Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Boarding is B*$%@#*t.

Losing my mind. This is going to be pure "this is how I am feeling/what the fuck have I done" vomit. Sorry.

Stress in every corner doesn't help, but indecision tends to plague me, compounding every problem.
Two weeks ago Shiraz was so spooky I was afraid to ride her. In fact I did not ride most of the week leading up to the derby. After about two weeks of just feeling like maybe it was not a good fit, I decided to remove Shiraz from that barn and move her to one that had been recommended to me.

New home!...?...:'(
I needed to know--is this just how Shiraz was going to be at this age/stage in training or was it just a bad fit for her? We all know I am not the bravest rider and I was feeling on the verge of losing confidence.

So I moved her. The new barn is great. The property backs onto the park. I can ride to the xc course. There is a xc coach on site. Shiraz is completely MELLOW and my first ride on her there was FANTASTIC. Not one single step of jig. WTF?!!!


The hay is always round bales. I checked the hay on my tour. It happened to be a very good bale (super clean and fantastic grass mix) and the BO does not put the bale in the paddocks but tractors in servings. I know from personal experience round bales are typically dusty and would fork in servings rather than drop a bale into the paddock. Unfortunately on bringing Shiraz there, I noted the piles of hay tractored in were actually very dusty. Ya, round bales can be hit or miss. Some are horrible and some are great, even from the same field baled on the same day. My own hay shed is full of that proof. But more alarming was that four out of six of Shiraz's pasture mates have very bad chronic coughs.

Me, sitting on a bucket, weighing pros and cons of being at a great barn where my horse seems so happy and relaxed after I had to wash her nostrils out because of the thick coating of dirt lining them after her breakfast, considering her likelihood of developing COPD.
 I looked at the horses in her paddock on my tour. None of them happened to be coughing at that moment. Standing there, on day one of dropping Shiraz off, listening to the other horses wheezing and hacking over their hay piles I just about cried.

I'm so disappointed, sad, feeling foolish for jumping in to do best by my horse and just making things worse.

I am feeling a lot of horse community pressure. Very important people recommended this move and disapproved of my previous barn. It did not cause my initial move, but it is making me worry about switching back to my original barn choice if they will have me. I cannot find another option that I can afford in the area. I hate that I have to chose between physical health and mental wellbeing. Knowing that the quiet Shiraz is still there, I have hope she will settle in with time if she goes back. I mean, why the hell wouldn't she? Right?

Lady, I can't even look at you. Just pick a place and let me be. -- Shiraz, most likely.
Anyone else muddle things up in the name of trying to improve your horse's situation? Or have a horse be nuts at one place but happy in another for no obvious reason?


  1. I feel for you. It’s so tough to find a place when you’re weighing between two not-ideal situations. I’m in a similar situation though it’s between two places to live to accommodate my horses verses two places to board.
    From one unconfident rider to another I think I agree with you that physical health outweighs the nervousness assuming the spooking can be worked through.
    Best of luck to you and Shiraz. I hope it all works out.

  2. You mentioned that there were other options, just out of your price range. Is there any way at all that they could be in your price range by readjusting anything at all in your budget? Fewer lessons, fewer shows, barefoot trims, bringing your lunch to work, mucking stalls on weekends? I don't think either of these places should be a option. Another thought, have you talked with the barn owner about the dust situation? Perhaps watering the hay would help? Good Luck to you, keep looking for a new barn, and talk to them about their services, maybe there is something you can cut out to make them more affordable.

  3. Ugh I’m sorry. I feel your pain in my own soul too. My last barn checked off a lot of important “care” items on my list, but it wasn’t until I moved Charlie that I realized how very unhappy he had been. The new barn.... falls a bit shy of my own ideas for care. At times it is extremely frustrating to me and I feel like I need to see the horse every day for my own self to be assured of his wellbeing. And yet - he’s absolutely thriving. He’s happy and relaxed and peaceful at this place. So for now I’m trying to find that balance between my ideas of happy horse life and what my horse is telling me about his own opinions. It’s not easy tho. Good luck figuring out what makes the most sense for you and Shiraz, and hopefully your worries about external pressure will prove to be nbd!!!

  4. It's tough... if it makes you feel any better, I've noticed the last two round bales I've put out for the horses have been a bit dustier than normal. Could it be that the bales are just dusty from sitting all winter/spring? I can't wait until I get some of this years cut - something about "new" hay is always exciting haha.

    It's hard tho, I self-board so I do everything for my horses and when Annie was away for training I was that hover-parent lol.

  5. Boarding can be so tough (been there for 20 odd years). Although no place will ever be 100% perfect I think you can do a lot better than dusty hay. My husband is constantly telling me that I'm never happy with how things run at my boarding places... which is true, I have had to learn when to settle for "good enough" rather than things being exactly as I want them. I would certainly start shopping and do discuss your concerns with barn management too... maybe this is an usually dusty bale and that's not the norm? Sending hugs! Boarding issues are seriously the worst, the hardest one for me was when I had to borrow money from my parents to move Apollo (the care was suddenly horrible and waters were not being filled).

  6. Ugh. I totally feel your pain. I would say though that mental and physical are equally important. A stressed horse is prone to all kinds of things, like ulcers. It was this sort of thing that made me work for the day I could bring Irish home.

  7. Bridget has a bit of COPD affected by living conditions, and honestly, I wouldn't mess with that...it's awful. On the other hand, it IS spring and the bales have been sitting all winter, plus there is all the dust and pollen in the air this time of year...any coughing might be exaggerated? Still, not good if they're all coughing and no one is overly worried/trying to solve it. I'd be worried about a virus right now too...although the dusty hay is the obvious culprit, better safe than sorry as far as viruses :(
    Can you maybe work out a deal to have her hay soaked or to provide your own? I'd definitely ask about options if Shiraz and yourself are otherwise happy there...maybe the are aware there is an issue and might be open to finding a new hay supplier?

  8. Horses can be amazingly resilient mentally, I'd probably prioritize her physical health. If you have time to soak her hay, or get someone else to soak her hay that would be a great compromise!

  9. Ugh, so tough! I'm not a huge fan of round bales either :-(

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