Sunday, May 15, 2011

5-Way Win

Mr. Fry and I reached a major decision this weekend: Jaz and Daltrey will be spending a lot more time living at Iron Ridge

There's no set schedule. It will depend on a number of variables, the most important of which is the condition of our land. In the past, we have sent them up for approximately 2 months or so a year. Now, they will divide their time more equally, or the balance may even tip the other way.

Now that Mr. Fry and I have reached an accord, I wonder that we did not come to this decision sooner. It's amazing how one change can have such a positive impact.

Let me count the ways:
  1. Better for our land. If you don't have horses at home, no one can prepare you for how hard they are on it. We have five acres, which sounds like it should be plenty for two horses, but it's not. We have sandy loam soil, with the emphasis on "sand." The damage from their grazing and tearing around has led to serious erosion, especially right around the house (no cross-fencing; they have full access). We have tried to seed, but we lack the proper implements and the money to do it effectively year after year. We have several species of invasive weeds that are slowly choking what little grass and edible weeds we have. When I look at photos from a few years ago compared to today, the devastation is shocking.

  2. Better for the long-suffering Mr. Fry. He has been more than accommodating of my dream, but there you have it: this is my dream, not his. Although he likes and enjoys the horses, his passion lies in the other kind of horsepower. Whether it's hauling hay, fixing fences, or attempting to stem damage to the land — any of the myriad heavy chores — he has jumped in and done them to spare my delicate hands and wrists, which are trashed from making a living hunched over a computer keyboard. Now that he has a day job again, he will have more time do do what he wants to do.

  3. Better for the horses. It's a good thing for them to have a variety of experiences. They become accustomed to new things, which gives them confidence. They get to interact with a large, diverse herd. Although convenient for me, providing free-choice hay here at home is not in their best interest. Jaz has gone from hard keeper to glutton. Having them here for shorter periods of time makes it possible to lay in a small supply of square bales to control portions. There is always someone at home at the farm to spot an injury or illness more quickly than I would if the horses were here. I found Daltrey's leg wound when I came home from work, but it was obvious he had done it hours before. I also know they will interact with the horses, so the progress I've made with Daltrey's manners will continue to be reinforced. If they need him, they'll use Jaz for lessons — he needs the exercise. They use the same vet and farrier, and they are close to Performance Equine, one of the finest emergency veterinary facilities in the area. That's where Jaz was treated for strongyles.

  4. Better for me. I always enjoy the time the Boyz are at Iron Ridge. I get to hang with my Barn Buddies, interact with more horses, and use the arena. It's all good, and I think the cost will even itself out over time.

  5. Better for my friends. What's better than generating a little income for friends? I'm all about keeping money close to home.
It's a 5-way win, and I'm excited about it.


Cathy said...

Wow! So that's what grown up thinking and behaving looks like. Good for you and the Mr!

Anonymous said...

Good deal! Wish I had a place like Iron Ridge as an alternative - all of your points are good ones.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sounds reasonable, and good to hear that he got a day job.

Unknown said...

It's funny, right at the time I'm looking for a place where I can live with my horses, several people have popped up talking about returning to boarding.

Makes me give this more thought...

Sherry Sikstrom said...

Sounds like a perfect fit you you and for your horses.Lucky that you have access to such a great facility and you know the owners so well. That I would think made the decision much easier

Leah Fry said...

As far as I'm able to see and guess without actually trying this arrangement, I think 60/40 or 70/30 in favor of Iron Ridge as being the right balance. Like everything else, we're making this up as we go.

Winter, it depends on how much land, the composition of the soil, weather, drainage, how it's fenced, the habits of the horses themselves, and other factors you can't know until you're into it.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

sounds like a good plan. It's good that you have options.

Jeni said...

Great idea!

aurora said...

Great to make a decision, with positive outcome!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

You hit on so many valid points. Your lucky that you have such good friends and horse people at Iron Ridge.

