Boarding at an IHSA barn...
I am planning on attending WVU in the fall as a sophomore and I want to join their equestrian team as well as take my own horse to continue riding him. I've emailed the coach/barn owner and all went well except for the turnout times. (My horse is typically field boarded, so is not used to being in a stall for more than 8 hours at a time during the night before a show) She told me that the horses get turned out during stall cleaning, and that I could pay for extra turnout or do it myself. I emailed her back with my questions, but in the meantime I was hoping to get some feedback from you guys.
I competed on an IEA team back in high school, but my horse was not ready for that level of riding. I do remember, however, that the school horses and personal horses rarely got turned out. When they did, it was usually in tiny, gravel paddocks. I am afraid that my horse would suffer the same fate :( I know that would make him very unhappy and will determine whether I end up bringing him to college with me. If anyone has any experience with WVU's team, or any other schools, please, let me know!
Is there any way you can get an idea of the size/condition of the turnout spaces? Are they set up for horses to be in them for extended periods of time (e.g. is there a water trough and grass or somewhere to put hay?)
If there's plenty of turnout space available and it's just up to you to turnout/bring in your horse you could probably manage that as long as it's not too far from the campus.
Alternatively, maybe you could find somewhere else close by that has pasture board?
All the horses at my University were stall horses. They were only turned out (into gravel paddocks) when the student assigned to them took the time to do so. But they were ridden or somehow exercised 1-3 times a day. That said, I believe horses were healthy and happy. It's not what I would choose for my own personal horse, so I did not board at school.
So the coach finally got back to me and was very nice and honest with her answer. She told me that the horses get turned out 3-4 hours a day (which is how long stall cleaning takes) and then said it would be better if I told her what I was looking for. I said that I thought that at least 8 hours a day would be what was best for him, as I would be the only one riding him and I explained that he can be a handful in the cold weather being on pasture 24/7 so I was concerned that I would not be able to ride that much energy out of him. She told me that she was afraid that she could not offer him that much turnout, but that I should wait and see once I got there and rode with the team. She said that if I decided it would work out, that he would be more than welcome to come there.
I'm pretty bummed about this, but I'll be happy just to have the chance to ride while at school. And I have lots of shows lined up for us this summer so hopefully everything will work out in the end :) Sorry for such a late update, but I figured that this could help someone else, so I wanted to go ahead and do that.
My horse only gets turned out 4-6 hours a day, sometimes even less, and he's okay. I would prefer more, but moving is not an option because I would lose my trainer and wonderful barn. It is a barn full of hot dressage horses and my own horse can be a winter monster, but between lunging and the amount of riding we do (5 or 6 days a week of mostly hard riding) they're all pretty happy. It is not ideal, but I don't think it's a great disservice to most performance horses either.
I rode on a NCAA team, and all of our horses were turned out 24/7 (I went to school in the south with great year round weather). We did have some borrowed/personally owned horses that were placed in stalls for most of the day.
I know that when I was on the team, I spent most of my free time at the barn. I would be there at least 4 hours every day (if not more). Perhaps you can work out your own schedule between classes and practices to turn out your guy. Maybe head to the barn first thing in the morning to turn him out, go to your classes, then when you are done with practice you can bring him in? You will also become best friends with some of these girls on the team. You can see if one or a couple are willing to help you out by turning him out/bring him in on days that you cannot. The only problem that may arise from this is days in which you go home for holidays. Then it wouldn't be so bad to pay a little extra to have someone there caring for the horses do it for you. That is, of course, if you aren't taking him home with you on breaks.
Hope this helps.
Is it required that you board at the school? You could probably find an affordable place nearby that offered the turnout you wanted.
I searched for places in the area. It is not required of me to board at the school, however, I plan on taking lessons and competing with WVU's IHSA team. For one, it would be extremely inconvenient for me to take my 2 lessons a week there, and drive to another barn to ride my own horse, when I could potentially get to ride my horse in the lessons on occasion. Also, the barns I did find are either $500+, and still only offer stall board, or are geared toward western trail riders and do not have the facilities (i.e. an arena and jumps) that I need OR are 30+ miles away. The stall board at the school is $350/month and right now at home I am paying $320, so there is not a huge difference.
I absolutely understand wanting your horse with you. But keep in mind that it could be more beneficial to take lessons on several school horses versus just riding your own. When you compete IHSA, you only get a few moments to warm up on your assigned mount before you enter the ring. You are riding unknown horses from the host show facility, not showing your own horse - the more experience you have adjusting to a new mount, the better your show season will be.
I am very familiar with how IHSA works. I competed on an IEL team when I was in boarding school in high school. I just meant that they would probably let me ride him on occasion in lessons. Not all the time. And it would be much more convenient if he was already at that barn so when I was done with my lessons I could work him as well. But I've pretty much already made up my mind that I will not be taking him, at least not until I see how the team is and how the barn is run.
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