Do You Have a Barn Buddy'

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Shortly after finishing college, I moved to Lexington, Ky., to pursue a career with racehorses, taking my mare, Tuesday, with me. It wasn?t easy to find a good boarding stable (one I was truly happy with), and I bounced from barn to barn. Finally, we moved to what remains my favorite boarding arrangement.

A woman I worked with, Kristen, kept her gelding, Roman, at Mae?s Way Farm, a short hack from Masterson Station Park, a public park dedicated to equestrian use, including a course of cross-country jumps. As soon as a stall became available, Kristen secured it for me, and we moved in. I was in heaven.

Not only did Tuesday have a big box stall and plenty of turnout, but Mae Jean Fichter, the owner of the facility, was kind, knowledgeable and caring.

While it's true that I loved the farm?s proximity to Masterson Station Park, the biggest reason I enjoyed that time so much was Kristen. We became great friends and loved riding together. We were real boarding buddies, sharing chores and ensuring that each other?s horse was well. I never had to worry about Tuesday?s care if I couldn?t get to the farm.

Even if a facility is full-care, it's important to know that you have a person you can trust, a barn buddy. This person can watch your horse's back, so to speak. I learned that the hard way when I moved to Virginia, and again bounced from barn to barn, till I found a suitable facility.

While full-service boarding barns provide basic care?feeding, turnout and stall cleaning?you don't know if they have an educated staff. Many stable managers closely guard pennies, sometimes hiring workers with horse experience akin to watching the pony at the zoo eat hay.

If you're not able to check on your horse daily, are you secure that He's fed clean hay, and receives fresh water daily (not just topped off for the fifth day in a row), and doesn't have any scrapes, swellings or other problems' At one boarding barn, I arrived to find my horse standing in her stall, dehydrated, with no water in her bucket. Needless to say, I left there ASAP.

it's even more important to develop a barn buddy if you're at a co-op facility, where each boarder is 100% responsible for every aspect of their horse's care. At one co-op barn where I boarded, I was late getting to the barn one day and had to search a large field in the dark to find Tuesday. She was well, but alone in the field, as all the other horses had been brought into the barn.

All this came back to me when I was reading Susan Quinn?s article on? boarder?s rights. it's amazing how few rights we have, even with a secure contract. It makes having a reliable barn buddy even more important.

Cynthia Foley, Editor-in-Chief