Monday 19 March 2012

Which came first... chicken/egg? Boarding stable/Crazy boarder?

Well, my dear readers, I certainly hope you have enjoyed the last few posts.
No, not only because the long awaited purchase of my horse has finally been executed, and as a result, you can stop asking yourself  “oh for gawd’s sake, how long is this woman going to drag this shit out”. 
But also because I have introduced some cutting edge, thought provoking topics for discussion.  Topics like – was it all about David Lee, or does Sammy Hagar really deserve more credit than he typically gets?  Or, who is responsible for horrifically cryptic Vet checks.. Vets – or the buyers themselves?  And of course...maternity leave – is 6 weeks inhumane and not nearly enough, or should those Canuck slackers get off of their totally healed vaginas and get the hell back to work in 6 months, let alone a fricking year?
I even got some traffic from an “anti-breeders” message board.  I guess being a dressage rider and a child-hater often go hand in hand – who knew? 
(The answer is, of course, that more MEN need to start taking paternity leave, making it employee roulette for the hiring company, regardless of gender)
And so, continuing on this theme, today I would like to ask a question that I know every single one of you will have an opinion on.
Ready – steady – go.
Who is more totally looped out, batshit insane… people who run boarding stables, or the boarders themselves.
Wow. It is a hard call, isn’t it.  I didn’t say it was going to be easy reading this week, did I. 
Now, I have to say this one does hit sort of close to home, since Mr. Motard’s childhood dream is to own a farm.  In his eyes, it makes total sense that we would bring our passions together (don’t worry, I am not about to talk about our sex lives here, stay calm) and buy a beautiful horse farm.
A beautiful horse farm, where he could drive around on a tractor and kibitz with georgeous 22 year old horse owning girls, while I give encouraging, inspiring lessons to 42 year old dressage women on swoosh-swoosh-swooshy imported warmbloods.
Oh, Edith – wooonderful!  Braaavvv!  He is really stepping under!  And is oh, so very THROUGH!  Look at him using his hind end! 
(cue the angels!  Cue the angels!)
A beautiful horse farm, with all of this, as well as an Olympic sized arena, and an all-weather outdoor ring with that magical rubber chippy footing.. and oh yah, one more thing… a motocross track in the back, where he could go and WRRaaaHHHH-WWWWWRRAAAAHHHH- WWWRARRRAHHHRRA- wwwinnng-winngg-dinng-ding-ding-ding-winng.. around on his dirt bikes, after harrowing the dressage ring with said tractor, and kibitzing with the georgeous 22 year olds
Oh, Brittany… how do you afford such an expensive hobby at such a young age…! And you are a student too! Wow, you smart cookie, you must really manage your money well!
And, presumably, I can then pick up the 42 year olds, dust them off, catch their totally freaked out horses, call the ambulance… not necessarily in that order.  Whatever makes the most sense, based on stemming the loss of blood and tears.
Then prepare the 22-year old’s horses for auction, since they have not paid their board in 6 months, which demonstrates how well they are making out at managing such an expensive hobby at such a young age.
Suffice it to say – we have some details to work out in the fine tuning of his master plan.
The other detail to work out (besides where to source the industrial sized box of ear plug pom-pom thingies for the horses) would be how to deal with the fact that most horse owners… are weird.
I would love to stick up for us as a population, but sorry, I can’t.  For the most part we are nuts.  
I may be biased, and not totally objective here – but I would say that this statement doesn’t apply to me, of course.  On the scale of 1 to 10 on the nutty horse owner scale, I am probably a 2.  Maybe 3.  Or 8.  Most certainly no higher than 9.7. 
I base this comment on the following three factors:
-          I always pay my bills. Always.  No matter how horrific they may be, or how unemployed I may be at any given time

-          I always spend whatever needs to be spent in the veterinary and blacksmith department.  Don’t call, don’t ask – just do it, I will pay the bill

