About this Blog

Meet my very 1st horse, Lazarus.
I couldn't wait for Santa anymore or ask one more time for a pony for my bday (after age 30 it got embarrassing). I took matters in my own hands and I finally decided to pick a pony that needed a new home. Laz found me as I contemplated with this idea. He was sweet yet very sassy, fresh off the track, Thoroughbred (OTTB).
Join us for our re-training, rehabbing from laminitis and testing all parts of mixed up horsemanship and partnership, and luck...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pony Daycare

Ah, the fun (insert sarcasm) of looking into moving to a new barn.
As I briefly mentioned; I decided fairly recently that with Laz's care/rehab/training, I'm more comfortable having him closer to me.  With the latest hoof flare up in May, it wore me thin driving every day 1 hour one way, when I have the choice to not have to do that.

So.........I started looking at new boarding facilities.
I think I have visited about 30, and talked to at least 20 more.
I had to create a hand written excel (b/c I found I just needed to hand write it to FEEL better) about the Pro's and Con's to each.

So many things to consider.

First was getting Laz's IR test results back, to figure if I needed to only look at facilities with a dry lot vs pasture.
He tested as Non IR so it opened up options which was great
Then came my want of pasture board. 
Wow, pasture board to ME isn't "Hey, I'm cheap and don't give an F about my horse so I want to throw him in your backyard with a rusted Chevy in it."  
I found out that the word pasture board can sometimes work with = are you kidding me?!
Why do I want pasture?
Because Laz is happiest when he can roam around 24/7.
That poor boy was stalled so much of his life, and he just fares so much better being OUT.
So many barns that offer stall board, bring them in at 3pm, or 6pm. I just know he wouldn't like that and why bothering entertaining that idea of weaving, ulcers, etc etc
24/7 turnout is not for every horse/owner but we love it.
That being said; when a storm blows in a 3am, or when the winter crap hits, I also like to know that he has a GOOD shelter/run in/open stall to go to, if wanted/needed.
Not a 3 horse shelter in a herd of 10.  Not a canvas tent.
Let's talk about 'pasture' too.
Pasture to me means either a BIG dry lot, OR a freaking pasture. Not a pen suited for a dog.
Not a one acre field with 10 horses on it either.
 It was sometimes scary what I saw when I pulled up to visit barns.
And stalls, barns, run ins- for horses people, not tiny for goats.

Also, brings the talk of feeding.
So many people do only 2 x a day feedings I've found.
I would LOVE if Laz had the choice to free nibble all day.
With his metabolism, and keeping ulcers at bay, it would work best.
Also, being flexible that NO I don't want to feed my OTTB a 12% sweet feed with corn and oats in it and oh, there's molasses too?! NO.
My list is free choice grass hay preferably in square bales, not round bales (or if they are round, hay for horses and not cows and protected from elements and lifted from ground)

I would prefer someone to LIVE on the property 
(I actually made this a MUST on my list recently)
Must be clean, mucking stalls out every day (lean to's as well)
And to a couple of CRAZEEEE barn owners that told me "Oh, yea, I check on yer horse e'ry couple o' few days when they come on bye" or "I just don't make money off that so NO"  or "We'll have to arm wrestle for that pasture" or "I can't be bothered with THAT!!" or "Whazzzz laminitis...or Potomac?"
Thanks for being honest with your craziness and BUH BYE

Ok, so after that rant, I DID in fact meet some (very few) nice, normal, kind horse loving people.

So, the places I'm considering are VERY different from each other yet only a few miles apart.

Tell me your thoughts;

**WARNING-I'm including board rates b/c that is a huge factor to me as well...I know many of your pay WAY more than this so don't vomit....**

-Barn #1-
39 minutes away
Small, private facility, with max want of 4 horses. Currently one TB there
Owner lives on site and is a dog/cat vet
Will allow Mason to come
VERY flexible on feeding and understanding, and knowledgeable
6-8 acres of pasture with nice barn with hang over lean to, and open stalls for access 24/7
Will stall for in-climate weather, or requests (medical, etc)
Will do fly masks, blanketing, etc
Feeds 2, 3 times a day but will make sure weight remains consistent.
Is able to separate pastures for horses and each will still have barn access for shelter, for feeding restrictions or sick/injured.
1+ mile away from two HUGE metro parks for horse trails
Outdoor riding area is one of the pasture fields
Fencing vinyl and electric
Board $175 (wow....the money I could spend on Laz.......and me?!)
No hot water (but I could do his beet pulp at home) but hot water in BO's house for when needed
Heated water tanks (I have to double check...but almost positive)
Tack room
No wash rack, outdoor hosing provided which is what I do 99% anyway
No indoor
No roundpen
Road riding is accessible, as trail riding is as well

-Barn #2-
35 minutes away
Two outdoors (one smaller-round pen size but square)
1 mile long trail track for training, and obstacle course
Large pastures 20+, currently boards 10 horses
Large barn with 21 stalls, wash rack, 4 grooming areas
Dry lot (with 3 wicked ponies) available
Sick/Injured pen
Works as a natural horse facility, 24/7 turnout, great terrain for horses to walk through
all have access to barn for shelter
Will stall for in-climate weather
Round bales of grass hay, free access
I would have to provide my own feed so add another $35+
3/4 mile to large metro park for horse trail
Fencing electric
Trainer lives on site with husband who helps/feeds/etc
Mason is not allowed 
Board $425 (eeeks-$100 more than I spend now)....

