I love having the horses at home having spent some years in various sized boarding and training facilities. I like things done a certain way - from how the bridles are pony clubbed and hanging to how folks are interacting with their horses, etc. Some people live w/i a 3 foot radius of themselves and it doesn't occur to them that a boarding facility is something to be shared. Give me home any day - I've got trails, a small dressage arena w/lights, 5 stall barn w/tack room and while I'd like more turnout, what we have is acceptable.
That said...my daughter (now 12) also loved the home barn when she was younger and I was doing beginner lessons. Now, however, she prefers to be at the barn where she takes lessons. There are other kids (none her age, though) and lots of riders she can look up to...teenagers doing 4th level & PSG; the trainer who is phenomenal; trainer's mom who does the beginners and is just an amazing human being; group of wonderful older women who support one another in the most unusual way (NO cattyness at all!). It's just a great environment and I can see why my daughter loves being there. I can haul in for whatever and I'm totally blessed that way...because then I get to haul home and be obsessive about pony clubbing the bridles!! LOL
I do love being alone at my barn, which is 99% of the time. The barn is my escape from the hectic real world, and I like being able to do whatever I want with my horse and not feel judged. Most of the time at a boarding stable, you're just making small talk anyways with the other boarders, just feels like talking for the sake of being polite. If I had barn friends, I would also feel obligated to ride with them if we happened to being going on the trail at the same time, even if all I really wanted was some quiet time to myself. I also have difficulty being on the same level as many other riders. If they are much better than me, I've been talked down to or made feel like I shouldn't have an opinion or should listen to whatever they suggest, and if they don't know very much it can be frustrating to converse with them too.
I'm 30 years old and currently don't have any "goals", just enjoying time with my horse.
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Would a quiet, child free, drama free barn be attractive?
Yes please! I just left a hell hole rife with undisciplined kids running amok and stirring up all sorts of drama and problems and it’s so nice to not have to deal with the insanity of it any more, and the sense of peace and calmness at our new barn makes me want to spend even more time there now. I also have a much better social life with the people there as well, so it’s a total win in both columns and I’m loving it.
The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off ~ Gloria Steinem
I have days where I definitely enjoy being alone at the barn, but I really need a barn with people around. For one, I love being able to say, "Hey Susie, come look at my horse's newest injury. What do you think?" I can't ask everyone at my barn that, because there are certain people whose opinions you couldn't pay me to listen to, but there is usually at least one person around whose opinion I value.
I also like having people to ride with. Riding alone is fine on days where I want to be left alone, but it's way nicer to have someone to ride with. Especially in the nicer months for trail riding.
Some of my best friends are people I grew up riding with. If I hadn't been at a barn with a social life, I wouldn't have them. And at the barn I'm at now, I have made friends of all different ages - some of my favorite people to spend time there with much older than me, and some are quite a bit younger.
Now, saying I like having a social life at the barn is not to be confused with enjoying chaos. I don't like chaos. I'm at a very large barn though, and some days chaos does ensue. I just remove myself from it. I'll go ride in one of the other outdoor rings, or go for a trail ride. In the winter if the indoor is a zoo I may hang around and wait for it to chill out, then go ride.
And drama? Yeah it happens, but I handle it the way I handle drama in the workplace - I ignore it. Works pretty well!
I have to say, summer at my barn is great! Last summer we spent many many Sat or Sun nights tailgating by the pastures with a cold drink and some snacks.
I want to eat my cake, and have it too. I like being at a busy barn with lots of activity going on, but I'm not into social riding time (I HATE when people ask me to ride with them... it creates some kind of pressure in me that I have to do what they are doing, instead of doing my own thing. I DO like having the ring to myself, or having plenty of room to do my own thing. And I know it's strange but if we both get on at the same time... I'm going to feel the pressure). But I much prefer riding when people are on the property, and I am calmed by the chaos in the periphery of my life. Plus it's nice to chat with people while futzing around.
But I really like the smaller barn vibe where I can use my own trainer/farrier/color scheme/stuff. And have the ring to myself. And not have to worry about avoiding peak lesson times. And it is nice that since I don't have to worry about getting in the ring to hack when the lessons are flatting, and do exactly what they do, riding fits into my schedule better.
But I do miss the excitement of the lesson program. I miss hanging out at the rail to watch lessons. I miss casually seeing my trainer nearly every day. I miss the stable full of lesson horses. I definitely miss the networking opportunity to find deserving and capable kids to hack my horses for me when I can't get out. They don't need pro rides, they just need exercise- why pay for a skill they don't need lol. Plus I love "paying it forward"- I remember how deliriously happy I was as a kid when I got to hop on a boarder's "big fancy" horse.
