Help me make a difficult decision...
...regarding boarding. This will be a very long novel, sorry, but I will be very grateful for any advice. And you'll get a baby dragon!
Currently my gelding is boarded in a facility that once seemed the best there can be to me. 24/7 pastured in all seasons, large pastures, heated waterer in winters, free choice hay, salt and feeding with oats and/or my choice of feed once a day, a small, but reasonable outdoor arena, miles and miles of fantastic trails, a great bunch of fellow boarders and a friendly BO.
But lately, there's been a lot of drama going on. Mainly it is regarding the attitude of the BO. Many repairs have been had to be done a long time ago, but she hasn't taken care of them although the question would not be in money. Besides, some repairs would regard potentially unsafe issues - weak fencing, ripped off boards with nails sticking out near the feeding area, unsecured grain storage, unsafe hay keeping (it is wet a lot of the time, because the bales are kept in the field until put in the hay bin), flooded shelters or shelters filled with hay bales, thus unavailable for horses when they are needed. Also, there was a huge hole pawed by one of BO's horses in the grain feeding area (one of the stand stalls that are used for that), and recently a horse got dangerously stuck, when the hole had been flooded and then iced by the melting snow. This hasn't been repaired, and we (boarders) had to secure it off ourselves, as the BO didn't see a problem in it.
The BO is very kind to reply to any questions regarding these matters and tell all about here good-sounding plans how everything will be resolved, but nothing has been done over a year since I'm there. There is also a problem with our pastures - they are very overgrazed and some poisonous plants have been taking them over during last summer, but they cannot be renovated as the owner, from which these fields are leased, is against it, so they probably will stay the same for at least this season - besides, there is a huge risk that he will decide not to lease them out any more at some point.
Recently we had a barn meeting and the boarding fee was noticeably raised - it wasn't very expensive before, even below medium, and I completely understand that fees are raised according to the prices of hay, fuel and other factors. The BO is promising that she will use the income for repairs, for hiring a better barn hand, among other things - but, as far as I know, she is very talented at promising, not so much - at doing. There is a lot of chaos in the managment of our barn.
Two of the boarders, who are also my good friends, decided to move. One because of the fees, the other because of the lack of managment. They found a stable, close by, for the same price, but much more easy and cheaper to access. It has been set up in a barn where there used to be another stable years ago, so the place is still a bit scruffy and unpolished, but -
- Horses are 24/7 pastured during summers in a large acreage and well managed pastures - the fields are leased out too, though. Due to a dryer region, there is MUCH less of a problem with horseflies than in my current place, which is very close to a swamp.
- During winters, the horses are pastured for as long as possible (early morning to evening), and stabled for the night. The stalls are very spacey, the barn has almost the same temperature as outside, it is well ventilated and clean. And the BO is ready to consider in making a 24/7 winter paddock if there were enough people to request it.
- They get free choice hay, which is stored in a dry environment. However, in the same building as horses, so there is a fire hazard.
- There are no waterers in the stalls, so you have to take care for the watering during nights in winters yourself.
- It is a much more urban environment, compared to the foresty wonderland of my current place, and the trails aren't that great, but you still can go for a good ride.
- A large outdoor with jumps and a well sized indoor arena for no additional price!
When my friends announced that they are leaving, the BO got...inadequate. She started reproaching them for "being unfaithful to the idea", for harming their horses by stalling them (we all agree that pasturing 24/7 is better for their health), and stating that she will no longer respect them, neither wish to see them as guests - although she always stated that are all friends here.
After that, I have a choice and a couple of days to decide. I am actually scared to harm my horse in some way by stalling him, and I am not exactly sure the new barn would be the best choice - but there aren't many. I visited the barn and talked to the owner, and she seemed ok. I am also offended over how the current BO treated the leaving boarders - under all that mask of sunshine, smiles and frienship. What would you suggest?
And here's the dragon!
Honestly... I would move.
My past barns have made tons of promises but no action.. and it ended up costing me a lot of money in vet and farrier bills.
Plus her attitude on them leaving... NOT professional!
But that's just me..
Thanks, Sky. I am very close to deciding to move now - been drawing pros and cons all day long, and I can always search for a new place if needed. I also got contacted by another 24/7 pasturing facility, that seems nice enough and I will go to see them this evening - might be among my choices, if the public transport is reasonable around there (I don't have a car right now).
If you have a gut feelin to move, then do so. Your horse will not be harmed being in a stable, plenty of horses are in a box more than outside (mine included at the moment) and get by just fine.
I agree with Sky, her attitude for the boarders who have left leaves a lot to be desired. Chances are she will do the same to you, but do not let that put you off. At some stage you have to decide your happiness is much more important than somebody elses.
The current barn seems to have a lot of negatives.
Th 2nd barn, not as many negatives, but the lack of trails depends on if you enjoy limited access or ride more in an arena.
Maybe the 3rd barn you will see tonight will have some other choices that may be better.
Let us know.
Short answer? I would move :)
My rides' car just broke down in the blizzard and the tonights' visit is cancelled for an unknown period of time - I'll visit the place anyway, as soon as I can, though, but for now I gave a positive answer for the second barn - will use my time there as a possibility to do some quality flatwork lessons and increase my boys' muscling. Now I've got a complicated chat with the current BO coming up...
Thanks for your input, guys, that's a lot of baby dragons finding new owners!
Good for you and your horses. By the way, I loved the baby dragon :)
Haha, just don't feed it too much spicy feeds - might get a bit too sparkly! :)
It's good that summer is soon to come - then he'll be again in 24/7 pastures, and I hope I'll find a place with unlimited pasture time for next autumn/winter, too.
I have never seen an automatic waterer O__O that's awesome.
But yeah, if you're feeling uncomfortable where you are now, I say move. 24/7 in a pasture may be better for them, but stalling overnight (at least temporarily if the BO at the new place agrees to 24/7 365 turnout) probably won't kill the horse. There are pros and cons to everything. If I felt confident that my horse could be outside 24/7 without potential predators or other disasters, I would love to do so. However, I tend to be accident prone...and Reno seems to follow in my footsteps (seriously - my room is messy, his stall is messy; I keep my room clean, his stall is significantly less messy).
I hope you find a great facility for your baby.
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