Why I choose to board my horse!
Consider this the first entry in the “Battle of the Horse Blogs” Series with my friend Heather, of 40yearoldindressage.com. Because one time we got together and there was wine and all of a sudden we have a blog war going on. Friendly fire, of course!
Here, I tackle why BOARDING a horse is best for me. Heather keeps her horses at home, which sounds super fanciful and fantastic, but just isn’t for me.
I’ll back up a bit before I really get going here. A few years ago, we moved from SoCal (the BEST Coast) to the East Coast. We absolutely had some huge decisions to make about where to live, and we need to decide if we wanted to own a little farm so the horse could be at home. When we looked at all of the influencing factors, I knew that boarding was the way to go.
Location, location, location.
My husband’s job is on the Interstate 95 corridor, and if you know anything about I95 coming out of Washington DC, you know it absolutely stinks. Point of reference – it’s actually taken 40 minutes to go from our house to the 95. ONE MILE AWAY. Living on a little farm would make that commute much, much worse for him.
We also knew this was not our “forever home”, so we wanted to invest in something that would be easy to sell when we move again. Turns out, it’s easier to sell a house with major conveniences and a semi-decent location than a farm. Even a small one.
We ride out. Sometimes we lollygag, sometimes we tear it up.
And then there’s my horse – now aged 27.
I’m still living up to the promise I made over five years ago that we avoid the ring like the plague and only hack out. To find a farm for the two of us, plus the cats and the horse, with enough room for me to hack out was next to impossible. It was even more impossible to afford it.
So location-wise, we skipped on the farm and I found a delightful boarding facility with acres and acres and acres of hills, woods, and pastures to frolic about in. There’s a resident bald eagle, chickens, barn cats, and lots of horse friends along with a covered arena so we can ride year-round. I’ll still brave most weather to hack out, but on those days it’s pouring rain, it’s nice to have a roof.
And, by boarding, someone else gets to feed my super special horse (that can’t eat hay) his meals. If he could have a hay net all day long, it may be a different story and backyard horse keeping might work with my schedule. As it turns out, not an option for him, and I literally can’t be at home multiple times a day to feed him.
I have been exceptionally fortunate in the choice of boarding facilities. The barn owner is even more eagle-eyed than I am, knows the horses inside and out, is a wiz with vital signs and appropriate blanketing. They live on the farm and can see everyone from the house. Horses are carefully paired for turnouts, dressed appropriately, and monitored several times a day. Four times a day, food and water are checked or dispensed. It’s a large property with few horses. Most of the horses are seniors, and most have “special needs” that are accommodated. It’s better than having them at home. And I am acutely aware that boarding farms like this are rare.
Fields, paths, roads, hills, woods, creeks, and more to explore where I board.
And then there are our jobs!
It’s a wonderful and amazing thing to be able to jet off into the sunset on that long aluminum can in the sky. I’m fortunate to be able to fly all over the land for various horse and job-related events. For example, I’m on a plane right now for a work gig. My husband also travels a ton for his job, only he gets to go to really far places overseas. We have also found that we adore traveling for pleasure, and when our schedules align, we book it outta here.
With the number of days that we are both gone, we would be spending more on a farm sitter than it costs me to board. LOADS more. So much more.
Then there’s that thing about knowing myself.
Deep down, I just don’t want to own or manage a farm. Or drive a tractor. Or turn the compost bin, or clean the chicken yard, or drag the arena, or any of that stuff. I’m perfectly capable of doing it, and have done it, but it’s not something that I want to do.
I do clean Mig’s stall at the boarding barn and scrub his buckets and help out, but the heavy-duty chores are off my list. And I’m so happy about that!
I know I just don’t have time to manage a farm. My days are always packed full, I have another business (YOGA!) that keeps me in the studio for five classes a week, and on top of that, I lead yoga hikes on the weekends. I don’t want to squeak any more time out of my days for barn chores.
So. Much. Space. I don’t have to manage it, but I sure get to enjoy it!
Life is far too short to be stuck doing stuff I don’t want to do. I’m old enough now to say that. I’m also old enough to say things like, “I’m old enough now”.
While owning my own little farm seems so romantic and convenient and boy, oh boy, we can grow our own food, my heart’s not in it.
I’m absolutely grateful for the fabulous boarding place where I am, I have total trust in the owners and I’ve learned so much from them. My schedule, travels, and workaholic lifestyle is supported by a boarding facility and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
At least for now. Ask me again in a few years.
For Heather’s take on this whole thing about where to keep your horses, read this. And then spend inordinate amounts of time reading her other articles, which are also entertaining and dry and sarcastic and may have also been written after wine.
Thanks for indulging the both of us! Our next battle of the blogs is about which coast is better (it’s the WEST Coast, BTW….) read this.