Monday, December 28, 2009

To board or not to board

So I have been toying the idea of moving Bear for a long time. He is perfectly happy living in pasture with the old mare, but I want to have access to an arena without having to trailer out. It’s worked great so far to have him at my parents, but I think they're getting sick of having another horse to bother with. He has kept the old mare company which was the idea in the first place. Then I was trailering out to take that colt starting class in the indoor arena once a week all last
year and it was only a few miles from the house. While that was great experience for him to load up and trailer somewhere every week, I’m getting sick of always hitching and unhitching the trailer EVERY time I want to get some training done with him! The pasture is too wet to ride in most of the winter, so that means the only option is to take a walk down the back roads, but I’m so bored with them now, and I can only walk. Good for stretching the legs, but not much of a workout.

I had moved to a place where I could board Bear on the property, but decided in the end not to stay there since I changed jobs and the commute was awful! (Plus the trails that seemed close weren’t accessible unless I hauled him out the mile down the busy highway, and
the arena sucked!) So what seemed perfect to start with, didn’t work out. Now I’m looking at boarding for the first time in my life in order to have access to all the stuff that I want to train and ride.

I think I’ve found the place. It’s a good price. In fact it’s such a good price that I’m still looking for the catch! I called to ask some questions today and the guy seems really nice, which is a huge relief, because I really thought that would be the first big deal breaker. Its
pretty rural area, and out the opposite direction of civilization, so it is cheaper than what I’m used to seeing around the area I currently have Bear. But the place is only about 8 miles from where I’ll be living this spring. So I think that is manageable to drive out to see the horse, especially if it means I can go out in the evenings after work and know that I can ride after dark. (Only catch there would be finding him in a 15 acres pasture after dark! But right now he comes
when he’s called; I’ll just have to REALLY positively reinforce him coming to my whistle!)

The place seems perfect. I’ve always heard horror stories about trying barn after barn before finding the right place. I’m not taking a trainer into account, since I can’t afford to board at the caliber of place where I plan to take lessons. So what I want is a good safe facility, without drama, just good care. I’ve heard those are hard to find, and I’m looking for all the problems in advance. The guy mentioned they’ve only been there 4 months and have done a ton of
improvements, with more to come. I hope he’s not biting off more than he can chew. I googled the address and found that it had been for lease, so they must not own the property, but I can’t see that being a huge problem. There were also two other training business names that came up for that address, so the property seems to have a high turnover rate. Should I be wondering why?

Here are the good things that are drawing me to the place:
-It’s a 93 acres property, so plenty of riding on site, plus 5,000
acres across the street that is accessible for riding!
-There is a hunter/jumper barn 3 miles down the road, and a dressage trainer next door.
-Big outdoor arena, and they should be getting all weather footing and jumps.
-Indoor arena (He says its small, but I get the impression its at least the size of a full dressage court. It has lights and rain coverage, so anything bigger than a round pen will do!
-They have pasture board. I really think part of Bear’s easy going personality is that he gets to run off his excessive energy. I think he would be bored and irritable in a stall.
-They offer blanketing service even for horses in pasture for just a little bit more.
-They have no time limits for riding!!! I would love to be able to stay out there late to ride after work, and its nice to not have someone giving you stink eye for not leaving by 9pm!
-They live on the property, and one of them is there pretty much all the time. Plus they have a lesson and training business so I can feel better that they actually know what they’re doing with horses.


-It is WAY far out there. Its close to home, but nothing else. It will never be just on the way, and it will always be the opposite direction when I’m heading out.
-If I want to be more selective about a trainer, it could be a 45 minute to an hour haul.
-It is in an area that I’m totally unfamiliar with, so all my favorite trails will be too far away, and I’ll have to find new places to explore. That and I’ll be hard pressed to find a hill!
-A huge pasture like that with so many horses could end up a being a problem. Right now I think Bear would really like it. He loves interaction with other horses, and this would give him the room to really run. He might turn out to be the pasture pest though.
-It’s a lease, and they sound like they are still just getting started up with their business. If they flop, I’ll be looking for another home for the beast. It’s not a huge deal since I always have my parent’s property to fall back on, and I’ll be looking at moving him again in two years anyways, so it’s not a permanent move.

I’ll be going to see it sometime soon, so I’ll get a better idea then. I’m really excited about it though! We’ll see how I feel after seeing it!

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