Monday, July 6, 2009

Riley digs: Which facility is best?

Today we are at a crossroads. One road leads to hopelessness and despair; the other, to total extinction. Let us pray we choose wisely.” Woody Allen

I'm getting a second opinion on Riley's condition and x-rays, but in the meantime, it seems clear that no matter what happens, he's out of commission and in need of stall rest and bandaging. This introduces a few dilemmas...

With Riley facing long term rehab, it's difficult to continue having my horses at their respective facilities (1 hour 10 minutes away from each other). Harv is getting short-changed and it's killin' me. I have some decisions to make. There are four options I can think of, with the criteria being cost, proximity, and care assistance. What'd ya think?

Option A: Riley's current home

It's new, clean, friendly, a beautiful rural setting with great basic care. I can work there for reduced board. This is huge, esp. with the escalating Riley medical costs. But it is just so darned far away (40 minutes from home/work, over an hour from Harv). I'm more or less on my own with supportive care, keeping my stallbound three year old at what amounts to a lesson barn with a lot of young people around. I fear if I leave him there I would never see Harvey.

Option B: Harvey's barn
Okay, they have no stalls. But what a luxury it would be to have both horses at the same place! It is almost the same cost as Option A, ten minutes from work/home, with a full-time barn manager and employees with track horse care experience. I've thought about swapping Harv and Riley, but I hate like hell to move Harv from a place he's doing so well at, to a barn 40 minutes away, with me being busy with Riley.

Option C: Barn two minutes from Harv
It's $150 more per month than Harv or Riley's current digs, but handwalking twice a day and bandaging is included. It's two minutes from Harvey and 20 minutes from home. The new high-end facility has experienced staff, dressage amenities, and individual turnout. My vet boards there, as well as two friends. One of them offered to keep an eye on my boy and do care if necessary. It's perfect except for the cost.

Option D: Private layup facility
Private, 50 minutes away, $25/day this facility caters to "investment" horses, and you would recognize the names of owners/horses that have done stints there. The lady told me that she responded to my email only because I was referred by a personal friend of hers. They would do everything for a daily rate that I could afford for a few months if I go into my savings. This is a high end facility that would work directly with my MidAtlantic vet and keep me posted, but I'd be on the sidelines. Maybe this is good, as I have vacation plans for July that are currently in jeopardy. I'm not sure I can handle turning over the reins (so to speak) to that extent, but it would give me time with Harv.

So what about Harv?
I can't even describe how worried I am about Riley and his future. But it is also true that Riley is sucking up all of my time. Between my real job, my barn job, and Riley care, it amounts to 60 hours a week (not including commute time). Normally a full schedule doesn't bother me too much, but Friday's bad vet news was a sucker punch. I just felt exhausted.

Sunday after my barn work I felt tired but wanted to go to be with Harv. I drove over an hour just to give him a relaxing bath. He has not had a bath yet this summer! Another boarder saw me and said, "Stacey, it is a beautiful day, how can you not be riding? " She knew Riley had an abscess, but not the more recent news. As I handgrazed Harv, I marvelled at how amazing he looked -- all wet and fat and sleek -- and I thought, he won't look like this forever. I can't squander my time with him while he is doing so well.



  1. I guess it's not an option to move Harv to join Riley at his current barn, huh?

    Given this situation, I think that maybe moving Riley for the next couple weeks to be at the short-term facility might be best. Once you've got the second opinion and a better sense of what are the possible options for treatment, you can know if you'll need to move him longer term or not.

    Good luck -- I never thought of how hard it is having your two beloved horses so far apart!

  2. Sorry to hear about Riley's hoof problems. I'm just getting caught up on the details today.

    I just wanted to note how good he was for the farrier in the video you posted of how his hoof has to be wrapped... At least that is something positive...

    Sounds like you have a tough decision ahead of you regarding his short-term care. Working off board is always a good thing, so option A sounds practical that way, but option C sounds good as well, the more expensive facility that is closer to home with more experienced care...

    Keep us posted on how things go!

  3. What an awful predicament!

    Money is important, but so is your time. In this case, like most horse owners who board, time also includes some gas and thus more money.

    I don't know what you pay at Riley's current location, but Option C sounds like a good deal since the price includes board AND the care he needs. Help caring for Riley and the shorter distance greatly reduce your time costs.

    Option D also sounds good, especially if their price is any lower than Option C. Option D almost eliminates time costs involved in treating Riley and possibly visits (if you can stand to reduce your visits).

    Option C sounds like the best to meet your time/money parameters and it allows you good access to both horses.

  4. Hate to say it, but at this point, it just may well come down to the money. I'd opt out for the expensive option if I had a choice. Someone else doing the work in the layup is certainly the best. That way if you can't get there, someone is caring for him.

