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Help. Should I move barns?

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  • Help. Should I move barns?

    Hi All, using an Alter here for a few reasons.

    I'm trying to decide if I should move barns and although I'm usually clear headed I can't work this one out. The reason I'm not thinking straight is that I'm preggers and the hormones are throwing me off.

    I've had my horse at the current barn for a few years. Now that my life is about to change a lot I like that I know the pros and cons of my current boarding arrangement. The trouble is the cons have been slowly starting to bug me and when I'm kept up at night thinking about the pregnancy my mind wanders to what I don't like about the current boarding situation.

    My horse is fat and shiny, but I have to keep on top of the barn manager/owner for the small stuff. Last summer my horse almost lived in her rain sheet as the barn manager always over covers the horses if there's even a hint of rain. I explained many times I don't care if my horse gets wet, save the rain sheet for the real rain. Barn manager would comply for a little while then slip back into her old ways. Same goes for the shoulder guard I have for my horse. It would keep getting 'forgotten' until I speak up about it, and when I let up it gets forgotten again. Barn owner changed my horse's feed amount by telling me she had done it, didn't present it as 'is it ok if I change Dobbin's feed?' I was ok with the feed change but didn't like that I was told after the fact and not asked. There is very little maintenance done on the facility, us boarders have to ask 'hey, can you replace that broken hose' and then it gets done. When my horse had an abcess last winter, I got a text 'your horse is limping' and then barn owner wasn't reachable for the rest of the day. After I told her I was unhappy that I couldn't reach her she did help me out a lot with clearing up the abcess.

    None of this seems like glaring reasons to leave but it bothers me that I feel like I have to keep on top of my horse's care. I'd like to be able to focus on the pregnancy and not be worrying about my horse for the next few months.

    I've shopped around at other boarding facilities, there are some options and one option I really like. I'm just wondering though if I should move my horse at this point because there are only so many questions I can ask prospective boarding situations. I'll never really know what their care is like unless I try them. Sometimes its better to go with what you know rather than the unknown. I'd also love to be able to keep the door open at my current place but I feel strongly that the current barn manager will not take me moving kindly.

    On the flip side if I move I think I'll get better care and be treated better at least for a little while I'm still a new client. I'm nearing the end of my first tri but I'm keeping it a secret until we've done a few tests so I can't consult any friends on this. What would you guys do? Stay with what I know or move?

    Update Post #54
    I decided to move my horse, thanks for all your replies.
    Last edited by AlterWhyNot; Jan. 25, 2012, 11:26 PM. Reason: update

  • #2
    Can you talk to other boarders at the new barn?

    It's always a guessing game when moving to a new barn. Something is bound to not be perfect, but perhaps some current boarders will give you their impressions of the situation.

    As for moving, is the other barn you are considering closer to where you live or work? If so, that will help you justify moving since you are with child. (Congrats, btw!)

    As for the cons of your current barn, changing my horse's feed without telling me would NEVER be okay with me. Based on your other cons, it doesn't seem like the BM is reliable or even very professional. I too, would be unhappy if I discovered someone was blanketing my horse against my wishes.

    Do your due diligence if you decide to move, and best of luck with everything!
    Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


    • Original Poster

      The alternative boarding barn at the top of my list is only 5min. further than my current barn and someone I currently board with has had their horse there for training in the past. She gave me a good review of the place and confirmed what I can see is that they have less facilities for the rider than our current place. I'm really only after good care and someone I can communicate well with at this point.

      Usually I just trust my gut but the pregnancy hormones have been messing with my instincts.


      • #4
        You already know the answer.
        Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


        • #5
          You can always try it out and not burn bridges so you can go back if it doesn't work out. Use the pregnancy as the reason you're leaving. Your friend is going to lease your horse while you're off and he needs to be at the same barn as her other horse.
          "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."


          • #6
            I feel your angst. I had to move from a very good barn to another when the family that owned it went through a divorce situation and while I loved it there, winter was coming and I feared I would have to move my hard keeper last minute if they sold their home faster than expected vs. planning early fall and finding a place and taking my time. I moved barns twice and the ONLY way I found to do it intelligently was to first make a list of pros and cons of BOTH places.

            When I left the first barn my horse was at, it was because I was up at night worrying. Feed getting messed up, too big a herd and he was getting no hay, finding no hay in his stall...feed not being ordered on time and he was getting subsitute feeds like sweet feed...weight loss and the worst - finding other horse's supplements on top of my horse's feed. It sounds like the place you are at isn't organized or staying on top of things...yet the care is fairly good once you point things out.

