I made the decision that it's time to move Pia from her current locale. A) she's grumpy, B) she doesn't get enough turnout and C) the facilities don't justify staying there even for when she's on stall rest.
This means I've been on the hunt, and I've narrowed the field to 3 totally viable, totally different options. My goal is to have her moved and settled for a few weeks before she has surgery (still unscheduled), so that when she comes home from the hospital, it's to a familiar place. Any, and all comments/thoughts are welcome... here are the contenders..
Barn #1 - The Luxury Collection
10 -14x14 stall w/ run + 1/2 day gravel turnout (and grass paddocks available whenever you personally turn out).
Training not mandatory, but available. all dressage all the time.
Ok, this place is STUNNING, the owner/trainer lives on the property (++) and is obsessed with her horses. Everything is top of the line. The stalls are massive and have those gorgeous wrought iron stall gates in addition to sliding doors. The stalls are bedded knee deep in fluffy (not dusty) shavings and the aisle is paved with rubberized paver stones with inlaid grooming mats. The ring is a standard dressage ring, covered, lit, angled walls, huge mirrors, automatically watered, drug daily and just redone with that squishy sand footing (owner didn't like her nike footing and replaced it). The stalls have flower boxes, the feed is gorgeous, the care is over the top. All the horses were in great condition, gleaming and happy. Owner also mentioned that she's installing video cameras for surveillance and constantly adding new perks. Oh, and there's a big ol dressage giant there who had (dum da da duum!) SPINAL SURGERY 2 years ago for his wobblers syndrome!!!! ba da da!
The place seems chill, all the other boarders are riding anywhere from first level to GP.. so there's a range.
The downside? its 30-35 minutes away. my current barn is 30min and I hate it. PLUS it's 30min away on a 520.. which is the wrong highway to be driving home on at 6:30 after a nice afternoon ride... hmmm
Barn #2 -The Pony Club Mecca
30 12x12 stalls with full day turnout every other day in (!!) Grass pastures.
Training not mandatory, one event trainer, one dressage trainer.
This place is super friendly. The facility is a little old and worn, but everything is well maintained and workable. The insulation is falling from the big metal roof, but the stalls are well bedded and have bars between horses so they can socialize. I like that feature. Also, the owners are "known" for rehabbing which is nice, and they have a variety of paddock sizes to help accommodate rehab procedures. Also, they teach, a. lot. The barn was buzzing with capable, committed pony clubbers and its a pretty tight ship. I liked the vibe and how often they are out at shows and schooling. It was fun. Did I mention that its 10 minutes from my vet? cause it is! Makes check ups nice and convenient... BUT they charge $40 for trailer storage, which puts board up over my current $625 number.
pro's? cost, expertise, fairly easy commute of 25min.. decent turnout (when p can use it again) and good community
cons? only one smallish indoor ring, and LOTS of lessons to work around. plus its just sort of grimy. not the gleaming gorgeous facility you want to show off.
Barn #3 - The Convenience Factor
15 10x10 stalls with runs attached. full day turnout in solitary large paddocks (most with grass)
training not mandatory - S teaches here regularly.
Not sure about this one. But, for one thing its super close, as in less than 20 minutes from work and keeps me on I-90 which makes getting home after a ride MUCH easier... Its not fancy, at all. The aisles are dirt, nothing is gleaming, nothing is new. The ring is decent sized and indoor with ok footing. It's assets are that a) its easy to get to, and S is there all the time to keep an eye on the pony. b) the groom is SPECTACTULAR. the stalls are spotless, buckets are spotless and the pastures look like they maintain footing really well. The drawbacks are the small stall size (we're looking at 60 days stall rest, remember?) and not rad ring (not that we'll be using it anytime soon..). Also, the owners aren't super experienced, but they are friendly. They recently made a "serpentine" paddock for a laid up eventer so that he could be turned out, but was unable to buck and run like an idiot... It's nice to know they are willing to accommodate problem children...
So, what do I pick? where do I go? spend big for the super comfy stall and peace of mind that comes with an obsessed owner and trainer even if it means longer commute? Do I go with the Pony Club barn that has a decent facility with experienced trainers even if the turnout is not rad? Do I go the cheap route but have S's watchful eye over here and a reallllly affordable price tag?
So confusing. I'm considering the expensive barn for rehab, then once P is up and running again moving to the cheap barn where I can afford more training along with my board? The pony club barn strikes a balance between those two... so it could be a decent comprise for a longer term solution.
I'd be lying if I didn't think it was really comforting to have another wobbler in the barn (at #1)... I can't imagine having someone who's gone through this before and also having a trainer who's worked with a recovering wobbler and their mysterious new hind end?
decisions decisions... Here's a map of my life. The far west purple pin is my house, "a" is my office. Northern orange pin is barn #2, middle pin is Barn #1, and the southern purple pin is #3