Horses are horribly destructive to property and the land. They pound the ground hard, cause serious erosion problems and since their digestive tract is not particularly effective, have a bad tendency to spread weed seeds in their poop. Even on our ranches, we rotate cattle and horses in the pastures to help preserve the integrity of the grass.

Paint Girl said...

I think it's a great idea!!!
We have 5 acres too, but you see what 3 horses do when you have nothing but rain. The ground is so muddy and torn up. But then again, even where the horses aren't, it's all water too. There is just too much water and no where for it to go.
If I could afford it, I would board my horses during the winter months. But it is not financially possible. So I have to live with the mud. Hopefully we can get the pasture's worked on this summer to allow for better drainage.

Leah Fry said...

One thing that makes this plan feasible is that although, of course, it varies from place to place and whether you want full, partial, or pasture board, boarding is much more reasonable around here than where many of you live.

Being as rural as we are, horse facilities are everywhere. They run the gamut from modest to full blown extravagant. Iron Ridge is modest, but they care for my horses like they're their own, which, of course, they were, since I bought both my Boyz from them. I am truly blessed to have such a situation.

Our land is rolling. It drains well, but in doing so, it has taken away much of the topsoil. If this were a typical house in the 'burbs on a small lot, we'd have dirt brought in, maybe do some turf squares. Not affordable on 5 acres, and maybe not the next monsoon season, but at some point, Mother Nature would have her way and the process would begin again. We can't really fix it other than to weed, then seed, and try to keep the flora going to hold the sandy soil in place. It's an ongoing battle. It would have helped if we had cross fenced it and been able to move them back and forth, but that didn't happen because of Mr. Fry's time and the money to do it.

Bottom line: this decision just plain feels right.

Crystal said...

Congratulations on making a good decision. I board some of my horses in the winter at a place taht has an indoor arena so I can ride over the winter. It works well for me. There are many different ways we can make our land and horses work for us.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Sounds like a great plan!

I've been planning on taking Apache down to my friend's 500 acre ranch so I can ride more often, take lessons and have others to ride with, too. We also want to do more traveling this summer and trying to find good livestock care isn't as easy during the summer months because everyone else is going on vacation, too.


Pinzgauer said...

The real irony here, is that Poco wants nothing to do with them any more!

Leah Fry said...

Heather, he's a "stallion" and doesn't need to lower himself to hang with mere geldings. I suspect he'll be looking for company anywhere he can get it once you separate him from the harem.

lytha said...

i just read an article about this topic at the grocery store - "horses at home? dream or nightmare!?"

almost no one keeps horses at home in germany. most people are not even home owners, they live in apartments and townhomes. people were shocked, "you're looking for a home with land for a horse? why when there are so many nice stables?"

in our rural neigbhorhood, you have riding stables, and homes. homes were not made with acreage for horses, most of the fields around us are owned by people who live elsewhere, and horse people want to keep their horses in the plentiful riding stables for the arenas, convenience, and company.

we did what the very few did - we had to buy a piece of land separately from our home and attach it to our property (tricky). we got lucky that we even could - the other person i know who keeps horses at home has her field up the street past 5 houses.

the article said "what a dream, to have your horse outside your window" but then went over a case study of a family who tried to do it and failed because the fences had to be repaired, the tractor quit running, the water tanks froze, it was too much.

and i've met a few people here that say this, who tried to keep their horses "home" (or neighboring field) and were blown away by the amount of work it is.

we also have 5 acres but do not have the soil problems you have in your area.

our horse is very light on the land but still my husband does not like the bald/muddy patches in our paddock. it is getting worse every year as more weeds come back and less grass, but i tell myself "it's a paddock."

i hated boarding so much and the people were so difficult, i just want to be alone with my horse.

for me this is a dream come true and i would only board again if i were into a sport that required an arena, or like you if i had a young horse.

it sounds like you have a great group of people to hang out with and you can learn from each other - something i'm missing out on.

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