Sunday, June 2, 2013

Barn Tours

So those who read this blog regularly will remember that back in March, we ran into some issues with barns when my coach and my barn owner had a falling out that resulted in my coach having to move her horse, and basically being told that after a month's time, she wasn't allowed to coach at the farm any more.  That whole situation was absolutely awful, and I found it difficult to be caught in between two people that you have a lot of respect for, and wondering who is right and who's wrong in this situation. Anyway, rather than move Cadence immediately, I chose to stay at my current farm for the time being and trailer out for lessons.  This situation has (to put it bluntly) sucked, but it seemed to be the best choice.  The reason being that in September, Cadence would have to move anyway, as I have to move for school.  The thing is, the school I'm studying at is just over an hour away from where I currently live, so what I decided to do was leave Cadence where she is for now, and come July/August, I'll move her to the barn that she'll be living in when I start school in the fall, and commute to the barn for the summer. That said, that plan only really works if the barn I move her to is on the near-side of the city we're moving to versus the far side, as I can't really afford to spend 3.5 hours a day driving to and from the barn. Thankfully my top barn picks have all been around 1h from where I currently live. So while 'commuting' to the barn isn't exactly ideal, this way Cadence only has to move once.
Anywho, the real point of this post is to give a brief write-up on my top barn picks, so here goes:

The barn and arena as viewed from one of the individual turnout paddocks.
Barn 1- 
Board: Moderate ($15 less than our current barn)
Distance: 14 minutes
Facility: Indoor, outdoor, lots of hacking via neighbor's hay field & forests, option of oak board or electric fencing
Pros: I went to visit this barn today, and I absolutely loved it.  The owners, a husband and wife duo, seemed exceedingly particular about their horse's care, but not in that 'over the top coddle them to death' type way.  They do turnout in pairs or groups of 3 (or individually upon request), have more paddocks than herds so they can rotate them, have 4 different types of feed (plus beetpulp) that they customize the rations of for each horse, the facility is fully fenced, they get their hay from the neighbor's hay field (after the hay's all tested, that is) which their property backs on to, and which we're allowed to hack through, the stalls are all light, bright, airy, and well ventilated, and they all come equipped with bowl-type automatic waterers (versus the ones the horses have to push to get water). The owners do everything themselves, aside from mucking out, so they are the ones interacting with the horses on a daily basis. I love the fact that I know exactly who is feeding, turning out, and monitoring my horse, rather than having "staff" caring for her.
Cons: This facility does have one flaw- the indoor is tiny.  To be honest, I think I'd move in today if it weren't for the size of the indoor.  I don't mind a small arena, if it means quality care. I put my horse's needs above mine, in that respect. But there's small, and then there's too small... and its hard to tell what too small is until you've ridden in it. So I'm a bit stuck with that one. The arena has to be large enough that its functional for us to train in, and to be honest I'm not sure it is. My only other issue is that their barn hours are 11am to 9pm. The 9pm doesn't bother me, but I like to ride in the morning and used to ride every morning before school, so the 11am part is a bit of a nuisance. Obviously this doesn't apply for shows, but I'd have to see if they'd be comfortable with me having one set day a week where I came in earlier, if my schedule necessitated it.

Interior of the 'small' barn where we'd be boarding
Barn 2-
Board: expencive
Distance: 17 minutes
Facility: Massive dust free indoor, large outdoor, groomed track, miles of hacking on property
Pros: This barn has a gorgeous facility. Massive dust free indoor with ridiculously nice footing- the type with the felt strips- huge outdoor, a track (!!!) that's groomed regularly, and miles of groomed trails right on the property. The small barn (where we'd be boarding) looks lovely and airy, with large well kept stalls. Their feed program is good, and the hay is good quality. The property is massive, so they should have ample turnout, but I haven't been able to ask about their specific turnout program yet. It also has the advantage of being the same barn my coach has one of her horses at, which is handy.
Cons: The board is expensive.  Plus, they charge extra on top of that for booting and blanketing, and to be honest, I'm not 100% sure the service is quite worth the cash... it's almost $100/month more than where I currently board when you factor in boots and blankets, and aside from the dust free indoor, I'm not sure I'm really getting much of an upgrade.  The owner of the horse my coach has at this place (who boards in the ultra expensive main barn) also expressed some concerns with staffing and care, which in my opinion should NOT be happening when she's shelling out $800 a month for board. If you're billing your facility as a 'premium' facility, and charging the cash for it, you should be providing 'premium' care. However, the facility is still new, so the issue could be chalked up to them just ironing out the kinks, and I haven't had the chance to go on an official tour and chat with the stable manager yet & ask her questions myself, so I'm reserving judgement for the time being.  All the horses looked well cared for and everything, so I don't think there are any major concerns... I just get nervous when there are multiple people looking after my horse.

