Friday, June 10, 2016

It's All About the Horse!

(The blog below originally appeared in my other blog, Smart Horse Keeping. In an effort to consolidate my blogs, I am reposting and will be reposting other blogs from that site. You can visit my facebook page,  As you can see, I changed the name on my facebook page! Enjoy!)
Proof that I rode before I walked!
Fresh, cool water....everyday!

It's all about the horse. That is why people run stables. Or at least, that should be the mantra of stable managers and owners, but unfortunately, it isn't in many cases.
The purpose of this blog is to educate not only stable owners and managers about how to properly run a barn, but to educate the boarding horse owner, who should be savvy enough to know how to get the most for their dollar and to make sure that the barn believes that "it is all about the horse." In other words, making sure your horse is getting the best possible care. Unfortunately, many horse owners have no clue as to basic horsemanship and rely on the words of someone who may or may not have an idea of how to run a barn.
What makes me qualified to tackle this topic?
I have been involved with horses my entire life. My grandparents had a 38 acre farm outside of Pittsburgh, and Grandpa always made sure there were horses around for me to enjoy. My grandparents and my mother all rode and my grandfather was my first mentor in the horse world. Many of his remedies are outdated (like giving a horse tobacco to worm him) but other lessons I learned from him still hold true today, such as feeding a better quality feed will save you money in vet bills down the road and horses should have clean and cool water available all the time.
When we moved to Florida, and I was able to get my own horse, since money was very tight, I had to go the partial boarding route, which meant learning how to muck stalls, choosing the right nutrional program and how to keep my horse safe and sound so as to avoid costly vet bills.
Eventually, I could afford full board. But I was never happy with this arrangement. There were always some concession, and it was my horse who paid the price. Cheaper feed, cheaper hay. Limited turnout. No shavings on mats. Services paid for that weren't delivered. And I wasn't the only one. Other people I spoke to were not happy with their boarding arrangements, but due to work, family, etc., they had no other options.
The stories I heard, not to mention my personal encounters, were jaw dropping:
Boarders who paid premium prices, only to have supplements sit unopened on the feed room shelf, never fed to their horse.
Stables who took the liberty of keeping horses drugged to make them easier to handle.
Horses fed the wrong feed.
Colicing and injured horses that owners were never notified of until after the fact.
Stable workers who were abusive to horses.
Boarders who paid for trainers to ride their horses, which never happened.
Water buckets that are never dumped, are full of hot water and slime.
Unfortunately, the list goes on and on.
Over the years, I have seen it all. Many of the above examples I personally experienced. Too many people think that having a barn is fun and glamorous and exciting. Then reality sets in. It is hard work. You are on call 24/7. In all kinds of weather. And it is expensive to run a barn. Feed is expensive. Shavings cost money. Things break. Things break ALL THE TIME!
So barn owners start cutting corners. They forget that its all about the horse. They feed cheap feed. Cheap hay. Provide less bedding. And unfortunately, it is the horse that pays the price. They lose weight. Their condition level suffers. Their coat becomes dull. They become injured or sick.
So while the barn owner thinks that they are saving money, in the long run, the owner is losing money, because now their vet bills have increased or they are no longer competitve at horseshows.
It's like the person who puts cheap gas in their car or doesn't bother maintaining it with regular service. In the long run, you will have expensive repair bills. Same theory applies to the care of your horse. Take good care of him now, and you can avoid expensive expenses down the road.
I have managed my own barn, managed barns for others and run a non-profit horse rescue. I have been involved with the United States Pony Club, which is in my opinion, the greatest youth equine association on earth. The lessons learned are endless and I love that they put the emphasis on horsemanship, not competing.
And so, I hope to compile what I have learned, and share it with my fellow horseman, whether you are new to horses or an old pro. We are never to old to learn! Please share your boarding stories with me, either as a manager/owner or a boarder.

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