Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Giant Pickle

I made a mistake, got myself into a giant pickle, and now I’m kicking myself. You see, yesterday, I moved Qrac to different stable, five minutes from where he was before. I gave my notice to Steph back in September, when I realized that there was no way she’d have her indoor arena built before the winter, and didn’t want to find myself slip sliding around on snow and ice, unable to work Qrac for weeks on end. Greg, my second, more recent trainer, was going to move his horses to a place in another village close by, so I figured it would be a good solution for the cold, wet months ahead.

I visited the new stables once at the end of August, or maybe in early September, during a run of dry, warm weather. Back then the indoor arena, although not chi-chi or state of the art as far in terms of architecture and flooring, seemed ok. I mean, I saw that it was narrow, and that the floor wasn’t as fluffy and delightful as the floors at Steph’s place, but the damp sand looked like it would work. I should have looked at it carefully, but I didn’t; I was simply happy to have found a place for the winter.

Oh dear.

It was warm and sunny when I arrived there with Qrac yesterday, so I rode him in the big outdoor arena for about half an hour. He behaved beautifully, he didn’t spook or get full of himself or anything. I was so pleased with and praised him over and over, telling him he was such a good boy. Once we’d finished our little workout I walked him off in the outside arena, and then thought I’d take him into the indoor arena, just to show him and to see how he liked that.

Well, neither of us liked it one bit. The floor was like wet, gloopy clay, the kind that sucks off your shoes when you walk around in it. It was full of water-filled hoof marks, with the added bonus of a nice wide puddle-pond in the middle. It was dark and dingy and, well, kind of depressing. We plodded around, gloopety-gloop. It felt like riding in a swamp. Water dripped on us; I looked up and saw that the roof had holes in it. I almost burst into tears.

On top of the not-so-nice indoor arena issue, Qrac’s stable door doesn’t close properly; well it does, except it’s fiddly, and when I’m in there with him I’d rather shut myself in so he doesn’t run off and cause mayhem. Trouble is, I have to reach over, channel my inner contortionist and fiddle for ages to let myself out again. This morning, I got stuck in the stable with Qrac for about five minutes before the damn door finally surrendered to my fury and bad language.

I actually attempted to ride in the indoor this morning seeing as they’d been over it with the tractor and it didn’t look quite so bad. But once we were inside I realized the place reeked of diesel fumes, and that every step Qrac made turned made rude squelchy noises, forming hoof shaped puddles underneath him. I was pissed, he was pissed, and the diesel fumes were giving me a headache, so we soon went into the outside arena and squelched around there for a while instead seeing as it had poured during the night.

Once we’d walked off as much heat as possible (Qrac seriously needs clipping) I put him back in his stable and immediately got locked in again, for much longer this time. After about ten minutes I started cursing a little more loudly, and yelling for someone, ANYONE, to come and let me out. Nobody came, but eventually the door yielded and I staggered out like a semi-crazed sweat-infused banshee.

I guess you get the picture. I don’t like it. I know it’s petty and that it’s small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, and as my husband rightly says, it’s a rich person’s problem, but it’s my passion, I love my horse and, believe it or not, this place is costing me much more money than my more up-market previous stable. Yes, the new place has an indoor, but if I can’t stand being in it then what’s the point?

So on my way home I stopped at three other places. The first one didn’t accept stallions, the second was nice but way too expensive (you have to pay extra for this and that and the other, to the point where you almost have to pay extra to use the bathroom) and, anyway, my long-time trainer, Marie-Valentine won’t go there as it’s way off her route. The third place was such a mess that I was depressed before I even got out of the car.

Maybe I’m spoilt, maybe I’m super-picky. Because I’ve wracked my brain yet can’t think of anywhere within a half-hour radius of my house where I’d be content to put my horse, and, more importantly, where Marie-Valentine would be allowed to come and work with me. Yes, there’s one place, and it’s amazing and not too expensive, and I’m on the waiting list. I’ve a feeling it’s a long waiting list…

So I’m actually considering taking Qrac miles away. And when I saw miles away, I really mean miles and miles. Like, it would take me just over an hour to get there. Which sounds utterly crazy, but, according to Marie-Valentine, it’s a really nice place and I’d like it a lot (she knows me well!). My husband thinks it’s menopausal madness to even consider stabling my horse somewhere so far away. But I have a friend who just moved there who is thrilled (okay, so she lives much closer) and who tells me that if I want to bring my horse there I can take him tomorrow as they have space. It’s reasonably priced, with everything included. So in my menopausal madness I may just drive up there tomorrow morning to check it out and assess just how far away it is. The thing is, I quite enjoy driving, and although my car is permanently filthy (dog hairs and mud) it’s also super comfortable, and I’m not the type to get all riled up and hyperventilated by slow traffic. So if the place is nice, I might be tempted, at least for the next few months. It doesn’t have to be forever, as Steph might finally get her indoor built, and the super nice not too expensive place with the waiting list might finally have an opening.

What do you think? Is it menopausal madness? What would you do? What do you do? How far do you have travel? Or, for those of you who have horses at home, how far have you travelled for comfortable, pleasant equestrian facilities?


Kelly (ridegroomfeed) said...

Hmmm. How often will you be riding him over winter? Personally, I couldn't do a 2-hour round trip every day, but if it were only 3-4 times per week I think it would be do-able in the short term.

Your current barn does sound disappointing. Is the BM going to fix the door? Because that's not okay. It's a serious safety hazard! What if you needed to get out of the stall in a hurry, or if there was a fire? I don't think it's a 'rich person' problem at all.

Anonymous said...

You're entitled to have a stable, and stabling and indoor, that you're satisfied with. I couldn't do a two hour commute but it might be worth it in your circumstances. Finding good stabling is such a darn hassle!