-       And lastly...yes, Joe Q Stableowner…I know, I know, it may not appear to be the case every day.  But generally speaking, I do realize that - as wacked out as this may sound - you may actually be running this show as a business, to..*gasp*.. make money - no matter how fucked up that may seem to the emotional and entitled side of me. 
      I realize that you were not put here on this planet by the aliens just for my personal convenience – so that I would have someone to cater to my every need, as I pursue my dream of doing whatever the hell it is I am doing with this horse in some frenetic and willy-nilly fashion. 
That said – I do expect a few things in return for the money which I hand over to you monthly. 
I could create an itemized list, as could all horse owners who board out their horses.  But in the interest of time, I think we can agree that they all boil down to this.
**Just DO whatever the hell it is you SAY you are going to DO**.  
Wow, that is complicated, isn’t it.  Like physics, with a side of calculus and a big dollop of organic chemistry on top.  E=MC somethingorother with some Avagadro guacamole.  And don’t forget the big slice of Pi for dessert.
It certainly seems that way…. Is that big bang I just heard the sound of your brain exploding…?


  1. I think that's the simplest explanation I've ever seen for how to run a boarding facility.

    The fact that it's not how the one I was at was run is part of why I moved my horses to private property and built a barn. The other part of why I moved the horses is I am aware of my 9.7-ness, and that the case I would *like* for my horses is the kind of care no for-profit barn could afford to give. So in order to indulge in my nuttiness, I am now the BO and therefore responsible for my horses' care and can only blame myself for problems!

    For the record - no WAY would I want to own a boarding facility! Maybe if I weren't the one managing it, but otherwise, no way. Though I think the dirt bikes could do some great things for despooking the horses!

  2. After lots of boarding barn nuttiness we bought our own place about ten years really before we'd planned to do so.

    A child-free, rap music free zone, where I can chat to the horses, the barn cats, the walls; whoever I please and best of all no need to chat to anyone if I don't please. Where the horses get fed on time, food they can actually eat, on a schedule and have nice deep bedding, not the current fad of two shavings on a rubber mat.

    I'm a 9.7 on the scale as well, but blame that on having any expectations at all of reasonable care.

    A free piece of advice for all, if a place advertises itself as "holistic" in its horse care - that's a code word for "they will never have water in the buckets" but they will have crystals in the four corners of the stall.


  3. Working at a tack store, you definitely see that the ratio of normal horse people to not-normal horse people is a very big difference!!! There are for sure some eccentric weirdos out there! :)

  4. I like to think I'm not THAT crazy (though, seriously, I'm a teenager who gave up any sort of life to have a horse, maybe I do fall into the 9.7 category?!)...however my old BO was a freaking wackjob (who also came from an entire family of crazy people) who thought I didn't notice when she didn't turn my horse out for days at a time...or water her...feed her? Ugh. Bad memories. Bad, bad memories...

  5. First of all, LOVE your blog! I really must stop reading it at work, as I am frequently seen by my co-workers to be crying and shaking quite a bit (with laughter, of course!)
    That being said, I think crazy attracts crazy. I don't own a horse (but do lease) but the two barns I've been at have had varying amounts of insanity. One boarding barn owner who was bananas attracted all sort of insane. Too much to say here. Let's just say the police were called a few times. The other was much better about the drama, but she was pretty pasive-aggressive, and while most of the boarders were nice, normal-ish horse-nuts, one lady was the craziest person I've ever seen. Like screaming-at-the-farrier-while-ripping-off-her-horse's-shoes-crazy. I'm dead serious. And telling him that his incompetence might lead her to take her horse out back and put the horse out of his misery, because the farrier was taking away her horse's quality of life. Needless to say, I stay FAR away from her.

  6. Mrs. Curmergeonze I ride at a horse facility that has a motocross mud track two paddocks away from the arena as WELL as on Sundays they have a meet where people ALSO ride race like around the outside of the arena... They also do repairs near the (you guessed it) arena. Mr. Motard would be le ring leader at my current horsey abode LOL

    I am very pround of my TB mare because I have the luxury of riding Sundays due to a demanding career and mommy hood so... I get to be the crazy horse lady weaving in and out of traffic... You have to SEE IT to believe IT.