            The 2nd and 3rd barns I went to had this as the top priority - excellent care, feed and hay and I wanted SMALL....5-6 horses max vs. 16! Luckily I have a trailer and I am also fine hacking out alone and having lessons in a pasture if need be. At both barns I have excellent - and I mean excellent care. A phone call or text if my horse seems not right. The "gut" to know "Hey...Dobbin was hanging out when I was cleaning stalls and looked hungry so I brought him in and let him finish his breakfast and keep me company for an hour."

            Since I moved from the very first barn, in both cases I sleep at night. I don't worry. I can honestly say the care and attention has been the same as I would give. We are on the same page for blanketing, feed, care, caution, call the vet or not call the vet. The decisions they make are ones I would make myself - "hey it's really icy so we are turning out a few hours later..." - "Dobbin felt warm under his heavy so I changed him to his sheet..."

            With a baby on the way, sit down with someone - a friend, your hubby, and make and objective list of what is important (so the hormones are in check!). Visit the other place, talk to boarders. Adjust your list AGAIN...Turnover is often a good indiciation of care and happy boarders. If you always see ads popping up every few mos. with space available, red flag possibly!

            There are a few inconveniences with my new barn - the distance of the barn from the house and my car where I park is a good sized pasture walk (across the field) - I can only drive back there when the ground is hard or not muddy. So I do have to carry things back, and walk my tack to/from my trailer across the field, but hey - it's good exercise and I just plop my saddle, girth and blanket on my horse and he carries a good part of it! We have no heated tack room or bathroom. But the stalls are big and roomy, care is GREAT, grass is excellent. Yesterday my horse had several piles of his premium alfalfa out in the field to munch on. It warmed my heart. At the old place (barn #1) he would have been shoved out of the way by 11 geldings at a round bale of hay that often got depleted and not replenished for days because someone didn't order it or the tractor broke and someone didn't want to just throw bales out.

            Make your pros/cons list and it should become clearer! Go to the new barn armed with questions...."what if" questions. Procedure questions, and share what you are unhappy with now and ask them how they would handle it at their place. Good luck and congrats on the baby!


            • #7
              Honestly, I think if your horse is fat, shiny and healthy, you should leave him where he is. Right now, you know what the potential issues are whereas at a new barn you truly have no idea, however pretty the facilities are.

              Although you may have preferred that the rain sheet come off, did it hurt the horse that it didn't? It sounds like the BO is overly caring, rather than under-caring, which although it might be annoying, is a good thing. She noticed that your horse was limping and texted you, the big thing there - SHE NOTICED and communicated. How many times do you hear rants on here about people going out and being casually told by other boarders that their horse was limping for days. I suspect that she realised it wasn't a really important thing, like the horse wasn't able to stand on the leg, otherwise she would have been more insistent at getting hold of you or a vet.

              She shouldn't have changed the feed without informing you, but again, you say your horse is fat and shiny.

              In my opinion, it sounds like your horse is getting great care. While you are preggers leave him where he is and stop worrying. There is never going to be the perfect place.


              • #8
                Also, you say you have to stay on top of the BO, but from what you have said, I am not sure you really do "need" to, but perhaps you have just the type of personality where you feel that you need to. Breathe deeply and say to yourself "what is the worst thing that could happen at this barn?" and really, if it's the things you say, you should chill.


                • #9
                  It doesn't sound all that bad. Stick with the devil you know, for now!
                  Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                  • #10
                    Definitely stay.
                    McDowell Racing Stables

                    Home Away From Home


                    • #11
                      No matter where you board you need to keep an eye on things, I understand you pay of a service but at the end of the day your horse is still your responsibilty so you do need to keep on top of things.

                      The BO text you about the abcess - no you couldn't get a hold of her but you knew about it so go out and take care of it. I board a full care stables and I still take care of the medical care of my horses. It isn't the BOs responsibility for it. As for changing feed that would bother me and I would have told her never to do it again without consulting me first.

                      I have boarded at places where they never dump buckets (and one of my horses is a hay dunker - gross) feed at 8 and then again at 2 because they have plans, injuries that you don't know about until you show up that night, supplements not being fed etc. The little things you are upset about are just little things, at lease your BO communicates with you that is a big plus.

