Wishing for the perfect barn...

When my first child was born, the thought of leaving her in the hands of a stranger to be cared for, was heart wrenching, but I had to go back to work. When she was six months-old I interviewed several daycares, called references and chose a highly recommended center. We stayed at this daycare until our youngest started 1st grade (about 9 years total).

Choosing and staying at a barn to board my beloved horses has never been that easy.

I’ve been at good barns and I’ve been at bad barns.

The barn where we were in Colorado was by far the best barn ever. The people were like family, the facility and care was awesome, but we got relocated to Michigan.

The first barn where we boarded in Michigan was by far the worst barn I have ever been at. I instructed the barn owner to restrict one of my horses from getting any grain, which caused him serious health issues. The owner/trainer was so hard to deal with, she told me I had no idea what I was talking about and constantly overfed my horse grain. He gained about 200 pounds. She told me this was where he should be, but he was having all kinds of muscle issues, she told me this was because he lame, needed injections and ever tried to sell him on me. She almost killed him. We stayed less than three months.

Currently, I live in an area with limited choices of barns. I have been at my current barn for the past three years and for the most part, my horse receives good care. It’s a small barn with a very nice indoor arena, the pastures are huge and the turnout schedule is great. They grow their own hay, which is the best I’ve ever seen and the barn mixes their own grain to insure proper nutrients are feed. My rescue mare was skinny and had dull coat when I brought her here, and in less than six months she looked amazing and her coat glistens. (Reason to stay)

I’m a dressage rider and this is a western pleasure barn. The owner of the barn is trying to understand dressage in order to help me. Although at first I heard constant comments about how my horse was no good and not worth much for the “Paint” world, lately, it’s followed up with “I don’t know what is wanted in the Dressage world.” (Not a reason to leave or to stay)

The barn owner arranges trimmings. I write on the board when I would like my horses trimmed. I nag weekly as we get close and daily as the day passes by, yet my horse is never less that 6 weeks pass due before the farrier is called. Twice, I was jumped over “because the QH show horses have priority.” My area has limited resources for these services, so I’m stuck. (Reason to leave)

My horses are watched 24/7, the barn owner knows when they are not behaving normally. The barn owner treats my horses if they were hers. I am quicker to call a vet for my horse, than I am the pediatrician for my kids. The barn management tends to wait and see…

In a casual conversation one day, I was told the barn owner had given my mare banimine a few times because she was “colicky”. I was never called or told about it until months later. Heck, I never suspected my horse had colic issues. (Reason to leave)

There are a few other boarders that make life very uncomfortable.

Barn drama.... photo by Tina Dube

One Adult student who rides once a week in a group lesson has no respect for me or anyone else. I’ve been knocked over in the grooming area, ran into walls and cut off while riding so many times. After months of this, I blew up at the trainer who finally had a talk with this other rider. (Reason to try to work it out)

Rules are posted on the walls, most of the other boarders believe these rules are for the “other people” and have nothing to do with them. I’ve had my stuff moved, used and missing. I’ve had someone walk into my lesson and begin lunging their horse in the center of the arena. The owner never points out they are for everyone….(Reason to leave)

We have one mother that walks in and commands attention, she interrupts lessons, cuts you off in mid sentence, and she insults others and gossips constantly. Rule of thumb people… if she talks about others behind their back, she’s talking about you behind your back… Owner and trainers allow her to continue with this behaviour. (Reason to RUN)

Some boarders seem to lack common sense. They make a mess and leave it. They seem to think since they board their horse, they have no other responsibility to that horse. I cannot tell you how many trips to the vets I’ve gone along with our barn owner for a sick horse that was neither hers nor mine. (Should have not reflection on my decision, if I stay, maybe people can learn from me.)

I recently gave up an entire Saturday to drive two hours to get medication for one of the boarder’s horses that had pneumonia. I only offered to go after I realized the owner of our barn was supposed to be in a wedding and was trying to figure out how to get to the vets and back in time. I’m still shocked that the horse’s owner could not be bothered. Of course I never received a thank you. (I’m too nice)

My horses’ stalls are always immaculately clean (Reason to stay)

During the great battle of 2012, when my mare decided she would not trot or canter but choose to buck and buck, the trainer came to help me even though it was not my scheduled lesson. After determining there was nothing wrong with the mare, the trainer talked me through 35 minutes trying to work through the issues, and then the trainer took over. No extra charges in my bill and never made me feel like a failure (Reason to Stay)

What do you think…. should I stay or should I go?

Cheryl