Monday, 16 April 2012

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

I know some of you out there are saying...

"Forget the dressage thing.  I am most impressed that Dressage Curmudgeon moved into a barn with crappy stable management, had one stern talk with the owner and turned the whole situation around.  Now THAT should be an Olympic Event".

I am so sorry to let you all down, but damnit, I am ONLY HUMAN!!  What do you want from me!

(Absolutely nothing changed at Muddy View Acres).

Because I was unemployed for about six weeks in total, I was able to keep the situation under control by being at the barn, well, virtually all the time.  But once I started working, the wheels kind of fell of the whole affair. 

Luckily - the wheels did NOT fall off of my Honda Hot Rod.  Because I needed it not only to cart my ass to the barn, but also to cart around bales of pine shavings.  Someone had to buy them, and apparently, it wasn't Muddy View Acres. 

You see, Dressage Curmudgeon, BALES of pine shavings are very expensive.  (Said barn owner to me slowly, as though I was a bit learning impaired).  If we were to buy BALES of pine shavings - we would have to charge more for board.  We want to keep prices reasonable for all of our boarders.

Uhhh.. ok.  I gotcha. But could we get some other type of shavings in the stalls instead?  They don't have to be in bales. They can be in a big damp heap in the parking lot covered with a tarp, with cats digging in there and making "magic clay".  I am totally good with that.  Just - something, anything - besides the current meagre thin smear of feces laden sawdust on concrete. With puddles of pee. 

Oh, we are getting shavings.  Real ones.  Soon.  Trust us, we are working hard to develop relationships with local sources to supply you with the BEST shavings at the most economical cost possible.  We want to offer great care at great prices!  That is kind of like our motto.  So there will be more shavings soon WHEN we find a supplier that meets our standards. Be patient. She has SOME in her stall right now.  Look - over there in the corner!  Yes, that little crusty triangle.  Fluff it up a bit, and she will be fine. 

(And just a hint... maybe if you turned your horse out now and then, her stall wouldn't be so filthy).

Unfortunately, I think one thing that is often underestimated by new barn owners is how difficult it is to get good, reasonable supplies, delivered regularly and on time, in an industry known for fly-by-night everything and non-payment of bills. 

Crazy, eh?  What is that irritating thing that economy buffs always say?  Pick two - good, cheap, fast.  Can't have all three.  MVA was aiming for the good, cheap shavings.  And they thought it was just fine if that happened...oohhhh, some day.  Problem is - I think there was about 50 local barns in front of them in line, with long standing relationships and proven track records for paying their bills.  Really no one gave a shit about a brand new unproven barn or their boarders.


In case you are wondering, with a bit of pushing and a passenger that kind of resembles Sponge Bob to passers-by, you can wedge 4 bales of pine shavings in a 1995 Honda Civic hatchback.  If, by chance, said car is a rock bottom base model with no power steering let alone a passenger side mirror - you cannot see a freaking thing on the highway around you with 4 bales of pine shavings wedged into it.  And so, although flirting with death on the 401 can be exhilirating now and then, it is not something you want to have going on as a steady state.

We are coming, Ms. V!  We are coming!
 The problem is - you probably don't need 4 bales in your stall at any one time. And - NO - you can't possibly leave the unused bales outside of your stall for later use - because LATER will be approximately 5 minutes after you leave the barn, and the stall that they are used in will most certainly not be YOURS.  (Pine shavings?  What pine shavings?  I have no idea what you are talking about...).  So, you end up wedging and unwedging the fucking shavings into the Honda Civic a little too often for your liking, as you transport them from feed store to work to home to barn...

So why not just buy one bale, as you need it - why must you buy FOUR?  Well - once you start working - you just don't have time to go to the feed store daily, like you did back in the good old, unemployed days. 

The whole pine shavings thing that I was able to rationalize as do-able for really too long suddenly became an unmanageable pain in my ass. I then started to lie awake at night wondering to myself... if MVA can't manage the total rocket science involved in purchasing pine shavings... how likely are they to be able to get their hands on good hay when the current supply runs out? 

