Saturday, August 13, 2011

Next Steps

I'm pretty much 95% certain I'm going to be moving Moon in October, as I just can't miss out on the training opportunity. Both of my selected barns have openings for that month, and now I'm in the process of trying to choose between them...hopefully the blog world can help me narrow down the choice! I'm wavering back and forth as it is, and my hope is that the 'right barn' is so obviously the right one after I go for a visit, that it'll be easy to pick.

For ease, I'm going to call Barn #1: Barn F, and Barn #2: S Stables

The BF and I visited Barn F on Saturday afternoon, and I was really, really impressed. I often believe things come full circle in life, and it was really special to walk into a barn where I started taking lessons 10 years ago, and remember the stall my favorite horse stayed in, the lessons taught in the big ring, my first fall, and being the highest scorer on our Level 1 exam while my parents sat in the viewing room above.

The BF surprised me and was gung-ho that I book a spot in one of the box stalls ASAP. He even picked out the exact stall for Moon, based on location (#20). Unfortunately, I just can't afford to keep him in a big fancy box stall, and had to let the BF know. I couldn't believe how sad he was that Moon would have to keep living outside!

Barn F was in the process of being completely redone, and is going to be an amazing barn. It's HUGE. It has a 80'x200' rubber ring (shredded rubber footing instead of sand), a 80'x150' sand ring, and a smaller lunge ring. It has a heated viewing area with full bleachers, a second floor banquet room, 3 classrooms, a full resource library, an on-site tack store, bathrooms, showers, huge tack lockers, huge feed rooms, a separate bay for farriers/vets, on-site farrier, wash rack, about 30 box stalls (and the possibility for another 15 tie-stalls), and a lot of paddocks being put in.

They also plan on having regular clinics, shows, competitions and exhibitions...

We were impressed. For $297/month (after tax), Moon could be housed outdoors in a 1.5 acre paddock with 4/5 other horses, automatic waterer and 2 or 3 run-ins. Hi-tensile fencing, with additional perimeter fencing just in case. We would be in a very busy stable with lots of activity and other riders.

It's unfortunately too far for my current coach to come teach me, though I probably couldn't afford it with the added costs of boarding. They do have on-site coaches for those times when I have a few extra $ to pay someone to clean up my riding.

The drive would be about 30 minutes from home or anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour from work, depending on traffic. I have to say, the new owners were crazy friendly, very easy to get on with, great communication and knew their stuff. I love the idea of there being TONS of stuff to do, and a lot of like-minded riders to have fun with. I'm always dreaming of having 'horse friends' to hang with. Plus, this is one of those barns that when I was 17, I was crazy envious of everyone who got to board there. Is this my chance??


Then there's S Stables. I'm waiting for the owner to call me back this morning (rather embarrassingly I mistook her husband as her when he answered the phone...totally redfaced now! I simply got really nervous and spoke before I even processed anything! I mean, all he said was "Hello"!).

So S Stables is about 2.5 miles from a big Provincial Park with lots of trails and activities. You could probably just ride there for shows, which is where our Provincial Horse Park is. I went hunting for it on google maps, and came to a crazy realization yesterday...

When I was somewhere around 14, I had been offered a stable hand job at this barn!!! : O The name was familiar and as I was thinking about it, I remembered going to do the job interview at this really nice little barn with indoor arena. And an old farmhouse on the corner...I remembered my dad helping the husband with his 8N tractor, and the woman showing me how to hobble a horse and how to lunge one. I also remembered that she worked at the track and often boarded race horses when they were injured or over the winter time...

...turns out it's the SAME barn and the SAME lady (and man!).

Wow. When I was a kid and offered the job, my parents made me turn it down. I remember bawling like crazy and being SO mad at them. They didn't even care that their kid was so willing to get a job and work for the summer. They were scared I'd get hurt working with the horses and didn't want to have to drive me there every day.

: (

It took me 3 years to get to ride and another 2 more to get another horse job (granted, I DID get hurt : P ). It really was an opportunity missed, that reminded me of where I could be in my riding if I'd been able to start a little sooner.

And now, 12 years later, I'm going back there to look at boarding my MoonSox. Crazy. I still remember the look of the whole place, which amazes me. I doubt the lady remembers me though...

While I haven't visited yet, I know that they have a smaller indoor arena (70x100), and a large outdoor. They don't have a lot of stalls and at my best guess, probably not a lot of boarders either. I was originally worried about being able to get opportunities to ride in if you can't use the indoor when someone has a lesson, but I'm starting to wonder if that even occurs all that often...

This barn is an impressive 15 minutes from my place, and maybe 30 minutes from work in rushhour.

It's close enough that my current coach could come teach me when I need some help (though $10 arena fee), or the owner has a lot of experience and charges the same as my current coach.

Again, hi-tensile fencing, dry paddocks...the usual.

