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To Move or Not To Move? - Update Post #20 - Not Moving.

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  • To Move or Not To Move? - Update Post #20 - Not Moving.

    I am in the middle of a dilemma. I think there may not be an answer, but I would very much appreciate (and need) some impartial third parties to chime in. I apologize in advance for the length. It’s a book.

    I currently campaign my 18 yo TB in the Modified Jumpers (1.20m). We’ve done some 1.25m and I’m hoping we can get to 1.30m before he retires. The 1.20 and 1.25 is not difficult for him. I am very cognizant of his age and limitations, he gets all appropriate joint supps and, while I wouldn’t call him “issue free”, he is sound and very eager and capable (he raced and evented previously, so he’s just a very solid guy). We try to keep the jumps low in lessons so as not to use him up. I also really only show maybe 4 or 5x a year. His well-being is always #1. He is my once-in-a-lifetime horse and will retire with me no question.

    Here’s the rub:
    He currently lives in full turnout. In my area there are public and private boarding facilities and then there are essentially people’s backyards with 4 horse barns that they rent out to boarders, who are then responsible for all feeding, cleaning etc. So right now horse lives in one of these places. The cost is low. He has a HUGE turnout area (maybe 100 feet square?) and a giant tree he can hang out under, then he also has a good-sized stall as well as a pipe corral with an overhang connected to his stall. The stall and pipe corral stay open so he can have some privacy if he wants (which he does) and hang out in there, or pee in his lovely shavings (which he also does). He also has friends around him so he can touch noses and have “halterless halter battles” over the fence and whatnot. Basically a pretty idyllic life for him.

    We have guys who come in a feed 2x a day and clean once a day. In the winter they will blanket and unblanket. While the main guy is knowledgeable, he has hired subsidiaries and they don’t do well with any more responsibility than that. I have come to the barn to find horse’s winter blanket on in the middle of an 80 degree day in January (this is SoCal). I have asked them to remove standing wraps before and come to the barn to find one front wrap removed and the other still on.

    I work full-time and work is about 30 mins away. Home is also about 30 mins away (home and work are about 4 miles from each other, so the barn is my commute).

    We have for nearly 2 years been riding in for training at the local A barn. The training is literally the best I’ve ever had and I went from thinking horse would be retiring 2 years ago, to learning how to ride him correctly, correcting my body position, and actually moving up height-wise. It has been great. I really look forward to my lessons and have even added a flat lesson to my schedule. Horse, who is a forward, previously fried-out TB actually participates in flat lessons too, which is amazing as he is very nervous and excitable when having to focus around other horses. Bottom line: lesson/training program has been fabulous for me and for horse.

    Here’s the rub: Training facility is nearly 2 miles away. I ride before work so lesson is at 7:30 am, I drive 30 mins to get there, then ride the 2 miles over, which takes about 30 mins. I usually end up trotting and cantering part of the way, which incidentally has gotten more difficult this year since someone decided it was a good idea to line all the horse trails with chunks of asphalt from like recycled streets. Makes the footing hard to say the least.

    Lesson ends at around 8 (on a good day) and I hurry back to my barn to untack, ice and wrap horse and then drive 30 mins to work by 9. Recently, he’s started to show his age a little more (and I’m talking in about the last month or so), he developed a few new wind puffs (he already does not have the cleanest of legs although he is still sound), which incidentally coincided with the new asphalt trails.

    I used to clean him up after lessons, maybe wrap him if it was a hard jumping day, otherwise I would use some liniment and just leave him in his turnout. Now I am icing him and drying his legs and wrapping him (which is nearly impossible to do in less than 30 mins. 30 mins I do not have in the morning). There literally is not enough time available for me to do everything. Luckily, my work is sort of flexible and I often get there more between 9 and 9:30, which translates into me staying later in the day, but that’s fine.