    The Harv/Riley swap is the most economical option. Advantages are that you do not lose your place at Riley's barn and still have Riley close. You're not doing much with Harv now anyhow, so it might not be that bad. And Harv is a trooper who will understand if you explain it all to him. Is there someone there who might want to ride him a little or give him attention when you can't get there?

    This is the very kind of situation that made me long to have my Boys in the backyard.

    Wish I could be more helpful.

  5. C for a short time (not forever) would be my choice - time over money - but that might not be right for you.
    Sorry things are so complicated.

  6. I vote for Option C. I know, it is not the best choice for the pocketbook but a stall could open up in Harv's barn in the meantime. Commuting time and agravation are big turn offs for me. Good luck and God bless!

  7. Ack! This is hard. Option B, if it were possible, certainly sounds good. If they were both so close you could spend more time with each of them. If you cannot do B then what about C? As that way they will still be close by. Plus it sounds like the vet would be around and that's always a nice thing.

  8. Harv is not getting any younger and so it makes me nervous to think that if you just get through Riley's injury you will have more time. Since my horse was retired young (he was 15 at the time) I admit that I am a bit of nut when it comes to giving up riding time. When I look back at all the days I missed because I was...too busy, tired, ride, I really regret it. Not saying that will happen to you and Harv, it just pains me to see you have to give so much time with him. I also understand what it is like to have a hurt horse that needs lots of attention and care. I must say that I am ready to move across state lines since the full lay up place is not even $700 a month! That is not even normal board by me with an indoor.
    Anyway, I know that I could not surrender my horses to care to anyone. I would go nuts. I like to be the one seeing my horse and when he was hurt I was the only one who would notice subtle difference in him. My vet learned very quickly that I could spot an issue days before anyone else could. There is a difference in looking at a horse because you are paid to vs. because you love it.

    Sorry this is so long. My heart goes out to you because it must be such a tough decision to make. I think that the best option is spending the extra $150 (or without you working anything off $300) a month to keep him at a normal boarding facility where there are staff that can care for him when you cannot, but that still makes you the primary go to person. It doesn't hurt that your vet boards there either.
    You have to think of it like much money is time with Harvey worth? Is it worth $50 a time if you get to see him 6 more times a month? $25 for a possible 12? Is there anything you can give up to make up the differnce for a bit? It is about $10 a day. That is like 2 coffee's at starbucks. Just something to think about.

    Bottom line is that YOU are the one who is going to be impacted far greater then the horses in this move, so think about what works best for you right now.

  9. I would definitely lean towards Option C or D. If you are willing to tap into your savings for option D, why not do it for option C in order to save time and money and make your life easier? I guess the question (for me) boils down to whether Riley's medical needs are so intensive as to make it worth having to cut down your visits if he is at option D.

    Another benefit of Option C is that they will include handwalking and bandaging; I think that is a huge benefit if you are not able to get there for some reason. Plus, if it's included, you may as well take advantage of it and spend your time with Riley just enjoying him, grazing or whatnot.

    Either way, it seems like C or D, even though they are more expensive up front, will definitely reduce your stress and give you more time. And really, that's what money's for, right? :)

  10. I'd go with option D. As young as he is with such a substantial issue with his hoof, I would probably hand him over to a place that specializes in recovering horses. From those pictures I saw a couple of post before I think he needs someone *very* experienced with packing. A screw-up over a couple days (ie well intentioned friends taking care of him while you go out of town) and you are going to end up with osteomyelitis. Realistically, at his age, he prob is going to take only about 4 weeks to get out of the "scary zone". If it was me (and I am shocked it is not me due to owning a crumbling hoof Thoroughbred) I would bite the bullet and go where you have a "in".

  11. Leslie, you and Bob sound very much alike! His comment is that money is to make life easier, and "I never saw a hearse with a luggage rack."

  12. I just recently made the decision to move Bodhi and Google Maps helped me do it. Option C and D seem like the best options to me. Try and calculate how much money on gas you would be saving by moving him to either one of those barns and you will be surprised. I saved 100 dollars a month by moving Bodhi closer so it made up for the 100 dollars more in board. Also as the always say time is money and you would be saving some with C and alot of time with D.

    By the way- I got my BTB Care kit in the mail yesterday! I was having a crummy day and when I got the package it totally turned things around. My husband was very jealous of all of my goodies and I am proud to sport Harvey on my to do list. Good luck!

  13. Well, I work with seniors and their families, and sometimes the older family member has to go to a nursing home. (Not that either of your horses needs that!)

