Friday, May 16, 2008

Good Horsekeeping

I've never kept a horse on my own property. I've always boarded at some one else's' place.

Let's see, I started out as a boarder at a hack/lesson stable close to home where they would rent out horses for hour long trail rides and give a few riding lessons. Then I moved to the big, busy boarder/lesson/show barn, about a half hour drive from home. When I went to college my horse lived in a nice backyard situation with a good friend. After 15 years there, they were moving out of state so I moved to the boarder/show barn where my trainer was, now a 45 minute commute to care for horse. Now I keep him 5 minutes from my house at the boarding stable at a veterinary clinic.

But I often wonder what it's like to have your horse at home and be responsible for "good horsekeeping". I learned a lot from the years spent at my friend's backyard since I often helped out with the care and chores. I've also been reading the blogs and seeing what others are experiencing in managing their own barn.

My husband often says that with all I know, why didn't I ever bring the horse home? Well...

• I guess a lot of it is that I have been lucky with all the places I've been. I never had a situation where my horse was not cared for properly or if I didn't like something that the barn owner/manager wasn't open to suggestion. And I have read some scary stories here among the blogs from those of you who had to deal with less than great situations and people.

• I'm also not some one who is much for gardening and yard care. Okay, I love the way a beautiful yard looks but it's not my strong suit to get it there. I've often joked I'm more the apartment or condo type than the house type. Although, knowing me, the barn would be cleaner than my house...

• I admit, I like the social aspect of being at a boarder barn. When I was a kid I hated it, too many catty pre-teen and teen girls to contend with but after the years spent in solitude at the BYBarn, I welcomed the change being around other horsefolk again.

• And it's the social aspect that keeps me motivated. Gotta keep the horse fit to trail ride with a friend. Have to train over fences a little to get it together for hunter pace season, etc. I know a few people who moved their horses home to live their dream of having horsey at home and all the riding and training they had accomplished at the boarder barn went right out the window because after they were done with all the home and family responsibilities and then the horse chores, they were just too tired to ride. Sometimes when you're tired and you think you are only going to stop by and groom, you see your friend out in the arena and think, ah, maybe I'll just saddle up and join her.

Who else is a confirmed boarder? Who else wouldn't dream of keeping their horse/s anywhere but where they cared for them themselves?


Mrs Mom said...

Over the years, I have only had to board a few times. Since I am really not an overly social person, it worked out well for me.

These days, there are two here in the back paddock who keep me running (along with the boys!) The time I slip out at night, after everyone else is asleep to get that bed time check and snuggle from the horses... well, siffice it to say that would not be possible if they were not here. Somehow, no matter how stressful the day has been, I can feel the day wash away, and know that I can sleep better.

Sounds like a bad cliche, really, but.... works in this case!

Grey Horse Matters said...

I've never liked boarding and not having control over the care of my horses. I don't think there is anything better than being able to see them close up and personal all the time.Not to mention being able to do what I want when I want with them.

Laura said...

Well, I can see both sides, really. I had my horses at home growing up - which was awesome, but lonely. I rode alone 99% of the time and was too far to have someone come out for lessons.

I board now and I love the barn I'm at - the barn owner is very open to suggestions and is very helpful. It was nice to have her on site when I fell and broke my arm last fall!

I really enjoy the social aspect now and the training help - so I'm not in any hurry to have a place of my own now.