Driving out to look at the Place of More Affordable Boarding, the landscape was lovely. Here in northern Minnesota, the trees are all turning colors with the fall chill and lending a bright atmosphere to the forest. I admired several horse farms as we passed them and had hopes that the POMAB would be just as nice. Upon arrival I noticed the arena, which was basically a fenced in patch of ground.
Willing to be forgiving, I gave a mental shrug and thought that we could handle the uneven ground of an untended arena. Next there was a herd of minis in their dirt pen, crowded around a round bale. Cute little buggers, they made me smile and hope for the best. We pulled up near the barn were there was a row of spots to tie your horse. They were a little far from the barn and out in the open, but nothing unmanageable.
Man came out to greet us, I don't remember his name so I will just call him Man. He was an aged cowboy, complete with weather beaten face and heavy turquoise ring. He shook our hands and walked us into the barn, stating, "Well, I don't know what you want to see, but this is it." The barn seemed tidy enough, nothing jumped out at me as a red flag. Walking to the back, we could look out the back doors at the large pastures of horses eating on round bales and walking around.
Man pointed out one of his shelters, which had blown over in the wind recently. He hadn't put it back up yet. That was cause for some concern, I mean, why wouldn't you anchor your shelters down so they don't blow over and, I don't know, crush someone's horse? Strike one.
I asked about the trails on his property, having loved the look of them from his website. He sat back on his heels and explained that those photos were from a State Park they occasionally travel to, but he does have one small trail on his property. Otherwise, "People like to ride down the the bar. It's a good ride, maybe an hour and a half to get there. They've got frozen pizzas that aren't too bad and people will grab a beer while they're there." Okay, I could get on board with riding to get some lunch. However, the rest of the riding there was road riding. In winter that means we would be stuck at the ranch without many options. Strike two.
Finally, I asked what was included in the price of board. Man stated, "I throw hay out." There was a pause while I waited for the list to continue. He amended, "and every once in a while I will glance out there to make sure your horse is still standing." Insert record scratching noise here. There are times when I can't get out to the barn for one reason or another for two weeks, and I want to make sure that someone is paying attention to his well being if I can't. Strike three.
For now, Rocky and I are staying put. The ranch wasn't worth the price of not having the riding or the care that I want for my horse. If I lived just down the road or something, then sure, no problem, I could stop in on a daily basis to check on him. I like the care that Silver is giving him, and I will bite my tongue when she is being hypocritical or when her opinion is clearly the only one that matters. There are worse things than playing nice.