    Between the chickens, pigs, Ma on the front porch, bond fires in the middle of the day, hunters in the forrest close enough to spot, and 500 4H riders, VOILA you have one circus trained pony enough for barnum and baily..


    1. Do you live in Desboro by chance?

      Motopark is Mr. Motard's version of "oh yah, well I know a OTTB x belgian/QH that made it to GP". As if it happens all the time...

      From the website:

      The park has a House for the owners and is also home to a number of Arabian show horses which are trained and bred on the property.

      (Because if there is a breed of horse I would want to ride WITH dirt bikes...yaaaaHOOO!)

    2. I am guessing they are halter horses, who need no extra training to look "animated" and "lively" for their in-hand work.

    3. No we are in the South and currently our stable is half under water! Yeesh.. My poor horse roughs it out here like none other! I started in CA where my horses had 3 square inches to live in... Moved to AZ where we had cactus to contest with but more space than a dust bowl could imagine, and now stationed in the swamps we swim and deal with mudders, hunters, reptiles, and small unruly country bumpkins... Come now, dont be a fair weather rider, you say?... I think this living has made me the most reasonably and unexpecting rider this side of Mississippi... Yee freaking ha

  7. Oh god, that is a tough choice. I have psycho lovely stories about each kind of horse person (owner+boarder) and I have given up being happy at any barn.
    And hey now, the 22 year old college student comment is offensive ;) I ALWAYS pay my board AND work it off as well. Horse comes before me, always!
    Love this post.

  8. I agree, horse people are nuts, especially the women.

    1. Um, okay..

    2. If there is one thing rarer than sasquatch riding in a UFO - it is a sane dressage dude.

    3. ROFL - I SO thought you were going to write a STRAIGHT dressage dude, but yep, "sane" has got to be right up there, too!

      Actually, sane and straight does not abound in the male species in ANY English-riding discipline, and the ones that are are snapped up by equine-oriented females in a split nanosecond.

      In fact, I will reveal my plan to send my son straight to the nearest hunter or dressage barn for lessons should he ever have a hard time finding female company. He'd be off the market by Day 2, guaranteed, and with any luck he'd pick a trust fund chickie who would think nothing of fully supporting her doting MIL's horse habit. Muwahahahaha....

  9. I too have nutty stories on both sides--boarders and barn owners. I was pretty particular, but tried hard not to be a pain.

    But your summary statement is right on the money, "Just do what you say you are going to do." My last barn was one of the few where that happened.

    But, they closed down--sold the property--and I lucked out by being able to build a place in my back yard for my Boys. Now the crazy is all mine and there is no one else to blame. *S*

  10. OOOOO, don't get me started!

    However, you, DC would be welcome at my barn.

    It always works best if the boarders are the same kind of crazy as the BO!

  11. I have my own collection of stories about crazy boarders and barn managers, too. There does seem to be an overpopulation of both down here in South FL. I have my own theories about the situation:

    Just last night, a fellow boarder called me to let me know that the paddock my mare was turned out in had been left open. My mare was still in her paddock, and he had shut the gate when he noticed. She never got out, never got into anyone's hay nor grain, didn't damage property; all was fine. I thanked him for shutting the gate and letting me know. He proceeded to start screaming at me because I wasn't upset about what had happened. He actually said I'm a bad horse owner because I wasn't worried about my own horse. Why would I be worried? Nothing had happened. Wtf??? To Anonymous above-yep, this was a GUY. A 52-year-old trail-riding guy. I don't think there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to being a nutty horse person-the women seem to be worse simply because there are more horsewomen than horsemen. My husband insists that we're all crazy, just some of us more so than others.

    I knew a barn manager that would destroy all of your property and steal your tack as soon as you gave 30 days notice that you were moving to a different barn. It didn't matter whether you were a good boarder or not. And then she became upset when people would just disappear off of her property. Gee, I wonder why?

    I hope to someday be able to keep my horse on my own property like some of you, and not have to deal with the bs anymore.

