Who has left "bigger" barn for small, private one? UPDATE PAGE 2!!
Hi - I have been grappling with moving my horse. What are the negatives (and positives?) of moving from a 15+ leased horse barn (big herd, obviously much larger pasture, and more "company" in other boarders....although I usually ride during day and I am alone 99% of the time)...to small, "owner on premise" private barn - 4-5 horses, much better care (fed and checked 3x, gorgeous barn in equest. community)? I am worried about less movement and exercise for my horse - is this valid? He is on many acres and the herd runs, plays alot. Does more horses automatically mean more activity? I seem them stampeding around sometimes. My horse is arthritic and I love seeing him galloping and cantering around wildly.
In this case, care-wise and maintenance wise, the smaller barn would win over but I worry I would get lonely. I currently trail ride few times per month with a friend but she may be moving. The big issue is winter - not enough hay for herd, my guy low on totem pole and has trouble chewing round bale hay so I end up having to buy groceries to keep weight on him, and feed him myself mid-day as a 3rd meal. I simply cannot keep up with that schedule anymore with a family, activities, etc.
Has anyone moved from a barn they loved "socially" and space-wise (bigger fields, bigger property) to a smaller, private family run one and felt they made a mistake, or opposite? Family in this case seems wonderful and I will be going in person this week to meet them and see their place. Thanks
I have boarded at large (30-40 horses) medium sized (10-20 horses) and small (5-6 horse) barns. Every barn is unique and different.
The largest barn was a "show" and "pony club" barn and there was always someone to ride with in the arena or trail, making it fun and interesting. The two smaller barns, I consistantly rode alone and often don't even see another person.
The larger barn treated horses like livestock, there were just so many they couldn't get individual attention. Also, my pony (and often ME) were snubbed by some, not being "show worthy" anymore. Although she was a favorite among the pony club kids who constantly gave her carrots. My pony was often bitten or kicked in big turnout crowds. The smaller barns were definitely more accommodating to older horses or those with any "special needs".
I'd say bigger barns are great for the owner, but smaller barns are better for your horse. That's just been my experience.
I'm at a small barn. There are a lot of horses but most are owned by the BO! I wouldn't worry about your horse and his well-being. I'm sure he'll get the exercise and social interaction he needs.
Yes, you may get lonely, but I've found if you make just one friend at the barn and plan to ride with her/him whenever you can, you won't be lonely. And you'll find that having some solitude time with your horse is nice.
Thanks everyone. I am alone most of the time, esp. during the school year, I ride alone during the day. I work PT and ride mid-day while my kids are in school. I so enjoy my weekend trail ride with my friend, but if she moves, that will obviously change. The negs. at my barn are poor fencing (broken, sharp pieces in some spots) and hard rings that I know owner will not put $ into. (Property is in limbo due to development in the area - has been for yrs). Rings not dragged for weeks. The trails are fab. but a 10 min. ride to get there and some days I just want to do ring work for 1/2 hour. And the hay is a huge issue....both the type and the quantity. I have a tough time keeping wt. on him in winter, worry about ulcers when the grass leaves, and end up spending on groceries and time to feed him more. I don't want to enter another winter in that situation again.
I will visit the private barn this week. The pics and description are amazing, and the owner who has been emailing me in depth sounds just caring and wonderful. They have dutch doors that they can keep open in/out of stalls...the barn is new and just gorgeous and gleaming (I can't even imagine that!), quality hay mixes, they will hold for vet and farrier and feed "winter soup" third meal in winter. It sounds perfect for my older guy. Change is hard for me so we'll see.
When we moved to GA, we ended up in a small private barn. I thought I would miss the interaction with others. Instead there are two other boarders who are super nice when we are all there together and other times it is like my own private barn. My horse is turned out with 1 -2 other horses. He seems very laid back and content. The family that owns and operates the barn are very kind and treat the horses well. Now that we are relocating back to TN, I wish I could pack this place with me. I hate barn hunting almost as much as saddle hunting.