                      Moving your horse may help, but eventually you will be back to monitoring your horse and keeping up with the little things, there isn't a boarding place out there that cares for your horse like you would. you have to decide what you can and can't live with.

                      If your horse is happy and healthy thats all that matters.

                      You have to remember your horse has to live there 24 hours a day 365 days a year - you are only there a few hours a day.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Equine Studies View Post
                        You can always try it out and not burn bridges so you can go back if it doesn't work out. Use the pregnancy as the reason you're leaving. Your friend is going to lease your horse while you're off and he needs to be at the same barn as her other horse.
                        I like this - perfectly legitimate reason why you would move, may be a half lie (if you are happy to let your friend hack out your horse while your pregnant/after then why not? Takes the worry/pressure of checking up on him daily from you), but worth it to keep the doors open at current barn.

                        OR, ETA: If you have a trustworthy, knowledgable friend who could check horse daily/exercise him a few times a week at current place, maybe consider that.
                        "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                        "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


                        • #13
                          If i were in your situation, i would prioritize what is most important, then compare the places.

                          For me personally, i would consider the current facilities most important issues, those concerning your horse in particular:

                          stalls - if used, are they light, airy, well ventilated, roomy

                          Pastures/turnout - is the turnout routine, placement to your liking? Is your horse happy in his current grouping? Are the pastures sufficient for the number of horses on it? Are the pastures well kept(not overgrazed and weedy) and roomy?

                          Fencing - is the fencing at the current place safe, sturdy and is it kept in good repair?

                          YOUR likes and dislikes should come second. First you should look at whether your horse is happy with his herd as in getting along with those he is grouped with, and whether he is thriving physically, as in being fed regularly, having his stall mucked when he is in, etc....

                          As for YOUR concerns, the only one I think you have a valid reason to worry about is the feeding change. Dunno why she didn't ask you first.....but she most certainly should have. I do not think that alone is a reason to move, however....rather, I would talk to her about it.

                          So, in summation: I would look to my horse first, considering his welfare, and whether he is happy with his/her buddies and whether he is physically doing well.

                          Your only valid concern was the feed change....the rest are just preferences, and you will never find a place that suits all of them. What you can find, though, is a facility that LOOKS nice, but where the "issues" are serious and dangerous and where your concerns are flat out ignored. They are more common than you think.... I wouldn't risk it, unless your horse's well being and happiness are being compromised at this current facility.

                          We humans are difficult to please, concerning boarding facilities, it's the horses' welfare we need to consider.



                          • #14
                            Let me get this straight--BO tends to put a sheet on your horse too often? Forgets to put on a shoulder guard sometimes? Made an appropriate feed change and told you about it afterwards? Called you right away when your horse came up lame but wasn't sitting by the phone to chat about it? You had to ask to have a broken hose repaired? And your horse is fat and shiny and uninjured?

                            Ok, if you are spending big bucks at this place, I guess you could quibble about some of this stuff. Re: the abscess, unless you are paying for full service where the BO calls the farrier and vet when necessary, the BO fulfilled her obligation by calling you right away, then it is your obligation to come out and take care of the situation (barring an emergency situation).

                            If the price is reasonable, I think you aren't seeing the big picture. For reference, serious boarding problems: Horses not being fed and watered properly, horses being turned out with inappropriate pasture mates and getting injured, unsafe facility (esp. fencing), unsafe arena footing, uneducated/uncaring or abusive workers, inadequate bedding, inconsistent care (i.e. feedings & stall cleanings being missed).

                            I'm not saying you should put up with things that make you unhappy, just trying to help you have some perspective here. I have boarded horses in the past and even very nice facilities can have serious issues.

                            FYI, if you are not paying for full service care, you are going to have a fair amount of responsibility for your horse no matter what stable she is at.


                            • #15
                              To me changing the feed AMOUNT is not a big deal since your horse is in good weight. Changing FEED is another thing.

                              The boarders know what I feed, and if I change it I do discuss with them (for example a low starch/ low carb feed for the easy keeper, or change from the 11/6 to 10/10 for the hard keeper etc)

                              I change the amounts I feed and don't inform them of that. I watch their weight, and compensate the feed increase or decrease according to weight. To have to ask permission before hand would be frustrating. They trust me that I would feed appropriately to their horses needs.

                              Now the blanketing is another thing. Just have someone that is there check on your horse. Or call the BO regularly or put on the white board about your blanketing needs.

