Saturday, October 15, 2016

Doing Everything By Yourself

This is mostly just a whiny, gripey kind of post, so bear with me while I get it off my chest. I don't have a lot of things to whine about but this one really gets to me sometimes. 

A lot of you have these big support systems which help make everything possible for you. You have friends, grooms, and spouses that are there to hold your horse, pick some poo, take video of you, and do everything else that makes a show, or even daily chores, doable.

I have nobody. And sometimes that really just sucks.

Obviously I do have Future Hubs, but he is not a horse person and he is allergic to hay. I don't think he even knows how many horses I have, and they live in our backyard. I don't mind this - I've dated horse people in the past and sometimes it was entirely more volatile than I could handle, and I've also dated super-whipped people who just did whatever I wanted to do or told them to do, which also kind of sucked - but sometimes I see you guys posting about what amazing horse spouses you have, that go out and feed for you and set jumps for you and go to horseshows with you and do all of this stuff, and I am jealous. 

Or you board at a facility and you have a boatload of friends to help you. They're there to hold your horse, take videos, lend a hand, and give you some moral support when you're jittery. And you'd do the same for them. My only horse friends all live super far away, and none of them are anywhere close enough to help me on a regular basis. Part of this is obviously because the horses live at home, and nobody would actually have incentive to come here unless they lived here, but part of it is that I'm really antisocial and not very good at dealing with humans. I'm a bad friend-maker. And so, I continue to do things alone.

Most of the time, this situation is great. I love my horses and I love to be left alone, so it's a win-win most of the time. But once in awhile I just wish I had somebody nearby to lend a hand when I needed them.

Case in point: Today. I wanted to go to the Haras Cup this weekend to spectate. I REALLY wanted to go! What a fun little weekend trip that would have been. Of course, this meant I was going to have to hire a pet sitter, because even though Future Hubs is home, he doesn't do the horse thing and couldn't really do anything anyway with his allergies. The pet sitter ended up needing to bail for work related reasons. Then it turned out Future Hubs also had to go to a wedding, so he wasn't going to be home on Saturday night. So if I was going to go, it was going to be a day trip. 

A day trip with 8+ hours of driving. 

And 8 hours is a literal day.

I really wanted to go anyway. I wanted to say screw it and just hop up and get to it. But reason won out. I stayed home.

This is probably the 10th time this year I've had to make that decision, to just stay home because I had nobody to help me. Hell, I even missed an entire summer vacation because of that this year. 

I made the choice to keep my horses at home with no other support system other than myself. I LOVE keeping them here and I would not for a second trade ANY of this for being stuck a single day at a boarding barn again. But on days like this, I get frustrated and annoyed. It is SO HARD to do this all by myself. I have a lot of things riding on my shoulders and I only have myself to rely on at the end of the day, which means that sometimes the things I REALLY want to do just don't get done. The trips I want to go on just don't get taken. The shows I want to spectate at just don't happen. 

Something will have to give next year. Something will need to change. I am going to show and I am not going to show much locally if I have anything to say about it, so I will need to hire somebody to come feed with regularity. I have a few people I can pull from, which is good, but still.... the principle of it is kind of a huge pain in my butt. 

I know some of you are stuck in this same boat. What do you do to manage everything all by yourself? How do you manage to ever get away, or to show, or to take a weekend trip, or even to just have your animals attended to when you have nobody to help you? 

Rant over. I feel better for having gotten it off my chest. I'll figure it out I'm sure... but of course, any suggestions are always welcome and appreciated.

In case you were wondering, I have 6 cats


  1. I too am alone, and in a very similar situation. I have two boarders. Almost always one of them can feed/muck while I'm away. After all, they want their ponies fed, and I give them a break on board for each day they feed. Works great.

  2. I may be a boarder, but I grew up with horses at home (and cows and chicken and sheep and dogs and and and), so I know what you're feeling. It's so hard to get away.

  3. I have such a love/hate relationship with keeping my horses at home. I sometimes feel like I have the best of boat worlds boarding one out, but then other times I get so frustrated paying board when I could accomplish basically the same thing at home and spend less money 😐 I'm lucky in that my husband helps a lot when he's here, but his work schedule is pretty shitty and some weeks he just doesn't want anything to do with the horses on his days off (which is totally fair). I think it's the nature of humans to always want what we don't have -- I can absolutely promise you that there are plenty of bloggers who see what you have and want it desperately. That's probably not really super comforting, I know. Sorry to hear that you missed out on Haras, hopefully you get a good system in place so you can get out there and start showing in 2017!