    For a week I was going up there 2x a day before and after work to wrap and unwrap since the cleaning/feeding people are unreliable. I have a 50+ hr a week job and a husband at home who is supportive of my addiction, but who I do like to see sometimes…

    So what I have been trying to decide is whether I can move horse to training facility and end our hectic commute and my hectic mornings. The relaxation from riding is quickly disturbed when one is having to rush around. Training facility has pipe corrals with covers over them. I don’t know the exact measurements, but they are probably 10x20 or so. Horses get turned out as with any normal boarding facility and some horses get to spend the night out in the turnout.

    Cost is obviously more for training facility board, but full groom service is included which would relieve me of the stress of being late for work. Also, being there would relieve horse of the stress of commuting there and back when having a jumping lesson or a 45 min flat lesson. Especially relieving him of the stress of the asphalt trail.

    Suffice it to say that I made a pros and cons list and moving to training facility comes out waaaaaay ahead. It would be so much better time and stress-wise for me. He wouldn’t have to commute 4 miles round trip for lessons. He would still have buddies to talk to over the pipe corral. Oh and all my friends board there as well.

    Some issues have also arisen at his current location recently such as the one wrap on, one wrap off scenario. I also found out that someone has left horse’s gate open a few times and horse has wandered out of his area and out into the open to visit other horses along the trail. (Also disconcerting and gives me no confidence in the feeders/cleaners at current location).

    The only item(s) I can't get past are how his current living situation keeps him physically sound (provided that’s true) and allows him to work off some of his mental demons as he is actually constantly walking around his area (working off negative energy). (When I purchased horse 6 years ago, he had been kept in a stall and was very fried out mentally, so I have that concern as well. Moving him to an open area helped immensely, although I also made sure to trail ride him a lot and ride him in different arenas.)

    So I keep him at his current place thinking the open space helps to keep him sound and will extend his career. I’m also terrified to change anything in his life as I feel very fortunate that he is still going at this height.

    I can have all the convenience in the world, but if horse goes downhill physically, then it doesn’t matter.

    But at what point would it be better to have him in a pipe corral with reliable people taking care of him, making sure he is fully iced and always wrapped appropriately, and not have him commuting in for lessons?

    I have been terribly indecisive about this. Thus far, I have fallen on the side of keeping him at his current location. Trouble is, I see it as a gamble either way. He is my heart horse. I was jumping maybe 3’ when I started with him nearly 6 years ago and he has helped me get all the way up to schooling 4’3”. I want to do right by him, but I feel I am burning the candle at both ends.

    I wish I could see the future! If you have made it this far, thank you so much. My indecisiveness is annoying even to me, but I am at a loss. Thoughts?
    Last edited by forward ride; May. 17, 2011, 07:55 PM.

  • #2
    I think from an economic standpoint the gas you would save in NOT driving to a barn 30 min away might be close to what the increase in board would be. The quality of life is another story. He would get top notch care at training facility, but it might not be conducive to keeping him sound and happy. However, moving him closer migh timprove your quality of life. Maybe if he was closer you would have more time to hand graze, walk under tack, slow trail rides to make up some fo rth elack of TO
    Originally posted by The Saddle
    Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.


    • #3
      All I can say is give it a try. Your horse will let you know.

      I have a 19 yo jumper who we have managed his program very carefully for maximum longevity. I moved him from my trainer's (where he was for 8 years) to a barn 1/2 a mile from me and had heated facilites which I felt would benefit him in the winter. He adjusted great! What I spent on extra board was made up for in gas/travel time. Only problem is I was laid off from work after 5 months. I tried to stick it out, but decided to move to a cheaper facility (only 10 minute drive-still closer and cheaper than trainer's)). Unfortunately after 2 weeks I had to move my horse back to previous barn (don't get me wrong--I love it there, but it's not cheap). Despite new barn's best effort, he just would not settle and adjust and at his age I just couldn't do it to him (he actually looked "old" which he never had). I got him back where he had been and immediately he returned to his old self. Luckily I found a job not long after, but it's still a stretch for him to board there although he loves it and gets excellent care. I figure at his age I need to do whatever I can to keep him from aging early. That was just my experience.
      "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


      • #4
        ^^^if I'm reading this right, the driving/car portion of the commute will be roughly the same, +/- 2 miles, either way. Right now s/he is driving 30 minutes from home to where the horse lives (barn), then getting on horse and commuting 30 minutes (=2 miles) on horseback to get to the training facility. And then riding 30 minutes back to the barn, taking care of horse, getting in car and driving 30 minutes to work.

