Saturday, 14 January 2012


Last year, from September to November, I went on one of the hardest searches I have ever been on.  I was looking for a boarding stable.  I seriously was not prepared for how difficult of a search that was.  I figured there would be tons of stables near where I live (which there are) and I'd have a choice of several.  I was so very wrong.  There were certainly many stables near me...but none of them were Western or even full of both English and Western.

I don't think I've ever said this, but the reason I got to bring my horses' down is because I was supposed to be getting help from a barrel racing trainer.  True story (I swear it is) my brother and I went to Stampede and a few of the barrel racers were signing autographs.  My brother, who has been extremely supportive of me getting into barrel racing, asks everybody in the horse business how you get into barrel racing.  He always gets the same answer, "Start in gymkhanas."  So when we went up to get autographs from the barrel racers, he asked them.  Well, they gave us a bit of a different answer, a much more helpful one.  One of the barrel racers gave me (technically my brother as she wrote it down on the poster autographed to him) her phone number.  Trust me, I'm still not over it, we were expecting a simple. "start in gymkhanas,"  not her phone number.  So I called her later on and she gave me the number of a good friend of hers, a barrel racing trainer.

From there, the barrel trainer tried to get me set up at the ranch she trained at, so I could bring Socks down.  I went out and checked out the place (it has the BIGGEST indoor arena I have ever seen in my life... It was huge!) and it was all set for me to bring Socks, and then Jimmy, down.  And then everything fell apart.  The woman in charge of the ranch stopped returning my calls.  The barrel trainer ended up going to the States for the winter and invited me to call her in the spring, once she was back.  I decided to practice for the winter and call her and get her help in the spring.

But now I had to find a different place to board.  So I began looking.  I cannot tell you how many jumper and hunter barns there are around me.  It is insane.  They're all really nice barns, but the whole english aspect kind of clashes with my western thing going on.  If it was a barn that had both disciplines, that was fine with me.  But when all the pictures on the website are of dressage horses and people jumping...I just feel like a barrel racer is going to be out of place.

My other requirment, was a heated indoor arena.  That eliminated pretty much all of the duel discipline stables I had managed to find.  I also, of course, wanted a place that would take good care of my horses.  I wanted pasture or paddock board, paddocks of a good size.  I must have looked at over fifty stables but none of them worked.  Some of them sounded pretty good but then there'd be pictures andI really wouldn't like what the facilities looked like.  I'd rather not have paddocks fenced in with barbed wire. 

Then, very late one night, I was rereading the list of stables offered on google for the thousandth time.  To my surprise, there was a new addition.  I went to the website and I literally started jumping up and down with happiness.  The website gets right to the point, the pictures showed nice facilites, there was actually a western saddle on the horse in the pictures, testimonys by english riders (which showed me both disciplines were very welcome).  I sent an email and got a reply back immediatly.  I then called and made plans to go out and visit the stable.  I dragged my mom and brother with me. 

It was dark when we got there and T was bringing in the horses.  Several boarders were unsaddling, most said hi, one was not at all friendly (and has been even worse since then).  T stopped and talked to us for awhile.  She answered all of my questions, showed us around the barn and arena.  Her son loved Alex the second he saw him.  She then, after answering all of my questions and asking me questions about my horses (something the first place never did) she let us walk around the place on her own.  This was important to me, I had given them short notice on me coming and then they didn't insist on coming with me while I checked it out, showing they had nothing to hide. 

I was very pleased with what I saw.  The paddocks were a decent size, not overcrowded and all the horses were happy and friendly.  A few weeks later, Socks and Jimmy arrived. 

Not to say my transition to having horses at a stable instead of on our own place wasn't with difficulties, but it's turned out to be better than I could ever have hoped for.  When Socks began losing weight, E began throwing double the food at her.  And then, when we got the surprise news that Socks was pregnant, two weeks before Miss Artemis made her appearance, they were great about it.  E was more excited than we were.  He was checking on her pretty much every hour.  T would kick him out of bed at night to go check on her.  He called me as soon as they found Artemis.  They've been full of very helpful advice.  Though in return, I believe we've been a great source of entertainment for them, like when we couldn't find the gate, or when Miss Artemis tried to make a mad dash to her mother, ducking under the fence. 

I realize how much I've lucked out with my stable.  I just wanted a place with an indoor arena, where both western and english riders were accepted, and a place where my ponies would be well taken care of.  I got so much more than that.  My stable owners are the best, we can and do, talk to them for hours.  They've helped with Jimmy and Artemis so much.  Socks is looking the best she ever has.  I seriously never want to leave this stable, ever.  I have no fears whatsoever that my horses are not being well taken care of.   I know that no matter what the problem is, I can go to my stable owners for help.

How about you guys?  What do you want in a boarding stable?  Even the people who keep their horses at home, you can answer too.  If you had to move your horse to a stable, what would be on your must-have list?


Megan said...

I'm glad it all worked out so well for you.

I keep my horses at home, but if I were to move them to a boarding stable, I would want:
- a roundyard
- an indoor arena (doesn't have to be heated, but that would be nice)
- a quarantine area (for rescues)
- friendly people (can't stress that enough!) and obviously, the most important thing:
-good care for my horses.

I don't think many people in our area board at all. I think agistment is the most popular option for people who can't keep their horses at home.

Don't even get me started on boarding facilities that have barbed wire >=I

Cjay said...

A heated indoor arena was a requirement for me because we get to -30 here in the winter usually. In fact, tomorrow with the wind chill is supposed to be -30 and I know when I'm out there tomorrow, I'll be very happy for the heat.

I can live with very large pastures fenced in with barbed wire, I realize how unrealistic it is to have wooden/electric fence around a huge field, but when their paddocks are fenced in with barbed wire, that is a big no to me. You're just asking the horse to get tangled in it. Ideally I'd like no barbed wire at all.

A round pen wasn't a requirement for me, but I have to say I am so glad my stable has one. I've never had a real, circular one makes such a huge difference!

Wolfie said...

I agree with everything that Megan listed, but I would add cleared trails, stalls that are cleaned daily, a heard health management plan and a health knowledgeable BO. :-)

Ally said...

I remember when you were looking for stables. I had no idea it was such a long, hard process though! Or how many you visited. I'm glad you've found such a good place. Think of how much stress it takes away knowing your horses are well looked after and that you have such accomodating stable owners as you do.