I was impressed with Margaret Freeman’s January 2002 editorial, “The Grass Isn’t Greener” and the article, “Boarding Stables: A Labor of Love.” Improving people’s understanding of what it takes to run such a facility, and how to choose one based on one’s own priorities, is a huge service to management, boarders and horses.??
-Linda M. Co
Your editorial on what to consider when thinking about purchasing their own “Horse Heaven” is a little one-sided. The time I spend in the barn IS my true unwind time. I love cleaning the barn, feeding and brushing the horses while they eat, being able to ride at a moment’s notice, and truly being a friend to the ones I love so dear. They are my escape from the rushed world of work, my piece of mind, and I wouldn’t trade the things I do for them for all the Hotel Ritz boarding stables in the world, and I’m positive they wouldn’t either.
I work 10 to 12 hours a day and take weekends off. I enjoy all the time I get to spend in the barn, from the tractor to shoveling, to the early mornings and the late nights, to me this is a blessing . . . not a chore.
Both Have Its Rewards
This was a rare occasion when my husband picked up the latest copy of Horse Journal first and began loudly exclaiming about your editorial.?? Yes, you were right on target!??Having lived on both sides of the fence, so to speak, I must commend you on targeting the benefits of boarding versus keeping horses at home (January 2002).
I can still recall bolting from a friend’s birthday lunch as lightning zigzagged across the sky, fueling fears that my mare would surely be struck by lightening.
Vacation planning is always a challenge; you’re a farmer, tied to the land and animals.??Once away, you wait for that crisis phone call that never comes, but you always expect.??
In your partner’s eyes, your horses always come first — and he’s probably right. But I wouldn’t trade those years of doing it myself for anything.??
Our two daughters, now 11 and 8 years, are alert to fence repairs, cuts on horses and abnormal behavior. They were present for the births of two foals — an experience we will always treasure.??I cherish the long, summer nights when I sit at the edge of the barn, cat in my lap and allow my thoughts to wander, as I listen to the contented munching.??
Never would I have learned as much, if not for all the trials andtribulations of horses at home.??I learned what I was capable of doing on my own and and when to call in the experts. You learn to work through it all, either by yourself or more likely with the help of friends.
When I walk through the boarding stable where my daughter takes lessons, I admire the efficiency of that operation. I look at the horses and know someone is keeping a good eye on all and hope that boarders realize just how fortunate they are.
Consider all the possibilities before you sign up for that big mortgage. It can’t be done alone. It requires the support of family, especially if they are non-horsey.?? It takes up a tremendous amount of time and energy, not to mention money, but if you do it with your eyes wide-open, there are some priceless rewards.
-Linda C. Zimmerman
Would Rather Be Home
In reference to your January 2002 editorial, I have a few questions you should ask yourself before deciding to board your horse:
Do you know your horse is not out in a severe storm or during the heat of the day with no shade or fly spray'
When the water pipes freeze, do you know for certain that someone islugging water buckets to the barn'
If you decide you want to ride during the first snow, do you need to check first to make sure it’s a time you’re allowed to ride'
Can you tell at a glance of your horse’s manure if he needs more water, roughage or his teeth floated'??More importantly, can the person cleaning his stall' DOES that person look for this'
This editorial sounds like a feel-good article to make boarders feel less guilty.??The questions are off the wall.??I’ve had horses on my 10 acres for 20 years. I’ve also taught at several stables, so I have seen both??sides.?? And I don’t live miles from civilization.??Most of my neighbors have horses, and the schools and stores are within a 20-minute drive.
My tractor and mower cost less than $1,000, and I built my own jumps. I’ve never missed anything because no one would take care of my horses.??My horses have their stall doors open 24/7.??That leaves me with no stalls to clean, except when it’s really cold or really hot.??
I fill hay nets and feed buckets the night before.??It takes two minutes to feed in the morning. I know of no one, not even boarding stables, that keep an absolute feeding schedule.??
I did all this and worked full-time at a job that was a one-hour commute each way. I raised a daughter, took her to 4-H rabbit shows and dance classes, taught her to ride and did volunteer work.??I also showed every week and jogged every day.
My husband doesn’t help except to drive the trailer to shows.??However, due to the money I saved by having my horses at home, my husband and I were able to retire at age 46.
A true horse owner knows all aspects of horses, including their care, and understands this is part of owning a horse.??If all you want to do is ride, maybe you’re better off just renting a horse when you want to ride.
It’s All Worthwhile
We have 10 horses on our ranch in Sonoma County in California and, while what you say is true regarding sometimes being “horse-tied” to the ranch, I wouldn’t trade it for any other situation.
Maybe people should put owning horses on hold until they have the time to fully develop that magical relationship with their horses — that wonderful bond that makes all of the chores, all of the missed dinners out in restaurants and all of the postponed vacations worthwhile. ?? ??????