Thursday, April 2, 2015

Barn Hopper

I used to have a pet peave against barn hoppers. You know the people who are never happy and move from barn to barn with the seasons? They always seem thrilled to arrive and complain about the last barn then before you know it they are on to the next place. I must admit I am filled with judgement when I hear someone has been to more than one barn in a year. I like to get somewhere and stay there. I feel bad to drag my horse around and I don't like to move myself. I don't even like it when my honey moves the frying pan. I want my brush box to sit the same place it has been for the last five years. 

Bre and I have only been at a handful of barns in the 14 years we have been together. We were at a large boarding stable in Alaska and moved because she colicked so frequently. The barn actually provided wonderful care but you can only do so much in the middle of the city in Alaska. There were 45+ horses and limited turnout which didn't agree with the princess. So we moved down the street and came back for visits. If we hadn't left the state I would be at the same barn. 

From Alaska we made a brief pit stop at my Mom's house before moving to a heavenly boarding stable on the east side of town. There was turnout, miles of trails along the river, a big empty arena, nice low drama people, and a barn owner you who was like everyone's favorite aunt. I thought I would never leave and would keep every horse I owned there. Then nursing school happened. The drive was a killer and I needed Bre close in case she was sick when I was busy. I also didn't want her neglected when I was working full time and going to nursing school full time. So broken hearted I moved her from that barn to the place she will die. She lives with a family who spoil her like their own. The end. That is the extent of Bre's moves over the last 14 years 

Poor Dickie has had a different life. The first barn was never intended to be permanent. It was close to Bre (on the same private drive) so it seemed like a good fit. The large stable I had Bre at was out of the question because I no longer lived in that part of town. The arena was tiny with footing that I didn't even want to lunge in but he was two and just needed handling. Then he didn't get the amount of turnout we agreed upon and started taking the barn down. I quite like the barn owner and rather than having it turn into an dramatic mess we moved down the street. He had several acres and mares to teach him about life. We were very happy there until it came time to ride him. By then a busy hunter program had taken over and arena time was impossible. Jumps were up five days a week on the rails, the quarter lines, and every circle. I work 12 hour shifts so if my work days fell on jump free days I didn't get to ride green spaz that week. Sadly (because I loved barn owner and turnout) we made out way to a quieter barn with two large arenas. 

Barn number three was a disaster. The woman seemed great to start but over time it became apparent she was both selfish and likely suffered from a mood disorder. She ran every trainer off because she either didn't pay them or was so disrespectful of their time. Near the end I was looking for other barns closer with better trail access (and a non crazy BO). She decided that all of the boarders were plotting to leave without giving 30 days notice so she locked up our tack. She demanded cash or for me to give her tack as collateral. Fearing for my horse's safety with an unstable woman dictating his care we packed up and left in an hour. I am so glad we did because she stopped feeding the horses who weren't able to leave. Stalls weren't cleaned and horses were left out 24/7. It was HORRIBLE. So on to yet another barn, my friend who graciously let us crash there for a few months.

Barn number five was heaven. He got to be out in a huge field with other boys. His stall was so big he looked like a pony and was bedded at least six inches deep. There were two GIANT arenas and trails. Three trainers worked out of the barn but the indoor was so big it never felt crowded. Plus there was a 200x300 all weather outdoor. The people were nice. I love the event trainer and the owner of the barn was genuinely a nice caring person. So much awesome. I knew I would be happy there for a long time. In the back of my mind though I was aware that it's a long drive from Portland. We always planned on buying a house in town but that was years off. Then my parents died and the moving timeline was pushed to this summer. There were a few barns on my list to check out once I bought a house. It just happened that my trainer and farrier had a client move to my number one choice. The barn had a wait list which was great because I didn't want to move until June. I had hoped for a few trail rides with my friends once my hip healed. 

The wait list ended up being very short. A space opened up immediately and I had to take it. I was really sad to leave. The blow has been softened by the gorgeous facilities. It feels like a fairy tale. It is on the edge of a wooded hillside looking over a valley. There is a giant all weather outdoor, even more trails than the last place, and sand indoor. The footing in the indoor couldn't be more perfect. The stables are open air with bars so the horses can see each other. That is barn number five in three years of ownership. I am officially a barn hopper and I am sooooo ready to settle in. Six years from now I hope my tack trunk has melded to the floor. I want to have been there for so long that people think I work there. The only reason I move again will be because I won the lottery and built my own fancy barn. 


  1. You know, barn hopping because nothing is ever "perfect" is one thing but you've gotta take care of your horse no matter what. I'm all for giving it your best go but also being very careful before moving in places. Glad to hear you've found somewhere excellent!

    1. I hate those boarders who are always leaving because it isn't perfect. It isn't possible to find the perfect place. So far I'm loving my new barn and it's as close to perfect as I could get without magically being a millionaire and building my own place.

  2. Hmm the lottery fantasy sounds great hehe! I hope you can stay at this new barn for a nice long time. :) Finding good boarding barns has always sounded like a complete nightmare. I love having my horse at home, although it does sometimes suck to have no trails, no arena, no stalls, no friends and no trainer haha. At least I can see him whenever I want and I get to be 100% in complete control of his care. :)

  3. Boarding really can be a nightmare. You can find the perfect place then suddenly it changes ownership or a crazy trainer moves in. it seems like the BO at the new place is here to stay. And she's been around long enough to know its not fun for anyone to have one trainer take over.