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Owning Horses in the Military

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  • Owning Horses in the Military

    Another horse/military thread prompted me to post this question.

    Are any of you in the military (or married to someone who is) and own a horse?

    Have you been able to keep your horses as you move around? Have you seen any impact (positive or negative) on your horses? Experiences boarding on base and off base? Leaving your horse behind when moved overseas?

    Just looking for some input from people who have "been there, done that"...

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I have limited experience with this.

    But, my ex fiance was a pilot in the AF and we were stationed in TX and were assigned overseas as well. Plus I've moved quite a bit.

    When we got our assignment to TX, we took a trip down there, found a place to live and I started hunting for boarding. At that particular base, there was no on base boarding. I was able though to find a great coop situation. All I had to do was ask EVERYONE I ran into if they knew anyone who boarded horses. The real estate agent actually pointed me to the lady whom I eventually boarded with. But I also looked at barns I'd found listed on the board at a tack/feed store.

    I don't think that finding a boarding barn is really an issue. What CAN be an issue (I've learned) is the fluctuation in cost. Were I to do it all over again, I would never have had more than one horse. My move from TX to MI took me from 150/mo total for 3 to 5 times that in MI. So just keep in mind that costs vary from region to region.

    It can be difficult anytime you move to a new area to get your "land legs" on the local community. No matter where you go, there are folks "in the know" about the good barns, the bad ones that look good at first glance, and the really bad ones. If you can try to hook up with the local horse community when you get your PCS orders, it makes things easier.

    I chose to use a pro hauler for all of my moves. I really think that this is beneficial. Plus, if you have a trailer yourself, you can actually MAKE a little money on your move often times. (you can have the military move you or do it yourself. Most folks come out better moving themselves)

    Next...overseas. We were stationed overseas once and I have also since done business overseas where I was living abroad for an extended period.

    When we were stationed in Italy, I had a pretty ideal situation in that my mother had a farm and I could leave the horses there. So that first PCS was no big deal.

    The second time I went overseas, I was rather new to the area and had only been at the boarding barn for about a month before I had to go. I half leased one horse and paid that lady to check on my other horses, groom, and coordinate vetting and farrier. Even though most BO's are wonderful, some will let things slide if they know full well that the owner is gone and won't know any better. So I'd strongly suggest lining up a person to check in. Having a 1/2 lease or somesuch is great if you're going to be gone a long time.

    Other people I know did full leases of their horses or sold their horses if they thought they'd be gone for more than the standard 2-3 year assignment. (I had some friends who did 2 in Korea, then 3 in Europe--they sold their horses)

    Last thing to think about is that if you're the spouse and not the military member, you may not be permitted to work overseas. I was at a NATO base (Aviano, Italy) and spouses were not permitted to work on the economy per a NATO agreement. Some did find jobs on base, but for the most part, many of us had zero income. So you have to keep the financial challenges in mind.

    Bottom line, I think it's quite doable. But, if you have a horse with really special needs it may be more of a challenge. Also, try to keep it to just one horse. The more you have, the harder it is to make arrangements in a pinch.

    Good luck!
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    • Original Poster

      Fabulous information and very encouraging. Thank you, BuddyRoo.

      I only have one horse. He's my "heart horse" and I want to do everything in my power to keep him with me. My fiancee is AF and we currently reside in Colorado Springs (average board is about $500/mo). Our first assignment will probably be TX. I'm hoping to get my own truck and trailer to move him around in (shorter moves at least, we'll do pro hauling for long ones).

      Glad to find someone who did this and survived! Thank you again for the excellent information.


      • #4
        Not me, but one of my pony clubber families is military. They moved one horse from Kansas to Hawaii, then moved 3 horses from Hawaii to Louisiana, where they boarded at a public barn. While in Hawaii, they were kept at a military barn. Her husband now runs the ROTC at UCF and this is his last assignment before retirement, so they purchased their farm here in Florida.
        Lori T
        www.facebook.com/LTEquine for product updates on the lines I rep


        • Original Poster

          Thanks, Lori! It sounds really do-able if I'm willing to be flexible. I appreciate the information very much.


          • #6
            Countrygal--I was in Wichita Falls, TX. The ENJJPT program.

            If you are heading there, I would be happy to give you some contacts. I had a WONDERFUL time there and met many wonderful people.

            It IS doable. You just have to be

            A) organized and methodical
            B) willing to talk to EVERYONE including grocery store clerks, complete strangers in line at the gas station, etc etc.

            I've never met a stranger so it has not been hard for me. I think the trick to moving around in the military is to be very flexible, be very chatty, and be very creative.

            The folks I knew who were happiest as military spouses were those who were movers and shakers. Very adaptive.

            Folks who had challenges were those who just could not embrace change and run with it.

            There's less stability, sure! But the military community is a real small world and a friendly world in my experience. I'm still good friends with people I met 10 years ago....we've all bounced all over the planet but you meet so many good eggs if you're willing to invest.

            Best wishes!
            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

            Might be a reason, never an excuse...