I'd say bigger barns are great for the owner, but smaller barns are better for your horse. That's just been my experience.
I think that is a perfect quote. I left a fairly large show barn with all the amenities (indoor arena, lounge, etc..) for a small 8 stall barn. I thought I would go in to complete culture shock and I decided to give it 6 months. A year and a half later I'm still at my small barn and absoulutely loving it. I do miss my vet, used to see him weekly at the big barn cuz someone was always getting hurt--now I just see him when shots are due--ha ha.
My mare is the best she has ever been, much calmer and verrrry relaxed. I do enjoy not having to navigate through the crowded arenas and knowing my horses are getting exceptional care. My teenage daughter does miss the social scene, but she's 16 and spent 6 years riding at the show barn.
I left a boarding barn for a private barn about 2 months ago. I was not riding much, and paying for the indoor, hunt course, etc. at the boarding barn which I was not using. Likewise, my horse was not getting as much turnout on grass as I wanted and there were some other care issues I was not happy with.
I found a private barn close to my house with a perfect set-up. Airy, spacious barn with mats, dutch doors and windows in every stall. 40 acres of property and ample pasture for the 5 resident horses. Unlimited, good quality hay. Most importantly, owners who are on completely the same page I am in regards to care. I'm also paying less than half of what I was paying at the boarding barn, and getting much better care!
At most I am riding about 1-2x a week, and there is ample flat, mowed land for me to hack on. There are also quite a few trails but I haven't ventured out on my own yet. The BO is also in the process of putting in a proper ring so that will be nice as well. Really I'm having much less issue riding than I thought I would, but then, I don't mind hacking out in the open.
Up until this weekend I was the only boarder, and I loved it. Now a friend has brought her mare over too so I will have a buddy which will be nice!
Not all private situations work out.... so very much depends on the personalities involved. I'd vet any prospective situation very carefully before moving your horse. And make sure you leave the boarding barn on good terms, in case you ever need/want to go back!
Last edited by FlashGordon; Jun. 30, 2009 at 10:28 AM.
We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.
Go look at the BOs horses. If they are like yours and cared for as you would, you'll be happy.
In all other respects, you are looking at trade-offs that you know about. The big thing I think you may lose and can't fix is the herd that gets your Old Man to move. Yes, that matters for the arthritic ones.... but then so does feed, as you point out.
In your position, I'd either try it now and be careful to burn no bridges where you are. Or I'd wait until the late fall to move when my horse could get the most benefit from a new winter regime and I perhaps wasn't doing so much riding.
The only problem with the new place may be that you must get out and ride or do something with your horse each day to make up for the movement he isn't getting with his herd. Or you may find that the slow walking around they get with all day T/O is all he really needed.
Thanks for posting. I'm in a similar position with a horse and barn situation that makes be choose between good facilities with poor T/O and access to trials versus good T/O and poor riding facilities. I'll be interested to see what others think about that trade-off....especially because I see so BOs *proudly* explaining that each horse gets between 2 and 4 hours out a day, weather permitting. Really? Polite poker face plastered right on.
If you have an older horse, I think the smaller barn is a good option to check out. I think it will be less stressful, both in activity and in the herd pecking order, and I think that helps horses as they age.
I moved my mare, in her late 20s, from a large group setting where she was very low in status to a barn with just her and another horse. Huge improvement in her mental and physical health.
I left my big barn, team, and coach. Went to a small back yard place with 24/7 turn out--two horses to a paddock. It was wonderful and since I have pretty good work ethic I was able to really get the job done with my youngster.
And then 6 months later the entire team followed me. So I picked up and moved 70 miles away. lol. No one followed this time.
I think that you can find a good barn in any size, as it is the management that counts, not the size.
I have seen great big barns with great attention to details, crossfenced with smaller pastures with fewer and very compatible horses and sorry private barns, where corners were cut and the other way around.