Francesca Prescott said...

Hi Kelly, Hi Kate! Well I went to visit the far away stables this morning and it's not quite as far as I imagined. It took me just under 45 minutes there and 45 back, so not too bad, especially considering I'm already doing 40 at the moment!!

So I've decided to move...tomorrow! The indoor there is fantastic, really amazing, and huge! Great floor. I have to take my horse to the farrier tomorrow in that very area, so will just drop him off there on the way back. I'm so relieved to have found a nice place! And they have the infrastructure to take charge of Qrac whenever I need them to, so I can probably take two days off a week, which is good.

And you're right about the sticky stable door being dangerous! Argh, to think I have to deal with it again later today!

Promise said...

I travel a little over an hour to see Promise. I haven't been able to find anything closer to home that does more than 3-4 hours of turnout...and this place does 12 hours or more (if I ask for her to be out 24-7, they make arrangements). It's also relatively cheap -- and since I live in Florida, not having an indoor is not such a big deal.

The downside is, I don't get out as much as I'd like to, because I can't always do the 2 hour round trip -- and with no indoor, riding in the evening is limited in the winter time.

If it's just for the winter (unless you LOVE it), I say go for it. Even just a few months in what you described is going to make you dread going to the barn, which is worse than a 2-hour commute.

jenj said...

There is NOTHING worse than a barn where things aren't handled in a way that make it a happy place for you and your horse. It really doesn't matter if it's because you don't like the feed, turnout schedule, the way they muck the stalls, the other boarders, the lack of lessons, the arena footing... if you don't like it, MOVE. Otherwise you'll spend the next 6 months in a depressing spot, and you won't get in as much quality time with your horse as you'd like.

The barn is the home-away-from-home for many of us, and it might as well be a pleasant experience, even if a little extra driving is involved!

Anonymous said...

I live outside of DC, so my horse is 30 miles away from my house. In the evening after work it's around 1 hour and 15 minutes drive (that's 5 o'clock traffic) - leaving the barn it's 40 minutes home. I drive out twice a week during the week and course on the weekend. It can be really frustrating to sit in traffic (yesterday it was 1 hour 45 minutes~!) but my indoor facility is huge & inclosed & well lit, my barn is immaculate, my horse is turned out, and everything to do with his care is top-notch.

I always feel better after I've seen him, and I keep that thought in mind during my road rage moments! I could board slightly closer (45 minute drive in traffic) for less money even but the indoor wouldn't be as big (or completely inclosed) and the care wouldn't be as good.

Commuting to see my horse is just one in many sacrifices I make to have him. It's completely worth it since he keeps me sane and happy. :)

Dreaming said...

I'm glad you are moving and not in a pickle any longer. Frankly, I hate being in pickles. I don't like their smell or their sliminess!
It sounds like you have found the perfect place and that the drive is satisfactory. Congrats. I cant' wait to read more about it!

Laura Crum said...

Francesca--You know I keep my horses at home, and have mostly done so. I did briefly board my cutting horse at a barn that was an hour away when I was riding with that trainer and taking lessons. It was worth it to me (the drive) during the time I did it. I think you're making a good choice. You can always move him back to Steph's in the spring, if that's what you feel inclined to do. Take it one step at a time. The one thing you knew for sure is that you did not want to keep him at that barn, and you've solved that.

Once Upon an Equine said...

What a disappointment, I'm sorry. I think your frustration is warranted. A leaky, smelly, dark, sloppy indoor arena isn't much good. Glad you checked out the new barn and that the commute is better than expected. The nice facility will make up for it.

horsegenes said...

Whats the old saying... "if mamma ain't happy then nobody's happy" If it takes a 45 minute drive to make you feel comfortable about where your horse is then so be it. I have been wrestling with this same issue and haven't found an ideal place yet. I was at the ideal place and they decided boarding wasn't what they wanted to do and they needed the extra room for the trainers horses so they asked the boarders to move. It was hugely disspointing and I miss it like crazy.

Francesca Prescott said...

Gosh, what a lot of comments to come home to! I'm happy with my decision, just feel a bit silly for having moved there in the first place, I should have paid much more attention. It's a busy yard, with a lot of horses; I guess people want different things.

I had a feeling a lot of people travelled a long way for their horses. It might seem crazy to non-horsey people who just see a horse as a horse, and a stable as a stable. When my husband didn't get it I asked him why he had four different pairs of skis...each serves a different purpose...I think he kind of gets it now. And he just wants me to be happy, because, as Kel said, "if mamma ain't happy, nobody's happy"! Very true!

Thanks for your support, everyone!

Francesca Prescott said...

YAY! I moved!!! We're there!! I'm knackered, but so happy to have done it! And Qrac was an absolute angel all day, as we went to the farrier first, which was almost a two hour drive, then back to the new place, and my GPS went completely beserk and took us way off the beaten track, which when you're hauling a trailer is no fun at all (hello turning around in tiny narrow areas and heading down super steep narrow hills not knowing whether they go anywhere! I think my deodorant gave up around 2 pm!!! But we made it, and he's in his huge new box, and we walked around the big beautiful indoor (60 metres by 25) and he didn't fuss or show off or anything. Yay! Good night!!!

Laura Crum said...

Francesca--Yay! And I so remember how much I hated hauling into new places where I didn't know how the turn around would look. And having been to Europe and seen those narrow little cobbled streets....well, I think you're very brave. I'm so glad its working out well.

Francesca Prescott said...

Thanks Laura. There was a very hairy moment when I ended up in a cul de sac (dead end) behind a bus! But there was a circular turn around area, and I slunk by the bus squeezing my tummy hard. We just made it!