Not bloody likely. 

Good, fast, cheap.  I had been good at keeping my stall up to my own standards when I had the time, but that doesn't really count. Nothing was fast at Muddy View. So now that I was back to work, all they really had going for them was cheap, and the money was not THAT important to me.  My financial situation looked relatively secure for the forseeable future, I could easily afford to pay more. 

It was time to go.  But where...

Ideally someplace Dressage-y would be nice.  Some place with a coach.  And a school horse.

No, forget the FEI schoolmaster.  Forget the short listed European rider.  Been there, done that, not ready to be that depressed right away again.  No, right about now, I would settle for a coach who wasn't clearly nutso, and a relatively sound horse that had at least entered a dressage ring at some point in its life. 

Oh - and a stall with some some shavings that I didn't deliver myself would be nice too.


  1. Hah, I know a barn that's sort of remeniscent of MVA... boarders enjoy nightly parties while they muck their horses stalls, add the shavings they just bought, clean their horses buckets, and fill up their water. While still paying for "full service" board. It's cheap though... wonder why.

  2. Bwahahaha... We have literally baggied up hay to put into my car for one reason or another at the in between barns (as I call them!)

    The dark drop offs of hay and shavings... Something like a drug deal only you sneeze a lot and come home smelling like a saw mill and horse.

    Sigh what we do for our "pets" lol

  3. I'm starting to think we were boarding at the same place!

  4. Did you own horses before the platypus?

  5. A stall? With shavings in it?!? You clearly demand too much! At the next barn, you're going to be asking for an arena... INDOOR arena... with good footing that gets DRAGGED regularly. Picky, picky!

    Been there, done that. You definitely get what you pay for. And now that I keep my horses at home, I would like to know who is paying me for the excellent care I am providing?


  6. A 2004 camry can hold 5 bales of hay total: 2 stacked in the back seat, 2 squished in the trunk & 1 upright in the passenger seat (do up the seat belt if you don't want to stare at the light on the dash). Yes, visibility is a bit of a problem.

    1. They should really include this sort of info in the glossy pamphlets they hand out at the Toyota dealership. Seats 5 people or haybales.

  7. HA! Six bales of hay in my Honda Accord Coupe. And a lot of funny stares as I drove the two hours to deliver them to my horse.

    I miss my old (but still new body style) Cougar. That thing had a TON of space to put stuff in. I probably could have gotten 7 dags of shavings in there, easy...

  8. (Thanks for resizing the header.)

  9. ditto on thank you for resizing the header!

  10. Speaking as a BO, a lot of shavings suppliers are fly-by-night too. No shows, wet shavings, shavings that look nothing like the sample, surprise fuel charge added, all make the whole bedding thing a nightmare at times. I prefer straw (even tho I can't find anyone to hire who wants to clean straw bedding), but due to the high corn price no one in my area planted wheat or rye, so I'm using those dang bagged shavings. I've never let a boarder's horse go with insufficient bedding and I think that's terrible, but it sure drives costs up to use bagged ones. However, the horse should never pay the penalty for the management's poor planning.

    1. Sorry, I wasn't clear - I have heard that shavings guys are the most fly by night of the bunch. I didn't mean to only point the finger at BO's by any means!!

  11. The mark of a true horseperson: you decide whether to purchase your car based on the number of hay / shavings bales it could hypothetically fit.

  12. Wow, sounds like that stable is pretty much a disaster waiting to happen. Oh wait..... :P

  13. 8 bales of hay in a Toyota Matrix, with the tailgate tied down. Shavings? 9, I think.

    This, by the by from one who does take care of her own horses at home but occasionally has to do emergency supply runs.

    Used to get shavings from the carpentry shop at the vo-tech where I taught in my boarding out days. Made a nice supplement to OK bedding from the barn owners. Lucked out with most places I boarded except for some hay issues.

    Sounds all to familiar, though.

    1. The Matrix is already on the shortlist for my next car - this answer may have sealed the deal...

      (They are manufactured right around the corner from me too, so good way to support my community).