From Co-op to Boarding Barn
Transitioning from a co-op barn where I took care of my own horse to a boarding facility was a necessity, but not one I was really looking forward to. I’m one of those barn rats who loves the barn work as much as the riding, but with a new role at SmartPak involving a longer commute, I just didn’t have time anymore for the daily stall cleaning and barn chores. After almost 10 years of self-care with two different horses, trusting someone else to take care of my horse was a huge step. Luckily for me, there was a stall open in my dressage trainer’s barn, and I knew a lot of the boarders there. Everyone I talked with raved about the care and how kind the barn crew was, so I took a deep breath, signed a much larger check than I was used to and moved Tally to a new barn.
Since Tally hadn’t lived anywhere else since she came into my life almost four years ago, I took a few precautions to help her through the transition. She has a history of ulcers, so after talking with my vet I broke out the Ulcergard and started giving her a dose every day a few days before we moved – she’ll stay on that for a few weeks. I made sure to change the shipping address for my SmartPaks so Tally’s next shipment will arrive at her new home – she’s doing really well on her current supplements, so I don’t want to miss any doses! I also packed two bales of hay to bring to the new barn so we can slowly switch her over to the new hay. My problem child has poopy bum issues at times, and I’d hate to start off our stay with a bout of the runs. Since she is allergic to certain grains, I made a sign for her door to make sure all barn staff and fellow boarders know not to feed her anything but her own treats, and I wrote up a blanket chart so everyone would be clear as to what layers she needs on.
Packing up my stuff took forever! After being at the same barn for almost 10 years, I had accumulated quite a lot of stuff – including jumps and poles, water buckets and tubs, pitchforks and several trunks. My basement now looks like a tackroom/equipment shed threw up everywhere – I guess I have a project for the first blizzard of the year. I kept my pile of stuff going to the new barn to a minimum to start – there are a lot more boarders at this barn so I won’t have the luxury of unlimited space at my disposal. Which is probably for the best – Tally doesn’t really need 15 blankets. Guess my local horse rescue will be getting some donations.
The actual move was extremely anticlimactic. Tally trailers very well, and my friend trucked us over on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Tally walked off the trailer, snorted once and calmly followed me to her new stall. It’s HUGE, a nice bonus after an adequate but smaller stall at the old barn. The barn owner showed me some options for turnout, and we tried Tally in the back corner paddock next to two other mares. She walked in, pooped and started eating hay. For a hypersensitive horse, she’s pretty chill when it comes to new places. I let her relax a bit while I unpacked, then took her for a quick hack around the property. She was a little tight but settled well. I started to realize that there are some really great benefits to this boarding thing – a huge, brand-new indoor arena, a gigantic grass field to ride in and people to ride with. After a quick rubdown, I gave her a kiss goodnight and walked out the door, just as the barn staff started PM chores. Kind of nice to be done for the day!
It’s been a few weeks now and we’re settled into our routines. Everyone loves Tally, and she is eating up the attention (which is a huge step for her!). She is relaxed and seems to enjoy the barn. We’ve ridden in the indoor, the outdoor, in the field and have gone for a few hacks down the road. I’ve enjoyed taking lessons without having to trailer to them, and I haven’t picked up a pitchfork since we moved. I have had to add a few extra hikes with my dog – I’m definitely missing the barn workout. There may be a gym in my future. I miss my old barn-mates and that early morning ‘feed me’ nicker I’d get when I opened the barn doors, but the peace of mind knowing my horse is well-cared-for and the extra time I have made the move worthwhile.