Should I Board or Keep My Horse at Home?
Pros and Cons of Each Horse Care Situation
Exploring the joys and pitfalls of having your horse at home vs. boarding at a boarding stable. Which is best for you?
Imagine this horse at home scenario.
You wake up to the soft sound of hooves on a thick, lush pasture. With your morning coffee in hand, you gaze out your window to see your horses happily romping and socializing in the morning sun. You sip your coffee, enjoying the scene out your window. You look forward to the day ahead in which you will spend time, ride and relax with your horses in your own backyard. You love having your horse right outside your door so you can visit and check on them thru out the day. You treasure the relaxed trail rides you can take on your horse and just be able to enjoy them in your own way, in your own time, on your own property.
Or this one.
Your alarm rings extra early so you can get your barn chores done before work. Yesterday you were late and any more points on your attendance record and there will be consequences! This bad stretch of weather has really mucked things up- in more ways than one! You see more rain is in the forecast as you check the weather app on your phone as you trudge out to the barn.
Your horses are grumpy and skittish and as tired as you of being cooped up! You are grouchy and stressed because your barn chores have grown exponentially with days of rain and sleet. You contemplate the lesser of two evils- keep your restless horses in for yet another day even though their stalls are dirty with manure accumulating faster then you have time and energy to remove. Or let them out in the corral with the run in (which they rarely use) so they can stand around in the rutted up dry lot, deep in mud and muck.
You don’t have much time to ponder the pros and cons because you are a muddy mess yourself and have to get ready for work! Your days have consisted of 8 hours of work, home to take care of family responsibilities, barn chores again, then collapse in bed to do it all again the next day. You haven’t ridden in ages and see no end in sight.
Now imagine this horse boarding scenario. You arrive at the boarding barn to ride immediately see your friends are there too! Oh good!! Now we can catch up with each other and spend some quality time with your horse. You feel grateful to have good friends who enjoy their horse as much as you as you tell everyone hi and walk up to your horse’s spacious, clean stall. Your horse has already had turn out and his dinner so you bring him into the cross ties in the aisleway to groom him- even though his coat is clean and shiny already! Your horse is relaxed, happy and enjoying being pampered. You alternate between fussing over your horse and chit-chatting with your friends. You are glad you decided to wear your new riding clothes because you and your horse are looking so good if you say so yourself!
Now imagine this scenario at your boarding barn. You have finally been able to get out to the barn to see your horse. It has been harder than you expected to get out to see him but the barns closer to home are so expensive! This was the best alternative and within your budget, so you figured driving the extra distance would be okay. Once at the barn, you see the barn help has changed again. Why is it so hard to find good barn help? Your horse’s stall is dirty and his water bucket is almost empty. Your horse just pinned his ears at you. He never used to do this!!! Ugh! What the heck! You look around for the barn manager to see if you can get some insight into this change in his behavior but as usual, she is nowhere to be found. What you do find is another sign of extra charges for different services. Now you will have to pay an extra to have bedding in your stall or for your horse to get fly spray. And NO turn out with paying more. This is insane but it is not easy to move either. It will take money to haul your horse, plus another deposit at a new place- if you can find one you can afford. Your heart sinks as you grumpily go to your tack locker to discover the new bridle you just bought is gone. Grrr!! So many sticky fingers around here. The stress of owning your horse is beginning to weigh on you. You feel guilty he is unhappy but you feel tired and drained trying to keep up with all you have to do between school and work.
Each horse care scenario contains a bit of reality and fantasy. We are not all that different from our horses in thinking the grass is greener on the other side during the bad days and think we have a bit of heaven on the good days!
What is best will depend on your set of circumstances, budget, time and resources. The best advice I can give you is to consider your options and your needs along with your horse’s needs and do what is best for both of you.
There will always be days in which the alternative will seem to be better but there is no one way that is better.
Aim for a healthy, happy horse and a happy, relaxed owner!
My philosophy on horses and owners is always to aim for what makes you both happier and more joyful in spending time with your horse!
Happy Trails and thanks for stopping by!
Sue Steiner, an artist at Free Rein Art Studio