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  1. #1
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    Dec. 12, 2004
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    Default Is it silly?

    I recently moved my 4yo TB mare to barn + indoor for the winter, after a summer of trail riding, to start in on "serious" work. The problem is...she is just miserable there. Despite being on ulcer treatment, she is off her feed, unhappy with the turnout situation (much less and much smaller area), unhappy with her stall, just unhappy. In addition to commenting about how unhappy she looks, everyone has been commenting on how much of a baby she looks like. She did just have yet another growth spurt about a month ago, and is lacking muscling. She is obviously still growing.

    She is still her sweet self, but she's been there for ten days now and is starting to lose weight because she is not eating well.

    I am thinking about swapping her out for my gelding this weekend, and bringing her home where she has been quite happy and healthy. My gelding is just one of those perfect horses, could not care less where he is, and will do well at the barn.

    The issue is....my gelding is well-schooled, if out of shape. He is safe safe safe, so I feel comfortable riding him at home alone. (Part of the reason to move the baby, apart from the indoor, is so that if I tank it off her someone will hopefully notice, unlike at home!) He is not the one that needs work, she is.

    The opinion of most non-horsey people around me is that if I am spending obscene amounts of time and money to be boarding a horse, I should board the one who is 1) not going to hunger strike and 2) be a nice, enjoyable horse all winter.

    The opinion of the horsey people around me is that my mare is clearly not thrivin g at the barn (in fact, is backsliding to the skinny TB she used to be), and looks so "not done growing" that I likely will not get any real work done with her this winter anyway, whether she's happy there or not. So why not bring the well-schooled gelding and spend the winter working on our skills and taking some lessons?

    My hesitation is that my mare is already 4.5, and has done nothing but casual trail riding/trail blazing. She is fearless on the trails. My concern is that I will put her away for the winter and in the spring I will have a five year old who still can't "do much" in regards to ringwork and actual work. Am I right? Is it silly to be concerned about my future five year old's training level when she clearly could benefit from some time to grow...and it's not like we have Olympic dreams, anyway?

    I just don't want her to backslide, and be that green broke 15 year old standing in my back pasture. She is a lovely mover, and a lovely horse, and I suspect we can go quite far if we only just start some real work. Am I being insane to think that it needs to be started right now? Does anyone else have a green five year old and are okay with that fact?

    Sorry, this is long and somewhat of a rant in addition to my questions. Why can't my TB mare just eat?!?!



  2. #2
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    Dec. 27, 2006
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    My hesitation is that my mare is already 4.5, and has done nothing but casual trail riding/trail blazing. She is fearless on the trails. My concern is that I will put her away for the winter and in the spring I will have a five year old who still can't "do much" in regards to ringwork and actual work. Am I right? Is it silly to be concerned about my future five year old's training level when she clearly could benefit from some time to grow...and it's not like we have Olympic dreams, anyway

    So you can ride her and she doesn't dump you on the trails.?? If it was up to me, I'd bring the horse home, and school at home. Most fields have an area you can do at least a circle in, and trail rides can include work on transitions between and within the gaits, shoulder's-in, leg yields etc, and then haul in periodically and school in the indoor, and overnight her, and get her used to trailering out and working in new settings so that travelling to the events won't be a big deal.



  3. #3
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    Dec. 12, 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunhawk View Post
    So you can ride her and she doesn't dump you on the trails.??
    Yes. She is a brave, determined baby and we trail ride solo without a problem. I know there is plenty of work to be done on the trails, I just felt like moving her to the indoor was a good choice so that we could do a little bit of boot camp.



  4. #4
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    Apr. 14, 2001
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    Default

    I'd likely stick it out for the full month and reassess. Ten day, especially for a young horse not used to change, is not a whole lot of time. IMO, four and a half is old enough to start to work for a living, and I'm right there with you that a little boot camp would be good for the winter.



  5. #5
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    Jun. 17, 2001
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    down the road from bar.ka
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    Default

    What is her excercise schedual like? How are you replacing living out? You may think she is miserable when she is just bored, that can be fixed.

    Offhand, if you want to do something with her in the future? She is going to need to learn to adapt a little and this is a good time to do it. Give it at least a full month, maybe more.

    IME at boarding barns...it is usually best to say "thank you for bringing that to my attention" but not assume whoever is telling you something negative about your horse is any kind of an expert. Alot of nosey busybodies eager to find fault with a newbies horse populate most barns. I would not put a whole lot into what the "other boarders" who know a whole lot less then they think they know are saying.