        How many work days per week do you do this? I'm assuming that you can take a lesson one day of the weekend so that's one less day to contend with the multi-part "commute." If you don't ride over for a lesson, is there a public ring with decent footing where you normally hack?

        Are there any backyards closer to the training facility which would decrease the horseback part of your commute, thereby buying you more time for after-ride care? And mean less pounding for your horse. Any close enough that you could pay someone to do after-care and take the horse back? OK, then you would also have to get from training facility to barn, but if it's close enough you could walk.

        Is there anyone you could pay to meet you back at the barn to do the icing/aftercare and perhaps some other stuff? Again, I'm assuming that the stall cleaners/caretakers come with the facility and you can't hire someone else to take over everything. And, really reaching here, anyone you would trust to pick up your car at the barn, drive it to the training facility, and return horse to barn and take care of horse while you drive relocated car to work?

        And finally, could you try it out for a month or two, while still keeping your place at the current barn, perhaps at a slightly reduced rate since the horse won't be eating there?

        I did a similar thing for years, but was either in a situation where I could only afford one jumping lesson a week (and did it on the weekend) or had a job with far more flexible hours. And the trails (which I suspect may be the same trails...) weren't asphalt so I did do a lot of trotting and cantering, at least on the way over. It got the horse warmed up nicely.
        The Evil Chem Prof


        • #5
          You sound like you are in Rolling Hills (or your horse is). There are great backyard stables and one or two large training barns.
          The dilemma is having the crystal ball and figureing out if your horse is benefiting more from the large turnout and trail ride to the training barn vs. more confined stabling with reliable grooms to do your daily routine of leg wraps etc.
          My gut tells me if your horse has advanced so dramatically and is staying sound and happy you should not change his lifestyle. Perhaps the trail ride is giving him the chance to unwind mentally while building the muscle he need to stay fit and healthy. I understand your concerns for unqualified helpers leaving a wrap on or a gate open BUT your horse is flourishing in spite of these mishap

          Started writing before Peggy but the same idea.
          I am not advocating being a stupid absentee horse owner but the facts as you have presented them is a horse that is overacheiving and content in spite of his advanced age.
          I would consider paying a fellow rider /working student from your barn to be your assistant. Make sure your horses' blanket is off every morning and on every evening etc. You might find that person would really appreciate the $3 a day. It's worth a try before upending this wonderful horses' life .


          • #6
            Reading about that asphalt trail makes me cringe. That will take his toll on him very quickly. Also, if you take him to your trainer's barn, even though he might not have quite as much turnout, he might appreciate not having to work so much with the extra commute to and from lessons, and he will definitely appreciate not having to do it on an asphalt trail. That is the worst part of what you wrote. If that is part of his current living situation, and you can't get around that, I wouldn't hesitate to move him. Ouch!
            "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."


            • #7
              Well, seeing as I am considering to move my horse 30 minutes away from my now 3 minute commute, the care issue is a big deal. I have had client meetings, sick kids and travel that make me appreciate my current barn. Infact the non-horsey barn owner called me one night to say that my horse was not quite right. I came out and he was colicing. I love the care my horses receive at my current barn.

              It is hard to move. As far as the asphalt, you can contact the local public works department and speak about having it removed. I had a local bridge resurfaced with a non-skid surface when I explained that several horses had slipped and fallen on it. They were great and it was just an issue of not understanding the metal shoes.