........which is why I'm considering NOT to do it.
I fell in love with both barns.
Barn #2 is a dream facility.
All the amenities are amazing..but the layout, care, etc for Laz are pretty darn similar to Barn #1. 
The amenities are more for me.
Yes, they would help with training BUT would cause financially stress..which could lead to turning down treatment options for Laz, which I don't want to do.
Barn #2 is pretty busy with lessons, camps, vaulting, etc ...so I'm leaning towards Barn #1 and I can get creative with training/riding (I hope!) 
If I decide it's too bare bones, well then I've saved money and I can move him down the road to Barn #2.

Currently, I pay $325 and up until recently, Laz was in his dry lot with open stall/lean to access.
Fed 4-5 days grass hay
Beautiful outdoor sand arena
Round pen
No indoor
No trails (other than road riding, and along the pasture fields)
1+ hr away

These are my thoughts so far.
If I can save $$, why not? Laz's care won't be comprised or his daily life
AND, even if it's for a couple of years, it gives me options for his care/treatments, etc
I don't want to feel strapped for cash, by paying $135+ more a month, PLUS the always coming vet/farrier/etc bills.
Any questions? I'm sure I'm missing details....

My hope is that I make the right decision and Laz is happy :)


  1. You're right. All the "extras" at barn #2 are for the human. I think Laz would be happy at either place. I don't have an indoor either and we make do during the winter and bad weather. Makes us more scrappy. lol :)

  2. WOW, 425 is a lot...especially when you don't want a stall everyday. Don't you wish you had your own property? I know I do...maybe we could pool our dollars and open a specialty pasture board facility geared towards our sensitive yet awesome OTTBs:)

    Really, though, no place is perfect, but being closer will make SO much difference. I live 25ish minutes from Miles and even that seems too far most days. You will love having him closer no matter what. Your criteria is pretty close to what I would be looking for too...I'm still surprised most places don't feed more than 2 times a day. The ones that do seem to be high-end stall board only places (go figure).

    I have no doubt you will make the right decision for Laz. Here's the last thing I'll say-you don't ever REALLY know what a facility is like until you're there. Like, they say they feed four times a day, but more days than not it's 2-water troughs don't get cleaned, not enough supervision, every horse on the property is an easy keeper QH and your hard keeper OTTB costs twice what it takes to keep the others in good weight, etc. Most of this is based on horror stories I've heard, but I've been to a couple barns myself:) The most important thing is having a caring barn owner who WANTS your horse to be a picture of glowing health, and someone who listens to you because you know your horse best. If you can get references of current/former boarders, that's always helpful. Good luck and keep writing about your journey! :)

  3. I wish that what you described as pasture board was a joke, but you are so right! I saw all the same things when I was looking for a barn. All I can say is pick the place that gives you the most peace of mind. Not worrying about your horse is worth a mint!

  4. I was leaning towards Barn 1 before I even finished reading the list, haha.

    I used to think I couldn't live without certain amenities, but so far the two best situations I've had were at "bare bones" places where the care was excellent -- better than a lot of "five star" barns I've seen. You really can't put a price on peace of mind, either.

    Finding a new barn is tough. Good luck!

  5. I went from an "all ammenities" barn to a "bare bones" barn and I just couldn't cope. I needed the wash rack with hot water, the arena, and the round pen. One of the all ammenities barns I boarded at had TERRIBLE care, though, so I'd much rather have bare bones with excellent care. I'm very lucky now because I have found a barn with the best of both worlds.

    I like the idea of a smaller boarding barn because the horses seem to get better care. The smaller barns usually lack the social aspect of the bigger barns if that's something you enjoy.

    Good luck to you and Laz. I know you'll love having him closer no matter where you end up!

  6. I don't envy your decision but if it were me I would go with #1. But I am also have my horses at home and that is what #1 seems more like. He will get great care there(from the sounds of it). Benefits of a place like that are, personal attention for your horse, peace and quiet, a relaxed environment for your horse. Benefits of a bigger boarding facility social aspects, lesson availibility, good footing year round to ride. Good luck!