    But you do need to talk to your barn manager/trainer about getting some more calories into her. May need to try some different feed or drizzel molasses on it, beet pulp or something. I'd sure get her teeth looked at as well. Maybe add a supplement. Try to get her feedings broken up into smaller feedings more often in the day like they would do on pasture when they nibble all day.

    But leave her there for now. She's almost 5, time to learn her job.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  6. #6
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    Jun. 25, 2004
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    My thought is look at the horse as objectively as possible.
    Is she really ready both physically and mentally for additional work. The fact she is dealing with another growth spurt now tells me she will have to adjust physically. Which may or may not affect her, so far, good mental attitude.

    What do you have to lose by:
    Keeping her at home, continuing to trail ride (with some dressagey type lessons) and trailer to lessons or mini-shows
    vs
    Keeping her in an environment she is not mentally prepared for. Asking her to do things physically while she is still growing?

    You have a happy, fearless horse who is still maturing. 7 or so months from now she will have, hopefully, the same attitude, have adjusted to this growth spurt, have continued with under-saddle and/or some long lining and really be ready for work.

    Try it out for the rest of the month - if things are not improving take her home.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim



  7. #7
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    Jan. 31, 2007
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    where its cold
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    If she were my horse, I keep her at the indoor and then start treating her for ulcers - or have her scoped. It is a big transition, and she probably got a "nervous stomach" and has ulcers (starting).

    One of mine would go off his feed every time I moved him (also a cribber, off the track). Hindsight and the modern age suggest ulcers. I wish I had known then what I know now...



  8. #8
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    Jul. 19, 2003
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    Middleburg, VA
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    Default

    Take her home. What's the rush? Yeah, she's 4.5, but why does it matter? From the sound of it, it isn't going to be a terribly productive winter, ANYWAY. Hack her when you can, maybe haul her over to the indoor occasionally (if that's possibly), and just allow her the winter to grow and develop. Put her into serious work come spring. She'll be fine.



  9. #9
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    Jan. 12, 2007
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    Unless you are actually fearing for her health, as in severe colic. I would leave her. (This horse normally ate liked a starved canine - disturbingly like a carnivore, everyone would comment on it..and she normally vaccumed up hay like a dyson..)

    The first time I sent my youngster off (at 3.5) she turned into a different horse - went off feed, didn't tie, etc...took nearly a month for her to settle in I believe completely. the first 2 weeks were rough. I am so glad I stuck it out. She recovered and got back to her old self.

    Now, I do believe some horses really do dislike stalls (while some like their own place, my one mare would LOVE to be stalled for 8 hours or so a night -I'm a 24/7 person but this mare would be happier otherwise..)

    Also, I was not there to fret over her, so she didn't have my emotion to read into. After watching a horse with severe colic and how he reacted when the owner was around vs. not I went from 80% believing that we cause a lot of problems to a 100% believing. It may have been if I had been visiting more often to fret (I visited after 2 weeks) she wouldn't have adjusted so well.

    BTW, she was at a faciility with A+ care so I didn't feel that I shouldn't ride it out.
    "Fool! Don't you see now that I could have poisoned you a hundred times had I been able to live without you." Cleopatra VII



  10. #10
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    Jan. 16, 2002
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    Default

    Can you take her home and try to acclimatize her to being in a stall more often, a little at a time, and then try again? Or, conversely, are there any alternatives at the boarding barn for a different stall and/or more turnout? Can she be on pasture board? Turned out all night and in during the day, maybe? Finally, how much time has she had to adapt? If it's less than a month, I'd say persevere maybe a tiny bit more.

    But a five year old who hacks out bravely on trails doesn't sound like a horse who's in any way "behind" in the learning curve to me! My motto with babies is, "when in doubt, chuck them out in a field for another few months".
    Click here before you buy.



  11. #11
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    Apr. 23, 2005
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    Default

    A growth spurt wouldn't worry me. So many of us ride horses that are late to mature. Do we all leave them in the field until they are 7? No.

    I would at least wait the month. Make sure she's getting plenty of nutrition, perhaps up her calories as suggested (being mindful that that could alter her personality as well), and see if she adjusts. Chances are she will, but if not, so be it - take her home.

    I don't necessarily think she'll be better off/more mentally prepared to board out in the spring. From the OP's description she doesn't exactly sound like she's very mentally immature (brave, fearless on the trails, etc) so I'm not sure what giving her a few more months will do to amend that. She's also 4.5, not 2.

