Saturday, July 4, 2009

A familiar feeling of frustration

I'm feeling exceedingly frustrated with my current boarding situation. It's a familiar feeling — I remember feeling this way every time my relationship with a past barn was coming to an end (but before I'd made the decision to move). I'm afraid this means that it's time to move Panama, again.

I mentioned recently that I'd noticed the property owner was drinking more and feeding the horses later. Since I talked to him about it, I haven't seen him drinking and he seems to be feeding the horses their breakfast a little earlier — at least when I happen to be there. (I'm planning on staking out the place to see if he's feeding them at the same time when I'm not there.) But I'm also noticing some other things going downhill.

For example, he and his boys still haven't finished spreading out the mulch — at least not as of late last night, and I rather doubt they did it today either (though I'd love to be proven wrong when I go over there this evening). I can't think of any blatant safety hazards that large piles of mulch pose to horses, but I can't shake the feeling that it's not really a very good idea. I almost finished it myself the other day, until Michael pointed out that I'm paying the guy board every month (and it's not cheap, either) to do this kind of stuff.

Another complaint: For the last month or so, the property owner has been using a harrow hooked up to the back of his tractor to spread the manure, instead of mucking it. There are a couple of problems with this approach to manure management, I think:

1) There's not really enough room for it (only about 2/3 of an acre in pasture and three, soon to be five, horses), and

2) It's not really breaking up the manure, just spreading big chunks of it around.

Aside from the manure concerns, there are two other problems:

3) It's turning up rocks, nails, and glass that have been buried in the pasture for probably 30 years, and

4) Because he's doing it so often (several times a week), it's ripping up the top layer of soil and making everything really dusty.

I asked him to stop harrowing the pasture, and he was extremely reluctant to go back to mucking. I told him I'd start helping with mucking again (my contract requests that I help out a little, though he is required to do the majority of it), but we'll see. If the last few days are any indication, he may have stopped harrowing despite his reluctance, but I'm concerned he won't start up mucking again either, perhaps in the hopes that I'll do all of it.

There are a few other little things like this that seem to indicate a slippage in the level of care he is providing. To top it off, on Wednesday he got annoyed with me for making a suggestion, after I'd just spent my entire morning and part of my afternoon cleaning the barn and spreading mulch. And it wasn't exactly something I ought to be having to ask, either: He'd mentioned he thought the horses would be okay in the other pasture without water for a while, and since it was at least 85 degrees, I said I thought they needed water. (I was also remembering when he left a horse in that pasture overnight once without water, forgetting there wasn't any in that pasture.) He didn't do anything about it, so I started asking whether he had a bucket he could put over there for water. Then he got annoyed and told me that I didn't need to tell him stuff like that, because he'd never let the horses go without water. Ummm, hello?

Up until now I've liked the fact that he was willing to take suggestions, but I don't want a place where I'm always having to micromanage to make sure my horse is getting the proper care. I've been browsing Craiglist for other places to board in town, but there doesn't seem to be a lot available right now. Plus, I'm getting tired of moving.

This train of thought naturally resulted in me spending a long time on Craigslist and today, searching for horse property. We found one place so far that seems like a good possibility. More on that later!



At July 5, 2009 at 12:08 AM, Blogger Reddunappy said...

Finding a barn that you get along in can be a pain, I hear so much about people moving around when they board.
We have ours on our own property and I love having them out the back door. And I only spend, in money for feed, per month, for 3 horses, what I would spend on board for one month, for one horse. board up here is @200 at the low end, and 250. as an average.

At July 5, 2009 at 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like it's time for a change!

At July 5, 2009 at 11:54 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Boarding in Denver is much more expensive than that, primarily because real estate values here are so high, but also because good hay can be more expensive. Obviously I'll still have to pay for feeding my horse, just out of pocket instead of absorbed into my board fee, but I'd rather put the rest of that monthly expense into building equity in my own property than someone else's.

Oh, and Kate, I completely agree -- time for a change. But it may not happen right away, because I want to take my time to either find a good horse property we can buy, OR to find a boarding stables I can trust. Changing barns is such a hassle that I want to be sure it's a place I can stand to stay at for a while.


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