This is a smaller, quainter barn, with fewer people, not really any 'big activities', and just quiet. Assuming the price of board hasn't changed from a few years back (which it probably has) it would be $236/month for outdoor board...

...but here's the dilemma...

I could get him in a tie-stall at night in the winter for $289, slightly less then keeping him outside at Barn F...

I was pretty hesitant at first about the idea of a tie-stall, but they're spacious enough for him to lie down at night for a good sleep, and he'd be WAY warmer and cozier in the winter time. I could also blanket him in a light weight sheet indoors and a heavy weight outdoors so that he's not soaked after riding. Since I wanted to be out riding him at least 3 times/week since it'd be SO close, I think it's important for him to be warm and dry afterwards..., this would mean needing two new winter blankets, but they would put them off and on for me...

How do I choose?!!! Barn F is high profile, busy, engaging and lively. Stable S would mean a warm bed, quiet rides and few people.

...I *think* that as much as Barn F is a place I always dreamed about boarding at, and sounds like a lively energetic barn with TONS to do, I *think*, if Stable S is what I remember it to be, that Moon will be happier at Stable S...

And it IS about Moon at the end of the day.

My reasons:
1) Moon is still very excitable when working around a lot of other horses. Barn F would be stimulus overload for him, and ring riding with 6 other people would be very nerve wracking for us both for awhile. While he NEEDS more experience working around other horses, I don't think that means throwing him into the excitement of a big barn. Stable S on the other hand, would provide the opportunity to work with 1 or 2 other horses in the ring at a time, which is what we NEED. Small controlled situations to build our confidence. Not being tossed in front of 10 other people! : P

2) As much as I LOVE the idea of a busy populated barn, I'm an extreme introvert. While I love the idea of interacting with 30 "like-minded" people, in reality, I'd be hiding in my tack locker every chance I get...

3) If I can't afford lessons with Wendy, I can't afford to pay for all the clinics and activities at Barn F anyway, and it's better to avoid the temptation. At least at S Stables, when I have some pocket change, W can come out to work with us. And I LOVE working with W and don't want a different trainer.

4) While I don't have any expensive gear, I don't like the fact that Barn F doesn't have locking tack storage. While I believe most riders are respectful and wouldn't steal from a fellow rider, with over 50 boarders and countless students and visitors, I'm pretty certain it's inevitable at Barn F. S Stables on the other hand, has the option to lock and so few people that it's likely not a problem.

5) Moon-pie is going to be 13 next year. He's lived at least the last 3 winters outside, it's cold and he's getting 'old'. Does he really NEED to be outside yet another winter if I can afford to let him snuggle into deep straw at night, and then run around all day in the paddocks? S Stables will allow me to provide him with this luxury, and with careful weighing, I think that nights in a tie-stall in our deathly cold winter would be much, much more pleasant for him. It's not like they're running around having 'fun' when it's -40 below anyway.

6) I can keep D as my farrier. : ) She's been doing a great job and I really like using her. Barn F would be again, too far of a drive for her.

7) S Stables is really close to home. Crazy close to home. Close enough that I could get in a lot of extra rides over the winter, and not have to worry about driving a lot of bad roads...While Barn F is still reasonably close to home, it's still further and there's a lot more rush-hour traffic to contend with.

8) S Stables is closer to T's place, and maybe I can convince her to come out and ride him once in awhile, since it's hard to get to ride her guys in the winter out there? I'd love for her to come out, and it's just a better place to be able to do that.

9) While Barn F has a great viewing area for the BF (and wireless internet access), and probably a lot of activities to entice him to come out to the barn, it's really not going to be enough to get him out on a weekly basis. And S Stables is close enough that I can picture him coming out. : )

10) Shorter trailer ride from T's to the S Stables...

11) Short trail ride to the trails of BHP, which I know (and Moon's been on) and love. Barn F is in an area I'm unfamiliar riding the trails of...

12) Smaller barns often have more personalized care. While S Stables has been a little slower to respond to inquiries, it's likely because the owner is more involved in working. Barn F is likely to have a lot of handlers, and while communication is great right now, wait till it fills up...

...hopefully tomorrow I can get out to S Stables and have a look. Maybe even put down a deposit, as I think it just might be our winter barn.

Wow. I'm excited. This is going to be the FIRST time in my life that I'm going to be completely independent in my horse ownership. I've never really felt like the one calling the shots or truly responsible for his care. It's so different thinking "This is my horse, and this is how I'd like him cared for".

...or for him to have his own stall, with his little plaque sitting out front... : )

This is going to be a really awesome adventure. : )

1 comment:

  1. A lot of people like being at a big, busy barn with lots of boarders. There are only 4 boarders at my barn, with the rest being owned by my boss (granted she owns 21 horses, but still). I like it that way. We all know each other and the care is personalized. S Stables has my vote:)