So will Junior continue to be a lesson-pony? The answer is: Sort of.
He will continue to be a lesson pony... but not at our current facility. :) We are moving. Official notice has been given in writing, the new stall has been reserved, and we will be heading there around the 1st of July.
The barn was purchased in the last few years by someone I work with at the college and she kept the same full-time barn manager on site that has been there for several years. The BM lives just outside of the barn and can even hear horses kick inside the barn! The BO and I started talking about her place ages ago but I wasn't ready to leave yet. Now that I am I contacted her for a tour and found a very bright, attractive place (makes the OB look like a cave) with many amenities I do not currently have. Including stalls with gates during the day so the horses can stick their heads out. Junior will LOVE that!
Though I've kept quiet about this on the interwebs, I've been mulling it over a good many months. I never intended to stay at this place, now to be referred to as the OB for Old Barn, but rather went there because I was impressed with KAT as an instructor and purchasing my first horse required the help of professionals. I will not be able to continue taking lessons from her unless I trailer to the OB, but if I can get to shows she's at I can still pay her the day fee and she can coach me.
So why am I leaving a trainer I like? All of these reasons still exist, but mostly it's the level of care provided by the facility. Though I stated that "I know he's taken care of" back then, it really hasn't been the case. I feel like if I don't go every other day, or ask another boarder to check on JR I'm neglecting him. They will only dump/remove buckets if there is visible poop in them, though I've found his buckets with poop that clearly had been topped off anyway. They don't break ice. Stalls are "cleaned" 6 days/week but if I don't also keep up during the week my Saturday cleaning is ridiculous. All the boarders clean their own stalls often and there is a big difference in the cleanliness of the boarders stalls and the non-boarders stalls. I'm tired of relying on other boarders to check up on each others horses. That's not "full care" in my opinion. I'm happy to look in on a friend's horse, but it shouldn't be the only way we can be sure they're okay. Now, I don't think we're in any certain danger, but the new place certainly offers a higher level of care. Max actually moved there last weekend and his mom is thrilled with the place. She used to clean Max's stall and dump/rinse his buckets every single day without fail and she hasn't done it at all at the new place. If SHE doesn't feel compelled to clean I sure won't! I am SOOOO glad Junior will go there to find Max waiting for him. I am curious to see if there's an interesting reaction to their meeting. Seeing his stall empty at the OB is weird.
Unlike the OB, the owner and manager's horses are in the same barn with us, getting the same hay, the same level of care, not in some other barn getting pampered with the best hay while ours get icky stemmy weedy yellow "hay."
I can agree to clean my own stall and then get a board reduction. I also get a reduction on board for providing my own grain. There's 7-day turnout with indoor turnout if the weather is nasty. They have sand lots (not rocky mud lots!) and grass fields as well as indoor and outdoor roundpens and arenas, all with much nicer footing than I have now. It's a smaller place, only 32 stalls and I'll be horse 20, I think, so there's lots of room if you want to come too! :) There is a TON of room for storage. Max and I basically have our own private tack room! I finally get to build the tack armoire I've always wanted!!! Oh, and 2 miles of trails. WIN!
Of course there is no equine boarding utopia, so right now I see 3 downsides: I will miss KAT's instruction. This place has no trainer, per say, but I can have anybody I want come and give me lessons. I will miss the friends I've made in the other boarders, but luckily Max and his family have already gone to this place. I will have less access to shows, but I only do a few anyway.
Now, about the lesson issue. He will still be used in lessons, but only one or two per week. The grooming/tacking is done on cross-ties under full supervision of the instructor instead of unsupervised on a single tie in a stall. The lessons are fewer horses and are super beginner lessons usually for kids, rather than big college kids so the physical strain will also be less. I think Junior will prefer that over his current schedule, and I can stop having to schedule my own rides around multiple lessons per day.
Financially it all ends up about even when I consider the cost of the lessons that I won't be doing anymore as well as the slightly shortened drive/gas costs.
So that's the news! You can expect more posts on things like the design/process of the aforementioned tack armoire, the move itself, etc.
We're still planning on doing two more shows with KAT before the move, too. Not sure if we'll get to do any more this year after the move.
Well, off to the OB!