I have been thinking lately about boarding versus having a horse at home. I obviously have my four horses here at our place. I did board Raudi for a few months, then we brought her and her stable mate Siggi to our place. It was then that the horses became my exclusive responsibility.
Those who board horses do earn their money, be it for minimal boarding, in which the horses are merely on site or maximal boarding, in which the horses are on site and the facility owners are in complete charge of all phases of animal care.
Tyra waits at gate for her turn in the playgroud
I am going to go out on a limb here and say the less owner involvement, financially and otherwise, the less owner-horse interaction there is. I am going to now take this to an extreme and look at our place, a non-boarding facility in relation to a local boarding facility, one where they do everything.
Here, we water, feed, clean up after, and tend to our charges. We schedule farrier visits and are on site when our farrier arrives. Same with routine veterinarian visits, this for their annual exams and teeth floating. If something is amiss, we call the veterinarian.
At the place I am thinking of, barn help makes sure the horses are tended to, and the barn manager schedules the farrier and veterinarian visits. If something is amiss, the barn manager calls the owner and the veterinarian.
I spend, on an average, 3-6 hours a day riding, doing groundwork, and interacting with our horses. Owners who board might spend an hour or two a day, tacking up their horses (who are in crossties) grooming them, and riding them. They ride in a heated indoor arena. Our horses spend their evenings and days in a large enclosure, where they interact with one another. We have access to trails, so I usually ride or take them for walks. The boarder horses spend their evenings and days in stalls, where interaction with other horses is minimal.
Interaction – this word is key. I am the sole owner, barn cleaner, feeder, rider, groom, ground educator, and home entertainment center. At boarding stables, several people take on these varied roles.
Because I do these varied tasks, I am very much connected to Raudi, Tinni, Hrimmi, and Tyra. If something is off, I become aware of it fairly quickly. For instance, last night I deduced that Raudi was coughing because I gave her (exclusively) out of state hay. I gave her local hay today, and she was just fine. If she continued to cough, I would have called our veterinarian, asap.
Now if I boarded our four, I’d feel less connected to them. If something was off, I’d become aware of it, but perhaps not so quickly. For example, Raudi, in her stall, could have a slight cough and no one would immediately take notice.
I suspect that if someone at this facility that I speak of could easily take an opposing viewpoint – and their thoughts on this matter would perhaps be valid. Their arguments would have to be very convincing in order for me to see boarding as being preferable to home-based ownership.
Next: 297. 10/27/19: As the Days Grow Shorter