I love my horses... oh do I love them! Unfortunately, I don't have my own farm with a nice barn and pastures. I must board... Here lately, I've been cursing boarding barns and wishing I didn't have to board, but that would mean giving up my horses. So instead I suffer with boarding.
The barn I was at until June of this year was nice. The horses were pretty well taken care of and the facilities were nice. A few things transpired that I didn't like, and I thought the cost was a little high for the area. So I moved to a less expensive place with less than adequate facilities. AJ lost weight, and I didn't have a decent place to ride. The water only worked half the time, but the people there were really nice. I only stayed there until August after finding the the place I'm at now.... For reasons we are all well aware of, I find myself shopping around for board once again.
What they all have in common is none of them are perfect. Is there such a thing as a perfect barn? Probably not, but I'd like to get pretty darn close!
I looked at another place today and wasn't impressed. It was the place I had the highest hopes for, but it was a bit of a letdown. The horses looked to be in good shape, the fences were decent, and one of my favorite trails, the American Tobacco Trail, is very close by and accessible near the property. The owner was very nice and said the boarders get together often and trail ride on the ATT. They'll also haul off the property on a Saturday or Sunday and ride at other nearby places. It sounded like a lot of fun, without a lot of drama.
There are two 4 acre pastures, (and they looked smaller than that to me) and she keeps 5 horses on each one. It seemed a little crowded to me... She does put out round bales to supplement the grass, but there wasn't much grass to speak of. Her ad said "lush, green pastures". Umm, not quite. It isn't a big deal, though, since she puts hay out. There's a lean-to attached to the barn for shelter, but no designated area for grooming or bathing. I'd be fighting off the other horses in the pasture to groom or give Lilly a bath (in the mud along the fence line). She said I had the option of putting the 3 stall board horses in the stalls, and putting AJ in a smaller enclosed area while I work with Lilly, but who wants to do that every time I want to groom or ride?
There's no arena, but I'm free to ride in the pasture after doing the same thing noted above... or I can ride in the side yard. She said she's having an arena put up, but the area she showed me is quite small, and from what I gathered, the horses will still have access to that area. Nothing like what I have at my current place.
She does offer a multiple horse discount, so I would be paying the exact same amount as I'm paying now. She doesn't charge for trailer parking either. I told her I'd get back with her in the next couple of days and let her know, but about 3 hours after our meeting, she called to say she had another person who was interested. She can only take on 2 more horses so she wanted to know if I wanted her to hold 2 spots for me. Well I haven't decided yet, so I told her to show the property and let me know if the spots were still available.
I want my current place to work out so bad I could scream! The place itself is perfect and has potential to be the best boarding barn I've ever boarded with. Unfortunately, the BO makes sure everyone is miserable, including the horses.
I was chatting with AJ's pasture buddy's mom today and she's not very happy either. I believe she's looking for other boarding barns as well. If we all stayed, she'd be part of the co-op we've been talking about, but there would still only be 3 of us (so far). One of them would feed in the AM, and the other in the PM. I'd earn my keep by doing random chores like cleaning stalls, getting feed ready, filling water buckets, etc. I just don't know if I want to do co-op... I love the idea of my horses actually being cared for and fed, but boarding is also about convenience. Sometimes I can't make it to the barn, and other days I just don't feel like going. Maybe I'm tired, maybe I'm sick, maybe I'm on vacation... the joys of boarding is that someone else is watching over your horses for you, feeding them, watering them and making sure you don't have to go every day. If I embarked on this co-op, I'd have to go every single day.
I've thought about bringing AJ in on the co-op too, but not stalling him. I'd pay the co-op price but leave him outside and only bring him in when we have really bad weather. But again, I'd still have to go every day.
I have emailed the BO to see what my options are as far as perhaps a pasture board situation where I buy the hay and grain. That way, the horses will get what I want them to get without having to beg or pay extra. AJ and Lilly could be pastured together down the hill and all would be rosy... I would still need him to feed them, though.
So many options... none of them being perfect. Perfect would be me paying the agreed upon price, the BO providing the services we agreed on (hay twice per day), and watching over my horses. You know, to include things like calling me when Lilly is lame...