                              If you want to change though, ask the prospective BO for boarders contact information so that you can contact them. I always offer prospective new boarders phone numbers and/or email addresses of the existing boarders to contact. I offer it before it's even asked, and offer it several times. I want someone here who is happy, we don't fit all, but the ones that are here are happy. Also though I only provide the boarder information of those that have given me prior permission that I can give out this information for privacy reasons.

                              Though no one has ever taken me up on reaching out to any of the boarders. But also it seems if they are here looking, a boarder or two is here and I say "OK this is ___, I will step away for a bit so that you may have privacy and ask any questions you would like about the care and facilities."
                              I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                              Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


                              • #16
                                I hope this doesn't sound "snitty" (is that a word)?, but are you saying because you are pregnant you don't want to check on your horse on a regular basis? If it were me, I would keep him where he is and knows the routine and continue to go check on him.
                                By the way,congratulations on the baby coming! Just remember, life doesn't stop because of it.


                                • #17
                                  Are you kidding me? If you are this nit picky and stressed out over very minor details at what sounds like a great place to keep your horse, I hate to see what you will be like looking for childcare! Sounds like maybe you would be better off bringing your horse home and thinking about hiring a nanny!


                                  • #18
                                    I also think you should probably stay. The only one of those situations which really would bother me is the feed change without telling you, but that's pretty minor as far as boarding problems go since it's a change you were comfortable with anyway.

                                    She may have good reasons for some things. I know I don't like to put sheets on after it has already begun raining, because I'd rather put a sheet on a dry horse than trap in moisture by putting it on a wet horse. I know most rain sheets are breathable but it still takes longer to dry.

                                    The property stuff? Well, BOs are busy and speaking as one, it's easy to note a minor repair that needs to get done but not get to it right away because it isn't urgent and you've got a million other things to do. Honestly, depending on the setup it's even possible she didn't notice some things. If she waters the horses from a different hose or something she might not have even realized there was a problem with the broken hose. That would only really bother me if there were safety issues that weren't fixed.

                                    As others have said, if you're paying top dollar, then those might be reasonable quibbles, but as it is I think your pregnancy hormones might be getting the better of you. It sounds like the care is basically good, and the grass isn't always greener on the other side. It seems like leaving would be a pretty big gamble unless you could be 100% sure of the new place, which is pretty much impossible.

                                    That said, only you can really figure out how serious these issues are to you. That's just what I'd do.
                                    exploring the relationship between horse and human


                                    • #19
                                      I don't know how much you're currently paying for board, but your concerns sound a little silly. Unless you are paying a very high rate for extras (rain sheet on, rain sheet off, barn manager with sufficient time to notice a broken hose, etc), you're complaining that you have to bring things to the BM's attention? And then it's taken care of?

                                      Maybe you're feeling uneasy with a wee one on the way. You may be very busy with the new arrival and need to feel comfortable that your horse is in good hands. If horsey is fat and shiney and comfortable in his herd with a BM that notices if he's lame and calls you....... ummm..... do you read about the horror stories here? Decorate your nursery. Sounds like horsey is fine.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks everyone for the responses. Seems I need to clarify a few points. Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I don't want to check up on my horse, I just want to feel confident enough about the type of care that I'm not up at night thinking about it. Also, I didn't mean that I'm not happy with having to bring things to the attention of the BM, my problem is that after bringing it to her attention it doesn't get attended to or it does but only for a short while.

                                        I know it sounds like a silly thing but this place is a top dollar place for the area, the hose is still broken after we've all mentioned it. I mean you can hose your horse but it has so many leaky points that you get wet in the process. I know that sounds spoiled but try getting wet every time you want to hose your horse's legs in all weather and it will start to wear on you. I don't see putting the rain sheet on all the time as a caring thing the BM does. There are a good amount of show horses here and rather than remembering who is afraid for the their horse to get a spec of dirt or rain on it she just covers them all. I just think its unhealthy for my horse to be sweating in the sun with a rain sheet because it may rain in a few hours and the BM is leaving the property for most of the day (she's allowed to leave, just my horse doesn't need that rain sheet).

                                        Anyways, typing out my thoughts has really helped. I do think my horse is getting good care but it seems I either leave the BM to care for my horse as she sees fit or I go elsewhere as I can't seem to make any lasting adjustments to how she cares for my horse.