I left Barn #1 and drove the 10 minutes to the next place with my head in the clouds. I ran through the seemingly endless possibilities that Barn #2 had: cross country course, miles of trails, arenas. Gem would never be bored!
As drove down the steep driveway, I saw a bustle of activity on the property. People were bringing horses in, others were hand grazing, some were even riding in the slop. I hadn't noticed during the pace just how big this place really was. It was in stark contrast to the small private facility I just left.
The BO met me at the barn and we went inside. I stand corrected on one thing: this was designed for Michael Pollard, not Phillip Dutton. Anyway, the barn was as magnificent as I remembered, but at $600 a stall it was well outside my price range. There were boarders everywhere and the one thing to note was how extremely friendly everyone I met was. They were nice and friendly and even though it was obvious that their riding clothes cost more than my entire wardrobe at home was worth, they didn't come across as snobbish at all.
She then took me on the kabota to tour the 95 acre farm. I was anxious to see the pasture that Gem and Pete would occupy. So far all I had seen were the individual turn out paddocks for the stalled horses. She informed me that there were two pastures open. The first was a hill side. A very steep, very rocky and very small hill side. Smaller than the pasture at Barn #1. I was confused. How could this be it? We then drove to the opposite side of the property and saw the flat pasture. It was a postage stamp. Smaller than any pasture I had ever seen. It was more like my corral at an endurance ride. I double checked that these were in fact the pastures for pastured horses and she confirmed it. My heart sank a little.
It was still workable though with everything they offered. I went over with her everything I had been told on the phone. $350 included the pasture, grain twice a day, hay twice a day, use of tack room, use of all the grounds. I asked how many miles of trails they had with obvious excitement.
Trails? We don't have trails here.
What? I could feel the disappointment as a throb in my ears.
She clarified that while there were miles and miles of trails accessible right from the property, they didn't have permission to use them except during the hunter pace if they paid to enter it. Damn.
Ok...but looking at it realistically there was still more room to ride and more to do here even without the trails. Yes, it wasn't the dream I had pictured, but at the same cost was it better?
Then she drove the nail in the coffin: the barn hours were 8 am - 6 pm. Unless there is a special reason to get permission to arrive earlier or later. No wonder at 5 pm it was so busy. Everyone was trying to get everything done before the barn closed. No way that would work with my schedule.
Darn. Barn #2 just died a horrible death.
I went home and mulled over our options. We could stay put and keep looking or move to Barn #1 which was a beautiful facility with a nice BO who knew her stuff. We were put on a wait list at two facilities that did truely have trails. One bordered Croft State Park where I do most of my conditioning but is at the back entrance putting it a solid hour from home. The other has about 15 miles of confirmed trails but is $400 a month and does not offer pasture board. Horses must be stalled during the night in winter and day in summer and the wait list is massive.
In the end we decided to move to Barn #1 and after we made the move (a post is coming on that) I can honestly say that we have never boarded at a place so lovely with a BO so wonderful.