Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ta-da! The new barn

Well, many of you know that my long time trainer/barn manager Judy is moving her operation to a new barn. I went to tour Riley's likely new home and attend a barn meeting last Sunday. There are boarders there already, but we'll take over the empty stalls and Judy will run the place. Here is some video footage of the property. Basically it's a pretty nice place, and with my trainer Judy in place as manager, I think it will be a great success.

New barn, new drama
The barn meeting was, well, interesting. Judy is assuming responsibility for managing the barn so that the owner/manager can be just an owner. Unfortunately, there is a board increase for the boarders who are already there -- a big one. Board was probably artificially low -- the lowest in our area by over $100. No matter, an increase of that magnitude in this economy is tough to swallow. Did I mention we'd be filling empty stalls of people who are vacating as a result of the increase? Ouch. Judy gave existing boarders were given an introductory letter and her barn rules. Nothing in the letter or rules is out of the ordinary: wear helmets when riding; don't leave equipment in the aisles; no running/screaming children. But those rules seemed to cause quite a stir. As far as the incumbent boarders are concerned, we were insurgents and invaders, and the little list of rules was tantamount to a declaration of war.

A PR quandry
No one, not even Judy, was quite aware of just how unhappy these folks were. And while we weren't prepared for the chilly reception, I must say we, the new incoming boarders, outdid ourselves. Our best social skills went into play. Judy led the meeting, giving some introductory remarks and opening the floor to Q and A. Twelve pairs of eyes balefully stared her down, and the questions ranged from blunt to antagonistic. If one of us had addressed Judy like that we'd have been lasered off at the waist. She gave the performance of a lifetime, deftly handling the questions in a manner that communicated strength and no nonsense while showing compassion for their feelings. Bravissimo.

When all was said and done, I felt good about the meeting and the boarder I'll soon be sharing a barn with. Even with the tension and anxiety, they showed a sense of humor, a concern for the horses, and a sense of barn community. I'm looking forward to the chance to meet and get to know them.

Problems come in different sizes
I had turned my cellphone off for our barn visit, and didn't turn it back on until we were in the driveway. I had 3 voice messages and 7 missed calls, which is never good. My friend Heike had left the messages. Her horse was colicking, Banamine didn't touch it, and she was en route to the vet hospital. I called her repeatedly that night, but didn't speak to her until the next day. She had gotten lost on the way to the facility, the receptionist couldn't give her directions from where she was, and she and ended up driving over someone's lawn to turn around. Her horse didn't need surgery and he came home from the hospital Thursday, no worse for the wear. But Heike was a frazzled mess.

It never rains but it pours. Anyway, hearing of Heike's situation cast my barn move and any associated drama in a different light. It's just not a big deal any more.


  1. I'm sure everything will work out for the best. There will be some hard feelings at first I'm guessing because of the new management and board increase, but in the long run, with everyone working together for the good of the horses, things will be fine. It looks like a nice place.

  2. What a beautiful place! Hope that the fellows settle in well, and that things all smooth out with the other boarders there.

  3. Change is always hard to swallow at first. I'm glad it sounds like Judy is a good barn manager capable of earning the respect and liking of the incumbent boarders. I finally picked a place for my horse to move, and I'm feeling relieved that there will be more rules at the new place! Barn safety is especially important. At one very nice place I went to look at last week, a helmetless teenager rode her horse into the cement barn aisle bareback with a toddler on the horse in front of her! I about died.

  4. Thank you for sharing. This was a pleasnt break from all the economic drama in the news. Life brings new adventures, somehow especially when we have horses.

  5. Wow, that place looks really nice! Green pastures are hard to come by where I live (southern CA). I didn't realize how lucky east coast horses were until I moved out here! Looks like horse heaven!


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