I drive an hour each way to see my horse. 57.1 miles each way. Almost 500 miles a week.
It sucks. I complain about it every day, every time I climb behind the wheel, every time I fill up at the gas pump, every time I realize I’ve wasted two hours of my day just being in the car.
But as a struggling 20-something horse junkie with a career, I couldn’t be happier with the facility where I keep my horse.
When I decided to purchase Belinda, my Hanoverian mare, about three months ago, I very quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of work that was thrust upon me. It’s been more than five years since I’ve owned a horse. While I’ve cared and ridden many in those five years, it was easy to forget all the nit-picky things I would now be responsible for as Belinda’s primary caretaker. The first, and perhaps the most nerve-wrecking chore on my list was to find Belinda a good home.
The good thing was I knew the boarding situation in my region pretty well. I knew most farms run by trainers would be out of my price range or have too much drama. I knew most affordable options were quite far (45 minutes to an hour,) from my house, too.
So I started making calls, checking websites, plotting out distances and justifying full board prices against gas mileage. Having grown up at nice hunter/jumper barns and working at immaculate dressage facilities, I also knew I would have to scale back my expectations.
All that mattered was that Belinda would be well cared for. As a young professional with a demanding job, I knew I would have to trust the people I paid to care for my horse when I couldn’t be there, too.
So the vetting process began.
I toured many nice private barns, mostly owned by horse junkies who lived on the property. Some had strange hours, ones that wouldn’t fit with my easily 10-12 work days sometimes during the week. Others were just weird – and my many years logged as a horse junkie has taught me to steer clear of the people that give off “bad vibes.”
Eventually I met Doreen, a woman who had a small three-stall barn on five acres and a retired thoroughbred gelding named Levi. Aside from the Levi, there was nearly a dozen geese, ducks and two big friendly pups to keep my horse company. Not only was her price right, but so was her property. There’s no riding arena, but beautiful, spacious pastures with ample amounts of shade and 200 acres to explore next door. Even though there were pros and cons even with her facility, I felt good about Doreen and the care she would provide.
And I am so thankful that I found her.
When I can’t get out there, I never blink an eye worrying about Belinda. Doreen feeds her ample hay, keeps an eye on her skin allergies, brushes, bathes, worms and holds her for the vet and farrier at no extra cost. She gets carrots and treats and lots of love. Plus Doreen loves sending me photos almost daily of Belinda out grazing in the field.
And best of all, there is no judgment. She doesn’t judge me for not being able to make it out some days, or how I ride or what I do with my horse. We each love our animals and respect one another, and that’s that.
Most importantly, Belinda is relaxed, fat and happy. The drive may suck, but for now, we’re all content. Belinda is enjoying just “being a horse” in a teen years. After spending most of her life showing and being a broodmare, this is the first time she’s ever been able to just relax under a tree and graze all day. While I hope to show her some this year (when the budget allows,) I’m happy to have calm and quiet place for us to enjoy each others’ company.