              So happy to hear that your 18 year old is doing well. I hope to get my 19 year old back for light hacking this summer.
              Last edited by stolen virtue; May. 13, 2011, 11:31 PM. Reason: spelling (what else)


              • #8
                Yes, it dos sound like you are in Rolling Hills where I grew up - no asphalt trails then but wonderful trails, arenas and in the olden days a number of great trainers. Since I am up north now I don't know what the situation is like now.

                I would look around and see if there are other barns you might be able to move your horse to with about the same on horseback commute - maybe a trail without the asphalt. The idea of paying someone to check on your horse daily would be another option - they could check blankets, wraps, gates, etc. maybe even clean tack, hand walk, etc. all of which would help you out time wise. I know when I was a junior down there I would have loved that kind of job after school.

                Horses do adapt and the full care trainer situation might work for your horse depending on how much turn out time he would get, how much extra time someone would spend with him (wrapping, blanketing, hand walking, etc.). I just moved my horse from a full training facility to a facility where I thought he would enjoy pasture life half day - he hated it but loves his stall and paddock (formerly had only a stall). Much more relaxed horse, quieter lifestyle for both of us.

                Good luck whatever you decide but the situation you have now sounds ideal except for the asphalt trails and caretakers that do not do a proper job in horse care.


                • #9
                  I think you should move. Probably the situation evens out for your horse. Slightly less t/o, but slightly better care. It is okay to move for your own sake! Owning and riding horses requires a lot of effort and costs a lot of money and you are allowed to make a decision that will let you get more enjoyment out of your horse and have less stress over it. You can't always do it all. If you can afford a barn with more comprehensive care and doing so would allow you to spend more time with your DH and not be stressed out about it all the time, I think you should do it.


                  • #10
                    If your older jumper is anything like my older jumper (she was the same age when she and I were doing what you are) the turnout is the deal maker and breaker. 100% sound on full turnout, and 100% not quite right on stall board. You have to give and take, and pick your battles. Unfortunately, if I were you, moving to the trainer's place for convenience is just not a battle I would concede.


                    • #11
                      I'm in the same boat as far as riding at one barn and boarding at another, and riding my horse two miles to get to lessons and then back... we also trot and canter part of the way to warm up, but then we have to go down a suburban street for 5 minutes, which is super annoying.

                      In my case, I continue to board where I am because it's $200 cheaper, less busy, and has trails to ride. Turnout is about the same at either place. But in my case, I know my horse (and I) would go insane if all he did was ride in a ring... he needs open fields and woods to ride in to make him happy, because he likes feeling like a Cow Pony.

                      In your case, I'd agree that the turnout is most important--you do what you have to do to keep your horse sound and sane first, and your convenience comes second. However, with the situation that you've described, it sounds like the training barn has decent turnout, and I assume you can probably still trail ride him from there... so it might be worth the switch, especially if you're concerned about your horse's safety at the current place. You could try it for the summer and see how your horse likes it, explaining to your current place that you need to spend more time in training and so need to move him, and stay on good terms... then if he's unhappy, you haven't burned any bridges.
                      "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                      Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                      • #12
                        i would not move!!!
                        the turnout is the clincher for me for not moving.
                        horses want to roam around. they move around here and there and it so beneficial for soundness and their minds. dont kid yourself. a pipe stall coral is not the same thing as roaming around a huge paddock.
                        i board at a place that has huge paddocks. the owner often gets horses in that will not stay sound and owner is looking for a cheaper place to put them than the pampered show barns that they come from. and within a few months they go sound. its amazing!
                        its also good for their minds! i took a friends horse for awhile since he seemed to be fried and all he wanted to do was spook and run at jumps. when he was turned out he became such an easy horse to ride. this lasted for awhile when she took him back. but sure enough it wore off. he was starting to be bad again when she took him back to a show barn.
                        i love show barns for the luxories and the convenience but its better for a horse to be at a barn where they get turned out in big paddocks. your horse is sound and sane i would not change it.
                        however i would not trot and canter on aphsalt. if it takes you half hour to get there by trotting and cantering i would start 15 minutes sooner so you can walk. i think the walking does a horse good. if its dark that extra 15 minutes start conditioning your horse to ride in the dark.
                        as far as icing and blanketing and wrapping. i think its far more beneficial to move around a big paddock 24/7 than it is to ice and wrap and then leave him in a basically bigger stall. if you dont have time, then dont do it. the walking around should help your horse. my vet says you dont need to wrap if they are turned out.
                        the blanketing issue, you need to check the weather daily and decide whether its going to be hot or cold and which blanket should be on. its better for him to be a bit cold for a few hours than it is for him to roast all day. and its better for him to be a bit hot for a couple of hours if the rest of the day is freezing. you really have to think about him not getting too cold or too hot. you do not want the extremes. so err on the side of a little cold or a little hot.
                        good luck with your decision.