This picture isn't great, but that's the indoor arena of barn 3
Barn 3-
Board: moderate
Distance: 16 minutes
Facility: large indoor, outdoor, hacking on property, oak board fencing
Pros: I haven't had the chance to tour this facility yet, and I also don't know if they allow outside coaches, but they're a H/J barn with a good reputation that's nice and close and apparently has a stall open so I figured it was worth a shot.  They (from what I understand) have lovely large paddocks, but I don't think any are fenced with electric, a large indoor, a large outdoor, and hacking on property.  I haven't been able to find any pictures of the interior of the barn (aside from a few newborn foal pics that show the bottom 3 feet of a stall...) so I can't say much about it, but overall it looks nice and has a decent reputation.
Cons: they have a lesson program. Which means having to work around lesson times. D: Although this definitely wouldn't be the end of the world, it isn't exactly ideal either, but other than that I can't really state the pros and cons until I've seen the place.


  1. I would have a huge problem with the small indoor and the hours on the first barn. I figure if I am paying for use, I should be able to visit any time - 6 am if that's when I can ride, or 8:30 at night, if that's all that's feasible. Consider how complicated your schedule may be when you are in college (you don't always get the classes you need when you want - sometimes they are only offered one time a semester) and you are going to want to be able to ride when it works with your schedule.

    Too bad the second facility is so much more. Of course, I am paying a little over a $100 more a month than I had been at the old place, but it certainly has been worth it to have a nice indoor. And now that summer is here, it's awesome to have a lot of outdoor area as well.

    1. I actually am a huge fan of barn hours. I think that when the owners of a facility live on site it's not really fair to them to have people coming and going at all hours of the night. I also like the fact that the last person to be in the barn for the night will be the owners, so I don't have to worry about a boarder forgetting to do something when they close up for the night. The owners said they won't be fussed if you don't leave till 9:30 or something, they just don't want people showing up at 9 and being there for the next two hours which I think is completely fair.
      As for the arena size, the quality of care is really more important to me than the size of the facility, providing the facility meets my minimum requirements (ie: good footing). That said, I do need an arena that's large enough to be functional, so we'll see.

  2. Hmmm lots to think about! Hope you can see the last one and that helps you make a decision!

    If only there was a perfect facility!! Im sure you will weigh it all out and decide :)

  3. Hmm...I don't think I would go with any of them...are there more farms around to take a look at? The first barn would be perfect for my Gen, but there is no way Lucky and I would be okay there. Quality care is of course the most important thing, but barn hours would kill me (when it is hot out I am DONE with my 5 hours of barn time by 11am!) I get that they want to enjoy their horses at their leisure without the boarders about, but boarding at a barn that is centered around the owners can be challenging (I know first hand). If you are looking at the arena horse less and worried about the size think about what it will be like on horse back! You are moving in the hopes of riding with your trainer again! No need to have to worry about arena size.
    Number 2 is out for me because of the questions about barn care. While I don't think $800 is crazy at all (even though I live very far away from you!), you are going to be a heck of a lot more frustrated about mistakes when you are out of your comfort zone financially.
    You need to visit number 3 and see if you can find a few more to look at! You have plenty of time!

    1. The board in the small barn is $575, but for me (being a full time student) that's still a little pricier than I can afford right now.

  4. Finding a barn is HARD. Really, really hard. None of these quite sound like the perfect fit, but definitely lots to think about. Maybe when you tour Barn 3 you'll love it - I agree that lesson programs are a pain, but if you know when lessons are, you can plan your rides around them (as opposed to always finding yourself in the middle of a lesson, which can be annoying). And maybe there's the perfect barn out there that's not yet on your list!