    Hopefully she just needs to settle in! Good luck.



  12. #12
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    Dec. 12, 2004
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    Default

    Thank you everyone so far for your ideas and thoughts! Helpful! To answer some questions/thoughts:

    Quote Originally Posted by findeight View Post
    What is her excercise schedual like? How are you replacing living out? You may think she is miserable when she is just bored, that can be fixed.

    Alot of nosey busybodies eager to find fault with a newbies horse populate most barns. I would not put a whole lot into what the "other boarders" who know a whole lot less then they think they know are saying.

    But you do need to talk to your barn manager/trainer about getting some more calories into her. May need to try some different feed or drizzel molasses on it, beet pulp or something. I'd sure get her teeth looked at as well. Maybe add a supplement. Try to get her feedings broken up into smaller feedings more often in the day like they would do on pasture when they nibble all day.

    But leave her there for now. She's almost 5, time to learn her job.
    At my house, she was out daily on grass pasture for 12 hours, came up to either a dry lot or a stall for the other twelve, with a herd. Free choice hay in the stall/dry lot. At this barn, they go out from probably 9-3, and she is in a TINY paddock (25x25? not any bigger than that) and by herself. Unfortunately, there is no where else to move her to on the property...the three large, grass paddocks are for the owner's horses. (Which I did not know upon moving in.) :eyeroll:

    I have tried to replicate pasture by giving her a big heaping hay pile in her paddock. It mostly goes untouched.

    I come in the evenings and work with her a bit, unfortunately there is no way for her to get any more exercise. The reason I think she's miserable is because she stands in the back of her stall with her head in the corner drooped to the ground, generally looking like an unhappy horse. She has also started lightly stall pacing, something she does not do at home, even when trapped inside for a few days due to ice.

    Teeth are fine. At home, she regularly burned through a bale a day in combination with her two feedings of high fat meals. At the boarding barn, she is eating maybe a 1/3 bale a day of hay, and is not touching her grain. It's semi-rough board, so the hay and grain is all the same stuff she has at home, nothing changed. She was fat and happy at home, now after ten days I can see her ribs, and I'm feeling panicked about that, as you might have picked up on.

    Also, I suspect you meant "newbie" to the barn, but I'm not a newbie to horse ownership or even picky, skinny TBs. I don't think anyone is being mean...it's more just like "Wow, she does not look like she's 4.5, much younger!" comments.
    Quote Originally Posted by fooler View Post

    You have a happy, fearless horse who is still maturing. 7 or so months from now she will have, hopefully, the same attitude, have adjusted to this growth spurt, have continued with under-saddle and/or some long lining and really be ready for work.

    Try it out for the rest of the month - if things are not improving take her home.
    This is looking like it's my plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by millerra View Post
    If she were my horse, I keep her at the indoor and then start treating her for ulcers - or have her scoped. It is a big transition, and she probably got a "nervous stomach" and has ulcers (starting).
    She is not a cribber, but she does have ulcers. She was treated with a full 30 days of omezaprole the month before she went to the barn, and improved greatly. I also gave her half doses of omezaprole the week before and week after move in...I have bumped her back up to the full dose the last few days, thinking that her ulcers have made a huge comeback. Unlike when she was getting the full dose at my house the first go round, it does not seem to be helping this time.

    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    Take her home. What's the rush? Yeah, she's 4.5, but why does it matter? From the sound of it, it isn't going to be a terribly productive winter, ANYWAY. Hack her when you can, maybe haul her over to the indoor occasionally (if that's possibly), and just allow her the winter to grow and develop. Put her into serious work come spring. She'll be fine.
    You're right, it doesn't really matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by akor View Post
    Unless you are actually fearing for her health, as in severe colic. I would leave her.

    Also, I was not there to fret over her, so she didn't have my emotion to read into. .
    I actually was there last night because even though she didn't have the classic colic symptoms, she was looking so miserable that the barn manager called me out at 10:30 to see her, just in case.

    It's a semi-rough board scenario so I do need to be there every day. I am really not one to over-fret about my horses...the sign on her door reads "PLEASE do not put a sheet on this horse unless absolutely necessary!" which horrified everyone else who has nine blankets and a temperature chart to go with them. I can assure the COTH critics that I'm not projecting anything onto her. I'm just super concerned because getting this mare to gain weight from her rough start with me and through her growth spurts was a challenge. She was finally in decent weight when I dropped her off at the barn, and ten days later the ribs are back and she's not eating.