                        • #13
                          oh forgot, you also can spend the money you are saving at the cheaper facility and buy your horse things like adequan injections and regular vet checks with injections. i think that would be more helpful for your horse.


                          • #14
                            Maybe it is just me, but 4 miles each way on rock-hard trails seems like a lot of wear and tear. I have an older jumper, same age as yours and I don't think I would be comfortable trotting/cantering him that far on that kind of surface with any regularity. Heck I don't think I would any horse. I trail ride a lot but when I'm on bad footing I walk.

                            I would see if I could move my lesson to the evening or earlier, I think most of your problem is that you don't have enough time to get back and forth so you are forced to hurry your horse on unsuitable footing. That is an absolute NO for me. I would give up the lesson first, frankly, before I put that stress on my old jumper's legs. But I admit I treat mine with kid gloves, he's been "retired" once, came back and I am thankful for every ride I get.

                            But honestly, there are a lot of reasons to try the new barn and see how he does. Lobby hard for extra turnout for him, and make sure he has the biggest run he can get and not just a stall. It sounds like the care there is better and he could very well thrive. And given your work situation, you need somewhere that you know he is going to be cared for properly. Been there, done that -- the convenience factor is huge and there are many reasons to think your horse will be better off, not worse off. Leave the old place as nicely as you can so if it doesn't work out you can go back.

                            Horses with forgotten blankets, one wrap on and one wrap off, allowed to get out -- I mean, those are starting to add up to well beyond an OK number of accidents. He could have gotten hit by a car, or into grain, or God knows what else. One wrap on, one off can cause sympathy swelling. And the blanket thing is just misery for the horse.

                            And just think about the ones that you never found out about.


                            • #15
                              The turnout in Rolling Hills or elsewhere around LA is not the thick, knee high grass some are envsioning and she is NOT going to be moving him into a 10x10 stall but a pipe corral with shelter as is common out there. they are quite roomy and allow them to move around alot more then a stall. Which is good because the majority of barns have no turnout at all.

                              I dunno, this is a tough one but I am inclined to say move and see what happens. I don't think that 4 mile ride on hard, dry ground is doing him much good and it certainly makes it difficult for you, your job and your marriage-at some point it's going to get really, really old doing that.

                              With full care it takes a load off you and he can certainly be more closely supervised and tended to.

                              Try it but keep other options open.

                              I used to keep in La Habra Heights in a very similar situation...I moved to a regular barn because nobody was there during the workday and we had a couple of close calls with wildfires.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                              • #16
                                Is trailering over to the lessons doable? It seems like if you could haul over, at least you'd save his legs.

                                I feel so lucky to have great turn out, and it is such a good thing for my horse! But then I see horses at our barn doing great on very limited turn out. They keep my horse in for bad weather and I can tell when she is not getting out. However, last year she was on 1/2 day turn out in the summer (when it was hot and humid, she'd be under a fan). Mentally she was fine, but physically- at first she was stiff and stocked up with the reduced turn out, but after 2-3 weeks of the new routine, she was fine.

                                Can you try moving, and if it does not work out, move back?


