You know the one… When they first arrive at the barn they have never seen better care, they love the barn owners and generally have never been happier in their horsey life. I have noticed a trend with “that boarder”, they usually arrive nearing the end of the winter season, and they usually have some dramatic tale from the last barn they were at.
Other commonalities are horses that have some special needs in the eyes of their mothers but for the most part, are kicking quiet easy keepers and put up with what I will refer to as “inconsistencies”.
Last winter, one such individual arrived at the small boarding stable where I keep my horse. She had been in a tough spot and the barn owners shuffled the already full barn around to make room. The love affair ensued, and continued for what I believe is the prerequisite 9 month period. She followed “that boarders” continuum of slowly fitting into the routine and social flavor of the barn…. Followed by the gradual transition to the center of attention by problems with the horse-rider combination, to needing attention to stay happy by asking for constant opinions, text messages and facebook requests.
At the 10 month mark there is normally some sort of crisis with “that boarder” that triggers a drastic reversal in opinion of the barn, of the care and of the owners. In this case the search for a new horse brought on drama as I have never seen before. The seemingly never-ending search for the unicorn on a budget involved the entire barn, several professionals and a large quantity of the teenager that knows everything. It was truly exhausting. I would arrive at the barn with a certain trepidation that my limited time would be taken up by videos of a prospect, or 15, that they had gone to see.
As the search lengthened, there was a proportional change in attitude towards our quiet happy barn. As we neared what I consider to be D-day for “that boarder”, which is the 12 month mark, nothing any of us as boarders did was right. It seemed by our very existence we caused the world to be off. Not to mention the perceived issues she very loudly pronounced about the barn, its rules and the personalities and work ethics of the owners.
True to “that boarder’s” cycle of barn life, she gave notice at close to the year mark. You would think that would end the drama, but “that boarder” always likes to leave a calling card, a little something to be remembered by. Our little stable was left with the sting of hurt feelings and more than a little bewilderment for someone that most had come to consider a friend.
As a mid-something professional who works hard to enjoy a hobby that eats up my funds I would ask all of “those boarders” to take a close look at themselves…. Do you last more than a year at a barn? Have you ever left in a whirlwind of drama that simply wasn’t your fault? When you arrive at a horse show or other horsey event, do you dread running into past barn owners or fellow boarders? In your horse life do you look at things as a glass half full or half empty?
If you have answered yes to these questions perhaps it’s time to take a look at yourself. And maybe, just maybe, you could consider buying your own farm, put long hours in for little reward and no time off, and give our wonderfully dedicated barn owners a break by not infecting our otherwise happy little stables.
A happy and content boarder of the past 10 years at the same stable.