more in love with the clean air, sparse
traffic and scenic trails.
When we moved, my much-loved
Paint gelding, Wally, moved with us,
but I knew from the start that I’d be
boarding him. Small-acre horsekeep-ing property is scarce in Prescott,
primarily due to the mountainous
setting. Plus, Ron and I have grown
older and creakier, so the prospect of
boarding Wally became alluring.
Needless to say, I spent weeks
investigating a handful of public barns
in the area. I finally settled on the one
that best suited Wally’s needs and our
budget: a meticulously maintained
equestrian center inside a gated
To be clear, Ron and I purchased
a rather modest home outside the
aforementioned gate. What enhanced
our new home’s appeal was the fact
that it’s only six minutes from our
front door to Wally’s stall. I timed the
trip. Can you blame me?
For the first time in decades, I was
entrusting the daily care of my horse
GET ON BOARD
Have you contemplated transitioning from backyarder
to boarder? Are you moving your horse to a new barn?
If so, here are five suggestions:
1 DON’T BE A COMPLAINER If you carefully inspected the boarding barn—which in my book includes
snooping beyond the guided tour—you should be well aware of what awaits you
and your horse before you sign the boarding agreement. But wait! Before you sign,
read the fine print, including specific rules of conduct. If any of them make you
uncomfortable, select a different facility. You’ll never be happy and your constant
nitpicking will simply make you a pariah.
2 GET TO KNOW THE STAFF I’ve come to trust each one of the hardworking folks who feed Wally, clean
his automatic waterer and muck his stall. Knowing them on a first name basis, and
treating them with respect, helps create a closer rapport that ultimately can only
benefit my horse. That’s a good thing.
3 BEWARE THE BOSS MARE There’s one at every barn: a veteran horsewoman who doesn’t take kindly to
strangers unaware of her self-proclaimed expertise. Initially, you may be shunned by
the Boss Mare, because she hasn’t yet figured out where you fit in with the human
herd dynamics. Just be pleasant and polite, and don’t take her alpha mare tactics
personally. Once she realizes that you have no intention of stealing her cowgirl
crown, she’ll stop being so grumpy. Hopefully.
4 RESIST RECITING YOUR RESUME Honestly, no one’s interested in your horse’s
three-generation pedigree, your illustrious show
career, or how you once spent an entire summer
under the tutelage of Buck Brannaman (or George
Morris or Martha Josey). Everyone will discover
soon enough how well you ride through observation, and they’ll construct your backstory based
on tidbits you selectively dish out in conversation.
Just allow it to happen. You can always fine-tune
any incorrect information over time.
5 JUST BE NICE Maintain a pleasant demeanor and you’ll
be welcomed in any boarding barn. It requires
only minimal effort on your part. Greet the other
boarders as you meet them in the barn aisle.
Compliment someone on their cute horse, their
new boots or their steady seat in the saddle. Be
generous by loaning your fly spray or sharing a
bundle of carrots. Embrace that old saying, “To
make a friend, be a friend,” and after a while
you’ll feel as comfortable as you did in your own
backyard. Trust me.
YOUR HORSE LIFE