Rant and Help? -long-
Ok, first of all, I was once totally spoiled for two years to have 4 acres of pasture and a lovely 6 stall barn and a house that I rented. I knew that moving into a boarding situation would be hard, but I don't think I realized the extent of the drama!!!
I am a pretty relaxed, friendly person who just wants to get out there and work with my horse and maybe socialize a bit of others are into talking.
When renting the small property was no longer an option, and the only option was an apartment, I bit the bullet and boarded. Now, I have two horses so I couldn't afford the 'best of the best' and didn't WANT to go into a show barn. So, I found this lovely place that was on 80 acres of land. 40 fenced for horses, which was great...except that it was 40 acres of trees, rock, and a trickling stream and heaven forbid you want to just go for a quick ride...you can't even FIND the horses unless it's around meal time, which was early in the morning or late evening (like it should be, granted) So, there was a small pasture in the front, probably about 3-5 acres though I'm not one that's super great at judging. Well, I put my two horses up there and supplied my own grain (Purina strategy) and offered to buy around bale for when the grass got too low. It worked out well, though some of the fence needed fencing since the owner had let it go due to not having a single horse on that part of his land for several years. The trouble came when a woman who lived in a mobile home next to 'my' pasture felt that hey weren't fed enough and started to go into MY feeding bin and feeding them TEN times what they should have gotten!!! They were definitely NOT skinny, but that sure was eating up my wallet!!! On top of that, the owner was feeding as well (per my request as it was too far out to visit twice a day not to mention that BOTH of my horses are easy keepers and don't need that much grain!!!) Other little things started to happen, like hearing people snipe behind eachother's backs. There was also no real "safe" riding area. Just 40 wooded acres with horses, then another 40 acres of trails (If you knew where they were!!!) Not to mention that at his time in my life I was trying to gain confidence in riding again after a very bad accident, and the rocks, dips, hills, mini mountains, streams, and anything but a fenced in, flat area was not the best place to gain ANY kind of confidence! While my horse was well behaved, I was doing the worst case scenario every second of every ride I ever did out there. So, between the riding conditions, and the battle over feeding or finding my horses, I decided to look for a new place.
Walah! I found one that is 15 minutes away with all the stop lights and traffic of rush hour! It had separated pastures, a 60 foot round pen, a fenced in riding area (grassed, but still nice and soft) and everything else a quiet city girl who's just a little bit country could ask for! So, I move them that day!
Surprise!!! I get out to my now ex-barn and my horses are no where to be seen...Why weren't they in the front pasture? Because apparently some time last week they got out!!! They had been found on the road!!! Luckily, I give a call, and while they don't come running, the 'herd' slowly made their way out of the trees in the 40 acres. I grab my two horses, all of my stuff (saddles, grooming supplies, everything) load up, and drive away. Surprise number two...I get to the barn, and look at my horses for the first time. Both have lacerations to their legs, one right under the ankle bone where it was obvious they had gotten caught up in the fence while trying to get out! I was devastated! How could the previous owner NOT call me when they got out? How could he not call me to warn me that they were out on the 40? How could he have put them out there and not noticed their legs and told me I needed a vet out there!!!??? At this point I feel that I had gotten out of that place just in time! Luckily, the cuts weren't bad. Good soaking, cleaning, antibacterial spraying, and 'swatting' for about 2 weeks had all the swelling down and had it all healed up rather nicely with the only scars to the area just under the ankle bone. No stitches!
