13 April 2011

What's on my mind this morning?

Finding a place to board my horse.... the gal where he is kept right now is moving and leaving the state. I've been really fortunate the last few years, I've had him close where I could do all the work and care myself. My personal preference and ideal situation is one where I can have him in the back yard, where I can see him all the time, talk to him when I'm doing the dishes or sitting on the porch enjoying an evening. For now, those days are gone, I'm in need of a facility. Many of the places I used to know have closed up, gone out of business or are overfull and have waiting lists.

What are my options? First and foremost, the cost has to be affordable. Prices vary greatly between facilities and private boarding. Much is dependent on what you're looking for. Is it a private owner who will charge a nominal fee to have him on their site? A private owner, where you just pay for water, and have to bring in your own feed, feed your animal(s) daily, and clean your own pens? A Feed and Tack operation that has limited boarding available? Or a big operation that is strictly for boarding? How do I find these places? Word of mouth, mostly. Driving through neighborhoods where people have horses and accessibility to places where I might enjoy riding. A poster on the wall in the corner store, or through area 'horse and rider' magazines.

What do I look for when I'm considering these places? The size of the pens/stalls, is it sheltered from the weather? How often will the pen/stall be cleaned? Is water available at all times? How many times a day will my horse be fed? What kind of animal is on either side of the pen/stall where the facility is planning to put my horse? What other amenities are available? For instance, a turn out area, riding arena ( if that's what you do), accessibility to riding areas off site, wash racks, tack rooms/locker storage for grooming items and your saddles etc., and trailer parking.

I'm not necessarily in need of 'full service', but that may be dictated by what I'm going to be doing for work in the coming months, too. I need to know up front that my animal is going to get fed every day at least twice a day and have unlimited availability to water. That is his normal.

He's been pastured a while, not penned. The stall/pen size is important, because he is a big animal. He'll adjust to being penned again, he's been kept in stalls before. I need to know, too that he can be 'turned out' to run , buck and fart (ew! stinky, but necessary) at least twice a week for an hour, especially since I'm not riding a lot. I may have to pay someone to do that for me if I'm not available, but that's sort of  immaterial until I decide on a facility. There's always someone around who wants to make a few extra dollars..... Having some kind of shelter available out of the weather is something else to consider, too. Not that they stand in the shade for long periods, but they will when absolutely necessary.

How accessible is the facility? Will I have access 24/7? Am I limited by the facilities hours of operation? Both of these are considerations. Do they offer vet or farrier services? Will they allow my vet or farrier on their site? Will they feed 'supplements' with regular feedings?

Because you're going to pay for the basics and probably the 'extra' amenities, too, you need to be assured you will not have to be there every day to see to the feeding, care, etc., of your animal(s). There are certain things boarding facilities will not do  for you as an owner. Find out before you commit to placing your beloved animal with them.

Convenience. Is the facility convenient? How far will I have to travel to get to him in an emergency situation? I like to be 'hands on' with my animal. I'm used to being right there for him. I'm a phone call away 24/7  (if/when it's possible ... as I said before, it's dictated by what I'm doing for work in the coming months). I don't like the idea of being an absentee owner. But if that has to be the case ... then there will be someone who can and will make decisions for me in an emergency. It's hard on me and it's hard on Traveler.

I'll be keeping y'all posted on this latest adventure with Traveler and myself.