Yeah, 2 weeks and we could be free from boarding for, hopefully, the rest of my horse's life, if not longer. With that being said, we still have to do the rezoning which means it'll be more like a couple months but either way, we will NOT be boarding by the beginning of this coming Winter, unless something goes terribly wrong with the rezoning and it takes way too long. I can't believe that this time in my life has almost past, where I have to board my horse, but I'm really excited and eager for them to just get home already. We were really, really, really lucky to find Ivy Hills, but there's nothing like having your horse with you basically 24/7. I can personally check on my horse anytime of day, I can ride a couple times a week, and I can be the one to take care of him all the time, not the BM. Granted, I 100% trust "A" with my horse. She is amazing and I love her and everyone at my barn, but I still have worries. What if something happens? And I still want to ride/see my horse more than once a week if I'm lucky.
When I first started boarding in September of 2013, I had a long list of wants but only a short list of needs. His needs came first. We HAD to board - either that or sell him, and that wasn't an option for me. So, I've compiled a list of "Must have's and No ways" for boarding.
My limit on distance was 30 minutes. I don't have a car and I can't drive, we live very busy lives and I knew that if it was any further, I'd never see my horse. My hopes were to get something 20 or so minutes away, but we ended up finding a place 5 minutes away. I knew that I needed to be close whether it's because, A. He gets hurt and I have to rush there to get a vet out, or B. I want to ride more than once a month. ;)
I don't want my horse cooped up in a stall until the BM could come out to let him out. Red's a big horse and can't stand being in a stall for a long time. I wanted him to have the shelter he needed and a little bit of barn time, but not too much. He is turned out 24/7, other than at around 4:00PM-6:00PM when he eats. That allows "A" to throw hay and etc while the horses aren't bothering her. He is also stalled any time he needs to be, whether it be for injury or weather. "J" lives on the premise so he is always there to assure me that my horse is stalled and turned out when needed.
A place for training:
I don't need a big, fancy arena, but I do need a round pen. I needed something closed up that would allow me to lunge and work on things that I can't do on trails or in the pasture. I didn't need anything huge, but I definitely needed something.
I wanted Red to have nice pastures to graze and hang out in, with enough shade that he wouldn't be in the sun and miserable all day. That, and I wanted somewhere other than a round pen or trails to ride in. We do a lot of riding in pastures and without the pasture, I'd have very boring riding time. (Some of us don't have arenas, haha!)
Preferably no barb wire. The barn I'm at does have a little bit of barb wire (it was a cattle farm before) but it's in pretty good places where the horse's don't really go, and they are replacing it with barbless. Our farm also has some barb wire but we will eventually replace it with barbless. (Our main pasture has horse fencing and barbless.) Nothing that the horses could jump right over or get tangled it.
Good people/good horses:
I've got to admit, one of my biggest pet peeves is not people..it's their horses. I can't stand the fact that I have to bring a crop with me in the pasture when I go to get my horse. I always feel like I'm going to get trampled on and it's ruined my confidence on the ground with any horse, other than Red because I've known him for almost 2 years and even when he has every reason to, he keeps me from harms way. The horse has literally put himself between me and a galloping horse....so yeah, I trust him. As for other horses...? I'm nervous. I don't want to have to watch my back all the time, and I didn't want the barn to be completely FILLED with horses. There comes a time when there are too many horses around.
And of course, good people. My horse is my everything. Not only do I want to personally be friends with them, I want 100% confidence that they will take care of my horse as if he was their own. "A" has done that. She literally took Red in and helped me with him, without making me feel like she was taking him and becoming the owner. She starts medicating his tail without me even having to ask, she tends to Spirit's battle wounds, all without complaint. I want to be friends with the people - not sworn enemies. Plus, I'm still a beginner. I'm learning, and I wanted to have some people that I could go to for advice or help. Whether if I say, "Hey J, could you hold Red for me for a second while I mount?" or, "Hey A, does this look like the sweet itch?" It's nice to have help!
