Move yard? Covid? First world problem? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 71 Old 06-18-2020, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: London, UK
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Move yard? Covid? First world problem?


I thought to give a little update on my situation with Katie. Last I wrote about us was before covid and had an instructor lined up and made a plan to get out each weekend to get some solo trail time even if it meant 5-10mins at first. Less work = more bonding time. Was planning to have sold house end of this year and buy property out in the country with land and get another horse for Katie (my horse, for those that don't know us!) and some farm citters.

Well covid happened and due to the nature of my work didn't take long to contract it (nhs). Protocols weren't being followed well enough so I actually decided to leave in the end as I come into contact with too many vulnerable people to risk their lives - elderly neighbours who have helped for years and such who have no family. Am financially safe at least for the remainder of this year and am looking for some flexible work.

I've not ridden in months. Scrap that- in three months I've seen Katie once. Between getting covid, sick family, lockdown, yard changes and repeated exposure to people confirmed positive I can't justify putting other people at risk. It's seriously affecting my mental health. Seeing Katie, spending quality time at the yard or going for hand-walks was some of the most important time for me to decompress. But it doesn't look like its letting up and to make things worse the yard owner has decided that she will very likely keep (likely not certain) the yard changes she put into effect for covid which impacts me the most. As a reminder because am in the city the arrangement was as follows:

1. yard owner has 10 stalls on her private premises (think attached like a garden to the main house on a street). NO FACILITIES. JUST STALLS. NO ARENA. There is amazing local hacking in the green reserve nearby and horses are transported to fields every few days for turnout out the city.

2. because of the above yard owner rented 10 extra stalls AND an arena at another yard 15 mins away. This is where I spent most of my time. After work I could use the floodlit arena. Could do fun training things, ride bareback, ride however I wanted because its so strict around here to ride on trails/roads. There are some cute trails nearby that I went on hand-walks and was planning on venturing out more on horseback as some of you know. Because of lack of business, understandably, yard owner has had to "unlink" herself from this yard and its not longer an option as people on the premises weren't following covid protocol (some thinking its just the flu and not caring).


Cons in staying:

- I can only visit by appointment only and only ride by appointment once a weekend

- No arena which means no more quiet evenings riding bareback at my leisure. No more free schooling or fun trick-training sessions.

- This is petty and I pay for it obviously but staff usually taken care of everything so she's super clean and groomed when I arrived. Grooming was so therapeutic for me.

- No arena means no riding lessons and to get to the nearest arena requires transport and who doesn't have a car, much less a trailer right now? Me. I was gonna purchase one when I moved but everything is on hold now. Note: staff go to jumping clinics etc because yard owner transports everyone in their lorry but transport to lessons for plain old me isn't gonna be so easy.

- Hacking/trail riding alone will be impossible for me at my current level. Staff ride her very frequently but only ever in groups and she is very bonded/attached now. Without an arena to improve my own riding skills and the fact I'm limited to one accompanied hack a week... I'm sure if I got on now I wouldn't even get down the road.

Pros in staying:

- Katie is EXTREMELY well looked after and is having a blast travelling around, jumping clinics etc as above

- If something happens to me during these strange times I don't need to worry about her welfare which was a huge relief when I was sick

- OK I can't arena ride but this is a good opportunity to get more hours hacking in a group to better prepare me I guess for hacking solo in the long-term?

Move options:

I am looking for flexible hours but would plan on being DIY.

- Keep her down the road from my house for a bit. But its 24/7 turnout, no stall, no facilities nothing, no staff or livery service. I wouldn't be able to have lessons and you can only hack on the gravel bridle path.

- Find a new yard if one would even take me with facilities that I can DIY at. But it would mean a minimum of 30mins commute once I have a car.

- Don't move. Wait out the rest of the year to see what happens.

