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Another WWYD Thread: Health Hiatus - What to do with the horse?

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  • Another WWYD Thread: Health Hiatus - What to do with the horse?

    Just looking for opinions. I moved in August to a barn with an indoor that is close to home for me. I was excited about having access to this facility for the upcoming western NY winter, but I just found out I need to have a pretty involved knee surgery (Torn ALC, MCL, medial meniscus and a baker's cyst). Doctor said that he expects me to be out of the saddle for at least 4 months. Which, pretty much takes us into the spring.

    I have the option of moving my mare over to a friends barn which will cost me HALF of what I pay now at the big barn. I can just pull her shoes and let her be over the winter. She's not the type that needs to be in any kind of routine work and she'll be the same horse in the spring that she is today without much fuss.

    Or, do I just leave well enough alone and leave her at the big barn? I can have them use her in lessons for a bit of a discount on her board, but that means keeping her in shoes. The cost for the shoes will pretty much negate the discount I would get for the lessons. It would be nice to have her kept in some kind of work, but is it worth paying twice as much for?

    Mare is a pretty cool cucumber who doesn't get herself worked up about much. So long as she has a stall, food and daily turnout - life is just peachy. I'm not worried about the stress of moving on her. She's been at the friend's barn in the past and was fine with their set up.

    I think if I explain to the current BO that the move is purely financial, that I'll be going out on disability from work and not able to work my second job that supplements the $$$ I pay in board each month, she'll understand and I'll be able to come back in the spring if there is a stall opening. I have enough in savings to be able to live comfortably in my recovery but if I don't HAVE to eat through my savings, I would obviously prefer that.

    That said WWYD? COTH always gives me some other perspective I didn't think about so that's why I ask. Thanks so much!

  • #2
    I think you have answered your own question.
    For starters you safe money should you move her to the other barn, plus you never know what happens when a horse goes in a lesson string or is otherwise used by third persons.

    If the horse won't mind being a pasture bum for the winter, I would not bother with the fancy barn etc...


    • #3
      I would likely take the mare to the friends house and let her chill.
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


      • #4
        I would also move the mare to the friend's place. It will save you money, mare will get a nice winter off, and you won't need to worry about any possible injuries or attitude changes from being a lesson horse.

        Good luck with your surgery, it sounds awful!
        My blog: Crackerdog Farm


        • #5
          Save the money and your own nerves.

          Move your mare to your friend's place and both of you enjoy some downtime during the holidays

          Wishing you a New Knee for 2013!
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          • #6
            Originally posted by Crackerdog View Post
            I would also move the mare to the friend's place. It will save you money, mare will get a nice winter off, and you won't need to worry about any possible injuries or attitude changes from being a lesson horse.

            Good luck with your surgery, it sounds awful!
            Ditto this.


            • #7
              I wouldnt move the horse. Tell the barn owner they can use the horse in lessons, for reduced rate on board, and they pay farrier bill.I know you said you were at the friends place before, but lots of things can go wrong. How many times have I read on this board about friends turning into enemies over care of a horse.Keep your friend, just what they are, a friend. You will be back in the saddle in no time and your horse will still be fit and ready to work.
              My other home.


              • #8
                I can tell you as a BO, that unless I had a really big lesson business in the winter and desperately needed this horse, I would not be interested in taking discounted board and covering the farrier for a non-owned lesson horse. I would rather have the board income.

                I would move the mare, give her the winter off, and see what the spring holds. Horses like having a break just like we humans.
                Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                • #9
                  I'd probably move the mare, too. But, keep in mind that you will be a helpless one-legged person during your recovery and you are going to want to have a little extra piece of mind. If something unexpected happens and your mare needs extra or special care during your recovery, you aren't going to be able to provide it, so which barn would be better able to handle it? Also, even just routine stuff like visiting your mare, leading her, and grooming her, holding her for the farrier, etc. might be difficult or not possible. It's hard to use crutches around a barn if there is mud or uneven ground . Plus you don't want to risk your recovery by trying to handle a horse before you are healed!

                  So which barn will do a better job of making sure that your mare is truly okay while you are incapacitated? While your friend's barn sounds like a great option to save some money, be sure you won't be putting too much on your friend because whoever has your horse is going to need to be taking more responsibility for her than normal for a period of time. And, maybe consider that your friend might deserve a slightly higher board rate if she is taking on a little more responsibility. Just some thoughts!


                  • #10
                    I regret to say that I have experienced this precise configuration of events, and am now a world-renowned expert on the practical ramifications of knee surgery on horse boarding.

                    What it boils down to is peace of mind.

                    The recovery from the surgery is going to be challenging. The last thing I'd want to do is to worry incessantly about my horse. So whichever scenario seems likeliest to keep me serene and fancy-free on the equine front while I scream my way through physical therapy is the way I'd go. Personally, if there were random lesson kids riding my mare I'd need extra sedation.

                    I might add that whichever barn you choose, pay whatever they're asking to have them pick out the feet every day, double it, and then send a trusted spy out to confirm. About a month into my recovery I got a nasty jar when my farrier called me on my sickbed and angrily denounced me as a thrush-enabler. "Oh sure, we'll do her feet!" had been the BO's refrain, but my poor horse's rotting hooves told a different story.

                    I wish you best of luck with your surgery, and may your surgeon's fingers be nimbler than my surgeon's were.
                    Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


                    • #11
                      Having had major orthopedic repairs (knee x 2 and shoulder) you will be no where near a horse for a bit and yes, no riding for roughly 3-4 months. However, you will truly only be off your feet (crutches) for about 30 days, if that, with an ACL, but back to walking fairly quickly. PT will begin the day after surgery--and it sucks, hurts and is absolutely vital.

