows and, even though I made it very clear his legs need wrapped for any and all hauling, they would not wrap his legs, nor would they leave him for the last load of horses so that I could get to the barn and wrap them myself as requested. At his last show they put a KK Ultra in his mouth even though I gave them a plain full cheek snaffle to put on his bridle. They were too lazy to swap the bit, so they put a completely unapproved bit in MY horse's mouth that he certainly did not need and I did not want in his mouth.
Tack Room: I allowed the use of ONE of my saddles to be used on my horse only in his lessons. My other saddle and other items of mine (saddle pads, brushes, etc) would randomly be in other parts of the tack room or the stirrup irons different from what I use, etc - obviously were used. Everytime I simply asked the instructor (who recently became the "barn manager") if she had noticed anyone using my tack, she'd get a huge attitude with me and say things like "I'm not at the barn 24/7." Look, I pay you, friend or not, to care for my horses and ensure the safety of my stuff to the best of your ability. I didn't accuse you of using it, I simply asked if you'd seen anyone using it. The attitude is unneccessary and extremely unprofessional. I was then informed, during an email-argument with the barn owner, shortly before I left (after I had given notice of leaving) that "This is a lesson barn, it's to be expected that your stuff will get used." Last time I checked, WRONG. Every lesson barn I took lessons at, boarders' tack was completely OFF LIMITS.
This is an amazing facility that unfortunately is going to waste. However if what you're looking for is a boarding barn that will take pretend like they own your horse and do whatever they want with it so you can only come out once a month, then this place should be just fine.