Saturday, September 3, 2011

Basic Needs - A Rant

Horses are pretty easy when it comes to the basics needed to care for them.
They need some sort of food source, plenty of clean fresh water, shelter, and their herd.   Shelter does not have to be man made, a nice shady tree can do the trick too, and the "herd" can be other horses, goats, or even human.

Yes, yes there is so much more involved like hoof care, teeth care, etc.  But for the purposes of this post I'm going to focus just on the basics.

If those basic things are met, horses are generally happy, at least we humans assume this.  It would be so much easier if they could talk "Hey you.. Human.  Yah YOU, my hurts." or "This hay sucks can we try something new?"

There are so many "horse people" out there, they all thing they know best.  Heck, I KNOW, I know best!  Ha ~ no not really.  I just have the common sense stuff down.

I ask myself "If this 12x12 box with bars for windows was my home, would I like it if it was urine soaked, manure dirty, with little bedding?"

Or "mmm this green slime in this bucket sure adds a great flavor to my water."  

I'm fairly sure everyone reading this would say "yuck!  NO! are you crazy?"

So why when those of us who board our horses let BO's or BM's (not the body function) tell us that it's ok for our horses to stand in stalls for days/weeks/months at a time.  Or make up excuses "oh your horse just likes to dump their water bucket that's why the stall is wet", or "We only give small amounts of hay because they soil it quickly."  

Well this is what I've been dealing with for the past 9 months or so.   It started late fall 2010 when I started noticing that water buckets were not full when the horses were in at 6:30 PM. At that time Rosie was in a 12x12 stall and it was ALWAYS wet with very little bedding.  So bought extra bedding and put in there. Then they moved Rosie to a 12x18 stall.  I thought that would be better all the way around.  Boy was I wrong.  As recently as 2 weeks ago I walked into her stall to get her.  She was standing on bare rubber mats with a PUDDLE of urine in the middle.

From just after Thanksgiving to May the horses NEVER went out.  Several of us boarders would show up at various times of the day/evening and all water buckets would be empty (each horse has two) and they would be hungry.  They would get breakfast at 8 am - (2 flakes of hay and their ration of grain) then NOTHING until night feeding.  Which from what I could tell was never regular.

I would turn my mares out while I cleaned the stalls, or scrubbed buckets.  BO told me numerous times she didn't appreciate me turning my horses out.  I ignored it.  I could understand if it was muddy and they were destroying the pasture - it wasn't.  Ground was often frozen.

There were a handful of us boarders who knew this wasn't the way to care for a horse, mostly the food and water part.  We made agreements with each other to always throw at least 3 flakes of hay to each of our horses whenever we were there.  We water every single horse in the barn every time we were there.

Fast forward to March 2011.  Many horses started to develop thrush.  The BO's advice was to soak the hoof in bleach/water (like put hoof in bucket of the solution?!?) then duct tape baby diaper to seal hoof. REALLY?  Well I can understand if you don't know better as the horse owner, but the BO sure should know better.

I started putting my horses outside into round pen sized dry/mud lots to just get them out of their stalls.  Bonnie was continually stocked up, and her first few steps out of her stall were always ouchie.  

I had my vet come out and evaluate my horses and he told the BO the exact things I was.  They need more hay and TURN OUT every day.  I offered a solution of rotating horses in the the outdoor arena and she said "No - there is no harm in horses standing in their stalls like this".

For many many months now I have been cleaning my stalls, often times after they had supposedly been cleaned.  I have also been feeding my own horses almost every day.   Please don't think that I have a problem with cleaning/feeding my own horses because I don't.

I have a problem paying someone perform that service for me and it doesn't get done, or it's not done well.

The thing is, I believe most of the people in this barn have the same concerns I do, yet no one will speak up, except for me and maybe one or two others (out of 15).   I keep reminding them that it's because of the dirty stalls, lack of turn out, and not enough quality feed that is causing their vet and farrier bills to be higher.  Many of the horses have suffered severe cases of thrush which are 100% caused by the dirty, wet stalls they had to stand in for so many months.

I promised myself and my mares that they will not spend another winter in this place.  This is why I'm so desperately exploring options and interviewing BO's.

Ok Rant Over...


  1. You clearly need to be at another place - that's way substandard care in my book. BO's and BM's who do things for their own convenience and to not spend money (in an appropriate way) should see how they feel about living in a cell with no exercise, no bathroom and inadequate food . . . Sometimes it's ignorance, sometimes it's stupidity and sometimes it's just plain cussedness - doesn't matter to the horses who are the ones who suffer.

    Good luck on finding a new place soon!

  2. Good rant and well said. I agree with Kate (as I usually do). I have no idea what a BO or BM is, but it sounds like stupidity to me.

    Get out of there as soon as you can.


  3. Ugh, how awful! I would move ASAP, even if it's not an ideal facility for a little while.

    I once boarded Willie at a facility where the owner died, and his wife left the staff to run things in his absence. They slowly began to let more and more things fall by the wayside, until fit got to the point where I was buying all my own supplies and keeping them in my truck or trailer -- basically paying $400/mo for self care.

    Out of 70+ boarders, I seemed to be the only one taking issue with any of it, but then I realized that I was one of the only few that actually SAW other barns. I asked one boarder if she didn't notice the rank stench of ammonia from out in the parking lot, and she said, "That's just how barns smell." No, no it's not!

    I finally left and a few months later there was a mass exodus of sorts. The barn since changed ownership and management and supposedly is turning around, so maybe it was a good thing.

    I do think a lot of people get into horse ownership without much clue of the daily nitty-gritties, and so they look to the BOs and BMs for education... It is unfortunate that many of those either also don't know, or just don't care. Ultimately, it IS the horses that suffer.

