So far, the great barn hunt has been anything but... and I'm not very happy about it.
M went out to look at the "indoor arena" barn on Friday after work. She's very picky, so I took her review with a grain of salt, but she gave it two thumbs down. I decided I needed to go check it out for myself so I could make my own informed decision.
It's an older place but it's pretty well maintained. The stalls are a bit small, and there are a lot of horses in the pastures. They have quite a few pastures and the horses are rotated, but in the pasture board pasture, there were at least 7 horses of mixed ages and genders, and the pasture was not very large. Most of it was a pond. There wasn't any grass to speak of and there were piles of manure everywhere. It just felt crowded... they had a large number of pens in the pasture, though, for feeding, so almost all the horses had their own pen to eat in so they can eat without being disturbed.
The outdoor "arena" was really just a pasture converted to an arena, so it was small and covered in grass. The indoor arena was pretty small also and VERY dusty. I don't think more than 2 horses could be in there at once. The round pen was nice, though. Their hay is lovely but they feed a low quality grain, although all the horses looked really well fed. The weirdest part, though, was that they don't allow blanketing in the pastures at all. No rain sheet, no fly sheets, no blankets EVER. Sleet and -32 degree weather? Sorry... should have purchased stall board so your horse can stay in and have a blanket. But if you're going to blanket in the stall, you'll probably want to blanket outside. So that was odd.
I actually saw an old horsey friend of mine, so she boards her horse there and loves it. Her mare is on stall board and she said when she first brought her there, it took a while for her to find her place in the herd and she kept getting giant scrapes all down her back...
... ? ...
So, I think there are too many horses in the pastures. I haven't totally ruled it out as a last resort because it could work, but I would prefer not to move there. It was a definite no for M, mostly because of the blanket restrictions.
My friend gave me another place to check out that she said was really nice, so I called them up and they let me come right over. When I pulled in the driveway I wished I hadn't scheduled a visit because I wanted to pull right back out of the driveway. I humored the man, though, and he was really nice, but the facility wasn't near what I needed for the price he was asking.
I was 0/2... but I was holding out hope for the place M and I were going to visit together. It did not disappoint... lovely fences, lovely pastures, great stalls, nice arena, private tack lockers, nice, knowledgeable people, but they wanted $25 for trailer parking (WHY??!!). It was a bit on the high side for pasture board, but M was going to talk to her hubby and I wanted to ponder the nearly $200 increase I would have to absorb before agreeing to move. I think deep down we knew we were going to move, we just hadn't said so out loud.
Late last night, though, I got an email from the owner saying that she had told me incorrectly and they actually didn't have room for any more pasture board geldings... AJ could come on stall board if I wanted, but their gelding pasture was full. So I called M and she said if I wasn't moving, she wasn't moving either. So there went that barn too.
I don't have any more prospects... M doesn't have any more prospects either, so we'll have to stay put for now and keep our eyes and ears open for a new situation.
In the meantime, I've decided to bite the bullet and put both of my horses on co-op stall board. That way AJ can come in at night when it's cold, eat his dinner as slow as he wants to, and have a giant pile of hay to munch on during the night. I wouldn't be so desperate to move if he wasn't underweight and actually being fed, so by doing this I know he'll be getting the proper amount of food and hopefully start putting weight back on. In the meantime, we keep searching.
My vet said stall board was ok for Lilly as long as she gets out for most of the day to stretch her legs. I'll probably start the co-op on Thursday and hope AJ does ok in a stall. I'll put him next to Lilly, and Baby will move across the aisle so our little group can be together.
I don't know what else to do...