Time to move along

It sucks to be writing this so soon after the new year with all those ambitious goals, but I’m at an impasse with my horse’s current facility. I’ve had several care issues in the past few months (mainly centered around how much hay has been fed lately) and unfortunately it has gotten to the point where I can’t keep waiting it out and giving chances in the hope that it will improve. The health and well-being of the horse comes first, so it’s time to pack our things and go.

I am the most important thing, and the most important thing is ME. And cookies.

On one hand it will remove me from current trainer’s “umbrella”, which isn’t ideal considering our goals for the year. But I will still have some access to her at the new facility, plus a really good dressage trainer. The care at the new place is EXCELLENT (basically exactly what I would do if I was taking care of my own horse), and it’s a really small place with several other eventers. I know a few of them already and we get along great. The facilities are not quite as vast, obviously, as the big barn I’m at now, but they’re absolutely more than adequate and the footing is good. Getting to shows could potentially be more difficult but hopefully I’ll be able to work it out. The drive is a little further, but the board is lower. There are some trade offs but I think we’ll both be really happy there so I’m excited for the change.

My once chubby horse is chubby no longer, so he will have to gain some weight back. I’m sad and extremely disappointed by the turn things took in the past few months, and to be frank I feel like I waited a month longer than I should have… I’m definitely carrying guilt about it. I was really hoping to find a way through this and resolve the problem but in retrospect that was pretty futile and naive. To be clear: he’s fine. He’s certainly not starving or anything, I’ve had him on rice bran for a month and I’ve been giving him as much extra hay as I can possibly sneak, but despite that he’s gotten thin and his coat looks dull and he doesn’t seem as happy in general as he did a few months ago. There are really several care issues I’ve had but the main one is that there is very little hay being fed, and that does not work for this horse. When the vet was out a couple weeks ago I asked him what he thought and he half-frowned and said “I liked him better with more weight”. Sigh. Me too, man. Me too. I really really don’t like my horse losing condition, physically or mentally.

I don’t care how many times you tell me this much hay twice a day is enough… it’s NOT.


This is extremely upsetting to me.

I debated about just how much to say about this here, but I feel like it’s important to speak my mind and tell the whole story. It makes me angry, if I’m being totally honest. It makes me even more angry when I present my concerns and they are brushed aside. But ultimately the deepest feeling is of extreme disappointment. As horse owners we put A LOT of trust into the people that care for our animals. They are the ones that see them all day every day. They are the ones in charge of their general well-being. When I sign that board contract and give you my board check every month, it’s me saying “I trust you to take care of something that is very very important to me. Irreplaceable even. Please take that as seriously as I do.”. And when that trust is violated, it really sucks. Because at the end of the day those horses rely on us – the people around it – to care for it properly, and when we don’t, the horses are the ones that suffer. That’s a very serious thing, and if you can’t care for them properly you shouldn’t offer to do it at all.

bareback noms – his favorite perk of the hackamore

There are a lot of things I like about the current barn, and I really appreciate the opportunities I have had there, but my horse’s health is a non-negotiable. I also ordered him a course of Omeprazole because I’m pretty suspicious of ulcers, especially with how little turnout and hay he’s gotten lately, and it sure can’t hurt. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes anything or not. He’s naturally kind of a tight tense creature so maybe he’s long overdue for some ulcer treatment anyway. I’ll ride him just enough to keep him loose and keep some condition, but for the most part he’s getting a really light next month or two until everything gets sorted out.

Counting down the days to a new beginning and a happier Henry, and looking forward to new opportunities with a great new group of people.

65 thoughts on “Time to move along

  1. Oh my god. That isn’t enough hay for a freaking GOAT! Wtf?! Glad you’re moving! I’ve dealt with this sort of situation twice, and it’s enough to bring those memories back and boil my blood. There’s no excuse for starving a horse. None.


  2. Good for you for moving and fixing the situation quickly! The hay thing would make me so mad. That amount of hay is literally what we give to our goats in the colder winter months. We give our mini’s more, lol. I’m glad you and Henry are finding a better place! 🙂


  3. Been there got the tshirt. The main reason i moved Remus to his current place was lack of adequate knowledge on what a horse needs to be healthy and well cared for. The place i was at last winter didnt even FED hay out in the field on days the snow was covering everything so they just stood out there in the cold. And my guy is a FATTY! But nope it is a no brainer they need adequate turnout and HAY to make their guts happy! And the place I was at was gorgeous on the outside (arena, nice barn, pretty bells and whistles)….sigh

    Glad you found a new place and now to get thru the period till you can GO! Sorry it had to end that way but larger barns usually have that mentality. At my current place (Which is a coop) they have big haybales in covered feeders in the field all day (And they get TURNOUT EVERY DAY no matter the weather unless there is really a reason, it is 10 degrees here today and all the horses are out enjoying the sun and getting some air) and as much hay as your horse will eat for the feedings inside.

    A group of us moved last March from the old place and went different ways but we all lament it took us SO Long to change the situation. GRHHHH

    Glad Henry will get difference care very soon…I too know the feeling of having to SNEAK food to your horse. What a pain.