Staff love her. They have offered to buy her. She has paid to clip her for the jump clinics. While I was sick they put together to find her fitting tack as I had hers at home. She's having a blast. And I'm paying full livery fee for her care which is fine but then I can only see/ride once a week for a limited amount of time and despite all the positives am seriously depressed over it. I love her a lot :< I want to make this work but feel miserable. It's the last straw on the camels back with everything going on. It actually got me thinking about how some people deal with shared custody of their children. How hard it must be to be the parent that can only have your kid like 2 nights a week and look like the "boring/irresponsible/bad cop" parent y'know? Or to even be a parent that is deployed. I don't have kids yet and hope to never be in that type situation because I'm hurting this much over my horse :<

I don't know what to do. Or if I should do anything at all. Or if I'm just being petty. Thanks for listening as usual. I have no one that really understands. "It's just a horse" :<
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post #2 of 71 Old 06-18-2020, 11:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Southern Indiana
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You've had it rough! Are you on the mend now?

So I've never been in a boarding situation but what really sounds ridiculous to me is that you'll only be able to ride and see your horse 1 day a week by appointment only. If this was just during the pandemic it would be a little more understandable but If I read what you wrote correctly they are going to keep this practice in place from now on. That would be unacceptable to me.

The other ridiculous is that they use YOUR horse at will but yet no discount in the board you pay. You need to come down hard on them about that. Either give you a steep discount (I'd insist on at least half) or stay off your horse. Who pays the vet bill if Katie is injured at a show? What if it's a permanent injury, are they going to compensate you her worth?

You may have no choice right now if you're still testing positive for Covid but I'd yank her out of there in a heartbeat once you're clear.

I know you live in a city so aren't used to having to go very far to do what you need but a 30 minute drive is nothing where I live. Heck it takes longer than that to get to the grocery store.

And by the way, I don't think you are being petty at all, I'd be livid.

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post #3 of 71 Old 06-19-2020, 05:09 AM
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Northern Florida
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They have offered to buy her.

This is where I would have opened my mouth and said, "Well, she's not for sale. Maybe a half lease would suit you"
Now they are getting what they are getting now and you are getting what you are getting now due to circumstances. You can still ride once a week but they are paying half of the bill. If they don't want to do that, then I would move her to a field where she can hang out with other horses and you can visit and groom her. I bet she would be just as happy hanging out with horses, running and bucking, and eating.

I don't think that I could board my horses where other people were constantly using them, I could only come and see them once a week at a scheduled time and not know what is going on with them for the remainder of the week. That would drive me insane. It also takes a lot of trust on your part. I don't have that.
I understand that you are closer to your circumstances, it may not be that bad and you know the people. But, it doesn't sound like you are liking it much either.
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Last edited by LoriF; 06-19-2020 at 05:17 AM.
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post #4 of 71 Old 06-19-2020, 07:40 AM
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OK if I recall correctly, she alternates between a pasture somewhere and these stalls in the city? I seem to recall that in the past you've gone out to her pasture to visit her? Could you do that now, to at least get some horse time? I don't know how strict of a personal protocol you are following -- do you feel like you can leave the house for a "mental health" visit? Hmm, but you don't have a car. I was thinking you could just buy (or lease) one now, as you'll need it out in the country, but if you live in the city now I suppose parking might be a problem.

I guess I'm just thinking about how to get to see her in the short-term.

For the long term, I keep my horses in full-time turnout, and they are really happy about it. They prefer it to being stalled. As long as the place has SOME shelter, enough for all of the horses, it should be OK. If the pasture is sufficient, they don't necessarily need staff. If Katie really needs extra feed, hay, supplements, then yes you'd have to do it for her. You already enjoy grooming her, so it's not like you need to pay someone for that. If I found a place like that, that was just down the street from me, I'd seriously consider it. I hate being as far away from my horses as I am. If it's really close, you could see her every day! And maybe you could ride her in their fields?

Oh, and if you enjoy grooming her, having a gray horse out on pasture all the time, in the UK, you should get lots of chances to groom her.

