Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Horse Boarding Rant!

Most of you know how I try to keep this blog positive but I must warn you that this is an overwhelmingly negative post...

While technically I do own a horse, I have not been immediately responsible for one for over eight months. I HATE not having a horse at home and some days I MISS having one so bad it hurts.
But... oh my goodness there is a “but”!

What I don’t miss is boarding.

I absolutely loathed having to board out my horse. I hated worrying about all the people and potential hazards my horse was being subjected to and stressing over such things as: facilities not being maintained, what kind and quantity of hay and grain was being fed (with or without my permission or against my specific direction), not to mention unsafe herd management and stallion handling practices (such as sending a 14 year old girl (your barn help) out to saddle a stallion up right next to the mares.)

I also found it exceedingly difficult to watch people make stupid, unsafe, or ignorant decisions .... My post on that green girl with Flicka Syndrome was not case specific. I used to see it all the time… and worse! I’d walk around the barn having to turn a blind eye, my stomach turning in knots as I watched a toddler walk under the legs of his mother's horse... or 3-year-olds leading his grandfather's horse with the lead rope wrapped around his hand and dangling around between his legs. I hated watching ignorant people feed their horses hay so dusty and moldy that it had to be "shaken" out before being fed...Horses who, while not starving, were used like pack mules and fed the bare minimum. I found it difficult to watch a mare with wounds left to fester or a stall left un-cleaned for a week, waters left unfilled and feet left to grow long. Sometimes, (or most of the time), I couldn’t turn a blind eye and I’d end up mucking that stall, filling that water, or washing out that wound and more often than not I’d catch nothing but shit for it. I am far from a perfect horsewoman…but I think most of good animal husbandry comes down to employing a little common sense and a good dose of compassion.
Some barns are better than others. The small and private tend to be better but they also generally lack facilities. The larger, fancier barns don’t have as much neglect but are not immune to ignorance or abuse.... The "high class" barns are filled with their own sort...barn managers that refuse to feed your 14.2HH cutting horse anything but rolled oats and alfalfa (which only made her mental) and the same young children left unattended, ignored, or uneducated on safe handling practices. I’d still have to watching dead-lame horses being schooled on, dumbloods be beaten on and horses who sit for months staring at the four walls of their stall.

Sure I've had some good times at the barn and met some fantastic people. But I've boarded since I was twelve years old and I've had enough. I've been in small barns, big barns, fancy, private... full board, self board, semi… I've done it all.

And I don’t want to do it anymore. Right now the excitement of buying a new horse is actually OUTWEIGHED by the stress of having to find a barn where I will have to deal with the least amount of drama, neglect, abuse, and ignorance…and somewhere that will actually feed, clean and water my horse in a caring and consistent fashion (and within a half hour drive of home.)

What do I expect from a barn? What’s reasonable?


  1. I was playing games online however for reading this post more interesting thanks for the share please do keep it going great job....Loveing this.


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  2. I've been through all the same situations and came to the conclusion there is no place for my horses but at home. It wasn't easy but we finally found a reasonable place to buy (after looking for years).
    I know it's not an option for some people to have their own place but it's the only alternative for getting the best care for your horse. Unless you're very lucky and have a decent barn in your area where you can board safely. And those places are hard to come by. I can't believe that these barns can make a dime with the way they treat horses and boarders who are paying good money for their horses care.

  3. I guess I can consider myself pretty lucky. I too have bounced around facilities before and think I have landed myself a pretty good one. Everyone knows Possum. he lives outside with 3-4 other horses with a run in shed and he loves it. he gets along with the other horses. The feeding schedule is prefected, the boss mare is tied while eating so that everyone gets to eat in peace. He has the freedom and space to move around and do what he wants. The facility has in indoor, a large outdoor, a mini cross country course and miles and miles of trails. The barn is also very busy so the horsees are used to hustle and bustle of activity and are never bored. The price is also right which is an important factor for me.

  4. Are there barns in your area that will let you haul in? I'm blessed to live in the highest horse per capita area in Canada so there's no shortage of barns to choose from. (A study was done to get the numbers - lol.) I personally find the smaller more semi-private barns better as there are less people to deal with.

    I've also kept the horses at home and hauled into stables to use the arenas for a fee. Some of the stables will allow you to rent a stall for a night prior to a show if they have space.

    I'm currently investigating cutting stables/trainers within a 2 hour radius. Not fun. Hard to find someone you trust with your furry "children".

