Tuesday 27 March 2012

There must be, Fifty ways to be a moron... just turn out the pony, Tony....

I don’t know what the answer is to the dilemma of boarding stables not being able to deliver on the promises they make.  Other than - only choosing stables that appear to be charging enough money to actually cover the cost of the services they say they are offering.  As the saying goes – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

And boarding stables should, in turn, try to ensure that they only bring in clientele who can and will readily pay for these services.

Yes, I realize it seems stupid to even be typing this.  Kind of like typing – the only way to not die of asphyxiation is to be sure to breathe on a regular basis. 

But in all of the combinations and permutations I have seen – there just doesn’t seem to be a perfect and failproof answer.  Because stable owners sometimes underestimate costs, boarders sometimes overestimate earnings, and life situations change.  Things can go wrong and turn very ugly, even at high end, high price tag stables.  

(Random piece of advice…don’t ever ask your coach, “Hey, what’s with the locks and chains on the stalls of Ms. Hirollers horses?”  Yah, it might just be a fun stable time hijinks, but chances are it is probably a touchy subject)

I have been in full training situations for the last while – you pay a lot, you get a lot.  Pretty simple. Not entirely without drama at all times, of course - it would be a pretty boring blog for you guys to read if it were all wonderful smooth sailing, now wouldn’t it - but for the most part, this system seems to work. 

But what is the right solution when you are on more of a budget, as I was when I first bought Ms. V?

On the surface, a la carte boarding seems to make the most sense.  Stall cleaned, horse fed daily = $XXX.  Daily turnout = $YYY.  Boots and blankets = $ZZZ.  And so on.  But somehow in practice it doesn’t work.  Horse owners think being asked to pay for services is “nickel and diming” or decide they will get their friend Sally to do blankets for them instead for free, and when she doesn’t show up and Foo Foo Bunny is melting in a pool of his own sweat when the weather turns warm… what is the barn owner to do?  It isn’t Foo Foo’s fault his owner is a cheap ass.

Now actually, for Ms. V at Muddy View Acres, things were pretty simple.  At the time, she didn’t wear a blanket or boots, and still to this very day, I think 99% of supplements are a huge load of smoldering bullshit, so there were no baggies or scoops required in her care.  (And I have a Master’s degree in Animal Nutrition, just to give you a full appreciation of how deeply my bullshit radar runs on this topic).

All she really needed to do was eat and drink on a regular basis, and be provided with an environment in which to live where she was not totally mired mud, or her own urine and feces.  Aha!  You knew there was going to be some unreasonable hitch, didn't you.  

(I am not sure how you finesse this description on an a la carte boarding options menu).

The last point was of particular importance not only because it is just common sense.  It was also of particular importance for Ms. V, because besides being thin and possibly wormy (which I didn’t think was true, incidentally), she did come my way with a slight case of scratches.  Mud fever.  Whatever you want to call it. 

No problem, right?  We all know how to manage this condition, in three easy steps.

1.  Clip the hair, then scrub the skin with betadine wash or similar antibacterial solution.  Dry.

2.   Smear something on the irritated skin – what you ask?  Well, as the old saying goes, favourite remedies for scratches are like assholes, everybody has one.  (I read that some weirdos like to try other people’s as well. I think it was in Penthouse Forum.  Or was it Practical Horseman.  One or the other) Blu-kote, zinc cream, tea tree oil… there is no right or wrong answer, Pick one, apply. 

3.    Keep your horse in a clean, dry environment until the lesions heal.

Curmudgeon's remedy of choice.  Go hard or go home. Tea tree oil is for  losers.

Sounds easy.  Unless you are a boarder at Muddy View Acres in December, before the frost is in the ground.  There was no clean, dry environment.  To be fair, finding a clean, dry, outside environment at any boarding stable would have been a feat that year. 

Sigh.  So, as much as it pained me, I decided that it was best that Ms. V stayed inside until I got her scratches under control.  I was visiting every day, and so could give her a bit of arena turnout and hand walk her to keep her from going insane. 

Dressage Curmudgeon writes on the chalkboard “Ms. V – no turnout”

The funny thing was – every time I showed up – she was covered in mud. 

Dressage Curmudgeon writes on the chalkboard “Ms. V – no turnout – stays inside please”

Or – actually outside.  Standing in mud past her fetlocks. And her scratches got worse, and her leg got fatter, day by day.

Dressage Curmudgeon writes on the chalkboard “Ms. V – no turnout – stays inside  - IN STALL – 24/7”

So, finally I had a deep, one-on-one I talk with the owner.  Brought him over to her, and pointed at her sausage leg, caked in mud. 

Mr. MVA - Do – you – see – the – problem – here?

Well, I am not sure what you are getting at, Ms. Curmudgeon.  What problem?  If there is a problem, all you have to do is let me know what you would like me to do differently.  You can write it on the chalkboard.