  4. Awww hugs! Glad writing about it helped you feel better. Wondering if you could add a second living structure on your property and rent it to a person who was willing to trade some rent for caretaker/pet sitter to lighten your load? Like a trailer or build a studio guest cottage and write it off as a biz expense?? Just some thoughts!

  5. That is too bad. I do things almost always by myself and I've been envious of people who seem to have a big group of people with them! I am fortunate in that my husband will look after the horses when I'm away and we have a reliable pet sitter.

    Is it possible to find someone else who can pet sit?

  6. Yup - been there many times.

    I board privately and do self-care. The owners of the property have nothing to do with my horses because they are older and unable to feed or anything like that. I typically get the boyfriend to help out, or a friend, but most of my friends have moved away or have their own lives so it makes it tough.

    One thing I have found to be extremly helpful for the feeding portion, is to have a round bale out with a slow feeder net over it. That way, I don't really have to ask anyone to feed my horses - just to check on them and fill water and scoop poop. Much nicer and easier than feeding 2-3x a day!

  7. I have boarded and now keep my horses at home. We do have one boarder and she is instrumental in allowing us to even think about a vacation or just an overnight trip across the state. We offer her a deal on her board or cash by the day in exchange for staying here. She loves having her horse so close on those days. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the nostalgia never wears off ;) I also have a neighbor that has horses and we will trade feedings when necessary. Is there a local 4-H that would have some experienced teens looking for horse time?

  8. I feel your pain. The number of times I had to quit on spending time with friends because I had to go home and care for my horses.. It restricted my freedom in all sorts of ways. Now I've moved and I've purposefully set the horses up in a low-work (for me) situation and it's amazing. I went on holidays and left them for nearly 2 weeks and they were totally fine. Hmm this is a good topic for a blog post.
    Now I just have to make some friends to spend my free time with hahaha - how do I do that?!

  9. I completely understand where your coming from!! I can be very rewarding but also frustrating. I honestly do not mind doing everything by myself. Maybe you could find someone you trust in your area that you could pay to feed and look after your horses and animals when you go away. This is what I do. You could advertise on social media or elsewhere. It's important to make sure it's someone you can trust with them but you could also set it up as a trade type thing, so they look after yours when you want to go away and you do theirs if they want to get away

  10. I really do know what it's like. I used to be you: We had almost three acres back in PR and I had chickens, geese, ducks, quail, guinea hens, a horse, 6 dogs, 3 cats, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, green family helped with their care but I was mostly the one in charge. I didn't party or hang out in high school nor college because I had animals to take care of. We couldn't go on all-family outings ever because someone always had to stay behind to watch the animals. I loved having so many pets but it is an all-consuming endeavor and most people don't realize the amount of time and responsibility it takes to appropriately care for so many animals the way you do. <3 I've helped friends with barn chores and have been at self-care facilities where I took care of others' horses in order to work off part of my board. I don't do that anymore because it put me in the same situation: I couldn't do anything else with my life because I had to go to the barn to feed, muck stalls, turn out horses, etc. I was out there rain or shine, sometimes in the middle of the night, once I was the only one that could make it to check on the horses in the middle of a hurricane (we lived a mile from the barn), and so many times I was the one taking care of another boarder's or my BO's colicking horse. You couldn't pay me now to do that again. I was working 40 hours a week at my veterinary job and spending another 40 at the barn, with no time or energy left for anything else. Nope.

    Carlos is involved with the riding and some of the care now if I ask him (like dosing antibiotics in the middle of the night or checking on them when he's off), but back then it was ALLLLLLLLL me. Hence why in the early posts of my blog there were almost no photos.

    I have been asked before if I would want to own a farm if we could afford it (which we could, if we didn't have to pay 3x most people's mortgages in student loans alone...) and people are always surprised because my answer is "NO." But it's precisely because of what you describe above.

    And so that's why I'm more than happy to pay for board. I go for the cheapest, most laid-back place I can find that will allow me to keep my horses in a field 24/7 with quality pasture, some type of shelter, as close to home as I can get it, and let me do whatever the hell I want when it comes to my horses' care. I'm lucky that here in MD most barns provide hay in the winter at no additional cost, which means I don't have to go out to take care of them if we're snowed in because I know they will have hay, water and shelter. I only grain the week before a competition as a carrier for elytes, and for the week after competition to replenish glycogen stores, and have pretty much moved away from oral supplements entirely. While I do check on them every day, on work days it's just "life checks" to make sure they are sound and in one piece.