  5. I suppose I was lucky. The only place I ever boarded the horses were taken very good care of. They fed only grass hay, they cleaned daily, the stalls had large runs and the horses were turned out in rotation, going out every day or two. The owners were compassionate horse lovers and the horses loved them back.

    Yeah, some of the horse owners were a pain in the butt. That's horse people for you though. We're all opinionated about what we think is correct care, etc. And some people just really don't care, or don't get it.

    I prefer having my horses at home where I can look out and see them anytime. Even if it does mean more work for me.

  6. This just makes me feel even more grateful that I can keep my horse at home. Whew.

    Good luck with your search. I sure don't envy you at all.


  7. Now I really feel lucky that I have always been able to keep my horses at home with me...or at my sister's house; although you know that has its own set of problems too....

    PS-I love the shots of you, your mom, and your sis. Are those from that wedding you went to with the vampy shoes???

  8. YOU got er right...it has been the toughest thing about horse ownership for me. I have had the mare 4 years come Nov and have been in about 8 locals...
    as much as the my previous barn owners in thier grand stable may have said, "it was all my fault I gor kicked out"...they would also neglect to mention they lied to and cheated me and generally cared less about my horse -out in pasture board- than the one that cost $35,000 inside the barn!By the way..that horse is in my pature board spot now for $650. I pd $300 for! NO wonder they kicked me out!That 1/2 acre is really paying for itself now!

    Boarding for the savvy- horse conscience- person, that is involved 100% with the horse they partner with...is TOUGH-ROUGH around these parts...most stable owners want(I have found) the boarder to>>> only show up with the check <<<>>>and not have an opinion!

    I am with you, I HATE BOARDING and have NOT found a suitable place in four years...so I keep looking and praying my mare can survive the inbetweens!

    Sorry your memory serves youso blame well in this area. It is screwy...what some people call care!

    RANTING with you!
    And tryin to get to the point of self care with our own property..someday!
    Kacy w/ Wa mare

  9. I definitely feel ya!! We've been through it too. We're on our 4th barn in 6 years. Then you have to watch our for the stigma of a "barn jumper." We don't have that, but at our current barn, they don't like to get in boarders that are barn jumpers and will be gone in a few months. I say hey, don't give me a reason to leave and I won't!! We are pretty happy with most everything so far, but it always starts out good. You gave me some great advice though when I was lamenting about wanting to move again. Can YOU find an empty field with a barn nearby that you can pay the owner to let your horse stay on? That way it's close and you can go out however many times a day you need to. We are sick of barns too. Everyone wants your money, but they don't want to listen on the care of YOUR horse and the minute you vocalize ANY concern, you are a trouble maker.

    Hope you get it sorted:) We just want a barn with friendly people, safe stalls/fencing, good feeding habits and an owner that actually cares about you and your horse.

  10. I am blessed to have my Boyz at home, and grateful to have Heather and Nita when they do need to be boarded.

    Here's hoping you find the perfect place.

  11. Geez-I haven't been looking forward to moving into a boarding situation this winter anyway and now I am really depressed.:(

    I guess as far as boarding goes, I've been pretty lucky though. The BO's find out right away that I actually show up ALL the time and whenever it suits me. I've never found my horses being fed poor quality feed or out of water. Interestingly enough, it seems that I move into relatively quiet places and am overjoyed that I will usually have the facilities to myself and once people find out there is someone there who rides, they all start showing up to ride too. So much for peace and quiet.

    I was very happy with the place that I boarded the horses at in GJ last fall, so will keep my horses there. They will be in grassy pastures(about an acre) with a run in shed. Pretty much what they are used to. The only thing I have to do is make sure the BO only feeds Bermuda hay-my kiddos cannot handle the irrigated alfalfa grown in most areas. Burns them up! When I get there, I will buy a trailer load of native meadow grass too. They can fill up on Bermuda, but I want them to have really quality, nutritional hay too, because I don't feed much grain.
    The BO has a super nice barn-so I can put them up if I want too, a round pen and a small riding arena. It will work. I'll have to haul a short distance if I want to ride out in the open or at an indoor-but that's okay. I have plans of taking some english lessons, some cutting lessons and some reining lessons. It's going to be fun to actually be around other horse people again.:)

  12. Thanks all for listening to my rant. I apprecaite that having horses at home comes with its own challenges but I'd just love to have my own place some day. I feel for those of you who have had problems like I have. While I do find it less stressful to self board (board but do all your own feed/turn out/etc.) most of the really good places (fences, barns, indoors etc.) dont allow it and so there is always a sacrifice. I guess what I found most difficult was having to turn a blind eye to other people and what they do with their horses... While I can ignore it, it takes away from the pleasure of being at the barn or just hanging with your pony. I'm actually not looking right now but was thinking of what would be involved if I were to purchase a new horse and that got me going on this rant. I am sure you'll hear more of it when the time comes around.

