It might seem that having a horse in full care means it's no big deal if you can't make it out. Your horse is just fine if your sick, or have to work, or your car breaks down, or whatever kink life throws your way. That isn't the case though if your a responsible horse owner. Having a horse goes far beyond three meals a day and a clean stall. They crave attention and need their person. We've all seen that horse with an absentee owner. He's the one who breaks your heart because he wants a treat too. Or he's chewing the barn down from boredom. She's that horse no one wants to lead in because she's pushy and rude.
If you can't be out there everyday it doesn't mean you can't own a horse. You just need to be realistic about what you have to offer and plan accordingly. I have to admit I'm not an owner who can go out everyday. I work 12 hour shifts, have online classes, and try to help out with aging family members. I knew my lifestyle before I bought Dickies so I always make sure my horses get extra care when I can't be there.
When I decided to apply to nursing school I started looking for a new barn right away. My old barn was fanastic but it was a big boarding stable. Bre gets depressed and is prone to colic without one on one love. She's now in a private home and is part of the family. If I left the state for some reason I would leave her behind. She's that spoiled. On top of that I have a friend leasing her. She's an extra eye to notice cuts, weight changes, lost shoes. I get to be an absentee owner but bre couldn't be happier if she had a 24hr servent. In fact I had her boarded with Dickie when we were rehabbing her pasture and she was incredibly depressed to be away from her family.
Dickie has been a bit trickier. I need facilities to work him so that means a boarding stable. I've been incredibly lucky that all the stables I've had him at go the extra mile. They've all let me know how's he's doing when I'm on a work stretch and dealt w his baby antics. I've worked hard to make sure he has turnout and a barn owner who truly loves horses. The current barn owner treats every horse like her own.
When I realized that school made it hard to get out as often as usual I found someone to help out. She's currently riding him weekly for half the price most trainers charge. She lives closeby and will drop in at a moments notice if my schedule changes. She's not just a trainer she's a friend who truly cares for Dickie. She also gives me detailed updates that make my day at work. Win win.
Life gets busy and our horses shouldn't suffer. I wish more people would realize how much attention horses need and plan accordingly. Maybe you can't afford a trainer but there are ways to get your horse the attention they need. I've had wonderful luck with leases just keep in mind that your horse needs to come first. You might really want half of board, vet, farrier but your horse has to come first. The person who can't afford a spendy lease might actually be the best person for your horse.
Maybe moving to a not so fancy barn that's closer means you can see the horse more. For me it was the opposite. Moving out further means he gets better turnout and more personalized care on the days I'm busy. It's a killer drive but he's worth it. Sometimes you might even have to admit that right now life is so crazy that you need a smaller barn like Bre lives at. It might not be great for you but your horse will be grateful for the love a private home has to offer. Hang in there until you finish grad school or find a new job or get ahead on your debt.
If you haven't bought a horse yet take some time to think about these things. If you do have a horse it's not too late to come up with a back up plan. Who's going to see your horse if your leg is broken? Are you at the right boarding facility? What's the bus route? Will you partner give you a hand?