Rally point! This woman needs a horsekeeping pro con list. Post your board vs. home preference and why.

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Here’s something that came in via email (posted here with permission because I think this is a big issue that might stir up some great conversation and insights, either here or in our Facebook community! I’d love to hear what you guys have to say — and so would she!

Here’s the issue (identity and confidentiality protected, but the facts are common to many of us!).

She writes:

“I am weighing the possibilities of horse ownership, and it appears that the biggest obstacle for me is the way my husband feels about my dream of paying off our house, selling, and moving to a place out in the country were I can keep my midlife horse on our property.  He finds the whole thing stressful and overwhelming, not only because of all of the work involved, but because of the cost of another house and of horse ownership in general.  I am an idealist and feel we could do it if we try. What do you think is the best way to handle this skeptical husband issue?  I know it’s a loaded question.  I guess I just need a pep talk.”

So reaching out to all you wonderful Midlife Horses pep talkers out there, it’s time for us to rally here and help this woman think this issue all the way through. Her challenge is to figure out what’s most important to her and what will make the most sense to her — throughout her whole life, not just the horsey part.. Anyone want to weigh in with some navigational tips for this sticky issue? Any fellas out there have something to say?

I totally get both sides of this issue —  and to some extent, I live it myself. I adore the community I belong to at the Fort Worth Horseshoe Club and am thrilled with the great care my horses get there. I can’t say enough nice things about the wonderful friends I’ve met there, the good horse company we share, and the joy of having such a beautiful place to go (especially when i need a quick escape!) to immerse myself in the horse world. (If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to check out my new video on this topic!) HOWEVER, I also would dearly love to walk out my back door in the morning, cup of coffee in hand, and say hello to Trace and Rio before I start my day (or talk to any humans). I’d love to be able to watch them in the pasture behind my imaginary house and just hang with them sometimes with no agenda or timeline. AND YET,  I also love NOT having to muck stalls, haul shavings, dispose of manure, fix fences, mow, brush hog, plow, scrub troughs.( I have a hard enough time staying ahead of the rolling dustbunnies in my dining room and running the occasional mop over my perpetually grody kitchen floor.) With my work schedule and busy family life, I can’t imagine adding another full-time job to an already overflowing plate. It just might take the fun out of the whole thing.

Thoughts, insights, advice, or observations from any of you out there on either side of this sticky fence? Let us hear from you! (Free Rio T-shirt to first three posters!). Post your comments here, on our Facebook page (and while you’re there, give us a “like” if you haven’t already! ) Or retweet your support and ideas whenever you see this pop up on my Twitter feed, or share a video that illustrates your point on  our YouTube channel.


Happy Trails!
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  1. Susan says:

    While I’m not married, this is an internal debate that I struggle with regularly.
    I was not in the position to own a horse when a (very special) horse I rode at my part-time job at the track became available due to a career ending injury. This horse had already started to change my life in the 8 months that I had been riding him at the track. I always knew the day would come when I would do everything I could to take him when he retired. I wasn’t ready for it when it happened.
    Now it is three years later and I’ve adopted a second horse. Both are boarded near me and I’m able to see them daily and I even work off a portion of the second horse’s board.
    I hope to have a place where I can live with them someday. But I also realize that comes with a lot of extra pressure. At the same time, there is a lot of pressure now.
    The simple fact of the matter is that when you add a horse into the equation everything becomes more complicated.
    I believe when the time is right, I will find the property that is right for me. I also accept that the time may never be right. Life changes constantly, that was the lesson my OTTB has taught me. He is also teaching me that I have to adjust to what happens.
    My suggestion is that you start with boarding your horse and maintain that status until the economy stabilizes. A nice transition could be something like I have, where you can work off some of your board so that you can get a good taste of the work involved. You can also learn a lot before you get a farm and end up in over your head.
    I know that I didn’t squelch any major concerns but I hope what I’ve shared helps.

  2. Jane says:

    We have no possibility to have our horse at home, and realistically there will not be enough finances to ever have that chance. But we have a great stable, where my daughter gets top quality training from one of the best in the business.
    the facilities include an inside arena which is great in the long winter nights, and an outside arena, as well as a lovely trail ride across the road.
    We do have to muck out, so we still have that side of the work, but when the blacksmith visits, or the dentist, or vet, costs are reduced as he is there the whole day.
    I would say take the plunge and get a horse, and keep it somewhere close by so you can visit every day. Once you have got used to horse ownership, and paying for stabling, then think about the next step of moving to your own property, and all that entails.
    I too, hope this helps.

  3. Jennifer Fulton says:

    Both ways are terrific. Like you, Melinda, I loved not having to clean stalls 365 days a year in the crappiest of weather. I loved being able to go on vacation and not think about who can take of the horses. I loved not spending every free minute fixing fences, broken latches, chopping fallen trees, etc.
    But, I also love watching my horses play, laying in the sun with them while they nap, reading a book under a tree while they stand nearby. I love gong out just to say, “hi” and give them cookies. I love not having an agenda every day. I love being the one in charge of every aspect of their lives: nutrition, vet, exercise, when/how they are turned out/stalled. I am able to keep my horses in a way I feel is best is for them/ as natural as I possibly can. I am able to give them far superior care to what they would receive even at the very best boarding facility. Mainly because I am in way going to make a profit! 😉
    I have a much better understanding of each of my horses as individuals since they have been at home. I have a terrific relationship with them, as well. They call to me. They watch for me. The come when I call. They KNOW me. Not just as someone who shows up to make them work or as someone who delivers the meals. They really KNOW me. They even seem to LIKE me. They CHOOSE to hang around.
    However, it can be lonely. One misses the camaraderie of a boarding facility. It is much more motivating to go to the barn when you know others will be around. Having a horse at home can be difficult, especially if you do not feel confident to ride alone/ have a difficult horse.
    I am very fortunate that I do not have to ride alone. I have a wonderful assistant to help me with my horses and ride with me every day. I am now able- after 8 years! – to go on vacations WITH my husband. (We used to have to go on separate vacation so that someone could stay home with the horses. AND, he isn’t really a horse person!) I have friends nearby that join me for trail rides. I have friends bring their horses over to ride with me at my place.
    So, which is better? I don’t know. But I can say for certain, I am not ready to give up mucking stalls in crappy weather, fixing fences, or clearing fallen trees… at least not yet.

  4. Brenda says:

    I want to thank all of you for your comments and for sharing your stories with me. I am grateful to you and to all of the people in the horse community who so willingly share, not only your knowledge, but in some cases even your horses! Without you, my goals would seem out of reach. Thank you!

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