Now, everything is going great for a few months, I'm in school, working towards a license, I have my horses close so I can see them everyday! Then winter comes...My car blows up...I do live with my mother due to the economy, so I do have an occasional ride, but not every day. So, I set it up with the new barn manager that if I supply the grain, he feeds them once or twice a day as needed. I even offered to pay him more. He didn't make me pay more, but said he'd do it. I was VERY grateful!!! Until about the third week passes and I notice my grain levels haven't changed....I approach him and he tells me that he put an extra bag in there since I had run out...Hmm...Fishy...but ok...I believe him because he's never done me wrong yet and was a nice guy. So, I make sure to put extra bags of grain out there so he wouldn't have to spend "his" money on any more of "my" grain. (He wouldn't let me pay him back for the bag he supposedly put in my bin) Again...A week goes by,and other than the grain I feed on the weekends...no change in level, and the buckets are dusty....I approach him again, this time I bring up that the buckets were all in the same place and dusty. His excuse? "What, I can't put your things back where I got them from? And it's a barn, of course it's dusty"..."Ummm....Ok....Please feed them double portions as it's getting colder" He agrees. Now, not only is the feed not moving much (though is some I'll admit) but they are getting skinny. It's about feb and while he has a round bale out there and says that he's feeding them, I find out that even when he does feed, he just takes a bucket and throws it out on the ground out in the pasture for everyone to fight over!!! And neither of my horses are dominant!!! What the heck man!? I ask him to PULL THEM OUT while he feeds, he said he would....I think you know where that was going. So, I take it upon myself to utterly badger my mother to get me out there once a day to geed grain and pull them out for some in hand grazing in the riding area. (this would be in the dark since my mom doesn't get home until after 6pm)
Remember that lovely 60 foot round pen I mentioned earlier? Well, guess what...now THAT'S gone....apparently it belonged to a boarder who was there only temporarily and I was not privy to that information. Ok...I need to be a big girl and ride in the actual riding area instead of the round pen anyway...take a deep breath, and advance myself to a more open place to get comfortable.
So, another deep breath "Spring is coming and there will be plenty of grass to graze on, taxes will be coming, and I'll get a 'new' car to get myself out there twice a day every day!"
Another few months goes by and there's some poor management getting rather noticeable now. Nothing big, but little things that make you go 'Hmmm'. Like...Why weren't the horses switched to the more grassed in pasture? (one is all pasture with a few nice shade trees while the other is about half trees and half grass) I bring it up to him and he blows me off...Ok, not my barn...but they are my horses....So I just keep them on their feed and keep on him about getting round bales out there.
Spring comes...round bales have lost quality and are no longer hay at all...but STRAW!!!
Another deep breath...but I still don't have a car....I ask him to switch pastures again. It's not for another 2-3 months that he finally trades the pastures out (the spare was being used for turn out for stalled horses...sooo, horses that get hay and grain twice a day get the fully grassed pasture?) at last another boarder comes along. A nice man who has a QH mare. He told the manage to change the pastures as well...guess what...HE FINALLY DOES!
Ok...so I'm a woman...and he's a man...whatever, now I'm just happy that it got done.
(Note, there was no damage done to the horses other than a term called 'winter skinnies' that happens to pastured horses through...yup, the winter)
Now my horses are gaining again and I keep up on their feed, supplementing with alfalfa pellets as well.(something I started back before my car exploded)
Another 2 months, it's now June, I have a car and am out once a day 6-7 days a week. The pastures are over grown with weeds and NEED to be bush hogged. However...no one can get in contact with the manager! He has now fallen off the face of the earth unless you talk to the girl he hired to handle the horses and clean the stalls. A nice girl, but not one who knows much about horses, or is confident around them.
Incident with a boarder-An in foal, show mare is turned out for the night from her stall...her owners come in the next morning to find her leg severely cut up due to down smooth wire that was supposed to be a hot wire and, you know...NOT on the ground!!! Again a 'lucky' escape as it was no worse than mine from the other place. 15 minutes a day, twice a day of rinsing it with water and some antibacterial spray. A scar is almost promised, but she's safe and healthy and no stitches were needed. The foal was not compromised, thank goodness.
In one week two stall boarders leave (together, and go to the same barn), and it's not that their horses weren't fed (both were chunky in their own right) It was due to lack of management, and one said because her kid was the ONLY kid out at the barn, which was true. So, he lost two people now. Within that same month, he kicks another stall boarder out who boards two horses because she refused to close up a metal barn with horses in it! (Granted the woman could get rude if you crossed her, but she had a point! Not only that, but just the week previous, she and some friends came out to the barn and mowed it and cleaned it up, repaired some boards, and otherwise helped him, for FREE) His reason for wanting the barn closed up is that his ex-girl friend...whatever whoever she is, might be back in town and try something the barn and the horses...So now we don't just have normal barn drama, now we have outside drama!!!
