Barn Number Two

Anne and I visited a second boarding barn yesterday in hope of finding a new place for G to live. This place is about six miles from where I live and it took me about 15 minutes to drive there, so that was a definite plus. The owner was very friendly and helpful when I called her to get directions (Google Maps sent us in the opposite direction of where we needed to go). When we arrived, we were greeted by a short, pleasant woman who happily took us on a tour of her small barn.

Like the last barn, this place isn’t a training or showing facility. It’s strictly boarding. The horses there are currently a mix of the owner’s and a couple of boarders. They are all in good weight, show signs of recent hoof care, and were exceptionally friendly. Most are Thoroughbreds (the owner rescues OTTBs). The barn was small and homey. It had six stalls, a tack/feed room, and a hay room. The hay was all good-looking, good-smelling grass hay. The feed is Nutrena LifeChoice, which is okay with me. The pastures…well, they were looking a bit rough after a long, dry summer and grazing from several horses. All of the pastures had a couple of round bales, though.

The fences in the pastures concerned me the most. While most of the fence was smooth metal rail, some of the cross-fencing was barbed wire. Barbed wire is a problem. While I’ve never had a horse get snared in it (and this woman mentioned she hadn’t had any problems in the 4+ years it’s been up), I have seen what it can do to an animal. I would prefer that not happen to Gina. The pastures had plenty of trees for shade and one pasture had a nice pond.

The arena was adequate- turf footing, medium-sized. The barn owner said she’d have no problems with us setting up dressage letters or jumps, and said she would be fine if I wanted to take Gina on a gallop through the pastures. It sounds like everyone regularly trailers to the local lake for trail rides, and I’d be really excited to get G out on those.

Overall, I was most impressed with the owner. She was really pleasant and friendly and was clearly comfortable with the horses. She absentmindedly petted one big Thoroughbred gelding and fed him treats while she talked with us, and at her call, her little herd of mares came running. I would feel like Gina was in good hands at this place.

After talking it over with Anne, I think I’ve decided to move Gina to this place, provided she can be in a pasture with no barbed wire. It appeared that one front pasture containing a giant warmblood mare and an Arabian didn’t have the wire, so ideally I’d like G to be in there. If not…well, she might have to be stabled at the other barn, or we’ll just have to keep looking. Sigh.

G Isn’t Lame!

Gina’s mysterious lameness has passed. I longed her yesterday and while her front end looked fine, she seemed a bit stiff in her hindquarters.

What a nice face she’s making. I think the stiffness is coming from a few different places. Her turnout is brick-hard, she hasn’t been ridden in three weeks, and that arena is also brick-hard. I felt better about the stiff hind end after trotting her out for a few minutes; she seemed to loosen up and move normally. 
Encouraged by yesterday’s longe work, I went out today to ride. She was the tiniest bit stiff when we first set off, but started to move out and feel normal after about a minute of walking. We spent a long time walking. I trotted and briefly cantered her both directions and she never put a foot wrong. I was really pleased with her attitude today; I half-expected her to freak out and try to murder me after three weeks off. She didn’t (obviously). She was as relaxed and quiet as could be, going around on a very loose rein. Our only moment of spastic behavior came when I took her out on the sensory trail. We recently moved a couple of leaky water troughs out there to use as planters. Gina took one look at them and had a mini panic attack, staring at them bug-eyed and snorting. She reluctantly walked in a circle around them, continuing to eye them like they were going to jump out and get her. She eventually forgot about them and we concluded our ride. I hosed her off and hand-grazed her for about 45 minutes before returning her to the dusty dry lot. 
In other news, G’s new halter came Tuesday. I think she looks pretty snazzy. 
Excuse my thumb.

It’s Perris Nylon Halter in paisley, ordered from Dover Saddlery. As you can see, it’s a very cute halter. My only problem with it is its size: it’s huge. Gina is a fairly large horse at about 16.1hh and her noggin is by no means petite. I have both the crown and chin buckles on the last hole and it’s still kind of baggy. It’s an improvement on her old halter, though, so I’ll be keeping (and using) it. Halter Hunt 2011 continues; I think I’ll just look for a leather one at my local tack store soon.

Finally, a report on the barn Anne and I went to visit on Tuesday. It was nice. The paddocks were full of grass and had good fencing. The barn had large stalls with rubber mats, fans, and a large aisle. Some stalls had the option to leave a door open to the paddock, so the horse can go in and out freely. The hay looked fantastic; the barn owner feeds alfalfa in the morning and grass hay at night. There wasn’t a proper arena- the barn owner told us she’d let it grow back to pasture since “no one was using it”. Currently, it’s a decent sized, mostly level fenced area that would suffice as a dressage arena or jumping ring. The biggest plus of the place was an adjacent property of 70 acres that boarders can ride on. It has ponds and streams and used to have trails that the owner had let go to seed because “no one was using them”. That was kind of the theme of this place- no one uses it? Let it go! She told us the barn also had a wash stall with both hot and cold water, but it was currently blocked off by hay because…you guessed it! No one was using it. Other than that, the only thing I disliked was her feed. When I asked what she fed (because grain is included in board cost), she basically told me she feeds whatever is convenient and seems to be working. She mentioned using TSC’s 10% sweet feed frequently, but said the horses were currently on some type of senior (I don’t remember the brand). I told her I fed Patriot 12%; she said she hadn’t heard of it. I said I got it at Mid-America in Talala, and she replied that she didn’t really want to drive all the way out there to get feed for one horse. Hmm. I can’t say I blame her, as it’s about 30 minutes away from where the barn is. The only reason I go there is because it’s close to work and the feed works really well for G. And don’t get me wrong, I’m ok with switching feeds; I just need to know what I’m switching to so I can determine if it will work for G. I’m also ok with finding a feed that’s more easily available in this neck of this woods; I just need to know the horse will get fed the same thing every day, period. Overall, it wasn’t a bad place and I would feel comfortable with Gina there, provided the feed situation is worked out. 
There’s another place in town that Anne and I are going to try to tour next Thursday. It’s cheaper than aforementioned barn, but may not have the same amenities. I’m looking forward to it, though.
In other news, my mother is visiting for the long weekend. I’m going to try to squeeze in rides on Saturday and Monday mornings. My mom is a horse person and enjoys watching me ride, so I don’t think this will be a problem. Maybe I can get her to take some pictures!