Sunday, August 2, 2009

About Breakups. . .

Well, I said I'd post more about breakups, didn't I?

Yesterday we put in our notice at our current barn. I know, it makes almost exactly one year that we've been here. To me, that's not very long. My first boyfriend lasted a year and half - a very long time when you're fifteen - and the first boarding barn lasted almost three. One year is not a particularly long time.

But I swear if we had to go through another winter at this barn, all four of us - my mom, myself, and the horses - would go absolutely crazy.

As I mentioned yesterday, the horse world is a very very small place. This is why I try to keep complaining about anyone or anything to a very vague minimum, and I haven't mentioned the many many times over the past six months that we've gone to look at potential new barns. This is also why I won't complain too much about the current barn in this post, but I will definitely explain the main reason. It is not a value judgment against the barn owner, just a personal preference that is unfortunately impossible to fulfill at our current location.

My horses need to go outside.

I mean it.

Pandora and McKinna were in their stalls for approximately 23 hours per day this winter. At least four months straight. Every day when we arrived, we put them in the arena to let them work off some steam while we took care of stalls. Every day, they ran and bucked and generally acted like idiots, because they'd been standing in their stalls all day and night. Pandora took to flipping her head in her stall, which drove me nuts, but can you blame the girl?

Right now, they're out 24/7 in a paddock, and it's great. Sure, I'd prefer a safe pasture with well-maintained grass, but grass year-round is practically an impossibility in the very soggy Willamette Valley. They're cheerful. We feed them extra hay, because the 4 flakes per day included with board just isn't enough. Both horses are thrilled to see us, because it means their daily share of beet pulp and grain, but they're perfectly content to be in their paddocks too.

But I can't go through another winter like that.

It left me feeling tense. My mother and I are both pretty empathetic towards animals (read: big softies). I can't stand it when my very fit, high-energy mare is crammed in a 12x12 box all day. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it now. Every time I thought about going out to the barn, where Pandora was practically jumping out of her own skin, my stomach started to sink.

Now, Pandora is a very, very good-natured horse. Even when she's 'up,' she's polite and manageable and will never run you over. But honestly, if you were cooped up in a 12x12 room all day every day and let out for an hour for some mental and physical exercise, they'd call it prison.

So, we finally found a place. For the first time, we'll be going full care. It's expensive, but it includes some pretty high-quality free choice hay, Safe Choice (not my first choice of grains but not bad), alfalfa for hard keepers, turnout/in, blanket/unblanket, stall cleaned, and so on. For Pandora, free-choice hay is huge, especially really nice hay. Between that and supplemental alfalfa, she should hardly need any grain.

The arena is pretty nice and a good size. They have a wash rack, no hot water, but we've gone through winters with McKinna without hot water before. Nice tack room, nice feed room. Everything appeared well-organized and clean.

Most importantly, our horses can go out. Their stalls have all-weather runs attached, and the turnout situation is very flexible. From the sound of it, her horses get turned out most of the year anyway, in the all-weather outdoor during the nasty months if necessary. But she also said if we'd like ours to be out on one of the bigger pastures year-round, we could do that too.

Just like with Pandora's recovery, I'm cautiously optimistic. I was super excited about our current barn just before we moved in, too, though I honestly thought they'd get year-round turnout. Communication error, apparently.

Anyway, that's the big news for the week!

I rode Pandora today for the first time since Lily Glen (mid-June). It was very weird for both of us at first, I think! After a little while, we both got used to each other again, and had some fairly normal walk-trot work for about 20 minutes. So far, so good. I'm still not willing to be too optimistic and start setting goals, but she hasn't taken a bad step yet. Hopefully we'll get through the reconditioning process with no hiccups and be ready for another rating in September.


oregonsunshine said...

I'm behind and been playing catch up. I know what you mean about breaking up and finding the right place and yet being cautiously optimistic. Even where I sent Casey off to training wasn't perfect. And now, since we moved to horse property, we'll be bringing him home from training in a month or so and our place isn't perfect. But at least here I can control... Everything! And it's the deciding what I want for him and the ability to do it that makes all the difference. Out when I want, for as long as I want, in when I decide, eating exactly what I want, etc.

In addition, we are adding to our horse family. We're purchasing a white, 16 yr old Quarab mare that makes me think of McKinna. My eldest will be using her for 4-H this next year.

Nicku said...

Hi! Just found your blog on Go-Go's page...Had a fun time reading your posts, you're such a good writer! Cant wait to read more from you about your horses.

Eventer_Chicka said...

I am currently trying to "break up" with our current barn. The barn owner is making things more difficult at the barn and has breached our boarding contract several times over now. After She poisened my mare we decided that it was time to move on to bigger and better things. The barn we are moving to at the end of the month will be our 4th barn in 11 years and hopefully our last move.

jacksonsgrrl said...

Good move! Prison is not an option for a horse. My own is a total "pasture pony". He comes in to eat his grain and hay in his stall, and then free to go back to pasture. I couldn't do it any other way. Keeping a horse in 23 hrs a day is insane. Good for you!!!!

manymisadventures said...

Oregonsunshine, did you find that mare on Craigslist? I think my mom saw her on there, and she thought she looked like McKinna too!

Eventer, that is absolutely insane. Poisoning? I'd be calling around to every boarding barn available and have my horse out of there YESTERDAY. Practically anything's got to be better than that.

I am very much looking forward to year-round turnout. When we get our own place, they'll be on well-managed, rotated pastures with plenty of shelter, possibly brought in overnight in the winter if it gets nasty. I just hate having them cooped up, and the change in their attitude is so obvious.

Eventer_Chicka said...

She didn't maliciously poison my mare, but who the hell sprays weed killer where horses graze? She won't admit her mistake either and claims that since the tag says that once the spray is dry it is safe to put pets and children on, that horses can go out on it too. My mom called the company that makes the spray and they basically called the BO an idiot and sent us a bunch of info that basically states that yes the spray is safe for children and pets, but not for grazing animals.

Unfortunately there aren't many good barns in the area that are in our price range and as the other two boarders that are in the barn are also unhappy, we are taking care of each others horses until we can move to the new place. We don't trust our current BO, so we are not giving her notice, we are going to "go to a show" and just not come back.

oregonsunshine said...

B, I found her on Dreamhorse up in the Portland area. She's cute and sweet, though looks at me like I've got two heads or something. But, as long as she bonds to my daughter, it doesn't matter so much, right?

manymisadventures said...

Oh, okay, that is a lot less drastic. I thought you were saying she intentionally poisoned your mare! Good luck with the new place, I hope it works out for you.

manker said...

methinks you cant put a price tagon the health and well being of your equine friends... Sounds like you're making a good call

happy trails

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