Lola's got a brand new home! And just in time.
First off, comments on the picture... no she isn't stabled with her halter on, I hadn't taken it off yet because I was still going to blanket. And forgive her half-way grown out mane. I decided in May that I suck at braids and was taking a break from mane maintenance for awhile. She will either have long luscious pony locks, or get roached! We'll see. By spring she'll have full pony mane again for sure, based on how that looks and our show plans
Now on to the barn! Lola is LOVING her new home. This pick was only a few weeks after moving and she already seems to have gained back any weight she lost at the first barn. The things that I love here very much outweigh the things I wish were different. The thing is, Lola hates stalls. I don't know how she handled the year that she was on lease in the bay area and lived in a stall, but since she came back I can't put her in a stall for more than 10 minutes before she is "that" horse that grates her teeth down the wire front! So stabling was a huge concern for me when moving to Ohio.
Perk #1: stall guards! Not sure what it looks like at night, but any horse in a stall in the day pretty much has his head out the door to look around. This works because they either keep the front barn door shut or a gate across instead. They back door goes to the indoor arena. They also only have maybe eight horses in the barn.
Perk #2: slow feeder. As you can see in the photo she has hay in a hay bag. They keep this sucker stocked full anytime the horse is in the stall. She is not bored in a stall that has a food, and the bag makes the food last much longer.
Perk #3: turnout galore! Small barn means no horse is ever over looked or limited due to the needs of others. She gets daily, ALL day, turnout on grass, rain or shine! This is my preference because it is clearly my horse's preference. I went out on a Saturday a few weeks ago. It wasn't really raining that morning, but steadily got worse, and was pouring by mid afternoon and was down in the low 40's. Perfect test to see what their plan was for rainy day turnout. The owner was giving a lesson in the arena, and said as I walked up, "Your horse is still out in the rain! I've been putting away any horse that comes up to the barn, but she seems quite happy out there." Yep, sounds about right. She lived out in an open field without ever seeing a blanket until she was 7. So with a blanket to keep her dry, I have no problem with her staying outside in the rain.
Perk #4: she's like one of their own. The owner has a few of her own horses, and only a handful of boarders. This means every horse is like her own horse. Blankets get switched when needed, taken off for the sunny days in early October, and on for the evenings. She is more concerned with the horses being happy than the "trouble" or "cost" they might be. She is generous with hay, and I've been able to split her fat supplements to be fed with each meal instead of once a day.
Perk #5: near the trainer. So although facility-wise, I would still love to be boarding with the trainer that I've been using, I am actually only 4 miles away! It is just an easy trailer ride over to her facility for lessons and shows (she does regular dressage schooling shows!).
So for now, I am grateful to have found such a good place (and in my budget price range!) that I can't be anything but happy there. When I used to gripe about whatever my issue du jour was with the boarding place at the time my husband would often ask me why I was never happy? Was I just picking crappy places? Were my standards too high? Although it might logically make sense that a place charging $400 a month WOULD provide better care than one charging $225, I usually was paying less because I kept my horses out of stalls, not that I picked a terrible place. I don't know what the answer is, but until now, I had resigned myself to the idea that I would never be at ease until I had my horse at home. Now I'm really perfectly comfortable with her care, and SO relieved that I don't have to brave the coming Ohio winter everyday to make it happen!!!