Saturday, June 11, 2016

Home versus boarding

So I got the question from Olivia on if I was enjoying the switch from at-home care to being a boarder again.  I will say, there are positives and negatives to each.  So I guess I will cover them in a post, in case someone is interested.

What did I love about having my horses at home?  The reduced cost.  However, it wasn't as significant as one would think.  My out-of-pocket for each horse was still around $250 a month with them being at-home in Michigan.  Not that big of a savings but I also required a pretty high standard of care.  The horses always, always, always had hay in front of them.  And with the round bale net, the round bale was an affordable, easier alternative to the square bales.  I also required my pasture scooped weekly and arena scooped daily.  All of this was then hauled out by the trash company weekly bc I didn't have enough property to spread it and I didn't want it around.  Anyway, the standard of care I required caused the cost savings to be there, but not significant.

I loved being able to have things exactly as I wanted it.  I didn't have to have approval to put my stuff somewhere, I didn't need to "find my spot" for stuff, I didn't need to worry about leaving stuff out.  If I wanted to create something, I just did.  If I wanted to change up turnout, I just did.  That kind of freedom was nice.

I liked being able to manage all aspect of their care and be the expert on how they were doing.  What kind of terrain bothers them?  When did that scrape appear?  When did their behavior change?  I had a good handle on all of that.

What didn't I like?  Well, sadly, a lot.  I talked about it a little before, I didn't like being tied to the farm.  I was unable to take a vacation for the first 3 years I lived in MI because we had no one to take care of the place while I left.  Being the animal person, all of the responsibility fell squarely on my shoulders. SO would help some during the weekends, but the day-to-day, regardless of weather, hunger or time was always me, by myself.  I didn't like how it robbed me of the time to ride and, if I did have time to ride, I was often too exhausted to actually ride.  This was especially true in the winter when it would take 30-60 minutes to do chores, twice a day.  By myself.

I didn't like how I was always busy and took more time taking care of the horses than I did actually enjoying them.  I distinctly remember the winter of 2014 where I was so frustrated because I had been outside, doing things FOR the horses for 120 minutes that day and I had actually touched a horse for a total of 5 of those minutes combined.  For the entire cold, wet day.  I didn't think it was fair, and I still don't actually.  I remember being so cold and so tired and not getting one iota of pleasure out of what I was doing.  All the work and got none of the rewards other than knowing they were happy, I didn't get to watch them quietly munch on hay.  I didn't get to watch them run in the field.  I didn't get to even see them eat grain.  I was literally seeing them only as I led them to and from the barn for grain.

So, to stop being a negative Nelly, boarding.  Positives and negatives?  Nah, let's keep the negatives to keep the theme.  The first is, of course, the cost.  Holy hell is boarding expensive here in PA.  Way more than in OH and MI.  I have a 45 minute on-way drive to my barn.  Which I go to at least 4 days a week, it adds up.  I hate not having the hands-on day-to-day care.  How much do they eat?  I don't know off the top of my head.  When is App sore?  I don't know :(  What makes him more comfortable?  I have to rely on the barn to tell me and I really don't like that.  How do they get along with others?  I don't know, I need to have the barn tell me.

There is always drama at boarding barns, ALWAYS.  Even the ones that say they are drama free.  This barn?  Pretty drama free, but as I found out on Tuesday, there is still drama.  I keep myself removed from as much of it as possible.  So we will see, but drama drama drama.  Really don't like being in drama.  Let me hear about it from a distance if I need to know.  Being alone is getting to me again, but I am not always alone.  Just mostly alone.

Inconsistency in care is one that is really big, but not one I am experiencing at this time.  Things that are an issue I am not dealing with now: People "borrowing" your stuff.  People "borrowing" your actual horse.  People damaging your things and "forgetting" to tell you.  People making you choose sides in drama.  Barn cliques.  Not getting the care you are paying for.  On and on.

The positives?  Well, I was able to go to the race over Memorial weekend and I had zero concerns.  I knew my horses were cared for, fed and I didn't have to check up on them.  I know they are getting tended to, and will be tended to regardless of weather.  I am notified if there is an issue or concern.  The barn is always in very nice condition.  The arena is always open.  The people (so far) are nice.  I can ride, I have both time and energy to do so!  I have space to ride as well as jumps to go over.  No stress of finding/buying/stacking hay/bedding/grain.  The freedom and flexibility is huge for me.

For me?  Boarding again is a no-brainer.  I would have to seriously be willing to change my standards if I ever brought my horses home again.  Boarding sucks, boarding is expensive, it is totally dependent on management and ownership on if you will have a good experience and there is always drama but having my horses at home is not for me.  Not at this point in time.  I keep going back to this post I read and it reiterated all of the reasons I did not want my horses at my home:
How about you readers, what is your preferences?  Home versus boarding, what do you think?


  1. I have my two at home and it is a lot of work. But I love it for all of he reasons that you said. I also have things set up so that the day to day is not a ton of work. My husband does a lot and will care for them if I go away. We also have a great farm sitter.

    There are not a lot of boarding options close to me and, frankly, I don't care for any of them. If I had good options I might consider it for the winter and having an indoor.

  2. Thanks for the answer. We board and are saving up to buy our own property. I actually really like my barn where we keep our horses, but I'd like to have a bit more control. My goal is actually to have a small barn of 10ish stalls and board out for 6 of them.