    1. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to feed horses correctly… because really, it’s not difficult. But he’s going to a place right down the street from your old place!


  4. If only you lived in MS you could board at the relocate facility I run! It’s pretty great. But good luck with your move! Wanted to let you know that’s exactly the symptoms I had with a past OTTB. He had 7 (!!) ulcers at the time I purchased him and no one knew about them. It took a few months, but after he didn’t gain weight or improve his coat, we knew something was up. After months and thousands of dollars on GastroGuard my guy was much happier. Thank God he was an insured horse! I now have a natural and MUCH cheaper ulcer remedy. If you’d like- shoot me an email and I’ll tell you about it! (It’s nothing I sell btw just good advice from a personal vet friend)


  5. About 6 months ago I moved to my current barn after being in exactly your situation. Looking back on that situation, remembering his ribs sticking out just like Henry’s, knowing that they refused to give him more than a measly flake of hay, fills me with such loathing, there are no words.

    So with greatest sympathies- good luck with the move! Hoping Henry gets back to 100% soon.


  6. Way to attack the controversy there! 😉

    I think this is important to put out there because way too many of us ammies become friends with our boarding facilities and wait too long to move on, instead of accepting it’s a business relationship and if it isn’t working for us, we need to take our dollars elsewere.

    Nothing good comes of trying to force a situation that isn’t working.

    And WTF about the hay. Seriously. What do they think horses live on? Air?


  7. That’s not even enough hay to keep a rabbit fit, let alone a pony! I’m not surprised you went Jerry Maguire on them! O_O

    Glad you’ll be moving on to a different barn with quality care, the health of your partner in crime, and your mental health, isn’t anything to mess with. A few people I’ve met think I’m crazy for being so picky about boarding care (Lots of TO, good footing, good/ample hay) but in reality they are such simple and necessary things.

    Hope your move goes well! Sending you and Henry good vibes and sunshine from CA. 🙂


  8. yikes – what a lousy situation on so many levels… sorry you and Henry have to deal with that!!

    sounds like the trade offs will ultimately be worth it tho, and the rest of the stuff (like travel and training) will get sorted one way or another! good luck moving forward!!


  9. There are a few things I don’t like about my current barn, and I went so far as to look at other barns not long after I moved here, but I put up with the crazies because the care is top notch. I’d rather just be antisocial and avoid people knowing that my horse is getting the best care in the area. Good for you for getting out. I just don’t get how little hay some people think horses can get by on eating.


  10. It is scary how fast a horse (esp. a TB) can drop weight. So what is your board money going to then? Do they not want to spend the money on hay? It amazes me what a surprise winter hay prices are to some people. Like winter doesn’t happen every. stinking. year. I’m sure you’re doing your research on how to best fatten him up- I’ve had success with my hard keeper and picky TB with Purina Amplify. It cost more $, but put weight back on quicker than cocosoya. Mess with my horse, you mess with Mama Bear. Say the word, we’ll gather the posse….


    1. He really just needs hay. He’s always been a horse that does great on a lot of hay and very little grain. He’s already getting a good bit of rice bran, but nothing works for him like hay does. I’m giving him as much extra as I possibly can manage right now, so hopefully he can at least just maintain until he leaves and gets a normal abundant hay ration again. He is NOT a hard keeper by any means.


      1. He’s got an excellent horse mom. Will be keeping my fingers crossed for him until he leaves. Who could keep hay from that cute, entertaining face anyway?!


  11. Oh man, the number of times I’ve left a place because of poor quality/not enough hay… my FAVORITE was the time I found out that the latest batch of hay was more than HALF silverleaf nightshade. HALF. You know what they did when I complained? Moved the tainted hay to another horse and gave mine “good” hay (which was found after going through about 10 bales of hay).

    I packed up both horses that day and moved to a new facility. Told them what they could do with my deposit – it wasn’t work my horse’s lives. Three horses died within two weeks.


    1. Holy shit!!! What the hell? I have had the problem at another barn of a round bale that had a good solid 3″ layer of mud coating the outside, and the inside was far from what I would call horse quality. Geez. Why is hay so hard?


  12. There is a barn not too far from me that rations water! The horses only get 2 flakes of hay a day – which IMO is too little, but the kicker is they get one 5 gallon bucket of water per day. If they drink more it costs more! WTH?


  13. I don’t know you, but I’m proud of you for making the right choice for your horse. It doesn’t matter who is right (I think you are, but that’s not the point) if the horse is not going in the right direction and the boarding facility doesn’t want to fix that, it’s time to move on. This could be the beginning of worse problems and six months from now you’ll see them on the news (not in a good way.)


  14. I once had Nemo at a place (only for a few months, you’ll see why..) where he lost a TON of weight. An extremely upsetting amount. I moved him as soon as I could get him the hell out of there. They had way too many horses in one field on pasture board and he was low man on the pole. Even though there were round bales, he never got any hay. It kept me up at night until I could get him moved because I completely understand where you’re coming from. The real kicker? They thought his weight was fine!!!!!! I was livid, completely livid. He was much skinnier than the picture of Henry. It’s a horrible thing to go through as a horse owner but one lesson I’ll never forget. Thankfully barn owner now feeds tons of really nice quality hay.


