Need Advice in Making Boarding Decision
I've been having a heck of a time trying to find horse boarding down by the university I'm going to. I don't really understand why, as it's a nice, big town, only about forty minutes away from the capital. Yet, nothing. So, hopefully you guys can help me decide what to do.
A little background: I own three horses, a 19 year old Arabian, a 12 year old Quarter Horse that I love to death but sustained a hock injury that has rendered him arthritic and in light work, and my 12 year old Appendix that is my current show horse. My parents don't know a whole lot about horses but know enough to provide the feed and see when a vet should be called. All of my horses are pretty well-behaved.
I am going to school about an hour and a half away. I am a junior in college, although I went to community college for two years. I have planned on taking my show horse with me so I can have a "time-out" from the hectic college life, have a friend, and to keep him in shape since I did buy him to show with. I figured that, with my new job, I can afford $300 boarding or less, working about 16 hours a week. I worked 20-30 hours these last two years while taking 12-15 credits a semester. I had decent grades and made the president's list the last two semesters. My show horse, Casper, has, so far, been the alpha horse in the pens he has been in. He needs grain and really seems to prefer a stall with turnout. He's kind of a big baby.
So, here are my boarding options, all of them. Please tell me your thoughts and what you would consider doing.
A: Stagecoach Stables. It's only a couple of miles away from the college. Nice facilities. I could only afford pasture boarding at $275. Horses run in a herd throughout the property. There are various buildings for shelter. They eat grass in the summer. There is a medium indoor arena and a large outdoor arena. Indoor wash rack, again, nice facilities. HOWEVER, the barn managers seem really catty to me. My friend works there, and they only pay her minimum wage for one hour of work, even if her works takes her two hours (sometimes she has to muck stalls as well as feed, water, and turn out, and she's an efficient worker). The barn managers are always swearing, even around people that are potential boarders or people they don't know. In addition, they gossip about their boarders to other boarders and are hard to get ahold of. They turn horses out to the fresh grass right away even if they are new to pasture board. My friend told actually told them several times that I was planning on boarding there, and they were always okay with it. I talked to one of the owners a week in advance of my intended board, and she said I could probably be fit in with one horse in pasture board - she said she'd okay it with the other manager and text my friend about it. She never texted my friend, and when my friend called her to see about her answer, she said pasture board was full. This prompted me to look other places.
B: Belinda's Best Little Horse House. This stable was full at the time, but was opening up with some pasture board, which was in a dry lot with not a whole lot of space to roam. The barn manager seemed to really care about her horses and even recommended other places for me to board. She had a nice facility, not super nice, but safe. She had a huge indoor arena, good hay, and a good sized outdoor arena. Pasture board was $275, and the horses were fed off of a round bale. Stall board was $300, not including sawdust and feed.
C. Evan's Arena. This facility needed some cleaning and lighting, but had 72 box stalls and a huge indoor arena and an indoor wash rack. Board was $300, provided with sawdust and grain. No outdoor arena. HOWEVER, the barn owner is physically disabled and gets around on a scooter or golf cart. She can feed and bed the horses, but the owners are in charge of turnout and stall mucking. With some help cleaning, this barn could be really nice -- I would coin it a fixer-upper. The owner seems to really care about the horses and said that she will stay in the barn in the winter if the weather gets bad just so she can feed the horses.
D: Stillwater Stables. Beautiful facility, half an hour away from the college. Nice indoor arena, large outdoor arena. New wash rack. I actually met the owner at a show she hosted there and she was super nice and really liked my horse. However, boarding is $440, but she is offering some move-in specials.
What would you do? I've searched high and low, and this is all I can come up with. :/