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Barn choice - literally cannot decide

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    Barn choice - literally cannot decide

    I have two horses at two different barns right now...which just sort of happened as a result of a few things. I’d like to move them both to the same place, as they are 45 minutes in opposite directions and this is becoming very difficult to manage. But I can’t choose which barn makes more me COTH wisdom...

    Barn A -
    This is where my community is. I’ve been associated with this barn for over a year. The care is good, although “casual”. Horses have stalls with tiny paddocks, but no real available turnout. This is perfect for Horse B, who I’ve tried to get to love “real” turnout for years. But he loves the in/out sort of situation that he has. Horse A needs more turnout, but dealt ok with this situation. There are a few pastures available and I can turn out when I’m there, but they aren’t really set up for 12/12. There is an option here to have horse A out 24/7, which he used to love. But then he wouldn’t have a stall. Indoor footing is workable, outdoor is useless. But...again, it’s where my people are.

    Barn B -
    I moved horse A to this barn when I had to have surgery that required me to be off the horse for a significant period of time and I needed him to be in full training. I’m healed now, but that part was appreciated. The facility is beautiful. Indoor Is wonderful and the outdoor has just been expanded. Horse A is doing quite well here, but they really haven’t built true camaraderie amongst the riders here yet. It is a newer barn, and more sporthorse oriented. I’m not sure they can develop the same type of camaraderie as barn A has for a variety of reasons. Horse A has daily turnout (about 4 hours) in a large field with buddies and a nice stall, but I’m not sure they can accommodate horse B’s panic about flies (he will literally run himself until completely sweaty). Care is top-notch, but I’ve been finding small things like horse A not being turned out with his fly mask & sheet, or turned out with his halter on. This doesn’t matter so much for horse A but would be devastating for horse B. I like the trainer at barn B.

    A huge, and annoying, factor is that I love the farrier who comes to barn B, and he won’t travel as far as barn A. Barn A’s farrier is ok, but...just ok. Vet care is the same at both barns. Barn A is $200/mo cheaper than Barn B, but that isn’t super important. Barn B is 15 minutes closer to my house one-way...saving me 30 minutes a day in drive time.

    My biggest struggle is that each horse seems happy where they are, but I’m struggling to manage both in two different places. I end up shortchanging one or the other, depending on the week...just because of the distance. Horse A needs to be ridden 6 days a week as he is still pretty green, horse B is ok being a bit more sporadic, but does better with regular rides for his arthritis. Both horses will be shown next year, making this pretty important to figure out (on two different breed circuits, just to make things impossible).

    So,..COTH wisdom...which would you choose? What am I not thinking about?

    Well, the obvious answer is Barn C, because while Barn A meets the needs of horse B (this is confusing), it does not sound like it has the riding facilities to support showing (no indoor, footing only "workable"), and you are not wild about the farrier, and Horse A wouldn't have a stall. Meanwhile, Horse B might not be accommodated at Barn B and you don't feel connected at Barn B, plus 4 hours of turnout is not enough (in my opinion).

    If it were not for your goal of showing, I would go with Barn A, and turn horse A out 24/7, as long as there is shelter and blanketing appropriate to your area. Horse B is already happy at Barn A, and horse A used to love 24/7 turnout, and you say that is where your people are.

    However, if your goal is to show both horses next year, I would go with Barn B, with its better footing and indoor ring and the farrier and trainer you prefer, and ask Barn B for options for Horse B to be in a small in/out situation. Maybe they could work something out for a good boarder with two horses in training.

    Or, I would lease Horse B to someone wonderful, leave Horse B at Barn A and leave Horse A at Barn B, and drastically simplify my life.


      I think barn A and just turn your other one out 24/7. It’s healthier for them anyway. We think horses love their stalls but that’s just where their food, water, and buddies all live. They do not “like” living in a giant litter box. We tell ourselves that because stalls are way more convenient and cost effective. People also think a stall is cozier because that’s where we would like to live but we’re not horses. All the research points to horses being healthier when they live out. I’m not sure why so many people feel bad about it.


        What's more important to you - your social links or your show goals?

