Sunday, October 2, 2011

Keeping Gailey in my Barn

It's been seven years since I've kept my horse at home. At the beginning of September, I brought her home. My barn still isn't exactly horse ready, but I'm working on it. While in some ways, it's a chore to care for a horse at home, in others it's a pleasure. Truly, I am enjoying my time with Gailey. I'm still feeling a little guilty that we don't have another horse on the property to keep her company, but I'm going to cross that bridge later. Right now, 1 horse, 2 dogs, and a spoiled cat are all I can handle.

My Little Barn
So I'm being indoctrinated into the trials and pleasures of keeping my horse at home. My first eye-opener happened when I purchased hay and grain for the first time in 7 years. Eight bales of hay and one bag of grain cost me around $200. That was a shocker. Considering how much hay this mare goes through in a month, it might prove cheaper to board her.

Then comes the chore of unloading the hay and stacking it in my barn. Sigh... I'm not as young as I once was--neither is my husband. Now I'm back in the mode of finding a non-rainy day to haul hay every few weeks and making sure I don't run out of grain.

When I last kept Gailey at home, she kept her stall clean, always going outside to her paddock to use the horsey facilities. After 7 years in a stall, she now thinks her stall in the bathroom so I'm constantly cleaning the stall, and she's constantly messing it up. I keep hoping her old habits will come back. She used to lay down in her stall at night, perhaps when she starts doing that again, she'll want it cleaner.

I did saddle her up one day and found her to be serviceably sound, so I'll be trail riding her in the near future.

My son is working for us once a week and cleaning out the pasture. If you recall earlier pictures of it, it'd gone back to the wild. It's amazing what he did with a chain saw and a little Kubota tractor. Now, it's pretty much cleared, but we'll have to replant the grass, as it's just dirt.


Despite our best efforts to make the pasture horse friendly once again, she sliced open her leg within a few days of her homecoming. My vet paid his first of what I'm sure will be many visits to our little farm. So twice a day, armed with a syringe filled with 20 horse-sized pills and Karo syrup, I've been trudging out to the barn to wrestle with my 1500-pound mare. I'm happy to report the leg has healed, and she's doing well.

We love to go away on weekend vacations, but having a horse at home, does put a damper on our frequent travelling. We'll be staying home more often, maybe saving more money by doing so.

While having a horse at home presents all kinds of challenges, I wouldn't miss it for the world. I love the deep, guttural sound she makes when she sees me walking out to the barn. I like being able to check on her whenever the mood strikes me.


Mary said...

I just love your barn! I am sure in no time you will get into the routine of things. I can't believe how expensive the hay and grain were. I keep wanting to venture back into the horsey life, then I hear that and, well, I'll just have to put my dream on hold for a while longer.
I am glad Gailey healed up with out any long term issues.

Linda Benson said...

I have never boarded a horse in my life, Jami. I've always had them at home, and they feel like part of the family that way. They do tie you down though, and finding reliable people to take care of them (as you well know) can be a challenge. Hope you can find some cheaper sources of hay, but it's hard right now going into winter. Good luck with those challenges, though, and enjoy your sweet mare. I'm glad you are able to trail ride her. That's a bonus that you might come to love!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

You have a beautiful barn.

I consider my horses to be my exercise program. That helps me to justify the cost. Now, they're like family and I couldn't imagine not having them.

I love having them at my house although I miss the company of other people that you get when you board a horse at a barn.

Alison said...

Welcome home, Gailey!
I hope you can find someone to deliver hay and stack it for you, Jami. I don't want to read your next blog about that wrenched back ....

jenj said...

Wow, your barn is beautiful, and your mare looks lovely in it!

I moved my boys home almost two years ago. The 2x daily horse care does tie you down for sure, not to mention all the work on property improvement and upkeep. However, being able to go out and love on them whenever the mood strikes, or heading out for a short bareback ride after work, or even just drinking your morning tea/coffee and watching them lead their horsey lives out the back window... yeah, I love it. :)

Francesca Prescott said...

It must be lovely to have Gailey right outside your front door, but I know how much work it entails. You're lucky to be able to do it, to have the space. Take care of your back, though; all that lifting heavy stuff is taxing, but I'm sure it's a great workout! And how nice to be able to go for trail rides on her; I wish I could take Kwintus out for trail rides but it really wouldn't be safe. He seems happy in his field with his BFF - they are glued at the hip now!!

Dreaming said...

I'm so glad to see her at home. Your barn is beautiful! You are right about the horse putting a crimp in traveling - we also seem to have to leave events in time to take care of the horses. But, it is worth it! You are right about the rumble they make - it warms my heart!

Laura Crum said...

Jami--I've written so often about how my greatest pleasure in my horses is the "daily horse chores", so I won't belabor it, but I hope you get lots of joy out of having your mare at home. And yes, I sure do know how much harder it is to get away--for me, its worth the extra trouble. And isn't the price of hay mind boggling? My boarder owns a feedstore, and his board is hay for all my horses, so it was only recently I learned what that hay was selling for retail--$19.50 a bale, for mixed grass/alfalfa. Ouch.

Jami Davenport said...

Thanks, everyone for your compliments on my barn. I actually designed it myself. Of course, there are things I'd do differently if I did it again. For example, at the time I had a 15-3 Morgan/QH. I never designed the doorways and stalls for a 17-1 warmblood.

We are lucky in that our neighbors (and my former daughter-in-law) live on adjacent property. While she's not a horse person, she loves animals and has no fear of horses. She takes care of the animals when we're out of town.