  12. I thoroughly agree with the OP...and word to ya, NO stable does whatever the hell is it they say they will. Just try and check me on this one. This is why I bought my own property and will NEVER board again, not even if I have to sell my horses out. I would definitely say the stable owners are the batshit ones...close call, but they take the award.

  13. And let's all feel for the poor folk who WORK at these places . . . I was one of them.

  14. I think it can goes both ways. I know I try my best to keep my boarders and horses happy. I wouldn't agree to something what I can't keep up with. Some people you can never satisfy and they always fault something. Most people don't give the people enough credit who run a boarding facility. You don't do it because you getting rich.

  15. Oh there are Barns that do exactly as they say and treat each horse as they do their own BUT they are most often privately owned invitation only barns. Money doesn't get you in, it's your reputation and overall ability as a horsewoman that opens those doors. If it's done for love of the sport and the community it will be run well. If it's run for $$$$$$, someone will Allways be looking for ways to cut corners at your horses expense.

  16. In my short years I have come to the conclusion that Rule #1 about horse people is that all horse people are nuts. There are good nuts and bad nuts, yes, but make no mistake, we're all insane.

    Following that, Rule #2 is if you don't know one of *those* crazy horse people, you *are* that crazy horse person.

  17. Erica, amen! And you are especially the crazy horse person when you take an a random blog poster so seriously you must bring up anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

  18. Regarding the original topic of your post: I have never been a boarder, only lessoned at various boarding barns, and just from the sidelines... whoooo, yes, indeedy there are some "interesting" folks on both sides of the equation out there.

    My all-time favorite is the lady who was my trainer/BO when I was a teenager. Only person I've ever known who was at least partially supported via the grace and favor of several married men (not at the same time, they were at least consecutive). Of course I did not fully realize this was the arrangement at the time, but looking back, all is clear.

    You may well ask, was this woman Pamela Anderson in breeches? No, faaaar from it. To this day I fail to see the attractions that ensnared the gentlemen. There must have been SOMETHING, though, since before the married dudes came along IIRC Trainer had also managed to be married twice, resulting in three (also interesting) children.

    Let's all intone together, "AND NOW for today's episode of.... As The Barn Turns."

  19. so check this out:
    barn in our area for sale :)

  20. I've been at my barn for a couple of weeks now, and judging by the standards of the area I live in, it's almost 5 Star. In an area where acres of barbed wired fence and no shelter are the norm, I've got safe fencing and a dentist/chiro that is scheduled to come every month for the boarders use. It's mostly Western riders. I do my own feeding (because I'm a micro-managing ninny), but any tasks I've asked for (like removing a flymask) are always done. I've also witnessed the good care they take of the horses requiring more work.

    I feel blessed and like you DC, I ALWAYS pay my board on time! :)

  21. Sigh. I've been a boarder, like, forever. Single. Old. (Well, not always, but old NOW), and most places have been fine. There's been one or two wackos on occasion, but over-all, not a problem. I've been where I am now, and there are some issues, but it's not the boarders, and as far as the barn owners are concerned, it is what it is. The board is low for the area (San Francisco Bay Area!). There is a covered arena. BO's don't ride at night, so it is dimly lit, but rideable. The footing is less than ideal, but not dangerous or harmful to the horses. The main bitch over the years is 'Damn it, the board is going up again, but nothing has been improved." But, y'know, we're in a drought, and hay prices........On the other hand, you know damn well that at this point they have no mortgage payments, they've been there so long. One thing I've always loved about the place is the marvelous trail access (v. close to a huge state park), but now I have a horse that is manic on the trails and just.not.a.pleasant.ride.on.the.trail. He's 10 now, and no amount of schooling/exposure/cowboys, etc. has made him better, so we don't trail ride much. The ONE wacko we did have neatly phased herself out by breeding her mare, and when it had a colt, she was asked to leave when it was a yearling and she declined to geld it. "No stallions," said the BOs, and all the rest of us said, "Whew!"