  7. From your post, I can tell that you're leaning towards Barn #1. And, ya know what I have learned? Go with your gut!

    In my last barn search, I passed up a big, gorgeous facility loaded with ammenities because they wouldn't feed the hay/grain that my horse needed. Plus, I just had a not-so-great feeling about it. So I went to the smaller barn next-door that had less ammentities but would cater to my horse's needs. At that barn was a lady who had boarded at the big facility next-door, and she said her horses were literally never turned out when they were there. So thank goodness I listened to my gut!

    True, having an indoor would be great. BUT, like you said, it's a much bigger financial committment, plus you wouldn't be able to bring sweet Mason.

    And how sweet would it be to have a vet on the premises??!!

  8. You know I like barn 1 as well. I don't have hot water either and I pay 325.00 with a stall! But I bought a bucket heater. If on winter days, or emergencies you need hot water? I just get out my bucket heater and a bucket full of water and about 10 to 20 mins later, depending on temp outside? I, or you can have flaming water. I also use it to make warm water for willie washes in the summer(since, well water is still soooo cold). Or, maybe you could use it for the beet pulp if you have time to wait for the water to heat up each time at the barn? Ok, keep us posted!

  9. I honestly think Barn #1 sounds best. I was just at an "all the amenities" type of barn and my two were on great pasture. When I moved them to the place now I noticed a huge difference in them...it's like they were able to take a sigh of relief. I think peace and quiet is nice for them and sometimes less human interaction can help them to relax. It's weird but I almost feel like mine are more excited to see me now. Their calmness puts me at ease. But with all that said...they're being moved AGAIN this weekend (going home to Atl) so we start all over again. I searched high and low and didn't find a place that met my standards. Here in the south I find that pasture board = no grain fed. That's just not okay for me. I think your gut will help you make the best decision. You have a good head on your shoulders & have always made great decisions for him so try not to stress over it!

  10. OK so i didn't see these places like you did, but the one i fell in love with was Barn #1. It has everything you need. And unless there are p[personalities there that rub you the wrong way), it seems really stellar. My mare & I don't have an indoor and we don't have a round pen, but we manage to work in the outdoor ring all year round. It is totally do-able! No hot water? Who cares? You can lug a thermos with hot water when you need it. Frankly, it sounds even better considering the price! GOOD LUCK!

  11. I have to agree with the above. It's still a long trip, even if it's closer and you really seem to like to have Mason along. If the care is equal and the price is ridiculously cheap at barn 1), I'd totally go there. Might be nice to be setting some money aside for any future care Laz needs.

    Indoors are nice, but I mostly use ours for dressage/jump training in the winter. Since Laz isn't quite to the jumping phase, maybe he'd be fine going around on trails, at least this year?

  12. They both sound good! My only questions for barn 1 are: A) how long has the barn owner owned the place and B) has she had any boarders stay for at least a few months that you could call and talk to? Like someone said above, you can never TRUELY know what a place is like until you've been there for a while and I would want to talk to some happy boarders who have been at the place for a while. Her barn sounds like a great deal at a great price, so why is there only one horse there? If she's just starting out I would be concerned that overtime she might start to slide on some of the upkeep.

    I guess I would worry about all of that for barn 2 as well, it's just when you walk into a large barn and it's mostly full with long term boarders I think you can feel more comfortable knowing that they follow through on their care.

    I bet by now you've gotten pretty good at getting a sense for these barn owners and can sense who is sketchy though.

    The only other one thing I would think about if I was moving my horse to a barn with just one other horse in it is what happens if they don't get along? Is there just one pasture? Or what happens if they end up LOVING each other and everything you take Laz out to ride the other horse freaks out?

    Honestly, they both sound great, and it's not like you won't be able to move him later if you end up not liking it. Moving him closer to you is going to be SO nice!!

  13. Whew, I'm glad to hear that I'm not crazy with wanting Barn #1.
    To answer a couple of Q's:
    Yes, at Barn #1, they just acquired the home/property/barn about a year ago and have already made some really nice changes (safety changes which to me says A LOT)
    The girl/lady (she's a couple yrs younger than me) has a TB so is familiar with the breed AND is a dog/cat vet. Animal lover :)
    There is one horse, another is coming this week and a past boarder of their's is coming BACK with a new horse (sold her last one I guess) so a returning boarder is a good sign. I got really good vibes from the lady (haven't met her husband). Not that the people at Barn #2 weren't great, which they were.
    To me, saving some money to put aside and treat Laz to chiro visits, or new boots for him, etc seems great and responsible. I've never had an indoor with him so I'm not overly bummed about that. BUT I do use my current facilities beautiful sanded outdoor which I will miss..but for a savings of $150, and a half hour closer, I'm over it :)

  14. I'd go with barn #1 too. The main reasons being Mason can go with you, cheaper, vet as BO (even small animals vets know more than non-vet) and small private facility so he gets more one-on-one attention. At some of the bigger places if there are a bunch of different feeders they might not know the horses as well and will miss a subtle change in behavior. I like a place where anyone working with the horse knows the individual horses like their own.