  13. I'm absolutely going nuts with the whole boarding thing myself right now. I'd forgotten how much boarding can suck. I get to worry about my horse 24/7. With my current boarding situation I feel like I'm letting my horse down. People have different philosophies. I don't think mine is extreme. I just want my horse to be safe and healthy. The search continues.

  14. After months of looking at numerous barns and being constantly unsatisfied, I'm so happy I read your post, because I was starting to think I'd gone nuts.

    What is it with the people that expect top prices for the most ridiculous of set ups? Is turn out non-existant in the Mission/Abbotsford area anymore? I don't think I got the memo that stated horses are fine to live in confined areas for long periods of time with no turn out at all.

    The only place I've boarded in the past ten years that I loved was a place just outside of Kelowna. The horse crazy girl cared deeply for each horse under her roof and kept a structured feeding and turn out schedule. She also talked to me; a novel idea that I can't seem to get people to do nowadays. She told me when the hay way coming in, where it was coming from, what she was feeding, along with asking e what I wanted.

  15. You think abbotsford is bad, try chilliwack. The boarding stables are so overcrowded its rediculous, most places have more horses and stalls and they are all standing up to their knees in mud/water come january. Its absolutly rediculous, i'm totally fed up with it, and i'm also tired of barn owners expecting you to sit down and shut up about how you want your horse treated, and then expecting you to fork 3,4,500 dollars per month. This is why i'm selling my horse in the spring, i just can't take it anymore i'm going insane and have lost all the joy in owning a horse, especially when i'm going broke over it. The only way i'm getting a horse again is on my own property! GAHH so upseting!!

  16. Totally agree. At one place I boarded it was border line abuse, they kept the horses inside 24/7 and pumped them up with grain. And no natural light in the barn! brutal....then the next place they wouldn't take off the halter. Left it on my horse for 9 months (unless I came out and took it off), they used the arena for turn out for horses so if you wanted to ride you had to shovel so much crap....then the next place the arena was so bad and deep after lunging for 10 minutes my horse was in a full sweat. it wasn't even usable. Oh, and it was a 20 minute walk to the pasture to get the horses, and don't think about trying to get them in the dark, there weren't any outdoor lights!.... or the place where they NEVER cleaned the water buckets. I cleaned them for all the horses, and I watered the arena there too! Finally, I thought I found a good place, and the lady won't let me tell her what I want with my horse (feeding). she wants to feed her whatever she wants. (beet pulp this week, flax seed next week, free choice mineral the next)! without notifying me! She is constantly ranting with her opinion about the government or how bad showing is, etc. And, I did chores for her and she wouldn't pay me, when I asked for the money, she said she would pay me when she payed me. My husband thinks I am the problem, but I just have a few simple things I want for my horse: clean water, good fencing, good hay, no halter, no blankets, arena for riding with decent lighting, regular turnout, place to keep my few belongings. I ALWAYS sweep up and NEVER talk about people behind their backs. Why do people trash other horse people so much? These people offering boarding arangements need to realize this is a service you are offering! BE PROFESSIONAL!

  17. I have boarded at so many barns with horrible care. A more recent one kept forgettimg to feed my horse. I would show up and he would have nothing. It was painful. I searched and searched and finally got a great barn. But I pay for it, $700 a month. My horse lives in great conditions, dry, awesome shed, water, all day turnout, they feed exactly what I want multiple times a day. My only complaint is they never drag the arenas which is causing some issues with my horse since he is hard to keep sound. I don't expect it to be dragged everyday but for how much I pay its bothering me.

    for my other 2 horses, I rent a barn and pasture. There isn't arena but I am debating moving the main riding horse there to save money. I wish I had my own place.

    1. Hi Anonymous, are you still happy with the $700 barn a year later?

  18. I recently visit your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my 2nd comment. I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting in future, so please keep updating..A nice post on Horse Boarding

  19. Hi Anonymous, are you still happy with the $700 barn a year later?

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