I would make decisions on what the circumstances are and it looks like a move, no matter where, would be better than staying where you are, with all that is not up to par.
Well, I was ABOUT to move from a big barn to a small barn when my mare died suddenly.
The boarding barn I was at was great in a lot of respects--great property (over 100 acres), huge grass turnouts, lots of people to ride with, family-type atmosphere. I was there for 3 years and was generally very happy there.
My main reason for moving my mare was to put her closer to me, and in a situation where she would get individualized attention every day. The private barn was a 6-stall barn, 5 horses plus my mare, on 20 acres. Grass turnouts and dry lot.
The biggest sacrifice was amenities for ME--no indoor, no roundpen, etc. Just an outdoor. But I felt that the benefits outweighed the sacrifices, and I was really looking forward to moving her there. I am currently starting to horsehop and am hoping I'll still get a chance to enjoy the small-barn atmosphere.
Well, to me it sounds like a no-brainer if your horse isn't getting the care he needs and the fencing isn't safe then you need to move.
I would not worry about him not moving at all at the new place. My paddocks are about 1.5 - 2 acres each and the horses are out in singly or in pairs or threesomes. They still move around plenty without a big herd.
Plus, honestly, if I owned an old arthritic horse I'd rather know that a big herd isn't picking on him and preventing him from the food he needs and whatnot. Know he is getting the care he needs and make an effort to handwalk or hack or whatnot to keep him moving more if necessary. It may not even be necessary, in fact, I doubt it will be.
I have a couple older retirees boarded here, both with arthritis and yes much of the time they just do a lot of walking or some jogging around. Sometimes everyone canters... but really... all they need is walking/jogging. Steady LIGHT exercise is best for artritis!
We did too. Our mare is pretty much retired and we were paying for all the amenities we were not using any longer. We were staying for the care only. But, we lucked out! Our BO was moving in with her boyfriend who lived down the road. He was breeding Belgians and his friend had just bought a farm and moved his Percherons out. So, he had space... asked my daughter who had done hay for him several years if we would be interested... duh! 5 minutes down the road, same care (BO !), my mare's best friend was moving too (BO's mare), big stall, few horses, more turnout on flat fields, 2 or 3 horses per field... almost half the cost for same care!
We were the first boarders.. since then, they have fenced more large fields, built shelters for outside boarders, fenced a grass ring, built a tack room, hitching posts... there are a dozen horses plus his own. We know the other boarders but don't see them that often. We see the BO and her boyfriend often. Everything is great! My mare is happy, fat, relaxed, shares one field with her best friend, is out most of the time during shoulder seasons.
I think good, well run, small barns are absolutely priceless! However, being the devil's advocate (as usual) I can say from experience that it is not for everyone.
I am a quiet person who loves nothing more than to hear the horses munching on their hay and the birds singing in the trees. The less people around, the happier I am. Mr. Chief2, on the other hand, loves, loves, loves socialization. There have to be people to talk to, people to do fencing with, people to go for walks with, for rides with, people, people, people.... If there isn't an opportunity for a good gabfest he feels deprived. If the peace and quiet goes on for longer than a few hours, he is searching out all sorts of excuses to get back into the mainstream of people again.
We moved from a large barn (huge gabfests at all times, lots of drama) to a small private barn (ahh, hear those birds!) with excellent care, good people, good turnout, good rules...the sort of place no one in their right mind would want to leave. Except him. He was miserable. 'It was too quiet. There was no one to talk to (besides me and 6 other boarders), no manly men to dig post holes with, repair fencing with, etc, etc. The group rides (very nice) just weren't the same as they were back at the old barn.' The horses were fine and I loved it, but he wanted to go back 'home'. So, after a year and a half of listening to his grumbling and whining, we did. Thankfully it is under new ownership and management, so the din is somewhat tamped down, but it is always going to be a busy barn. So, while he is enjoying the hubbub of the socialization and gabfests, I spend more of that time enjoying the birds more in my own backyard.