He's now down to 2 stall boarders, and a meager handful of pasture boarders (one of which as far as I know have dumped 2 horses on him and have stopped paying, though I'm not certain to this as it's not really my business)
I am now having to sell one of my horses due to the economy and the fact I have no one to ride with. She is too young and too promised to just let sit in a pasture ridden once a month. A lovely family is trial-leasing her and so far LOVE her and know that they are going to buy her. Bitter sweet...but best for everyone in the end...I hope.
Now, the fencing still hadn't been dealt with and the horses were starting to disrespect it. It was just simple horse fencing. It got wobbly at first, so I, or other boarders, would go out and tighten it as best as we could.
I miss one day where I just don't go out there. It's hot, heat index 112, and I'd been out there every day for the past 3 weeks with out incedent. I go to see the horses the next morning and notice that they are in the riding area and not in their pasture (which was sepperated by that wobbly wire fence) I don't panic, I just go out there, and asses the situation...Yup, just as I thought. The fence was not all the way to the ground and wire is everywhere. I call the girl who works there (after trying, futily, to contact the manager) and am told that the manager knew about it and would be out later to fix it. (I'm now irritated by this point just knowing that he knew and just left people's horses out there!) I told her that if he couldn't be out there within the hour, that it didn't matter, and I was going to stall them.So, while explaining that I need to put my horses in stalls (something I haven't done in over a year) because no other pasture area is acceptable. (studly gelding in one, two bullies in another, the only one left has only 2 horses that belong to the manager but it's the 'turn out' pasture now and I had previously been told never to put my horses in there) She of course has to call him (like I hadn't tried...whatever) She gets a hold of him ASAP though and calls me back in less than 2 minutes stating that it was 'ok' to put my horses up...Where the heck else am I going to put them?! On the street?! UG! Ok ok, it's not her fault, she's not the fence fixer, she just mucks, feeds, and turns out, and sadly has to be the go-between for all of this horse pucky!
I went out today to see him 'fixing' the fence. He tells me (grumbling I might add) that I can put my horses out. I flat out tell him that they are not going back out in that pasture until the fence is all the way fixed and all the wire is picked up, and go about my business. (Not in a mean way as I really don't want to piss him off!!!)
Now, here's where I need help. It's VERY clear that I need to move my horses. Soon to be one horse as one will be moving out to her new owners private property. However the only places around here expect you to pay well over 250, and in some cases, 400 just for pasture board! They do feed twice a day, but only their grain, which is usually some kind of mix of pelleted and sweet feed that I want to keep well away from my horse. She's young and an easy keeper, last thing I need is founder! I'm at a loss...I keep a keen on craig's list, and have looked all over the net for local boarding places, and while I live in what is apparently 'horse country' there are few places close, or even half way affordable for a middle class person to afford! When did you have to be a millionaire to board a horse?! Not to mention, that at the top of every freaking list, is the barn I'm at now! UG!
Please, suggestions, words of encouragement, and positive things are needed. Just please don't expect me to part with my last horse. She means the world to me...Literally, she is the only reason I wake up every morning. She is who got me riding again. She is my best friend, the one who's shoulder I cry on. She is the only one who even hugs me, simply tucking her chin to my bottom when I throw my arms up around her huge neck. She had been through so very much with me, and on many occasions, the only thing that has kept me alive. She is my ultimate therapy and without her I would utterly crumble.
(As a note, I am going out twice a day while they are in the stalls and doing self care now and feel confident that so long as I go out there every day, even after they are put back out to pasture, I can keep up on anything that happens....even if I have to take the wire cutters out there myself!)
I hope you find a new place!! I will keep my fingers crossed for you!
Thanks. Me too!