        I have done the two horses at two facilities thing several times. It's vastly easier if the facilities are close together. Is there a barn C near barn B that could meet horse B's needs if your show goals come out ahead? I'm guessing there's nothing near barn A given that you ended up at barn B - although now you primarily need coaching rather than training rides, IS there something near Barn A?

        Is regular trailering for lessons reasonable?

        You might ask barn B's farrier for potential places - that way you get to keep them!


          I also vote for Barn C, if you can find it. Neither of the two you describe are ideal for your situation, apparently.

          Could you put the one at the nicer barn back in training (at least part time) so that you don’t have to get to both as often?


            I am another vote for Barn C, if you can find it, but I am also aware it is difficult to find everything you want or need in a barn, especially with two different horses with different turnout needs etc. Good luck in your decision OP.


              Sheesh I'm exhausted on your behalf. With two horses showing on different circuits, I would go with Barn B. Better farrier, trainer, facilities, and that saving 30min a day in travel time is not insignificant, either. Every barn will have occasional lapses like a forgotten fly mask. Before making the move, I would sit down with the BM to discuss your sensitive horse and the importance of fly control and get his/her advice on whether they think they can consistently manage his care. Maybe there's an extra fee you could pay, to get special handling. With both horses boarded there, they'll have incentive to do so, since losing you would now mean losing twice the revenue.

              Finally, maybe pay a dry stall fee at Barn A for 3 months to hold a spot for you. If Barn B doesn't work out, then move both horses to Barn A (while you look for Barn C).


                I vote for Barn B, better care, better facility (especially footing!), better farrier. To me the social aspect is far less important than the better care for the horses.


                  I'd give barn B a chance to accommodate your fly phobic horse. It sounds better overall. A better farrier goes a long way as well. 30 minutes less driving is huge for me. That's riding time.


                    Barn C. The reason you're in this spot (both spots...hahahah) in the first place is that you never found Barn C. You need them in one barn that works for all THREE of you. Or, yes, otherwise lease or sell one and enjoy the other.
                    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                    --Jimmy Buffett


                      Original Poster

                      Thanks for all of the thoughts! It helped me clarify my thinking. I spoke with the BO of barn B and she thinks she can accommodate horse B’s fly phobia. While showing is definitely not everything to me, I did make a commitment this year that I was finally going to be serious about my riding. Getting the coaching is going to be key, as I’m coming back from surgery. I am heartbroken about losing my community, but maybe I should let my goals and not my heart decide. Hard choice!


                        Have you been present at barn B ( due to rehab injury) to really get into the social aspect?

                        LIke someone else said, for me the social aspect is less important than good care , including farrier, good training. Talking with the trainer was the first great step. Making sure you are also in good relationship with the barn manager, senior working student or head barn man, they can help support your needs.

                        poor or indifferent footing is a deal breaker. protracted drive times a deal breaker. The time you safe at Barn B can be put to gym time and cross training to help your rehab

                        good luck, i think barn B is going to be the influence you need.
                        -- * > hoopoe
                        Procrastinate NOW
                        Introverted Since 1957


                          Original Poster

                          Originally posted by hoopoe View Post
                          Have you been present at barn B ( due to rehab injury) to really get into the social aspect?
                          Super good point hoopoe. In truth, it did take me awhile to realize the community was there around barn A, so it’s possible I’ve just been missing it at barn B. The surgery has influenced me for sure, since I didn’t ride my horse at barn B pre-surgery.

                          Secondly - this is my chance. I had the surgery specifically so I could compete. It’s a little silly to second guess myself now. And you’re absolutely right, great care and farrier care (IMO) are paramount.

                          Again, thank you all. You’ve given me a sounding board and many wise voices to help me think through this!


                            AAANDDDD, the people at Barn A do not necessarily evaporate once you change barns. While it's easy (and pretty normal!) for work or barn friends to kinda drift apart once you leave that place, it's not a given if you make the effort to stay connected. Let them know you would love to go out for a beer or coffee. And then follow through--reach out regularly and initiate get-togethers.


                              I enjoy a good social circle at the barn. But! as a busy career woman my time is super limited. Time spent socializing = less time with the horse. For me, the barn with the least commute is the winner. Lack of social opportunities at barn is a bonus for me. Ymmv