Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I'm Not Sure. . .

I'm not sure who is loving being at the dressage farm more this summer, me or the Quarter Horse.

There are many reasons I'm glad I asked, back in March, if the owner might have a need for someone who would clean stalls in exchange for lessons and/or board.  Not only am I glad I asked, and glad she said that yes, in fact, she did have that need; I'm glad I decided to move the Quarter Horse there.

For one thing, he is getting fed properly there.  The lack of following feeding instructions, and the  Quarter Horse's ongoing weight problem (too skinny) at the other farm had been a real bone of contention for nearly a year.  Especially as I was providing his feed, in more than adequate quantities, so there was no need for him to continually be decreasing in weight.  It just wasn't getting fed to him in the needed amount.  Having to remind the barn owner and staff at the other farm once a month of how many flakes of hay he should be given each day, and continue to watch my hay pile decrease at only 60% the rate it should be, was very frustrating.  Especially as he got thinner and thinner.

For another, the people at the dressage farm think he's a great horse.  I have not heard one single complaint about his stall habits (which actually have improved since his move), or his being difficult to lead in and out of turnout (which he is not) like I did on a regular basis at the other farm.

The indoor arena at the dressage farm is kept groomed and at the right moisture level.  It is never dusty, not even during this ongoing  hot spell that has made everything dry out so rapidly.  The footings are also level; no deep spots, no thin and hard spots.  Nice and consistent, no matter if you are on the track, in a corner, working quarter lines, or doing figures somewhere in the middle.

The barn always smells fresh and clean, even when I arrive late morning to muck out the stalls.  No underlying mustiness.  All stalls have large windows (with grills for safety), and the big doors on each end of the barn are kept wide open for ventilation. There are even full length screens over the openings to the two big doors to keep flies out of the barn as much as possible!

The boarders are all friendly, and offer to help each other.  No dressage divas here!  My 'little' 15.3 hand Quarter Horse is just as admired as the larger (and upper level) warmbloods.

The horses are allowed to be horses.  They go outside for as long as possible each day.  They eat grass while outside, and roll in the dirt/mud.  They run and play, or stand and snooze, depending on their personality and what their turnout buddies are doing.  They might be expensive (and some of them definitely cost a pretty penny) but they are still horses.

With them being outside for most of the daylight hours, the barn owner is willing to put on and take off blankets, rain sheets, and fly sheets.  It's not a big deal, unlike the barn I previously kept the Quarter Horse at.  At the other barn, not only wasn't blanketing and unblanketing an offered service, blankets weren't allowed ("too much trouble"), which meant horses stood in their stalls on cold days, snowy days, or rainy days rather than being turned out for fresh air and excercise.  Fly sheets also weren't allowed, even though in the summer most of the horses lived out in large paddocks or pastures with run-in sheds.

So, since I didn't own a rain sheet or fly sheet, it's been a little bit of an expense getting the proper 'clothing' for the Quarter Horse once I decided to move him to the dressage barn.  With my frugal ways, I didn't run out and get the first sheets I found; rather I watched sales and eBay for about a month before each purchase.  Which paid off, especially in a like-new fly sheet with detachable neck that retails at over $100, but I found on eBay and won for a mere $20 and change.

And what a difference it is to the Quarter Horse having that flysheet protect him from bugs.  Being a thin skinned redhead (aka, a chestnut) he is like a bug magnet and typically sported hundreds of welts of varying sizes all summer no matter how much (or how strong) bug spray I put on him at the other farm.  This summer, he wears his flysheet which covers just about all of his body, and he's been welt-free.  That means a much happier horse.  No more itchies!  I even got him a set of fly 'boots' for his legs, although when the weather is in the upper eighties and nineties (like most of the last three weeks) they make his legs sweat so I don't have him wear them in really hot weather.

fully dressed in his fly gear

not bugged in the slightest
(super fly spray on his legs when he is sans boots)

Overall, I think being at this particular farm is a great opportunity for both of us.  We are making progress in our riding, and the Quarter Horse has pretty posh accommodations where he can still indulge his intrinsic horseness.   Oh, and I'm making friends who have the same perfectionistic riding interests as me.  

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