I feel bad being so harsh on this guy because I know that he's having his own life issues, but it's affecting me and my horses in a VERY big way! I want to wish him the best...but it's hard when I'm barely getting 'ok' -sighs-
Ya, i dont think he should let his own life issues effect the boarders this way. He could at least keep the fences up to date, and feed the hroses properly if your paying for it!!!
Since this place is affordable and they do have a reasonably responsible person feeding and your biggest complaint is the fencing, why not volunteer to help fix the fence? I know thats what you pay a boarding facility for but if the price is right, why not throw them a bone?
I am totally sympathetic to your situation. The barn where I board Nico is far from perfect. We have similar fencing problems and while I was brought there because of the advertised 'miles and miles of trails' I have been severely let down by the fact that a. most of those trails are by asphalt. b. Barn rules state you are not allowed to ride out alone. Since most people who board there dont work and I do, I never get to ride. They have a ring but its crappy. They have a roundpen that is full of weeds...taller than my horse.
If I wasnt in the process of selling my horse, I would be in the process of moving. Around here, prices are pretty reasonable...in the 250 range for stall board and about 200 for pasture. Problem is, everyone is full. Sometimes its best to stick it out where you can instead of looking elsewhere. Every barn I have ever been to has drama. I hate it but its a fact of life.
If you cannot work things out at your current barn, most places are willing to let you work off some of your board. Thats always an option!
I have actually offered my help to him as while I had my horses at my own property I walked the fence line weekly and have put one up all by myself, as well as taken one down. He however, just shook his head and said he had it. And honestly, after he kicked the last people out who helped him, I'm a little afraid to do too much on my own.
Also, while the stalled horses are well cared for (simply because he pays someone to do it) he almost REFUSES to take proper care of the pastured horses, even when offered extra money to do so.
Even last winter when I begged him to pull my horses and feed them separately, he had extra stalls with NO horses in them, a riding area where no horses were, a round pen (before it got removed), and several places to just tie up a horse and leave the lead long enough to get their head into a bucket, and he didn't do ANY of that! And when I asked the girl who worked for him why my horses weren't getting fed, she told me that he told her that he was taking care of it (Oh yay, he said she said...joy...) and that it wasn't her job. Even if it was, as nice as she is, she's still timid around a 'herd' and would probably have just thrown the feed down to let hem fight over it as well because that's what he does and she's learning from him. (She's a whole other story, oh jeez)
And while the place IS close and IS affordable, I worry EVERY DAY if today is the day that I have a 3k vet bill because of illness by stale water that has mosquitoes in it, or because this time, they weren't so lucky with the fencing and downed wire. Or, is today the day I put one down because a horse with full shoes was turned out with clear stallion behaviors and previous proof of being a bully broke her leg with one ill placed kick?
I just can't take the stress of thinking of my life with out her or anything bad happening to her...and I know that sounds really cheesy, but I KNOW that there are others who's horses saved them spiritually, emotionally, and mentally...if not physically.
Seriously, if this guy was willing to work with me HALF as much as I am willing to work with him, I feel that things would be ALOT better. However, that's not the case, and I see danger around every corner out there or fear being booted because I've said something he didn't like.
Owning a horse, while surely bringing some stresses and dramas to your life, isn't supposed to be all about fear fear fear stress fear, ride, fear fear fear.
Every time I turn around I'm doctoring another wound. While minor as most usually are...I don't want the next one, to be the last one...Perhaps that's the fatalist coming out in me, and I TRY to stay positive, but it's just very hard seeing and dealing with what I have at this place.
Also, the lack of communication between him and the boarders is disturbing. I might not feel so completely spaztastic if he'd just talk to me and tell me he's working on it and that it'll be ok.
When your barn manager is placed in the VA psych ward...tell me you wouldn't worry about your horse.
Find a place where you dont worry about your hroses, yo uwant a place where you trust the people to take care of your horse. :)
Yes. Even if I have to pay a little more, I don't mind.
I'm actually heading out right now to go look at a place that's 3 times as far and about 1/3rd as expensive just to get into a 'safe' environment.
Wish me luck!!!
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