    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    Can you take her home and try to acclimatize her to being in a stall more often, a little at a time, and then try again? Or, conversely, are there any alternatives at the boarding barn for a different stall and/or more turnout? Can she be on pasture board? Turned out all night and in during the day, maybe? Finally, how much time has she had to adapt? If it's less than a month, I'd say persevere maybe a tiny bit more.

    But a five year old who hacks out bravely on trails doesn't sound like a horse who's in any way "behind" in the learning curve to me! My motto with babies is, "when in doubt, chuck them out in a field for another few months".
    She's totally fine with being in a stall at home, no problem. No more turnout available at the barn...and as mentioned above the pasture is only for the owner's horses, it seems.

    This barn is unfortunately the best option in the area with an indoor.

    Quote Originally Posted by over the moon View Post

    I would at least wait the month. Make sure she's getting plenty of nutrition, perhaps up her calories as suggested (being mindful that that could alter her personality as well), and see if she adjusts.

    Hopefully she just needs to settle in! Good luck.
    She is theoretically getting enough nutrition.....if she'd only eat her food! She has NO interest in food...it's a battle getting her to nibble on the second cuttin that she hoovered up at home. I'm just a few days away from syringing oil down her throat for carbs if I have to!

    She is unfortunately not a horse that responds to treats or sugars...molasses does nothing for her, nor brown sugar, or anything else. I've tried bribing her to eat!

    The only thing she does eat readily is the grass when I take her out for hand grazing, but I can only do that for so long!



  13. #13
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    Jan. 16, 2002
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    I'm just a few days away from syringing oil down her throat for carbs if I have to!
    No carbs in oil . . .

    Remember Maslow's pyramid? Where basic needs (oxygen, water, food, shelter) are at the bottom and other things (love, companionship, fulfillment, learning) are near the top? Sounds like your filly is not getting her "bottom" taken care of in her current situation, in which case accomplishing the stuff as the "top" is the least of your worries. Does that make sense?
    Click here before you buy.



  14. #14
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    Oct. 10, 2007
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    down south
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    I'd try to wait it out a month and see if she adjust. Is there another barn you can move her to that has more turnout. Sounds as if she is missing being out with the herd and that's what she's use to. Has she ever been kept like this or has she always been out with a herd a lot?
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  15. #15
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    Jun. 16, 2009
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    Gray Court, SC
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    Hi, I have this young child and I just don't know what to do. I put her in a new school after she had been quite happy learning and growing with her friends at home. After a short time my girl seems listless, wont eat, and is losing weight. She looks unhappy and nothing I do seems to help. I am almost to the point of forcing food down her throat to get calories in her. I don't understand because she was the best, calmest young child I had. Playing with her was just fun.

    And people's advice is to say "hey, see what happens in a month?"

    I got an idea, for those advocating the wait a month approach, lock yourselves in a small closet for a few weeks with only the occasional opportunity to have exercise and attention. Imagine going from a nice open home with access to family and good food and now your locked in a box, alone....for weeks.

    I don't really get why having either horse indoors over the winter makes any sense when they are use to being out doors most the time. What could you not do at home that requires this type of plan? I also feel that there is no rush, no need to push this or any horse, even a young one. Horses remember and hold on to negatives and I would think the LAST THING you want your horse to remember is being locked up in a box for long periods of time during an important period in growing up. This horse is still a "child", let it be a child, learning and growing not a laborer, forced into a plan that is not required or needed at this time.

    tl;dr, a happy mind is an open productive mind. Unhappiness is water on the fire of learning and productivity. Take you horse home now and let her be happy while she learns.



  16. #16
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    Dec. 12, 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by rabicon View Post
    Has she ever been kept like this or has she always been out with a herd a lot?
    At my place, since Jan, it's been with a herd of low key geldings. Before that, she was on the track, and before that, who knows.

    Quote Originally Posted by JP60 View Post
    Imagine going from a nice open home with access to family and good food and now your locked in a box, alone....for weeks.

    I don't really get why having either horse indoors over the winter makes any sense when they are use to being out doors most the time. What could you not do at home that requires this type of plan?
    I do see your point. She does go out though....your "locked in a box, alone, for weeks!" line makes the barn seem just awful. It is one of the better barns in the area and most horses do quite well there.