So, when I'm flush with cash and if I ever need to relocate, I would definitely be looking for a big barn with (of course good training, good facilities, good care) a busy lesson program, lots of boarders, and either a GIANT indoor or a second ring for hacking.
In the past 2-3 years I have boarded at a giant lesson/show barn (40-50 horses), a medium lesson barn with like 3 lesson horses (12-15 horses), a very big non-lesson barn (30ish horses), a very small back yard barn (7 horses), a medium back yard barn (12 horses), and back again at the first facility after a major downsize in the lesson program, with fewer boarders (now more like 30 horses). The two bigger barns were my favorite. The last back yard place I was at was mostly retirees with a few trail riders. If my friend didn't go out when I went out, I never saw anyone. It was way too lonely
Last edited by Jaideux; Jan. 21, 2013 at 09:05 PM.
I loved having my horses at home, then having them on a property I rented. Mostly because I really do enjoy doing chores plus it's nice to be able to go check on the critters in your PJ's.
I have enjoyed boarding with friends where I had a riding buddy or someone to check on things if I couldn't make it out, though largely I enjoy riding alone.
That said, knowing that my horse is boarded somewhere without much traffic (including BO involvement) makes me more nervous than dealing with an occasional PITA fellow boarder. I'd rather have lots of eyes on things than virtually none.
I also feel like now that I'm not competing at all, nor do I have a horse in training, it's easy to talk myself out of going to the barn if I don't have someone I'm planning to meet up with if for nothing more than just to kind of keep an eye on each other or have a beer after.
I may be moving to a fellow COTHer's farm in the next month or so and while it's not a busy barn, just knowing I might have someone to hack out with or who will be there and LOOKING for me to show up will be motivating. Even if we're working on different things. Kind of like having a work out buddy. I never needed that when I was "serious". But now? Meh. I know that if I don't ride for a month it won't really matter as far as training. So it's easy to skip.
I have had my most fun with horses when I've had horse friends at the barn.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
I like somewhat if a social aspect. I actually think my barn right now is the perfect size/social level. There are probably about 20 or so of us who regularly ride and its always fun to chat, watch lessons, etc. However my barn is also closed Sun/Monday so you do get that time to yourself as well when barely anyone is around and you can do your stuff uninterrupted.
I'm 30 and doing jumpers. No real lofty goals other than to continue to improve as a rider and get to some local shows.
I spend several months of the year boarding at a smallish barn (quite a few invisible owners, small group of us--4 or 5--who actually ride) and several months at home in my back yard. We are a friendly and supportive group who enjoy each others company, train and show together, and socialize a bit, too.
I'm usually happy to go home for a few months, and equally happy to go back to the barn!
I've boarded at all kinds of places over the years and low key, Drama and kid free seems to suit me, and my horse, best.
I'm in my 50s, dressage rider aiming for my Bronze before I hit century club status...
I have boarded at very quiet privately owned barns and bigger boarding barns, with and without kids. I MUCH prefer places without kids because kids fed treats to my horse (whose stall was near the crossties) when I wasn't there and taught her the nifty trick of banging on the metal stall door for treats, they are not always in control of their horses/ponies, they are sometimes a bratty / untrustworthy with animals.
Quite often, I was alone in the private facilities and I loved the time to focus 100% on my horse and my riding. As a dressage rider, I concentrate greatly when I ride. But the owners of both friends not only rode, they were great friends of mine. I did lessons/clinics with them and we had a great support system going. I LOVED my time at these barns.
I also enjoyed my time at the bigger boarding barns. I'd usually ride at night during the week and therefore often rode alone, which I ALWAYS prefer! I enjoy riding the track I need to on an instantaneous basis without having to look our for other riders. However, some of my best friends are/were fellow boarders. I loved the friendships, the comradery at barns, clinics and shows, and the help and support. I helped others when they needed it and they helped me when I needed it. In that respect, I loved the social scene at those barns. The only thing I disliked was a crowded ring, which was rare because of my schedule.
Yes, I experienced some gossip and there were some cliquish behaviors, but I stayed out of it and I was friends with everyone. I think in all of my years there were only two boarders I genuinely disliked. So I just avoided them.
I'm about to board at an extremely small and quiet place, but the horse I'm riding is a hot coming 4 year old and I think he'd melt down in a place with alot of activity and especially with lots of riders in the arena. So this place is best for the horse, and so it'll be best for me. In short, I find the best place I can for the horse and for our progression. That means safe turnout, decent footing in a decent arena, quality food and care, access to decent lessons. The social scene quality is secondary to me. But it works out either way! I've only left a barn once due to unhappiness and that was because of the owner, not the fellow boarders.