  15. I feel like a lot of BO’s enter the business thinking they are going to make money (which is laughable, they’re lucky to cover expenses and then make a little bit more). So when things look start looking expensive, they cut corners with stuff like hay. Thank GOD my trainer orders our barn’s hay and is in charge of feeding otherwise I feel like my BO would be ordering us straw, or making every horse just eat pellets for every meal. Glad you got Henry out of that situation!


  16. I’m dumbfounded that a professional would think that a TB in work could survive on that much hay….in the winter. I know your temps are milder, but still not enough hay. I have 2 EASY keepers and they get 3 times that amount at 1 feeding alone. Best of luck with the move and here’s to Henry gaining and feeling better soon!


  17. Oh no. I am sorry to hear that. I just wanted to give you some serious high fives for getting out of there despite it still being a pretty nice barn and having all the amenities you could ever want (including the trainer).


    1. Trainer is great, and to her credit she said that me moving to the other place is really the best thing for me and my horse. Unfortunately she just has no influence on the BO or the care, so she’s stuck on this one. Luckily I’ll still get to ride with her and meet up with them at shows.


  18. Wilbur was at a barn for a very short period of time that served two flakes of hay a day and charged an extra $55 a month for a third daily flake! So an average board rate for me skyrocketed to AA Show Barn status for his 4 flakes a day. I knew it was time to go when I saw the BO’s boyfriend smoking while working around the haybales right outside the barn.

    So nice to be at a place where there is “unlimited hay” and in fact we just added another flake for Elle to keep her plump!

    Get the heck outta there stat! Good for you!


  19. Dude that is never going to be enough hay!!!! Bummer you have to move again so soon, but horsey health is always numerous uno.
    Hope new place works out and that the move goes well for other you & Henry.

    Ps email is aoife.smada(at)gmail(dot)com


  20. From that angle, it looks to be roughly around how much my miniature donkey gets fed! That sucks… but at least the new facility sounds like a great place with a nice atmosphere.


  21. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing, more stressful than worry about your horse’s care. Like keep me up at night stressful. I am so thankful that I am now in a position that my grandpa and I share responsibility for my horse, but I know that won’t last for ever.

    Fingers crossed the new barn is perfect and cheers to more restful nights!


  22. I once left a boarding barn under cover of darkness, literally, when their care was so subpar Tristan colicked. I learned my lesson there and have never felt guilty about moving on since. Good for you!


  23. Almost nothing makes me madder. Glad you’re getting out in time.

    My understanding and practice is 2% of body weight in hay per day per horse. That’s 24lbs of hay for a 1200 lb horse. Hay should always be weighed – flakes are not a consistent measure. This can vary somewhat depending on hay quality (as in more if it’s not good), possibly less if there is rich pasture.

    I eventually kicked my one and only boarder (self care) for refusing to feed her horse enough hay (and refusing to pay me lol).


  24. Even though I know it’s a giant pain in the ass for her to do, my BM has been putting huge piles of hay in different spots for Archie in his little reject pasture. It’s the little things, like feeding and watering and watching and blanketing and doing all the other things we pay for, that really matter.

    Feel for you. I stayed at my last barn for far too long, but it was really fucking convenient. Best of luck for the new place!


  25. My friend and former BO, before moving Dexter to my in laws said that a couple flakes a day is normal, even at some barns here. Which is completely obscene to me. At least the end is near!


  26. I just relooked at your blog and saw the hay ration again that you took a photo of. WHAT?? My big fatty qh (15 hands and about 1100 lbs so overweight!) gets four or five times that amount of hay by the look of it (He has a big haybag which is stuffed full each feeding).

    PLUS Unlimited outside hay in the field that is covered. 24 hour buffet pretty much 🙂 Unreal that they arent feeding tbreds (as someone posted minis and donkeys need more than that!) more than that. Unreal they dont have more colics going on.

    UGH now i really am steamed….our tbreds at our barn are treated like royalty compared to that. Poor Henry.

    Even at my old barn which I loathed they fed Remus MORE than poor Henry is getting.


  27. That’s reprehensible! I have left one barn for thinking it was ok if the horses ran out of water, they could just eat snow. I also left another for hay issues. There were 16 geldings in a pasture and they figured it was sufficient to set out 16 piles of two flakes, twice a day (in our cold Alberta winters). Needless to say, most of the lower ranked horses were way too skinny under their blankets.

    Nothing makes me madder than poor feeding and/or watering. It’s not that bloody hard!


  28. Wow I guess I will stop complaining about my horse getting six flakes of hay! Sydney and I will be moving again this spring. Current barn doesn’t have pasture and I want her to be on grass. I wish there were more options in my area. Every place seems to be missing something I consider a must have and I always have to compromise.


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