In the true spirit of doing everything backwards (I am left handed after all) I am piecing my horse life back together in a non-conventional manner. Maybe. I dunno - I firmly believe that if you are going to purchase a 1200 pound animal you should have somewhere to put him (or her). Surprisingly, many horse people will go out and start a horse buying search without a clue of where that horse will live. The general manner of thought seems to be something like squeeeee I'm buyin' a horse! and meeehhhhhhh, I'll look for a boarding barn tomorrow...
The horsey life goes like this: If you are not lucky enough to have a shelter, fence and some grazing area on your own property (I am not I live on a forested rock farm) you will have to board your horse at a boarding facility. In many places this isn't really an issue because facilities are plentiful. Where my mom lives in Florida they are practically on top of one another and all have tracks, trails, arenas... In other places, like here (unfortunately) stalls are a hard to come by commodity. The barn where I leased horses for years before deciding to go out on my own is private, another nice boarding facility closed a few years ago due to financial issues and now a housing development sits in its place. The fancy, snooty barn is 45 minutes away and out in the middle of (scuze the phrase) BF (bum f8ck) nowhere. Too many horses and not enough available stalls is the way it goes 'round here.
So, because I was worried about finding a space, I secured my stall before I bought a horse. The facility is the oldest one in the area. I believe it originally opened in the 1960s. It is an old fashioned farm complete with chickens that run around pecking the ground, pig pens and cows. The digs ain't fancy and board includes morning and evening feeding, turn-out and turn-in and they dig out your stall once a week. If you want it mucked daily, that is up to you to do. So, I see a whole lotta mucking in my future. LOL.
So why didn't I go to the fancy barn? Well, besides it being 45 minutes away it is also over twice as much monthly. I can afford the fancy barn yes, but when you make your two columns and checkmark your points, half the cost wins that category.
Discipline is also a factor. It does you little good to have a horse that you want to trail ride if there are no trails. I have run into this issue before in my life as a horse leaser. My new barn has over 200 acres of trails/fields to play in. It has no indoor arena (the fancy barn does as did my lease barn) and only a small outdoor ring and then a separate round pen. I will miss the indoor arena a little. It means you can ride any day, no matter the weather. But, I'm not really a cold weather arena girl so I'll get over it. The round pen I will dig. Believe it or not at my lease barn we didn't have one and working in a round pen is really cool for natural horsemanship games.
My new barn is also 6 minutes from my house. I clocked it today. A definite checkmark in the plus category. 45 minutes is a long way to drive and part of having a horse (at least to me) is spending time with him. That is the ONLY way you are going to establish a relationship. Grooming, talking, touching, simply walking around with your horse is just as important as riding regularly. Horses are like other animals in that they recognize who cares for them. What kind of connection are you going to have with your horse if you are only able to see him once or twice a week. Yes, at times this will happen to the best of us but for me, close proximity ensures that I can meet what I feel is my obligation of the heart to my horse. And the fact that I gotta muck his stall or he will have to stand in poop that night doesn't hurt either. ;)
My new barn is also predominately a Western barn. I get a walk-in locker. LOL. Yes, my locker space is important to me. And Western tack is bigger so Western lockers tend to be more roomy than your standard English locker.
And lastly there is the country factor. LOL. Many barns are full of lovely horses with fancy names and chicks with lockers full of ribbons. All that is fine except that (especially in barns that are predominately English, Hunter/Jumper and other panties in a damn twitch disciplines) it sometimes lends itself to that snotty attitude that the horse world can be known for. I have dealt with that in the past at more than one barn and I was over it then, I'm over it now and I just don't want those types of people in my life anymore.
So forward I go. The actual horse search will no doubt be long and frustrating at times. I am keeping in mind the information that I have presented to people when they ask me what I am looking for. I want a friend. A horse that I mostly trail ride and kick around with in a field. A horse that I can do a little flat work with on occasion, play some horsemanship games and hug. I want a companion. I want to teach him, learn from him, grow with him, care for him until I bury him. That is why it is so important to find the right horse. I don't want the perfect horse but I want the perfect horse for me. And I want to be the right person for him.
This is all a tall order I am beginning to realize. It should be easy as what I described to someone that I need in a horse is not complicated. Until I find him I guess I'll just pimp out my walk-in locker. ;)