    In terms of hiring someone, my recommendation is to talk your local vets about veterinary technicians willing to do farm sitting. It is a very, VERY popular side job for vet techs and you get someone that is experienced with animals AND has medical knowledge to boot. :) I hope you can figure it out so you can have fun and show too!

  11. We have a large amount of cows, chickens, cats, dogs, a turtle, and I have three horses. I pay a vet tech to come stay and care for everything. It's expensive but worth it.

  12. That sure is tricky. I always think of how fun it would be to get photos of you riding Dylan, because you guys are pretty majestic even with a blurry video still. Since the Lyme disease keeps me from working, I try to do what I can at home. Sometimes it takes me a while if I am feeling weak that day to clean the pens and feed all of the critters. I am fortunate to have husband help throw hay at night and he sometimes volunteers to clean pens on weekends. And he has been able to go to my bigger shows this year and that has been so helpful. He is very serious about getting me into warm up on time, hydrating me, and videoing.

    Leaving the house is hard though, and I'm lucky that we have a friend willing to take care is the place. He is good and paranoid and pays close attention to everything (just how I like it). But it is expensive to leave, even if just for a few days. He also would come over when he didn't have a job so that I could ride in the cooler part of the day (I'm not allowed to ride alone because of possible passing out issues). If I was closer to you, I would definitely come help. But Idaho is a little out of the way!

  13. I'm in the same boat as you when my husband is gone for months at a time. Here's what works for me:

    * I have two friends that I can call on to come help out. 99% of the time, one of them can help me.
    * I have two vet techs that have also volunteered, although I have never used them. This would be my best advice to you - get to know some vet techs who will come. Sure, you have to pay them, but they're horse savvy and love those side jobs.
    * In an absolute pinch, I have two neighbors that would come throw hay and let my dogs out to toilet. So at least nobody would starve.
    * Speaking of neighbors, our across-the-street neighbor knows everyone. Any time I need help and the hubby is not home, I know who to call. I've used a couple of folks for non-emergency fence fixing and such and I always give them a HUGE tip, so next time I really need help, they come out right away.

    Basically it's all about building a network. If you don't have boarders/friends close by, you have to do it with money. But it's worth it to be able to get away for a day or a whole weekend.

  14. I had this same post a lot when I still lived in MI. I even had a post laying out why I was so happy to go back to a boarding situation. The lack of help and lack of ability to do anything because it was just me. The first 2+ years I lived there, I went no where. I couldn't.
    Setting up for non-horse people to help certainly made things easier. I went to round bales in a slow feed hay net. I had grain pre-scooped and in buckets so it just needed dumped (Or they missed a meal of grain, no big loss since no one got much anyway). Letting normal routine "go" for a day allowed me to start having some freedom. The addition of a couple of friends was huge too.

  15. I'm kind of in the same boat as you. We are not really friends with anyone in the area, but are friendly with the neighbors. My husband does help with all the animals, but also travels a lot, leaving me with a baby and all the animals to care for. We have come to rely on one neighbor that also has horses when we want to go out of town for short trips. She has been awesome. We've also been meeting ag people through various purchases (hay, animals, etc). One girl I bought a llama from. Turns out her family owns a lot of farmland in the area and her aunt is our next door neighbor. The girls seems to know like everyone in the county too. She farm sat for us once, and if we needed to, we could probably find someone else to watch the animals for us.

    Something else that has helped was slow feed hay nets. If we wanted to just do a short overnight somewhere, I could put out enough hay in slow feed nets Saturday morning, grain them early, then leave and come back Sunday afternoon/evening and they would be fine. Up until this morning, I trusted my horses to not be stupid. However, they (really, the mare) managed to get out overnight and were running amok somewhere. So I don't think I will be trusting them alone any more without someone coming by to check on them.

  16. I'm a boarder for many reasons but having a hired support system is definitely one of those. It's always a case of grass is greener - I wish I could just walk out of my house and pet my horse and he'd have more room to run around. But I also know that my work takes me away for weeks at a time and I wouldn't be able to leave him unattended. Good luck on finding the balance or at least riding the waves up and down

  17. I'm sort of in the same boat. I do board but I know that no one checks on my horses except for me. I don't have anyone to set jumps or video for me (or even just be present when I am trying things with my baby horse for the first time and may die). Maybe you could offer some sort of trade... free trims for farm help?

  18. I am so happy I found your blog!! I recently just moved my horse home and while there are 6 other horses at my house already, they are retired pasture pets and super low maintenance. When I broke my foot I was SUPER happy that my bf was able to step up and provide bare minimum for my horse. But I totally understand you on not having the real horse support system. I'm trying to meet some local people in my area for friends to ride with, but I suck at that.