I think part of it maybe comes down to what you want from her. This barn where she is now does show jumping -- do you really care? Is that something you want her to do? Is it something YOU want to do? Or do you really just want to enjoy quiet hacks out? If it's important to you that she jump, you may have to prioritize that over seeing her frequently, at least for now. If not... why not give the place down the road from you a chance? You can explain the situation to your barn owner without going into too much detail ("I would like her closer to me so I can see her more often") and leave it at that. That way she doesn't get upset, and you haven't burned any bridges, so if you change your mind and want to go back to your current place, you should be able to do that.

Those are my thoughts. I also like @LoriF 's idea about offering a half lease.

I hope you get to see her soon. My barn has really loose policies around Covid, which has irked me, but being able to see my guys several times a week has saved my mental health.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person

Last edited by ACinATX; 06-19-2020 at 07:45 AM.
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post #5 of 71 Old 06-19-2020, 08:27 AM
Join Date: May 2014
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First rule of crisis management: donít make any rash long term decisions. You donít have to do anything right now. Wait until you are healthy again. That shouldnít take long now. Can you get tested? I ask because we can get tested at personal request easily over here but I gather thatís not the case everywhere.

Once you are healthy and non-contagious, go spend some time with her. Settle your thoughts. And make a decision. From what I remember, you have been unhappy with the situation for a long time. There is no use going backwards and forwards all the time. That is what is making you miserable, not the situation itself. Either move her (and move her again if still not happy) or commit to the current situation and make the best of it. Second guessing yourself all the time has no benefits and is making you unhappy.
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post #6 of 71 Old 06-19-2020, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Kalraii View Post
And I'm paying full livery fee for her care which is fine but then I can only see/ride once a week for a limited amount of time and despite all the positives am seriously depressed over it.
Are you kidding me? These people are using your horse and are limiting you to seeing her once a week.

If this were me, they would be paying at least half of her livery fee. You don't get to use and enjoy a horse for free. They aren't doing you a favor by using her, you are doing them a favor by letting them use her for free. They should be thanking you, and offering to pay you for her use.

Have you considered half-leasing her to someone specifically? It doesn't necessarily have to be at your current barn, but it might feel a lot better splitting the costs for her 'officially'. I know I get a pit in my stomach when I am handing over my check for boarding my horses when I wasn't able to see them hardly at all. Horses are expensive, and when you aren't getting a return on that expense, it can really hurt.

If they aren't willing to begin paying, I would leave. Could you rent a stall at the place that your BO used to lease stalls? Find a private property that wants to half-lease your horse, and you use their facilities as well?
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post #7 of 71 Old 06-19-2020, 09:22 AM
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I've read no one else's response/comment only your first entry, so here goes...

Good Lord girl, you've been through the wringer physically, emotionally and with everything in your life..
Upside down, sideways, backward, you've taken on all challenges and if not won the battle you are nearing the finish-line in conquering on your terms.

So..financially you are in a good spot.
That is a huge stress release allowing you to heal and recover yourself as is needed.
Now for Katie who is your wrenching thought....

For me, ...
Yes she gets excellent care at the place she is at...
She should. You pay for it and this place has almost, if not exclusive use of her whenever they want with the now protocols in place and the fact you were so sick and yet not totally yourself.
Sell her? Not if you can possibly avoid it as it would devestate you emotionally.
If you ever were put into that position, this is where I would place the offer on your terms of $ paid and it would not be less than what you paid for her, in fact in would be considerably more as she has proved herself versatile and rider friendly to everyone...what is not to love about her?? NOTHING!

So, you have a home in the country or are able to distance yourself to a more rural location now...
There is a place not far from you that boards horses, but it is only field board.
Care is on you, no help really.
Bridle path {groomed} to ride on only..
You would be able to see Katie more often...
You would be able to see Katie more often...

I think it is time to be selfish with Katie for you...
You, you, and more you...
I see "0" benefit of Katie being where she is for you.
No lessons, no ring to ride in, not permitted to see her but one-time a week with the hours and restrictions put in place.
Others accommodations are made for but not for you, yet the barn gets free-rein to use Katie whenever they wish??

