The Fairy Tale ‘The Story of The Three Bears’ Comes to Life
There are pluses and minuses to keeping your horse in your own backyard. There are instances of ‘stuff’ that goes on at the barn when horse owners are absent that sincerely upset them and not all the stories told are fairy-tales.
The English writer and poet Robert Southey’s narrative “The Story of the Three Bears,” published in 1837, is one of the most famous fairy tales ever told. Regardless of the age of the tale and the versions that exist today, for the horse owner facets of this fairy tale can come to life and render its own truth with or without the presence of Goldilocks. Boarding your horse at a horse barn can be no walk in the woods.
There are three bugbears of barn boarding that you don’t have to put up with when ‘you own your own barn’. You don’t need to be afraid of the hobgoblin realm of fantasy or part of the audience learning lessons in obedience, to appreciate that there are always compromises when it comes to relying on others to house your horse.
Who Has Been Eating From My Bowl?
Horses all have individual needs just as we do, and whether its nutrition and weight management, soft or hard grooming brushes, thick or thin blankets, deep or shallow bedding, horse owners quite rightly love to buy just the right product for their horse’s health and comfort.
How annoying is it when carefully computed supplies of supplements, hay or bedding go amiss? The special items lovingly procured by horse owners for use by their beloved beastie permanently ‘borrowed’ with or without their permission, can cause ill-feeling at best and downright anger and conflict at worst.
Bit and bridles, halters and headstalls, and tack in general is often expensive, and saddles and bridles are hopefully specifically fitted for the individual horse.
When someone borrows a saddle and rides in it extensively on a horse it does not fit, or a rider uses it that is simply too big for the saddle’s seat size, damage to the equipment may occur. This is aside from the possibility of scratches, breakage and other issues that can arise.
If you operate a boarding barn it is best to garner secure storage for the ‘overages’ that your barn boarders may wish to add to their horse’s dietary delights, training equipment, special comforts and daily care.
Who Has Been Sitting on My Horse?
It is a sad fact that horses that find themselves boarded out are also subject to the whims and fancies of those humans around them when it comes to handling and riding. When a horse is at livery its owner cannot be present 24/7/365 and some nefarious activities can result in their absence.
Stories (not the fairy variety), of boarders’ horses being utilized without their owner’s permission in lesson programs, ridden out on trails to fill a need for a second horse for a visiting family member, or taken ‘under the wing’ of a well-meaning barn buddy leading to the human involved taking unasked for initiatives in the handling, riding and care of the horse, are all possible adverse effects of the owner not being on site with their trusty steed.
Barn operators beware. A horse injured or otherwise compromised as a result of your lack of supervision and adherence to standard protocols of care, custody and control of the animal can result in lawsuits.
Who Has Been Sleeping In My Stall?
A horse owner may be paying the barn owner for a designated stall space and a specific paddock for individual turnout.
The housekeeping of the stall may fall to the staff or owner of the barn, but the provision of additional supplies for bedding and accoutrements for the horse’s health and care such as salt or mineral licks, occupational therapy toys, specific bucket types etc. may fall within the purview of the horse owner.
A horse owner may be rightfully annoyed to find their horse’s stall space has been usurped by another equine, even if it is a temporary use.
Contamination of surfaces within the stall with horses’ rubbing tails and spreading bots on bucket edges and door frames, the possible spread of contagious disease through manure and saliva, the smells and signature pheromones of a stallion or mare, can all create issues for the usual stall inhabitant.
Fable or Fairy Tale?
Carefully consider these bugbears of boarding a horse at a barn before signing on the dotted line of a boarding contract. When a good barn operator takes on the responsibility for the equine charges in their professional care livery services can provide sincere benefits for the horse owner.
Social aspects of barn life, the availability of facilities for equestrian use such as arenas and cross-country courses, trainers on tap, companionship of other equines for the horse and the provision of grazing land and stabling all factor into the decision of where to board.
Horse owners should insist on the boarding contract including clauses to additionally protect them from all of the above ‘three bugbears’ of livery. Let’s not turn the fairy story into a fable.
Of course, if you own your own barn you don’t need to worry about any of these issues offering a serious upside to having your horse housing at home in your own backyard!