    Good luck with your search.

  4. Sorry to hear :( this is just plain of luck in finding a new home for your girls, before the snow flys.

  5. That sounds less like a barn and more like a pig pen! I can't imagine my horse being confined to a stall for almost 6 months. Best of luck to you in finding a new place to keep your girls. A good barn is hard to find.

  6. Your rant is deserved. Obviously the health and well-being of the horses is not priority #1.
    Many years ago I boarded my horse at a stable that didn't care for my horse in the manner I preferred. But, I was able to work around their schedule and the stalls were clean (because of my efforts) they horses were fed - they stepped up to the plate for this, and every horse went out for a few hours each day. Yeah, I'd rather have my horse out for more time... but I took him out and exercised him almost every day.
    Keep looking. You will find a better place!

  7. Gosh sounds aweful ....are there many stables close by that are better??. Your poor horses . Do barn owners have inspections by any local authority. Here in NZ we report to the RSPCA and they get a court order to go and look around. Owners are given time to change things or they are fined and not allowed to have animals. My horses are lucky as they get 24hr turnout and if I do bring them in I have a 8metre by 4metre stall with about a foot and a half of sawdust.

  8. Very disturbing! This sort of thing makes me CRAZY! I don't blame you for ranting -- you are 100% on the mark. If you are paying someone to care for your horse, they should care for the horse properly! I am not a horse expert by any means, but even I know you can't just leave them in a stall all the time....much less a dirty stall! All of the boarders should get together and DEMAND better care for their horses. I hope the situation gets resolved for the sake of all concerned....

  9. Jeni,

    I totally know the frustrations, and have no good answers. I keep my guy at a friend's, since he is retired basically, but still there are things to change/fix that I know will not happen.

    So, find your place in the country and I'll board Boyfriend at your place :-)

    We are on the west side of town. Sadly, most barns I know, you can tell a person the good points and the bad points, and one weighs what is their tipping point. I know of none that I would move my horse to with zero reservations. There seems to be at least some tradeoffs.

    I assume you work and live in the northeast corner? Have you asked at the vets' if they had any recommendations? Or Katie at Tack Truck? She knows everything ;-)

    Sad, isn't it?

  10. "Horses are pretty easy when it comes to the basics needed to care for them.
    They need some sort of food source, plenty of clean fresh water, shelter, and their herd. Shelter does not have to be man made, a nice shady tree can do the trick too, and the "herd" can be other horses, goats, or even human."

    I completely agree with this. I know alot of horse owners do feel that their horses and they 'need' much much more but when you break down what a horse needs this is pretty much it. I keep my horses at home and have had horses at home most of my life. I am the type of horse owner that is of the mindset that they are horses, not human and do not need constant fussing over every tiny little detail. Now that said I also feel that the difference from horse to horse is NIGHT and DAY. So you cannot just have one standard across the board. You must pay constant attention to their demeanor, weight,attitudes and over all physical appearance(feet, legs, bug bites, scratches and the list goes on and on). So though their needs are so very basic the domesticated side of horses has made some very high maintenance.

    My point in all of this is you seem the type to not have to have or even care to have all the 'bells and whistles' when it comes to your horses and the boarding facitlity. Personally I would be the same way BUT I feel you have to be much much much more cautious and aware when it comes to finding a 'private barn'. I think in those situations people may mean well but just don't have the know how when it comes to caring for 'other' horses. SO many people think they are 'horse people' because they love horses, they took some lessons as a kid and have even read a book. So they buy a small farm and because it is more than they expected as far as expenses think, "oh I will just take in some boarding horses!". But they do not have any of the know how. I feel like I am going on and on and probably most stuff you are 100% aware of I am just being extra sensitive because I have a friend that did that, bought a farm to fulfill her dream of horse ownership, thought she had all the know how she needed and has struggled for years with MANY terrible experiences along the way. Now these were her own horses but I would hate for that to happen to someone elses horse. In talking to her before I really learned the truth I would have told you that she said all the right terminology and seemed very confident in her abilities and I would have guessed she knew what she was doing. But after years of observing I have witnessed that the opposite was true.

    Oh boy that was way longer than intended. I believe from what I have read from your blog that you will go through all the proper measures in finding a place that will take great care of your horses. And the place you are at now sounds like a night mare. It sounds like you have a huge job ahead of you. I say do it as soon as you can but don't skip any details in the new place in the rush.

  11. As you know I've been following along on your boarding nightmare since last year and you probably know how I feel already. I wouldn't have been able to stay with that boarding situation for as long as you have. They probably would have kicked me out early on for stirring up the pot.

    Your horses and you deserve so much better.

    You know what to do.


  12. Oh dear Jeni....this is so sad to me and I DO KNOW HOW IT GOES BOARDING( BLUES)
    NOONE knows this but I have a third blog called " Boarding Expose". I am in my 7th facility in 5 years-1 horse.

    This " RANT" , unfortunately, will never be over for us boarders, till we have our own places.

    I concur with Kate- verbatim.
    We have to trust, and for now, we must trust a person(s) to take the best care of our beloved horses.
    We make the best educated decision, based on what is available, and other incident.tails to ours and horse's needs.

    I'm praying you may find a place sooner for Bonnie& Rosie. The substandard excuse for care at your current one is staggering.
    You will find a place. And sometimes getting on a wait list will be good. I know I was on one for 2 years, and now I've been there for s year this mo. I'm ecstatic. You will find your safe horse haven soon. And if I win the lottery- I'm building BOTH of us one!

    My love and concern as its concerning forsure!


Happy Trails!