A place for me and my horse:
It's a known fact that I'm a tack collector and Red has a lot of things...but I really keep the majority at home unless I plan on using it that day, then I bring it with me and bring it back home, so I don't have my stuff scattered everywhere. But right now, I have a very small saddle rack and corner that my mom and I share, and we have no room. This is one thing I can't wait for when they are home...Tack room!!! Plus, I like to be able to personalize things...whether it's hanging a little stall sign on my horse's stall or having a cute little saddle rack for my saddles. Well...I only have room for one saddle rack (and I share it, like I said.) and Red doesn't have a stall. He just moseys along in the barn aisle. Which is fine. But I also can't wait for him to have a specific stall so I can have fun with it and make it feel like home and mine instead of just borrowed space. This isn't a MUST, per say, but I don't think I could handle having my small corner for much longer, lol. It gets a bit annoying.
Water/Food and cleanliness.
Horse must have 24/7 access to CLEAN water and at least one meal a day. Red needs to have a little bit of grain every day, nothing much, but something. I don't want to see nasty water troughs or disgusting feed buckets!
Barb Wire. Everywhere:
Like I said, my barn does have some barb wire, but it's very limited and as safe as possible, and it's currently being replaced. I can not do barb wire everywhere, that's just an accident (And a very large vet bill) waiting to happen. Nope. Barb wire is for cows.
I have a horse, even though he acts like a cow sometimes.
Ridiculous set hours:
I understand having certain hours for the barn to be opened, but it's not something I would personally want. If it must happen, it needs to be a good time. I love to go out on sunset rides, or nice night rides in the summer. Or maybe wake up super early to go out, because that's the only time I have on the weekends. And I just don't like knowing that I can't go see my horse when I want...I understand it, like I said, but meh...Don't know if I'd deal with that well.
I understand it when "A" let's us know that she may need a bit extra, she doesn't charge much as it is, but I've had several friends who get charged for so many things, completely randomly. Maybe the BM had to give a boarder's horse a tiny amount of her own fly spray and etc, and they just show up alerting you randomly that you must pay ASAP for that...ya know? Just include it in my monthly fee, haha!
I would feel weird about the fact that I couldn't go to the barn on a certain day of the week, every week. That just seems so fishy to me..and what if my horse actually NEEDED me there?
I know the A's schedule pretty well. The horses are always stalled by around 4:30 and let out around 6:00, give or take. I like to be able to show up and know when A will be there or when Red will be stalled so I don't have to be worried about going to deal with the peskier horses in the herd or walking for miles to get to him. I like routine.
BM/BO acting like the owner:
Thankfully, I do NOT speak from experience with this...but several of my friends who board do deal with it, and this is one of my biggest "no no's."
My horse is MY horse, not the barn managers. I absoloutly love advice, but at the end of the day, he's mine. Don't ride him without my permission. Don't randomly start giving him supplements or medicine without my permission. Don't start training him without my permission.
One of my friends boarded at a barn a few months ago (And moved after this..) and she saw a visitor to the barn (a family member of a boarder who knew NOTHING about horses) getting her horse out of her stall and walking her around everywhere. She proceeded to put a bit in her mouth and try to ride her. The BM just stood there and seemed shocked that the owner was upset.
My horse is mine. I expect him to be treated that way, and for you to listen to my rules as long as they do not clash with the barn's rules. I'm not going to say stupid things like, "Don't discipline my horse when he runs you over or fights with another horse!" and etc etc, but there are limits.
Last but not least...I may be a beginner, but respect me, please. I'm not saying to bow down to me and act like I know everything. I'm not saying that I never need advice, but respect me and how I train, unless you see me doing something terribly wrong. Don't mock me for doing natural horsemanship or riding bitless, don't lecture me on keeping my horse barefoot vs. shoed, don't just burst into somewhere that I'm working when there's no room because you couldn't wait an extra 5 minutes for me to finish. I'm young, but I deserve respect. If you are going to give me advice on my EQ, do it nicely and don't just yell about my heels 24/7. Don't say something about my horse when you don't speak from experience. I respect you..return it.
Well, now that I'm done ranting...
What are your Must Haves and No Ways?