            • Original Poster

              I'll be happy so long as I can keep my pony! I love talking to and meeting people- especially horse people. I'm excited to see other parts of the country and experience different trainers and different shows. Just needed some assurance that it was a possibility!


              • #8
                As with anything else to do with the military, successful horse owning requires:

                1. A sense of humor.....esp when everything goes the way you didn't want it to.

                2. The ability to make the best of any situation.

                DH was already in the army when we met, and it was a very well discussed issue that it if he wanted to make a career (and he does) then we would commit to making sure I was able to ride in some way. I have had to be flexible. I've had to give up certain other things when we were in places where horse-owning was very expensive. But, we make it work. I don't always have a trainer to work with, and I've gotten really good at internet searches. Many, many military installations have boarding facilities of some sort- it's always a good idea to get their contact info when you know where you're going as they can point in a good direction.

                Get used to asking for help and talking to any one and every one. It's a way of life but one that can be very satisfying and fulfilling if open yourself to it.
                Equestrian Photography


                • #9
                  Originally posted by countrygal View Post
                  Another horse/military thread prompted me to post this question.

                  Are any of you in the military (or married to someone who is) and own a horse?

                  Have you been able to keep your horses as you move around? Have you seen any impact (positive or negative) on your horses? Experiences boarding on base and off base? Leaving your horse behind when moved overseas?

                  Just looking for some input from people who have "been there, done that"...

                  Thanks in advance!
                  You might want to check out this site:


                  Riding - the art of keeping your horse between you and the ground.


                  • #10
                    Horse at Ft Knox

                    I sent my son's OTTB, Jeff's Creek, out to him at Ft Knox in December . Connor loves having his horse out there, loves the fact that he's one of the ONLY enlisted guys to have a horse on base and loves spending time with him. Jeff has no shortage of fans and little girls giving him treats. Having the horse there has been a real ice breaker for him, and helped him stand out in the crowd a little bit . Since my son is basically a big goofy farm kid at heart, I was worried about him getting lost in the shuffle, and having the horse there is priceless.
                    Dealing with the on base vet was a pain in the tail initially, since they wanted veterinary proof of worming, and extensive vaccine records. We do our own, courtesy of TSC, but we worked it all out finally . We were lucky enough to get on the stall waiting list quickly, but you need all your ducks in a row and be ready to roll when a stall opens up.
                    Snowflakes become an avalanche.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thank you everyone for the input! I'm feeling more hopeful .


                      • #12
                        Hi! My husband is a Marine and we've been living the military life for ten years now. I've always been able to keep my horses. Some places I was able to keep them on base for a very low fee. Sometimes, like now, I board them out in town. If you talk to everyone around, you can usually find a great place at a reasonable rate even out in town. Just be adaptable, resourceful, and determined!!

                        It is a LOT easier if you have your own trailer. I just pack my guy up and go now. We are lucky because my husband's job in the military restricts him from moving overseas. That would be the only trouble, if you were going to Japan or something you couldn't bring the horse. I actually know a girl who is leasing her horse to a very good friend while she's overseas, so there are options for that as well. Best of luck!!!


                        • #13
                          My husband is in the Navy, we have been married since just before 9/11 and it seems as though he has been on perpetual deployment to any variety of armpit countries since then.
                          I have a job "here", and in 2003 we bought our farm. Due to what he does, it is not possible for me to go on overseas deployments with him (not that I would want to), but now he is deployed in Virginia (thank GOD!) but it has been very easy for me to keep my horses because I am still at the farm.
                          It works for us, now he gets home maybe once a month or so, and if he doesn't get home I get a farm sitter and go up there for a few days.
                          It's not easy for me being alone running the farm, the horses, trying to have a life and having a full time job too, but it is what it is and we do what we have to do to have the things and people who are important to us.
                          "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by dwblover View Post

                            It is a LOT easier if you have your own trailer.
                            Maybe I can use this to convince him I NEED a truck and trailer :-P

                            Thank you for the information. I'm very encouraged.


                            • #15
                              Like Buddyroo, I ship my horses with a professional hauler. Traveling with my children/dogs is bad enough without adding the stress of my horses too. I also use the trailer during moves for partial DITYs and make some extra money off of it. Don't get caught trying to weight your trailer wiht your horse in it!

                              I loathe boarding on post, but sometimes it's the only option. You definitely need to be flexible and willing to plan ahead for all contingencies. My horses have made my military life more bearable for me, especially during deployment.

                              edited to add: I have been married to my soldier for 17 years. Just a few mroe and we will finally be done!
                              Cameron Grace M5H " Cammie" 2006 Haflinger
                              Dandy Lil Dunn Jet "Penny" 1998 AQHA
                              RIP Roans Lucky Socks "Chevy" 13 May 2003 - 1 December 2012 my sweet buddy, until we meet again.


                              • Original Poster

                                Horses make my life bearable in general, can't imagine having to live without them for long.

                                Sounds like the key is planning, planning and more planning. And being flexible with the planning isn't quite enough!