                                • #17
                                  OP - did you see this thread in Off Course? http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=304678

                                  You might want to stay put until they figure out the zoning there.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post
                                    Maybe it is just me, but 4 miles each way on rock-hard trails seems like a lot of wear and tear. I have an older jumper, same age as yours and I don't think I would be comfortable trotting/cantering him that far on that kind of surface with any regularity. Heck I don't think I would any horse. I trail ride a lot but when I'm on bad footing I walk.

                                    I would see if I could move my lesson to the evening or earlier, I think most of your problem is that you don't have enough time to get back and forth so you are forced to hurry your horse on unsuitable footing. That is an absolute NO for me. I would give up the lesson first, frankly, before I put that stress on my old jumper's legs. But I admit I treat mine with kid gloves, he's been "retired" once, came back and I am thankful for every ride I get.

                                    But honestly, there are a lot of reasons to try the new barn and see how he does. Lobby hard for extra turnout for him, and make sure he has the biggest run he can get and not just a stall. It sounds like the care there is better and he could very well thrive. And given your work situation, you need somewhere that you know he is going to be cared for properly. Been there, done that -- the convenience factor is huge and there are many reasons to think your horse will be better off, not worse off. Leave the old place as nicely as you can so if it doesn't work out you can go back.

                                    Horses with forgotten blankets, one wrap on and one wrap off, allowed to get out -- I mean, those are starting to add up to well beyond an OK number of accidents. He could have gotten hit by a car, or into grain, or God knows what else. One wrap on, one off can cause sympathy swelling. And the blanket thing is just misery for the horse.

                                    And just think about the ones that you never found out about.
                                    This ^ pretty much sums it up for me.

                                    Unless you can get someone else to come in and deal with the care issues (certainly the wrapping, blanketing type stuff, but maybe also your after ride care, so you can get to work on time) ... I would move. Riding on the asphalt surface on a regular basis, especially if you need to trot/canter to get to your lesson on time, is going to beat up your horse's legs quite a bit. I would think that carefully walking on that surface might be OK, but to do that, it sounds like you will need some help back at the barn.

                                    I have never lived out west but those pipe corral deals are common out there, and usually seem to allow the horse enough room to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. It's not like you are going from a pasture board situation to being locked in a stall all day. My guess is your horse would do better at your trainer's.

                                    Good luck!
                                    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ellebeaux View Post
                                      OP - did you see this thread in Off Course? http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=304678

                                      You might want to stay put until they figure out the zoning there.
                                      Or, actually, maybe it is time to move to the bigger barn that is, one hopes, properly zoned??

                                      Honestly, this fight had happened before, like about every 15 years or so. One of these days it will stick and there will be a good number of horses looking for a place to live on 30 days notice. Happened in Orange Co...oh, excuse me, THE OC, happened in Chino Hills, West Covina, northern San Diego County and the Valley as well as La Habra Heights where I was. Horses got pushed out...grandfathered in in some cases but, sooner or later, they are gone.

                                      I once had to go 45 miles each way to find a place to board when about 100 horses were evicted from an area along what passes for a river out there that suddenly decided to enforce the codes after ignoring them for 20 years.

                                      Maybe it's time to plan for that if she is in a RHE backyard where the property owner is in actual violation of the exsisting zoning code and the county-or whoever- does decide to go after them.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Wow!! I can't believe all the responses! Thank you all so much for (a) reading through my epic post and (b) providing me with a thoughtful response. I really do appreciate it.

                                        Let me start with the end. I had a long talk with my trainer Saturday morning and, after weighing both sides, she basically said "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. He is a special needs horse and needs to live where he's living now." She went on to say that, although she could be very accommodating for him, there is nothing like full turnout. Quite simply, he is all I have and I just can't risk it.

                                        Right now, I have that option. Who knows what the future will bring as far as zoning or whatever. Luckily, I have seniority at my current place, so I wouldn't be the one leaving. But, that being said, the owner is an elderly lady who is house-bound but loves to watch the horses out her window. When she passes, I have no doubt her son will kick us all out and sell the place.

