Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Boarding facility licensing?
I've been pondering this for a while now, since the meeting with the AC Board earlier this month. It's clear to me that the MSBACR would really like to see licensing for horse boarding facilities and operations. I am really on the fence on this issue, but probably not for the reasons one might think at first read.
First thing to know is this: Anyone can "hang out a shingle" for anything horse related. Training, farriery care, trail rides, guides/outfitters, boarding, you name it. In theory, if you are going to be a business, you should have a business license too. In the MSB, that means two licenses-one from the state, and one from the Borough. In practice, folks advertise but some do not bother with licensing. The customer/client has no idea there is no business license. I think most of us just presume that if you are advertising/promoting your talent/operation, then of course you are licensed, and insured to boot! And that somehow, you know what you are doing too.
When it comes to horse boarding, facilties run the gamut from "luxury accomodations" to "rough board" with most places falling in between-like my own-practical, not fancy. The larger operations will have the licensing and insurance-and that is partly why the fees are high. Rough board (pasture with water only, shelter optional) in someone's unused back plot is a different issue and most would not bother with a formal business for temporary, extra summer income.
Given what has happened with Wingnut, and others that I have had direct experience with over the years, *some sort* of oversight would not be a bad thing. It would be nice if there was a minimum standard of care to meet....but on the other hand, I surely do not want more governmental interference. I would be very concerned that formal licensing (or permitting) could lead to Premesis IDs, which encumber the land and lead down the NAIS path-not a good place to go. It would open the door to inspections and who knows what as far as fines and fees. And yet, I can think of a way that this could be done.....it just takes co-operation between the goverment (MSBACR) and the public it supposedly serves. Naturally I don't see this happening because surely the simple idea I have is too blasted easy and entirely too sensible to be workable-never mind all the babble about public-private partnerships.
So what I had in mind was this: A person who wants to gain "approval" (is that the right term?) would provide copies of biz licensing to MSBACR. They would receive a small packet that includes an open book test. The test would cover such basics as minimum standards of care, basic emergency knowledge (P&Rs, signs of colic, etc), vaccines and deworming, and the like. It should be fairly simple thing to come up with 40 or 50 questions which would at least force the applicant to learn something about horse care if they don't already know. There would be a section on their responsibilities as boarding operation-feed, water, shelter, fencing. Once the test is completed, they return it to MSBACR. MSBACR hands a copy over to a group composed of AC board members, AER board members, and other volunteers.
That group assesses the knowledge base of the applicant, and then inspects the facility for safety. If the facility meets the established minimum standard, then they get a pass. A pass earns the operator a place on the list of "approved" facilties. This list is made available in local publications, at the MSBACR offices, and other places as needed to inform the public. The approval is good for at least two years, with future reviews by the oversight group. MSBACR personnel would have to do nothing but provide imput on the testing, maintain a file cabinet, and provide a copy of the list to anyone who asks. A win win all around, I think.
In this way, MSBACR gets first hand knowledge of existing facilties. The public can be asssured that the operator/owner has a certain level of knowledge. If an owner/operator chooses not to participate, the only consequence is that they are not on the "approved" list, period.
I would never want such a program to become mandatory as that infringes pretty heavily on our personal rights.
So, input, anyone? Good idea? Bad idea? Am I crazy?
Posted by suvalley at 10:16 AM