If you are like Mr. Chief2 and love the daily hubbub of socialization and barn activity, perhaps with a touch the drama that usually goes with large facilities, then going to a small, intensely quiet, drama-less place may not be for you. If it is your cup of tea, then consider me there with you in spirit.
I did once and it worked out well. My old barn was just a few miles away and I left under good terms so I still participated in the social stuff. A trainer that I had previously lessoned with was just across the road at another big barn so I could hack over there for lessons.
Sometimes I missed the noisy crowd, but not often. I was usually the only person at the barn and usually rode alone. I really enjoyed the quiet times with my horse. I think it actually improved my riding, my horse was a big strong hothead and I had gotten used to having my trainer hop on and fix him when he intimidated me. There was no one at the small barn to hop on..it was up to me. My confidence improved and I got into fixing my own problems instead of looking for help.
The care at the small barn was excellent, it just wasn't a show barn.
I can only say from my experience (if you have a good BO) that the care is better all around. I don't mean inexperienced Joe Schmo who bought some property and now is opening a boarding business.
I've found the BO's can keep a better eye on your horse in a smaller setting - see if anyone is losing weight, just doesn't look quite right, can accommodate reasonable requests more often and you know it will get done because they don't have 30 other horses and boarders to look after.
If I had any issues with a safety hazard in my stall, it gets taken care of promptly. Water is never a issue unlike the big places, were horses just seem to get lost in the shuffle.
I have more fun now with only 6 other boarders instead of getting lost in the crowds and gossip at the big barns. There was just too much tension and drama at the big places.
We have no gossip, everyone gets along, everyone cleans up after themselves.
I've done it. Twice. With 2 different horses. Actually, I've been to a lot of barns with different situations but ultimately the smaller barns have been the best! It does vary and I've been the only boarder at a small barn where the owners were too busy with regular work and the horses often came 2nd or 3rd or even 4th in line on the list of priorities therefore I ended up doing most of the work but if you find the right one it can be great!
Right now I have one horse at a barn with 7 horses total. One is mine, one belongs to another boarder who never comes out, and the other 5 are the BO's. Horses are not always 1st priority but they are never really 2nd either. The horses are so well cared for and it's such a relief to know that any scrape or bump will be treated (I've been there long enough they know exactly how I'd treat a wound so they will take care of it for me until I can get there) and I'll be called (unless it's extremely superficial and a lil corona ointment fixes it). The big barns hardly noticed wounds-even big ones. One big barn did notice a wound but my horse is red and his back leg had a steady blood flow--kinda hard to miss that. Otherwise they really never noticed...or called let alone do something about it if they did.
I have my other horse at my trainers barn. There are 9 horses total (2 of them are a month old though ). However, I'm the only boarder. I hardly ever have company when I'm at that barn but the horses and cats are fine company. It's nice to talk to them with no one around, relax and enjoy my horse without having to be social especially on those days when I really don't want to be. My horse is as happy as can be - his only concern is does he chew his hay on the left side of his mouth or the right side Again, the care is fantastic so...
Both of my horses couldn't be happier or better taken care of. That makes me happy. On days when I want human company at the farm it is kinda boring but I find I appreciate the alone time out there in the end anyway. And really, it's about the horses more than me - I can go to the grocery store if I need to be around people
I love both the small barn I moved to and the large barn I left... One draw back to the small barn is that my horse actually has become very herdbound. Very.
I think the stimulation at the large barn kept her from being too attached to her paddock neighbor who was different from her stall neighbor. At the small barn... her neighbors never change... she is the one that moves the most (shows, clinics, lessons, etc).
The first year was the worst... she's gotten better but not without alot of work on my part.
The biggest plus is the care... it's mostly me. The BO brings in at night and does night feed. I do the rest. That part I LOVE.
I miss the crowds, watching others ride nice horses, the chatting while cleaning tack... I miss the community.
But I love the two people that ride at the small barn and I make communities by going for lessons and clinics elsewhere.