So, cons of where she would go to...
No shelter of barn...let's see, when she is shuttled or was shuttled to the other facility for R&R she had no shelter and she more than survived.
No ring...are you really going to be looking to ride every day for hours going roundy-round?
No lessons...when is the last time you got to have a lesson?

No staff said it is good therapy for you and you love to groom Katie and spend time with is your chance.

I'm not seeing a reason to stay where you are with the exception of...
Are you well enough and recovered enough to go see, not necessarily ride but go see Katie to check on her a couple times a week?
The more you can do of course the better...but...
There is no question in my mind your horse needs to remain yours, do not sell her if you possibly can avoid it.
Katie is a reason for you to work toward resuming your health and life...
For therapy reason, mental and physical benefits to you this horse would be on a lorry headed to a new place where you can see her more often if nothing else to give and get a hug and attention from her to you and you to her.
Sometimes you need to put you first and not think about anyone else...
No placating of the current barn to soften and give more toward you...the handwriting has been on the wall for a long time. They used Katie {with your permission} as if she was theirs and often you were a afterthought when they wanted to use your horse for a beginner group of riders to go overnight riding...oh, maybe she should get a invitation..grudgingly given think it was.
I have a memory and not forget often truly how "I" was treated...
My horse they loved but the one paying the bills so they had a free ride of no expenses for her fell all on you.
You paid them to use your horse for others pleasure that they then also got paid for...who wouldn't accept that and run to the bank with it...
No more...take Katie to where you can see her, ride if you feel like it or up to it, but just spend time with YOUR HORSE!!

I so hope you continue the recovery from covid and each day regain a bit more of you...this is more than a small illness to have had...
You are one of the statistics few are told are a survivor!!
hugs...feel better and bring Katie home where she is part of your therapy and recovery plan.
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post #8 of 71 Old 06-19-2020, 09:39 AM
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Much good advice given here, and I agree it's perfectly right to be selfish about Katie being YOUR horse. As far as moving- if I'm understanding the details correctly, it would come down to whether or not I'd be able to commit to driving somewhere multiple times a day for full DIY. I would personally find that very challenging. I also always did full livery when boarding because even a 15-20 minute drive would have been extremely difficult to fit in twice a day. I have mine home now, and it's not a problem to handle chores multiple times a day when I'm just walking out to the back yard. Having to get in the car to do the same would have been a different proposition.

As far as having no barn, no arena...With mine at home, I have them outside in a field with 3-sided shelters. They are out there all day every day all year round (including in driving sleet, snow, and far below freezing temps in the winter). They do just fine that way. I do have a barn where I can stand them when vet/farrier appointments happen, but if I didn't have that I'd just park them in the outdoor shelters and that would work ok too. I don't have an arena but live on quiet country roads so do all my hacking on roads and in the fields and trails I can ride to. I guess there are occasional times when I miss having the option of an enclosed space to work on a riding issue (mostly with my own riding skills, more so than my horse), but I just handle those things the best I can in the field.

I'm with the others who get the sense the barn Katie is at has horribly taken advantage of the situation and the balance of what's tolerable has gotten even more out of whack with Covid-related restrictions. Hope you get to a workable solution soon.
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post #9 of 71 Old 06-19-2020, 11:05 AM
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I've read all of the above as well as many of your other posts and I keep coming back to - is she too much horse for you if you don't have support? It happens. You fall in love, get attached and then you realize that the horse you call your own can be more than you can handle at the current level of expertise you have. That is where your instructor/trainer and leases come in handy. They fill the gap between your level and the level she needs.

For you a bond has built and the horse takes care of you. Doesn't mean she will be an angel though without support and guidance. So you need to decide what is best for the pair of you. The first question to ask is - are we better apart? Hard question and I am not saying sell her but I am saying think long and hard about your goals and whether you can get there by yourself if you move her to your eventual place in the country and find her a friend. Finding her a friend may open a whole new can of worms as those bonds are stronger typically.

I know so many that put themselves in that situation and they end up with a pasture pet. Not that having a pasture pet is a bad thing. For some it is ideal.