But hey – on a totally unrelated note - have you ever noticed that your horse’s white leg looks thicker than her black legs?

Dressage Curmudgeon’s eyes roll back in her head and she begins making that ticking noise in throat that aliens from all planets seem to make in the movies, regardless of the galaxy of origin, right before they start eviscerating people. 

I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener.  
“Ohhh – you want her INSIDE.  Like INSIDE-inside.  All day?  Well, we usually put them out to do the stalls”.

Dressage Curmudgeon begins to sing in her head to kill the pain “I wish I was an Oscar Meyer WEEEEINERRRR”

Yes, I realize that.  She needs to say in.  Is that going to be a problem?

OH!  Oh, No.  No problem.  Not at all.  Now that I know what you REALLY want.

Whew.  Well, thank goodness we got that cleared up.   She would stay in, where it was dry, and..err… clean.

At least until the shavings ran out. 

For. Days. On. End.

“Everyone’d commit Hari-Kariiiiii!”


  1. Tea tree oil IS for losers. You're the best!

  2. Man that sucks. I think I must be the only rider who has never had barn drama issues, or problems with how my horses have been cared for. Actually, my current horse - who is 4th level - is pasture boarded so maybe I'm just too low maintenance.

  3. Hahahaha! I'm only laughing 'cause I've been there. Laughing in sympathy, really.

    Ha. Ha.

    You definitely get what you pay for. It's why I keep my horses at home now.

  4. I was pretty lucky with most barns where I boarded--didn't stay long when I wasn't. But there were usually some problems to deal with. I always tried to go the the barn every day, just to check.

    The last place was wonderful. But, alas, the owner sold out--it's now a premier vet facility. Now that the Boys are home, I am the crazy barn owner. I would not recommend anyone's boarding here.

    Gee, what part of "no turnout" was so hard to comprehend?

  5. Its amazing how something as simple as putting a horse in the stall NEXT to its own while you clean her stall can be oh so complicated. On a note regarding horses on stall rest, I hate it when people try to clean a horse's stall with the horse in there. Maybe that's just because my mare's a nut and jumped the wheelbarrow the unsuspecting stable hand left to 'block' her stall... (thank god this was before I owned her) but yeah. Not a good idea. Just move the horse 10 feet or stick 'em in the cross ties. Simple, eh?

  6. I thought it was going to be a "Me no speaka da language" issue, but then, I'm in California and we have so few English speakers:)Funny post.

  7. I had a similar run in at my barn. Got back from a difficult endurance ride and my mare was sore on her left hind. Told the barn owner's daughter (she does all the chores)she needed to be left inside until further notice. I would be out the next day to see how she was. Came the next day to find her out in her paddock, limping along. Brought her in with steam coming out of my ears and called the barn owner who told me her daughter never passed it along and to write it on her stall. I asked if I needed a different colored pen to delineate this message from the one already present. She then told me she didn't see why she needed to be left in when her buddies got to go out and that she didn't see any problem with her left hind. AAAHHHHH!!!!

  8. I've been pretty lucky with boarding situations so far. Have never had things go perfectly, but nothing really terrible has happened either. However, I've realized that if a boarder is doing anything that will increase the BO's/BW's workload, it's going to be a problem, or you're going to find them all getting a bit passive-aggressive with you.

    In any case, turning out a horse that needs to stay in would be near the top of my list of reasons to leave a barn.

  9. Yeesh. I work as a barn manager/head slave, and it boggles my mind that that should ever have been so difficult...lol

  10. Seriously, I put a large red notice on one horse's stall that she was to stay in, and while I was hooking up the trailer she was turned out, complete with braids, leg wraps, tail protector and sheet. And she was a normally hard-to-catch horse. Yep, she had a blast frightening all her pasture-mates while evading me in her get-up.

    How hard can it be to look at the BO-provided message board on the door, for Pete's sake!

    1. See, this is proof that even though all horse people are crazy, we're saints, too. Because that is justifiable homicide in my eyes.

      Certain levels of stupidity should allow murder without consequence, don't you think?

    2. Unfortunately the criminal was the BO's son, and we were stuck with him forever. So we moved. Vote with your board check, I say!

  11. I do self care at a private barn, I have to provide my own hay, they have a run in shed, and an automatic waterer. If I had a horse that was injured I can use the barn, but all of those stalls are empty except the stall for the geese at night and the Barn owner's farm dog. If I were to get sick, my husband Mr. Footballtard would have to feed and or medicate.

  12. I was boarding at one of the top local barns and frequently found my horse living in a filthy stall - inches of black rotting shavings. The kicker was when she lived outside for two days and her water tub was frozen and nobody had noticed.

  13. No matter where you board, same old same old...

  14. DC, can I get ur opinion on Grow Colt?