Monday, April 29, 2013

I'm a slum lord

We visited a really nice boarding barn/training stables this weekend and I must say, I suddenly felt sorry for my "rustic-living" horses. They don't know what they are missing!

The stalls at this barn were huge and really nice. Each had a small barred window facing the outdoors and full-height solid walls separating the horses from each other. No face wars in this barn! The indoor arena, large and impressive. Huge wash stalls, stately grooming/tacking areas, gorgeous hay, soft shavings and wide aisles.

The horses living in the stalls were sleek and glossy, blanketed and looked fantastic. Really nice horses in very nice stalls wearing warm blankets. Not a blemish in scrapes or kick marks to be seen marring the perfect coats on any of them. They were very obviously well cared for and in excellent health.

I had forgotten how spotless and shiny stalled, blanketed horses are, especially when I am faced with mud-covered, hairy horses every day. No matter how often I groom them they will immediately go out and find the biggest, slimiest mud hole they can find and wallow around in it for awhile. If it's not stuck in their ears, they aren't happy.

They are filthy and hairy and fat.

And happy.

The horses in those big, nicely bedded, clean, dry stalls looked great, but none of them seemed very happy being inside.  Turnout was very, very limited and the horses didn't appear to have the chance to take a roll in a big mud puddle and just be a horse. Their lives are confined to those four walls and the arena with occasional turnout in a small paddock for a couple of hours.

I had forgotten what an angry, unhappy horse face looks like, even after working for years in big, high-dollar barns and seeing those unhappy, angry faces every day. I'm now so used to relaxed, happy horse faces it was a shock to see the pinned ears, the hard eye and tense mouth again. I don't miss working with the weavers, cribbers, teeth-scrapers (one of the worst habits ever...scraping teeth up and down stall bars, ugh!), endless stall circlers, bar-attackers, hole-diggers and wall-kickers. Not to mention the bucket-poopers and wall-eaters.

Sure, I'd LOVE to have always clean sure would save me a lot of time. I'd love to know that Gabe isn't going to come in from playing with his pasture buddies sporting a new scrape or bite mark on his ribs, neck or butt. I'd love it if all my horses kept their true color during the summer instead of bleaching out to some yucky shade (yes, even grays bleach, believe it or not).

But, I'm not willing to trade their health and happiness just so horse-keeping is easier for me and they look prettier.

So, sorry're going to have to keep livin' in the country slums. Mud and all. I'll stock up on curries and mud brushes.


  1. Your horses are indeed fortunate - I always feel sad for horses at fancy show barns who never get to live the life horses need to live. My horses are stabled at night, but have all day turnout in herds, and are happy and healthy as a result. I'd have them on pasture board, but the pasture board at our barn isn't very good - inadequate shelter and no way to control how much they get to eat.

  2. Amen to that!!! I wish all horses could be muddy, hairy, fat and HAPPY!!! A horse who spends his life in a prison is still a prisoner...even if the prison is beautifully adorned. You just cannot put a price on freedom. Rock on fat, muddy in the ears horses!!! :) It always makes me so sad to see a horse spending his life in a cage...

  3. A few years ago I would have told you that horses need to live in a stall and they need to be blanketed and so on and so forth... But the more i've learned about horses, and especially about ulcers in horses I realize that horses aren't designed to live standing in a stall all day. My horses are living outside 24/7 they have access to hay all day long, they have a shelter to get out of the wind/snow/rain and they have room to roam. They are happy and healthy! When talking to a friend about her horse that lives at a big fancy show barn. She said that he is exercised daily, but other than that he is stalled all day and night. She's also had to pay for big expensive surgeries for her horse after he coliced badly.
    What I've realized is that yes even though a fancy barn and a clean horse is good for me, it's not good for my pony.

  4. Slum lord too, and p-r-o-u-d of it!! ;D

  5. YOU have done fabulous for your horses Jenn! You are a GREAT*SlumLord!
    They are happy, healthy and you see them from your house! Living the dream, truly. I would trade all of my boarding experiences to have what you do -right now!

    Wa is in a good place right now( save the owner is a Narcissistic control freak and I am her person to rage upon) she has open stall to covered porch and 150 foot run avail if they are kept "In". And the pastures are nice, now that she can be out alone...I hope this is the year she has no injuries!

    Keep on doing it right!