                                        The City (Yes, this is Rolling Hills) has recently ruffled some feathers by restricting the number of horse's on private property, but I've actually only heard of it being restricted to 4 (from people who had 5 or 6). They are trying desperately to get people into the City Stables, which are poorly managed and poorly run. I had friends with horses there and they have all since moved anywhere else they could find, so that's not an option for us at least (although the pipes there are probably the same size as at my trainer's barn). Thanks for the info on that off course post, ellebeaux.

                                        Thank you all for your ideas on how I can save some time! First, I am hoping the asphalt continues to crunch down and get kicked off the trail. (To clarify: Some outspoken residents wanted all-weather trails. The dirt trails erode in the rain and were filled with sink-holes. So the city spread reclaimed asphalt up and down some of the trails -- not ALL, but most of the flat stretches which were good trot/canter areas. The asphalt is not like an actual road, think ground up pre-owned road with some pieces the size of pebbles and some the size of softballs and the occasional road reflector. It's really classy.) I do not canter him up this part, but it's actually a double delay because (a) it takes me longer to get there and (b) he's not all the way warmed up.

                                        Luckily, I can adjust the route I take. On weekdays the alternate route (with less asphalt-chunk areas) requires me to cross a school unloading area, so it's not ideal, but it works. This is probably like your 5 mins on a busy road, SarahandSam. That route is also along a main road and much more hilly. Again, not a deal breaker and better than the asphalt chunks (until they are swept away at least).

                                        But my issues with time are really on the back-end after the lesson.

                                        Trainer also reassured me that she doesn't think the recent issues with his ankles (the newer windpuffs) have anything to do with my care. I am a very paranoid horse mom and he's not off, he's just having changes due to age. Trainer sees worse on 9 year old stall-bound horses. Bottom line is that he has become a better, more correct jumper over the past 2 years and that puts more stress on his body. But even with the top notch care there, there's really only so much you can do. Horse gets his adequan and legend as well as glucosamine and oral joint supps with his grain, so he's solid there. He has regular vet visits and has his hocks and coffins injected once a year in January (He's only been injected for 2 years). The turnout is really the best form of joint supp though. We also discussed how, barring injury or some other need, I really don't need to wrap him if he's going back out into turnout.

                                        He's never been a very high maintenance horse. Luckily, I do have co-boarders who I can ask to help me out when necessary, but I hate to bother them. And none of them are real self-starters (2 of the 3 of them saw the winter blanket and the one-wrap situations and did nothing...soooo...) Ford, I'm hoping there's not a bunch of other stuff that I don't know about. Horse has been at this location since early 2008 and he is still alive and kicking (no pun intended), so I'm just hoping that continues. FWIW, blanketing instructions are clearly hung on a sign at his tree.

                                        And moving him to a different backyard barn isn't really an option as I think any of those would be similar enough to the pipes at trainer's barn and I'd still have the care issue. The place he's at now is really ridiculously amazing for him, especially given the area we are in. I would venture to say it's probably the best place on the Hill -- unless you want to do lessons 2 miles away :\

                                        The fact that people really have come down on both sides really does reaffirm that this is a tough decision. For now, even though I am sooo over this commute, this is the right decision. Who knows what the future will bring or how long he'll stay sound at this level. But, for now, he is all I have and I can't go changing things and hoping that my already fortunate situation stays the same. I have a healthy horse and a great trainer (for the first time in my riding career) and that's a lot more than many people can say. I can certainly make it work for him.

                                        Just so you all can put a picture with a story, here's a picture of him in his current area:
                                        (this was at the beginning of April just after all the rain. His run-in and stall are in the background)

                                        Here is is from the other side: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?p...8&id=582593206

                                        And this is from last November (pre rain): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?p...5&id=582593206

                                        Again, thank you all for your thoughts and comments. I read through them all and really appreciate your time