For those of us that board horses, what sacrifices are you willing to make?
What I mean by this is each barn is different and offers different amenities. The first barn I boarded at had a beautiful, large, well lit indoor arena. The pastures were huge with grass and nice fencing. There was a custom feeding program and good hay provided. The stalls were large with nice bedding. The owner did training rides and gave me lessons.
|Cooper, my dog, and Shy in the large arena.|
But turn out was not a guarantee. . .like, if there was a 10% chance of rain or it was too cold, the horses stayed inside. So sometimes, they would be inside for days and even though I said I wanted Shyloh out pretty much no matter what, she stayed in unless I came to put her out. And sometimes the horses didn't get fed until noon. . .for their morning feed! Or midnight for their evening feed. Things would remain broken for periods of time before being fixed and there was a lot of clutter.
So, I left for a place that had more of that I wanted. Pasture board on 15 acres with trees and fields with varied footing in a herd situation. This barn has a large outdoor arena, an indoor arena, and access to trails. It is well maintained, anything that needed work or was broken was fixed immediately. Feeding is consistent. The owner keeps an eye on the pasture horses to make sure no one is dropping weight and if so makes accommodations. And the water troughs are always full and clean.
|So much woods for a woodland pony!|
But this place has fencing I don't care for, not that it matters to Shy. She doesn't wear a halter in the pasture and it is so big she doesn't stay around the fences. And the fences are tall so Shy can't get hurt on them. Pasture maintenance isn't great (Burrs) and the feeding is not custom. For Shy, this doesn't matter. She is clearly doing fine with what she is getting. And although I would prefer her to be pulled out to be fed her supplements and not barn grain, they will not do that. But it is a sacrifice I am willing to make. I can feed the supplements (which is just a vitamin and mineral pellet) and Shy can get the barn grain, even though I am not a fan of grain. There is also no trainer, which is okay for me, for now. If I could afford lessons, I could bring an insured person in or haul out. We will revisit this in the spring when I am in a better situation.
|I am sobbing over that forelock that Shy no longer has. Sobbing!|
My friend's private barn that I took Shy to was great for being able to control Shy's food. She was out all day, she had great hay, and was very well taken care of. There was a set of eyes on her all the time and I got photos all the time of things that Shy was doing. But the paddocks were small and has no shelter and there was no riding area (except for a round pen, which got taken down) that I felt safe practicing riding. I also spent more time helping with the barn that with my horse, which was okay sometimes, since I like barn work. The main problem with this barn was the distance from home and work. It got to the point where I was spending much more time driving there and back than with my horse.
|She did love her afternoon naps in the plentiful hay and sunshine, though.|
In my perfect horse world, I would have acres for Shy to roam on with nice grass (but not too nice), trees, shelter, and nice fencing. I would have an enclosed place to practice, an indoor arena would be great, especially for winter. I would have all the trail equipment to practice on that I could think of along with trail access (for that elusive day when we start trail riding). Shy would get no grain but be fed her supplements every day and have quality grass hay. I would have a barn so if I needed to bring her inside for care, I could. And there would be no crazy. None. Also, more Halfingers. In my perfect horse world.
|And now we have this sad excuse for a Haflinger forelock. I am still crying!|
Everyone wants and needs something different for their horse. I don't have a competition horse or anything fancy. So for me, the most important things are a big area for Shy to be a horse and good feed. I think for the large area that Shy has, I sacrifice a bit on the feed. Am I thrilled about it? No. Is Shy doing just fine with this arrangement? Yes. So it is okay as long as she continues to do well.
|And as long as the draft doesn't run her off her food. . .|
In my area, there is not a lot of choice. It is mostly stall boarding with turnout in small paddocks. Getting the acreage I have for Shy can't be found anywhere else in the area. Or at least, I haven't found it yet.
|She continues to be a goof. A forelock-less goof.|
What type of sacrifices do you make in your situation? Or are there perfect barns actually out there?