    But I always recommend that the family choose a place that is quite close. There may be nicer, more glitzy homes around with a bed available, but it is clear that people get much better care from the staff when the family is visiting a lot. And visiting a lot requires that the drive to get there not be too awful.

    If it were me, I'd do what it takes to get both horses near you, and be clear that when a stall opens up you want them to both be in the same barn.

    I hope the healing is fast and successful. Yikes.

  14. So sorry to hear about Riley. I unfortunately have had LOTS of experience with layups and injuries, and I would say ensure that he gets the best proper care possible so he can recover and get better. I moved my horse to a layup facility against my trainers wishes, so that she could be handwalked and treated, it was less convenient to get there, but they did everything and she recovered 100%. At the training barn layups are not the priority and I was afraid they would slack on the care, or rush us back to work. I've also had my horses over an hour apart for the past three years, and that is a huge pain. I just moved them to the same facility and I am so happy.

    I'd say Option C or D. The $150 more is worth your time and gas money with the added bonus that your vet is there and they would do the layup care. The most important thing is he get the proper care to recover. Good Luck!!!!

  15. Ok, here's the thing, you have two major concerns to care about. Riley needs to be taken care of, or you risk serious complications. You need to be taken care of by getting your Harvey time.
    A is not longer feasible, too far away, and remember, your travel time and time doing basic care, is money lost. Riley doesn't care who wraps his feet or walks him, as long as he gets it. You he looks to for a visit and love time, but he doesn't have the history Harv does of hours of interaction.
    Since Riley has a competition future, don't skimp on taking care of him now. Treat him like the athlete you want him to be.

    My recomendation is D for a month, to get him through the danger zone, then C until a stall opens up where Harv is now. You insure he gets the best care during the critical healing time, then cut out your travel time, saving gas, time, and stress, and you know both your boys are being taken care of.
    But then, you have to do what is best for you.

  16. If you absolutely can't move Riley to Harvey's barn, I would go with Option C. Your time is incredibly valuable, and there's no point in having posh digs for Riley if he never sees you. As others have mentioned, it might be worth it to pony up a bit more per month and get Riley the best possible care and eventually move him to Harvey's barn if something opens up. Good luck!

  17. I think I agree with most of the comments already - I would personally go with Option C at least for the short term and then re-evaluate as needed depending on Riley's rehab progress. I'm so very thankful that we are able to have our horses right here with us and I only have to toddle on down the hill a bit to care for them and can see them from the house at all times. You and Riley are in my thoughts and prayers. Hope he makes a speedy and complete recovery!

  18. If it were 1 of my 2 horses I would go for option C or D. I personally would feel better about having a vet keeping an eye on him. I worked at a speciality clinic (small animals) in Michigan that did longer term care for animals with orthopedic problems, post-op surgery and ongoing illness. We would sometimes pickup on things previously missed or find alternate ways to help a pet because we saw cases every day that owners or other professionals rarely encountered. It's always good to have a second set of eyes helping you,too!

    I hope he feels better soon, thinking of you!

  19. Thanks all -- it's looking like C or D right now, depending on whether he goes in for surgical treatment. The lady from barn D seemed appalled that we didn't go straight into surgery, but then she only had my description of the problem. If he does have surgery, and the post-op care requires super-sanitary conditions, he'll go to a fancy layup center--I'm sure the facility will make a referral. If he does not go for special treatments, it's likely to be C, for all of the reasons you all gave or are giving. Thanks!!!

  20. I really hope he gets better soon!! Poor boy!!

    I would think that Option C would work best if you can swing the extra $150 for a short time. Hand walking twice a day will be really great when he gets to that point in his recovery.

  21. Poor Stacey. This scares me for you! I know that I am one disaster away from being broke and losing my horse and I often wonder if I should be taking the risk of owning horses while finishing grad school... but thats for another story (equine major medical insurance-- worth the price?)

    I would opt for B or C. Is leasing Harv out while you are focusing on Riley an option? I know you don't want to lose the time with him, but if finances and time don't afford him your attention, perhaps you could charge minimal to allow someone else to pamper him and then youd have some extra money to invest in Rileys treatment... just a thought.

    Best of Luck, thoughts are with you and both of your boys.

  22. Stacey, You have an award waiting for pick up on my blog, congratulations!

  23. It's a tough call - I'd go for full care while out of town, then C when you are home. I can't imagine how you deal with them in two different places!

    Horses. They make us crazy. Crazy happy and crazy worried, and just plain crazy.


  24. Stacey,
    I am worried about you with so much on your plate. You are leaning toward the best options in my opinion too. And time and gas is money also, so factoring that in on your current place for Riley and they may come out closer to the same number anyway. It may save you $ for therapy too! :)

  25. A comment from Big Sis who is actually my big sis!!


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.