How many threads do we have here that deal with too much horse, not enough rider (skill level and confidence) and little to no or the wrong support? If you answer honestly and your answer is BUT you are so emotionally tied to this animal you have to ask the question - what do I do about this? Again I am not saying sell because as an adult you have options. I'm also not asking for a public reply. It is a hard question to ask and can be even harder to be honest in answer.

Are we better apart? I know those that have answered yes BUT decided that selling was not an option. Some have grown with their horse and over time their level reached the horse's. They either were in a very supportive boarding situation with a great instructor/trainer and/or leasor OR all three. Some had support that came to them for a fee. Those that didn't either stopped riding and currently just love on them or found something better for each of them. New home for the horse, new horse for the home. Those types of decisions are extremely personal, emotional and can deal a huge blow to your confidence and dreams.

You are recovering from an illness, have limited transport for yourself or your horse so considerations for that must be taken into account. I agree with now may not be the time to make a rash decision but you do want to see if there is a way to ask around about whether this is the norm for your area (full board with limited access if you agree to use by the staff) or these people are truly taking advantage. It may well be they are but that for this moment in time that is what is best until you reach a point you can make some changes - what those changes are, are up to you.
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post #10 of 71 Old 06-19-2020, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for all your responses have sat down and been bawling my eyes out with the stress of everything. I was so looking forward to moving to the country and getting away from this horrid city life. It really is horrid. The noise pollution. All pollution. The attitude. It really gets me down. Will work my backwards.

@QtrBel from the bottom of my heart she's not too much horse for me. I dont feel solid in my seat. She's powerful, bouncy and I'm out of shape after being sick. The arena gave me somewhere to regain everything and improve without worrying. The issue isn't for myself- the issue is that while ironing out any solo-anxiety problems is that I put others at risk and it's obviously more dangerous for both Katie and I. There are buses, cars, cyclists, sunbathers, pedestrians etc If she backs into a car and leaves a dent I have to pay. The pavement where we mount is less than 2m wide. The road itself is wide enough for one car. There are people weaving in and out crossing the road. I don't know the way to the park or any of the route (though I can learn that now I guess) because a lot of it is restricted.

So lets say I get on and try take her out. My end goal has always been to just hack alone and Katie proved in the past its perfectly possible. It is 20 minutes ride to the park entrance and the roads I would be travelling are this:


She balks. Spooks at things because she's either testing me or doesn't feel secure with me (not unreasonable considering I'm out of shape after being sick and its been months). In the picture it's not busy but atm with covid lots of kids are around from the houses, playing with each other, tut I know. If she so much as backs into a car I'd have to pay and backing up into a spin is her way of saying "I wanna go home right now!" She doesn't run because I don't push her to the point of wanting to bolt and I fortunately have never had to worry about any bucking or rearing.

What things can I do (at everyone who sees this) with the space I have? Hacking doesn't give me anxiety. Hacking like the above picture does does :< I can only think that for BOTH our confidence that I spend a lot of time just riding her up and down the street the yard is located regularly and each time going a bit further out. But isn't it stupid to just get on and do that? I can't just hang around at the yard either with covid.

If I manage to do this and reach the park entrance this is what I could get to experience at my leisure:


Please note galloping is illegal as is riding on cut grass but there is.. space and it is beautiful. Staff would definitely help me learn routes.


If I was somewhere like this (where I wanna move) you bet my butt my anxiety would be greatly reduced. Sure she could run home but at least I wouldn't mow anyone down or crash into vehicles. I'd probably just turn her back and go again:

country trail.jpg


So I can hack and be accompanied for now which is fine... but in the long run... I don't know how to make this work. The woman who rides her a lot is lovely and is even coming with me to ride next weekend because she knows Katie so well and for safety - I'm honest about my anxiety riding alone as above. But I can only visit and ride once a week and lessons aren't available for me really as I have no transport to get to an arena. Unless I see if an instructor would do it in the park.. but again.. how do I get to the park alone?
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