Thursday, March 11, 2010

Boarding barn blues... or maybe I should say horse mom rage!

So when I first made the choice to board I knew this day would come, the day I realized what the rest of you have been complaining about! I always hear people who are frustrated that their horses don't get the type of treatment they want them to get. It comes down to the boarders having a higher expectation of the level of care that should be given than the barn is giving. Any horse that I have actually owned, has been kept at my parents' place. That means that all the time I was off in college and then off exploring the world, I rode in many kinds of barns, with many kinds of problems, but never owned a horse there. In eash situation someone else had to be the horse's advocate in the age old battle of owner versus caretaker. So I realize now that when I moved back to the area and threw a horse into my parents' pasture that they were taking exceptional care to follow my desires for his upkeep. They took way better care of him, they didn't get paid for it, they had to deal with him at his brattiest 2 to 3 phase, and they did it because they know what good horse care standards are (and maybe because they didn't want to see my full wrath!)

I've been fighting the battle of getting the boarding facility to blanket/unblanket consistently, and the only consistent thing this winter has been that I feel like I must be being unreasonable. I thought it would be a given that if I paid for blanketing services on a horse pastured out where he won't be warm and sheltered, that it would mean that the blanket would come off in the morning, go on at night, and stay on for rain and other circumstances. The circumstances seem to be everyday. If the blankets are off, they want to leave them off because its not that cold at night, if the blankets are on, they always have reason to leave them on. I was asked if I'd like to blanket at night since I was out almost every night. "Sure!" I said. I figured that I'd at least make sure they got on right. But then the next week I had almost no time to get out to the barn and found myself making extra trips out just to blanket, only to find out that they had never taken them off that day! Then I start finding that the buckles have been take off wrong, straps put on wrong, blankets on the ground in the mud. Worst of all I found back leg straps still hooked in the back and crossed through eachother just as if the horse stepped out of the blanket. How does a horse step out of a blanket? It happens if you take a blanket off in a way that when the horse spooks the blanket flies off while still strapped to the legs. Do you have a good mental picture of that? Let me help. My lovely long legged 4 year old has all buckles undone but the ones around his legs, runs off through the pasture dropping the blanket off the side, spooks the other horses into a stampede with his winter blanket dragging along, now underneath him, tripping him until he finally stomps it to the ground freeing himself of it. Now maybe that didn't happen that way, but its the picture stuck in my head.

Now March comes, the sun comes out, they say it seems like nice enough weather, so why don't they refund the blanketing fee from my board that I've just paid. I'd been insisting on the blankets coming off in the day because Bear had shoulder rubs, so I took this as a hint that they'd had enough. But they are being super nice, saying they feel bad having me pay when its going to be such nice weather and never necessary to blanket. So I agree, since I don't think they'll do it anyway, so why pay, and they agree that they'll still blanket once or twice if its bad weather or rains. Literally the cold came back in two days. Raining, and storming and back in the 30s at night. I was the one to put the blanket on, I don't think they took it off, fine, whatever, at least its on. I mentioned to them that its really cold, that Bear has a cough suddenly, that I'm going to put it back on. I go out tonight, its not on. Its in the low 40s. It's an issue. I'm not afraid of being assertive, but I'm afraid of passive aggresive retaliation if I piss them off. It's like living in constant fear that your food has been spit. Imagine you've had to ask for a clean glass, remind the waitress you have no silverware, get up to tell the hostess you can't find your waitress so maybe they could do something about the hair in your butter, then you have to send back the plate becasue its not what you ordered, then again to be cooked all the way through. By the end you're so afraid that they hate you and they've done terrible things to your food that you don't even want to eat it. None of it was your fault, but you're at their mercy. That's how I feel with the service at the barn.

Well that's my rant, I guess this has been building over two months, so I needed to get it off my chest. I'm not sure what I can do since I know this place is the only one that has all I need to train with this good of a price. If we can make it past blanketing season I'm sure I'll have no other reasons to be pissed off. At least I hope... I'm afraid the blanketing issue is a sign of an overall lack of horse care at the place. I'm worried. Tonight I'm really in the ranting mood because when I went out to ride tonight there was no power in the barn! Nothing. Who knows what's going on, maybe wiring issues. But seriously if I hear they got their power cut off for not paying the bills, I'm looking for another place to board!

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