New Digs!

I’ve been sitting on some big news: Frankie and I have a new home!

Hi pls feed me

If you’re confused because you’ve seen me tell you over and over how much I love my trainer, I’ll cut the suspense early – we’re still with her. Her lesson program has just grown so immensely over the last few years that she’s expanded into a second facility! I’m lucky enough to be one of the early movers.

And if you’ve been following along, this facility is actually one I’ve mentioned before – it’s where Frankie has been going to use the treadmill! And funny enough – I’m like 70% sure I actually competed at a show here with Addy many many years ago. Our vet bought the property last year and has poured a TON of time and effort into renovating and building up the facility, and it’s turned into a really incredible place.

A few of the amenities I’m really excited about:

  • Group turnout in a super lovely rolling grass field. Frankie goes out with two other teenagers and it’s been the least dramatic herd intro ever. They’re all just happy to hang out with buddies and eat.
  • On the days he’s not able to go outside due to weather, he automatically gets thrown on the hot walker for an hour. I’m thrilled that he’ll still be able to get out of his stall and stretch his legs every day, no matter what.
  • Access to the fitness center! He gets to keep up his water treadmill workouts; I’ve been super happy with how this supports his fitness and stamina and I’m also happy I don’t have to pay for shipping to get to it any longer.
He gets swim practice every Friday!
  • Vet on site. One of the vets in the practice we use is on site every Wednesday, which means we never have to wait long for anything. And they’re the vets we already know and love, who already know and love Frankie. (We also get to keep our incredibly awesome farrier)
  • A massive beautiful indoor. They’re getting ready to install some Big Ass Fans, which will only make it even nicer. It’s watered and dragged at least twice a week and it’s just so PRETTY. We’re in the barn attached to the indoor, so we don’t even have to get wet when weather hits!
  • An all-weather outdoor. It’s not quite done yet but should be soon, and there’s a really awesome drainage system that essentially ensures it will never flood. Dr. Jay explained the science behind it and it’s super interesting and nerdy. I’ll see if I can track him down for another explanation I can share with y’all.
  • Lots of hackout trails. I’m a huge weenie about hacking out, but I’m pretty sure Frankie will love it.
  • Nice big stalls. Frankie’s naps have just been upgraded for full stretch-out-ability. He’s on a corner too, which I love from a ventilation standpoint. He’s right across from the entrance to the indoor, and I know Mr. Social is going to love getting to greet everyone that walks by.
Francisco’s corner offer
  • Climate controlled tack room and bathroom. This will make it a lot easier for me to bring Lina out on days it’s super hot or cold – I’ll have somewhere to keep her comfortable while I’m riding. The Clairvaux crew gets our own space so there’s still a sense of community for us. It comes with a fridge/freezer, lots of storage, laundry, and a little lounge that’s currently housing some new barn kitties. I’m excited to see how the space evolves.
Got my spot all set up 🙂 We’re planning to do a painting party, and make a few other improvements, but it’s already a nice space.
  • A really responsive and communicative staff. In the week we’ve been there, I’ve already gotten several updates and texts on what Frankie is up to and how he’s doing. I love hearing from them!!
The barn manager mentioned that she thought he had escaped, then looked down and realized he was passed out. So clearly the daily naps continue uninterrupted.

Dr. Jay has really put a ton of thought into every aspect of the facility (from the footing in the rings, to something as simple as making the bay doors to the fitness center open silently so the noise doesn’t bother the horses).

It’s an extra 10-15 minutes in the car each way, but so far it’s definitely worth the extra drive. I’m feeling extremely fortunate that I get to keep working with my trainer that I trust, I get to keep Frankie under her watchful eyes and in her program that has been so good for him, and I now get access to such great amenities.

As a housewarming gift for Frankie, I’ve ordered a new nameplate and some brushes/bathing supplies, and I’m happy to see him settling in like he’s been there forever.

Cheers to Frankie’s new address!

Boarding Your Horse: The Barn

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the interactions between boarder and barn owner/manager, and what makes that interaction easier or harder from both ends.

So in this first post I’d like to talk about what I expect from my barn owner/manager. Next time I’ll chime in on what I think a good boarder does and does not do.

I know some of you have boarders, some of you keep your horses at home, and some board your ponies, so I’d love to hear your perspectives! Especially those of you who have dealt with boarders- do you think my list is reasonable? What would you change or add?

Must haves:

Communicate regularly and promptly. If my horse comes in from the field missing a shoe/with a giant cut on his face, I want to know. If my lesson is cancelled or postponed, let me know. If Barn Manager (BM) is going to be out of town, I want to know who I can contact if need be. I don’t want to get to the barn and be surprised.

Be upfront about costs. This ties into communication- I never want to see my monthly invoice and be surprised. I understand there can be errors and I’m very happy to work those out, but I don’t want to be quoted one price and then see a different charge on my bill.

Be clear about barn rules. Whether it’s dress code, rules about ring usage, what supplies are communal use, or whatever else- make these rules visible and accessible. I’m happy to follow rules, I just have to know what they are.

Be open to discussions about feed/vet care/farrier care. As the owner, I want a say in every aspect of my horse’s care. I like to have a  BM that can offer guidance and knowledge in these areas, but I also have to be able to make the final call.

Maintain turnout. I’m a big believer in max amounts of turnout for my boy. I expect him to have a place to run around that has safe fencing in good repair, clean water, and decent drainage.

Maintain my horse’s stall. Plenty of clean water, frequent and generous hay, and clean shavings. Any broken boards or hazards should be dealt with quickly.

It really comes down to two main categories: make sure my horse has safe facilities, and COMMUNICATE.

Of course I also have the “nice to haves.” These are the things that I can do without, but definitely make my life easier:

A decent sized indoor. Virginia can have harsh weather during the winter and I can’t often get to the barn before it’s dark out. I know plenty of people that make it work without an indoor, but I reeeeally like having access to one that’s big enough to jump around in.

Track my farrier and vet care. Currently my BM makes sure Frankie is on the appropriate shoeing cycle, reminds me when I need routine vaccinations and vet care, and covers deworming. I LOVE this. It makes my life so much easier knowing that there’s a pro keeping track of my pony’s feet and health.

Training services. I like working with a trainer. I know plenty of people that choose not to take lessons/take less frequent lessons, but weekly lessons are my jam. Having an onsite trainer(s) that I like is big for me.

Currently I keep Frankie at a “show” barn- I have all of my “must haves” plus all of my “nice to haves” and more. I really like that I have a BM I can trust to help me track Frankie’s fitness and overall health, and who builds a program to fit that in with my competitive goals.

Your turn: what are your must-haves and your like-to-haves?