    In my area, having an indoor makes winter work so much easier. And having to go to the barn every day gets me motivated, instead of walking out my back door, tossing hay, and calling it good.

    As of this morning, we moved her to a different paddock. She was on an edge before, and now, even though she is still technically "alone", she has four horses that she can interact with over fence lines. This group is a lower-energy group than the one before, and I was sent a photo this morning of her contentedly munching her huge hay pile. So hopefully that is all that was needed.

    We are also going to trial a few weeks of full training for her, to see if having a daily "job" will give her a little more purpose to life and something to think about.

    She's going to finish the month out at the barn (unless she goes drastically downhill) and then we will reevaluate. I am also picking up a big bag of Calf Manna today, as I remembered the other night that when she came to me a sickly, skinny baby last winter, the smell really got her attention and made her dig into her meals, if it was mixed in with other, more substantial grain.

    Thanks everyone!



  17. #17
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    Apr. 23, 2005
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    I love my horse to death. She is my baby. But I'm sorry, she is not a child. She should not be treated as a child. She should be treated as a horse (that's what she is!).

    (Besides, at 4.5, if we were going to be comparing horses to people, she would be between young adult (20) and adult (25). In this case? Someone in their 20s having a job they don't like? Yeah, suck it up for the month, see if it gets better. If it doesn't, then quit and find something new.)

    In any case, it seems like you've decided to do is reasonable, OP. You're concerned about your mare's health but cognitive of the fact that she may need the settling in time. 2 more weeks won't kill her, and if she doesn't improve, she gets to go home and be happy again.

    It could be that your mare will never do well without ample turnout, no matter her age. Or perhaps she'll have to be weaned into it rather than an abrupt change from "plenty" to "none."

    I know for me personally, turn out is usually my # 1 priority for my mare, simply because a) she grew up on hundreds of acres of pasture, and b) I know ample turn out makes a happier, healthier horse. Unfortunately, this has meant sacrificing some things (an indoor arena, being close to the city where I live) but in the end, I think it's worth it. I'm actually going to see a barn next week to hopefully house her for the winter. From what I hear the barns aren't glamorous and the indoor is small, but there is lots and lots of turn out, so I'm willing to make the compromises.

    It's often crossed my mind on how easy it would be to have my horse 15 mins away instead of 45 mins away, and to have a nice big indoor instead of just an outdoor, but in the end I couldn't put my wants (indoor, commute) over hers (ample turnout).

    Being a good horse mom sucks sometimes.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoForAGallop View Post
    At my place, since Jan, it's been with a herd of low key geldings. Before that, she was on the track, and before that, who knows.
    Wouldn't being on the track mean she was used to being stalled with limited turn out? Or perhaps it's bringing back not-so-pleasant memories.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoForAGallop View Post
    As of this morning, we moved her to a different paddock. She was on an edge before, and now, even though she is still technically "alone", she has four horses that she can interact with over fence lines. This group is a lower-energy group than the one before, and I was sent a photo this morning of her contentedly munching her huge hay pile.
    Yay. Fingers crossed.



  19. #19
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    Apr. 15, 2003
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    Hey, OP, it sounds as if you're on the path to making her more happy. Maybe she just felt like the outsider at the new school?

    Anyway, one quick suggestion: if you haven't, consider bringing her feed bucket from home and hanging it in her stall. I have had TB mares that have a strong preference for "their" feed and water buckets, and since I'm an enabler, I play into it.
    They don't call me frugal for nothing.
    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by over the moon View Post

    I know for me personally, turn out is usually my # 1 priority for my mare

    It's often crossed my mind on how easy it would be to have my horse 15 mins away instead of 45 mins away, and to have a nice big indoor instead of just an outdoor, but in the end I couldn't put my wants (indoor, commute) over hers (ample turnout).

    Being a good horse mom sucks sometimes.
    I am a huge believer in turnout too, but in my particular area you cannot get a good barn with both great turnout and an indoor. You get to pick one of the three: good care, great turnout, indoor.

    Because boarding out is a "treat" for me, in terms of budgeting, the barn needs to have an indoor. Because I have good care and great turnout at my place, and it's cheap, so there's no point in moving elsewhere for that.

    Hopefully, she will settle in better with the change of turnout companions, and I don't have to feel like such a bad owner.

    Last time I get a TB, I tell ya! My QH gelding would live on my porch and be perfectly content. I AM relieved that even if she needs to come home at the end of the month, I won't have to eat the cost of Nov. board. He will be just fine there.



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