Sunday, September 6, 2009

Barn Friends

People often ask me why I board my horse. I have a few acres, pasture, a nice barn, and an all-weather outdoor arena. I could give the standard answer, and often do, that I want to be at my trainer's barn so she can ride the horse a few days a week.

Truth be told, while that's a good reason, it's not the main reason. I've kept my horse at home quite a bit over the years. It's been fun. In a lot of ways, I miss seeing her every morning and hanging out with her in the evenings. Yet, keeping your horses at home can be a solitary venture. At least, it is where I live. No one around me has horses so I'm pretty much on my own unless I want to trailer somewhere. With my busy schedule, that's often not possible.

The main reason I board is because of the people I meet at the barn. With the exception of childhood and college friends, I've met the majority of my good friends through horses. Let's face it, horse people are little different. Most of the time the only other person who can understand us in another horse lover. Over the years, my dearest and closest friends have been met through a boarding stable. Usually we share a love of horses and dressage that it's hard to find elsewhere.

When we meet for drinks, horses are the main topics of conversations. We talk about other horse people we know, their horses, where they're boarding and training now, etc. We go to clinics together, sometimes making it a girl's weekend out. Now those are the best of times.

While my barn is competitive at shows, most of the people who board there are not wealthy. We're working people who are willing to make sacrifices in our lives so we can afford our horses. We mortgage our homes to buy our next show horse or work two jobs to afford extra training and show fees.

I enjoy the personalities, both horse and human, you find at boarding stables. At least most of them. I could do without a few of thoses personalities, especially when their behavoior endangers themselves and others. For the most part, I like everyone at my barn. We hang out at shows together. Have parties together. Spend time at the barn together.

I'm a social person, so being around people is important to me, even if it costs me twice what I'd pay to keep the horse at home. So I imagine I'll continue to board for now.

There are other ways to socialize and ride horses. Perhaps, I'll cover some of them in later posts. Does anyone have suggestions? Especially those of you who keep your horses at home?


Laura Crum said...

My solution, Jami, is that I board a horse at my place (which just became two horses) for a friend, who often rides with me. And I ride with my son. I'm also more of a loner, and don't mind lots of solitary rides.

I have boarded my horses in the past and I much prefer keeping them at my place. I like to make sure everything is done the way I would wish it, and there's no substitute for doing it yourself. Also, as you say, perhaps the most enchanting part of horse ownership is strolling to the barn in the morning to feed, or glancing at the corrals in the course of the day to see your horses dozing under the trees. I will also take a break and just sit in my chair down at the barn sometimes; I find it very soothing. But again, I'm an introvert, and I like lots of time alone (alone with my horses being ideal).

Leslie said...

Jami, you are right when you said keeping your horses at your own place is often a solitary venture. That pretty much describes my life.

My good "horse friend" I met while working at a riding stable. However, we both quit the job, about a year apart. I quit first for a variety of reasons. She quit about a year later. We keep in contact, sproadically, but it's not the same as when we were working together daily.

I do miss the common bond. It's hard to try to talk "horse" with people who just aren't quite into it like you are. They just don't quite get it. lol

I am an introvert also, and enjoy solitude, but am finding it does make a difference when you have "horse friends" in your life.

MJ Arden said...

My husband and I have been see-sawing for over a year now- buy a little farm or keep boarding. When I weigh the pros and cons (which I seem to do about once a month-usually when writing the check for my barn owner) boarding always wins out. I’d miss the camaraderie of the barn; knowing other people are looking out for my boys; and the advice (OK, maybe not so much the advice.) The barn also gives me somewhere to go, it’s my getaway, my sanctuary, the way stopping at friend’s house or going to work can’t be. When I’m at the barn I’m not worrying about what to make for dinner, cleaning the house, what I look like, or that I should be doing something else. I’m simply at the barn and nothing else matters. I think I’d lose that sense of release and freedom if I kept my horses at home.