Courtesy of SmartPak
My name is Jenna and I am a helicopter horse mom. I’m the first to admit I can be a bit… selective when it comes to the professionals that take care of my horse. From farrier, to vet, to facility, I like to know that my horse is getting the best of the best and I think that’s totally worth a little (or a lot) extra effort! My horse Hershey and I were thankful to board at a great barn near home, but when the owners decided to retire and move south, we had to find a new Home Sweet Home where we would both be content. (As a side note, I did ask if they wanted to adopt Hersh and I and let us retire, too, but that didn’t work out.)
You may think that I sound totally reasonable, but here’s where the crazy kicks in- barn hunting! I visited a number of places that just didn’t quite meet my list, and when I say ‘a number’ I mean ‘too many to be comfortable admitting to’. I had a long list of must-haves, I know, but we held out and found the place we had been looking for all along, and I can say with absolute confidence that Hershey and I were home.
- Clean, safe environment
I looked around and saw everything in its place and a place for everything. Feed was kept behind a closed door, stalls all had working latches, pastures were fenced in and maintained, and nothing was left lying around for horses to step on, spook at, or nibble.
- Maintained riding space
The riding area was exactly what I was hoping to find. I was less concerned about size and more looking at the footing and maintenance of it all. I was given the arena dragging and watering schedule, as well as shown other areas that riders were welcome to hack their horses out if desired. I’m a rider of course, but I’m horse-owner first and knowing my horse’s legs had somewhere safe to work was a big sigh of relief.
- Ample turnout
Whether boarders preferred sand paddocks, small grass pens, or big grass fields, there were options! As an added bonus, the staff asked what I was looking for and let me know they could absolutely fit our needs into their current turnout schedule. No fuss, no hassle, just ready to make it work.
- Quality staff
This ended up being much higher on my list than I thought, all due to how fantastic the staff was when we found the right place. Everyone wanted to see pictures of my horse and know everything about him – from past injuries to current nutrition to where he ‘stood’ in a herd pecking order. This is what sealed the deal for me – these were horse people that not only understood my crazy obsessing with my horse, but lived it every single day as their chosen career. These were my people.
Now I know my list is going to be different from others’ lists depending on what their horses need, so if this doesn’t match your list at all, just enjoy the pretty photos of Hershey! The important thing is really just to know what IS important to you and your horse and finding it. Make a list, look around, and meet with folks in person. Ask lots of questions, visit more than once, ask friends that board what they like and don’t like about their own situations – do whatever it is you need to do to make sure when your horse settles into his new home, it’s as stress-free for you and your horse as possible!
I knew Hershey and I found the right place for us because it felt like home. Home is where people want to know you and care about what makes you happy. Horse owning is supposed to be fun, and it’s a lot more fun for me when I know my own horse is in the best care possible (outside of doing it all myself). If you’re on the hunt for a new home, recently found the right fit, or have been nodding and smiling this whole time because this sounds just like your current facility, I wish you all the best with nothing but great rides ahead!