Prodded in the buttocks by a comment from Cowgirliz [Never Settle], today I visited a barn that offers Western lessons. Western comes with less baggage. I don’t know anyone in that world and have no ambitions in that direction. Of course, there exists the mathematical possibility that I will meet my equine soulmate, become the next Stacy Westfall, and make the US Team in Reining. Who says I don't have the imagination to write fiction?
Possible Point Earners
Perimeter fence. If all goes bad, the horses ain’t going anywhere.
Coiled hoses. So simple, so much neater.
Aisles that are swept/raked but not compulsively so.
Neat feed room.
Stall condition relative to time of day.
An inverse fly/point ratio.
Miscellaneous junk – there is alway misc. junk – stored out of the way.
Fencing philosophy. No fence is perfect. The choice says how the barn balances the safety x cost x maintenance equation.
Big, grassy fields. Extra points for big, grassy fields that are being used.
Picnic tables. Socializing is expected.
Adult riders for potential friends, unless this is an indication of a Serious Barn
Condition of the horses, physically & mentally. Ask the residents. They’ll tell you.
Dump. The barn I grew up in was an epic dump. The horses loved it. I loved it.
Restroom vs. outhouse. Poop is poop. (Which reminds me of a story….)
Live in manager/owner. A trade-off of increased supervision vs being less amused by odd hours.
Viewing areas, mahogany stall doors, heated indoor rings. The fancier the place, more I wonder who comes first, horse or human.
Helmets. Given my yapping on the subject [sidebar, Helmet Evangelism], you might think this would be a dealbreaker. But no. I have no children to example set. If the folks at a given barn do not feel that their heads are worth protecting that is not going to stop me from riding there – wearing my helmet.
Ribbon displays. Go to enough shows & eventually anyone can accumulate a wall of ribbons. Now, if the ribbons are big, fluffy blue ones that say Ledyard, Radnor, WIHS, that will give the points meter a spin
A friendly-feeling, casual barn. Horses looked happy. No one home. Left card. No progress, but at least action.
How do you evaluate a new barn?