I like some social aspect. At times, it can become overwhelming.
I've been with my current barn for about four years. When I first arrived, there weren't very many boarders or people horse showing, and those that were around were serious and experienced. About two years ago, the barn decided to build an add-on and has added numerous new boarders. My barn is trainer-oriented and everyone boards and rides here because of the trainer; however, this trainer went from mainly preferring 1.20m+ riders to taking anyone she thought she might be able to deal with. Some last, and some don't, but the long and short of it is that the barn now houses a lot of less experienced riders who don't know arena etiquette or how to tack up or put on a blanket, and way too many teens and kids. Happily, the majority work very hard, but the teens always think it's about them, are more than willing to cut corners, sit and shriek in the barn aisle, and one of them seems to go out of her way to annoy me when we share an arena. Another one's horse has trouble with taking horses head on, so has decided that in the act of training him to deal with it, will take me and my young, new, green horse head on and act surprised and apologetic when her horse flips out and freaks out my horse, then proceeds to do it again two minutes later. During lessons, there are generally others riding. This used to be fine in the past, but with the addition of people who have no idea what is going on, it becomes a very stressful obstacle course. It's not an enjoyable ride when someone decides to trot directly in front of the jump you are one stride away from jumping.
Nowadays, the arena is ALWAYS busy, the trainer kicks more and more lessons and riding to the assistant, and the barn aisle is very much not a peaceful environment. Plus, a healthy enough percentage of my barn mates are the entitled, attention-grabbing, ME ME ME! types and annoy me to no end, but seem to think I'm their best friend. There are times of the day when I know they will be around and avoid going out.
I like seeing some people, and I do enjoy going to dinners with some barn mates, enjoying horse shows, and engaging in various horse-y activities. I could really do without a lot of it, though.
I'm pretty sure I would hate a busy barn. Currently my barn has two boarders, and the other gal is a good friend. Usually I am riding by myself, but there are days now and again (usually on the weekend) that it gets busy and is fun. I'm sure the activity will pick up closer to summer, but then I can ride outside and won't mind that either.
hmm, i guess i should consider myself lucky; i ride at an 80-stall barn (boarders, leases, and schoolies) with a ton of teenaged working students, but it really seems to be drama free. the only time there's chaos is when a horse gets loose or some other unexpected event happens, and then it calms right back down again. and pretty much everyone is very friendly and laid back; barn throws various social events which you can attend, or not, as you wish.
for my level of ability (i consider myself a solid adult intermediate rider) i'm glad to have all the extra bodies around. i used to ride at a very small outfit where i would sometimes be the last person out of the barn at night after putting up the schoolie i rode in the evening lesson. nothing bad ever happened, but i would have been happier with someone else around.
Would you board at a small facility with indoor & trails and most of the usual amenities, but not very many people? No resident trainer (tho' you could bring in yours, as needed). How important is the social aspect of riding to you? Would a quiet, child free, drama free barn be attractive? Or do you need the buzz of constant activity, watching lessons, a busy lunch room, etc.?
Just trying to get a bead on the population.
When you answer, care to share your age & goals as a rider?
I much prefer a small, private facility that is child-free. That being said, I do prefer to have one or two people to ride with and I don't care to be at the barn completely alone. The big, noisy, busy establishments are not for me. I keep my ponies at home and can be around them privately, and board my foxhunter at a smaller private facility where there are usually 1-3 people out there when I am.
27yo - been riding my entire life, no longer competing
"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill
After boarding my horses for years, my husband and I bought a small farm, built a barn and I moved my horses home. I feel like I have the best of both worlds in that my trainer is exactly 2 miles away and I trailer over to her barn 2 or 3 days a week for lessons. We're all adult riders (mostly over 40) and a social barn. We have parties, attend shows together, etc. and I enjoy the opportunity to interact with other horsey adult women. Keeping my horses at home gives me plenty of alone time with my horses and I ride by myself frequently. I wouldn't trade my situation for anything.
I personally enjoy a busy barn with lots of people and amenities. I like to hang out, chat, ride with people.
But I find that my gelding prefers a quieter setting. He likes people, and he also needs a little horsey down-time with his hay and turnout.
The barn I'm at now is probably somewhere in between. There are quiet times and social times. There is always someone around (workers or boarders) when I ride, so I feel safe. Nighttime riding would be tough, though.
My horses are both happy and relaxed.
We don't have indoor or trails, sadly. But the horses have the best care I can find in the area, short of doing it myself. And, yes, I miss group trail rides. A lot.