                      That being said, YOU will be out of shape along with your horse at friend's barn(FB). Are you prepared to go through another barn search (read that thread) if no opening exists at current barn(CB)? Is FB prepared to keep horse longer if you can't get back in to CB?

                      I kept my horse in training/board and free-leased him to a beginner while I was out for 8 months with my shoulder injury. Same situation with my ACL, but I was riding less than 2 months post-surgery. I figured keeping him in his normal place, with all his horsey buddies was better for my peace of mind than saving a few bucks by bringing him home or to a less expensive barn. It really is for only a few months.
                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by texan View Post
                        I wouldnt move the horse. Tell the barn owner they can use the horse in lessons, for reduced rate on board, and they pay farrier bill.I know you said you were at the friends place before, but lots of things can go wrong. How many times have I read on this board about friends turning into enemies over care of a horse.Keep your friend, just what they are, a friend. You will be back in the saddle in no time and your horse will still be fit and ready to work.
                        Yes but how many times have you also read that someone trusted their trainer and came back to find out trainer was using their horse in a non approved way?

                        If the friend is a good arrangement, that sounds the best. if OP is out of commission, it's not likek she's going to be spending all her time at the barn, there will likely not be much to be happy with as long as the horse is cared for in a reasonable way.


                        • #13
                          #1 Priority to me in this situation would be "where can I put my horse such that I do not have to worry if I can't even get out there for a month?"

                          I'm serious.

                          Because post op, you can't even drive at first because of the pain meds and such. And if it's your right leg, it's going to be longer. (i drove with my left, but pretty sure that was not legal.)

                          You might talk to current BO and see what she says as far as working with you, but I think it would make most sense to move her to your friend's house IF you feel like friend can be your proxy w/o ruining the friendship.
                          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                          • #14
                            Sorry to hear about your knee. I'm also recovering from surgery right now - no fun.

                            I think it depends on your goals for the spring- do you need her to be show fit? If so, perhaps you could find someone you trusted to lease her or at least half lease while you're out of the saddle?

                            There is always the risk of injury, but that's also true with turning her out for the winter. As we all know horses have a way of finding trouble no matter what the circumstance.

                            Hope your recovery is a speedy one!


                            • #15
                              I agree with the suggestions to choose whichever barn you feel would provide the best, most reliable, care for the horse if you can't get to the barn at all for an extended period of time.

                              If it's the bigger barn, you might want to see if you can find a responsible free, or even part, lessor. Don't think you'd find a winter lessor at the smaller barn with no indoor. That way there'd be someone with a particular interest in your horse checking up on them regularly and it would reduce your expenses.


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks guys. My friend runs a boarding barn so it's not like it's a total back yard situation. She has an open stall which she was not going to advertise due to the hay shortage but she said she has enough for an easy keeper like my mare. She just didn't want to get someone in who had a crazy hard keeper and then not be able to find hay come March. She said the stall is there for me if I need it. I would sign a boarding contract and pay just like any other boarder. I do trust her immensely and she's been a great support to me in the past. She boarded my mare for me many years ago for a short time when I needed to have a surgery for a bone infection in my face and couldn't come out to the barn for months because I couldn't breathe in any dust. She sent me pictures on facebook and e-mailed me to let me know what was going on. I loved that I still felt "connected." I can continue to use my current farrier at either barn. I don't need to be there to hold her. I've had the same farrier for 10+ years and he'll work on her without me there. He lives near me and would just swing by the house for a cup of coffee and the money that I owe him.

                                I don't get the same level of communication at the big barn and I think that would irk me. I have family that can stop in to check on her, as she is around the corner from my parents house but it's not the same. I can have the BOs daughter ride her for me if I wanted to but it would be sporadic as she's a typical teen with a full social life. I don't know how much benefit would come from that in the long run.

                                I don't know how marketable my mare would be on the lease front. She's a W/T beginners horse who has some holes in her training. She doesn't "get" leg. Which is great for putting little kids on who are all over the place, but for a more refined rider, it's a weird ride to be missing some of those aids. She is super safe and totally bombproof. She is a great teacher of balance because if she feels her rider get off center, she stops. I have a habit of falling forward on upward transitions and everytime, she comes to a dead stop. It keeps me mindful of where I am and what I'm doing. She's hard to get into a canter because she is a little unbalanced and she needs her rider to be light and balanced to aid her. She can do it but it takes some work. Unfortunately, for the riders that she's really most beneficial for, they generally aren't in the lease market.


                                • #17
                                  I agree fully with those who say bring her to your friends barn. It sounds like a nice situation for her while you are recovering. You have had positive experiences with her in the past and feel comfortable leaving your horse there.

                                  That would be my pick! Perhaps you can find a more advanced rider who is looking for some saddle time to fill in the holes while you are recovering. I know when I was 16-17 I would have loved a project to fuss over for a few months.


                                  • #18
                                    I would move her to the friend's barn if it were me.
                                    I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo


                                    • #19
                                      If I were in your situation, I would move the horse to the friend's. I'd then also look into someone that might want some more hack time (college kid or something) or in my position, possibly even just pay someone a few dollars to hack her once a week, so at least she gets a more thorough lookover, feet picked, worked, see how she's moving, etc.
                                      Semi Feral