Good Horsekeeping

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Melinda Folse
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June 26, 2012--When it comes to horsekeeping, we find a subject infused with opinions as diverse as, well, horses themselves. At one end of this fascinating spectrum, we have people who say they wouldn't even have a horse if they couldn't keep him at home. They delight in the little moments they get to spend with their horse, and even when real life intervenes (and it does have a way of doing that) they still have to go feed, water and check on their horses, so they are guaranteed at least a couple of quick shots of equine energy on even the most harried of days. "The best part of my day is usually that first cup of coffee I take to the barn," my friend, Barbara, once told me. "Any day that starts with sitting quietly with my horse is a good day." At the other end, we find those who say the difference between keeping your horse at home and boarding is like the difference between having children and grandchildren. They'll tell you that when you have a horse at home you spend a lot more time mucking stalls, hauling hay, feed, shavings and water; cleaning troughs, mowing, plowing, and fixing fences than you do riding and actually spending quality time with your horse. "Boarding is the best of both worlds," ?another friend, Theresa,?confides. "I come here to give myself a break from my "real world," and from the time I get out of my car and walk into the barn, it's all quality horse time ? grooming, groundwork, riding, handwalking, or just hanging out with my horse. Then I get to go home and someone else takes care of all the other stuff that does have to be done every day to keep a horse ? and a good place to stable and ride ? in tip top condition." And for many, if not most of us, the grass is often greener on the other side of the proverbial fence. Cost can be a factor, but you'll find just as many people telling you the cost of quality upkeep on a place of your own far outdistances even the priciest boarding facility. So what do you think? How do you know when it's time to move to the other side of this tangled issue? What special thrills ? and challenges ? have you encountered with either or both options? ?What solutions did you find to help counter them? For those of you thinking (and if you're like me, dreaming) of a place of your own, how are you going to make that happen? What do you find most intimidating? What would you like to read more about here as I begin this new "Good Horsekeeping" series? I can't wait to hear from anyone with stories, advice or insights ? and who knows how a story you have could help someone teetering on the brink of a bold new decision?

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