The Things I've learned from Running a Lesson and Boarding Barn
This time last year, May 1st 2015, my husband and I rented a beautiful 125 acre property in Iron Station, just outside Charlotte North Carolina and officially launched White Rose Equestrian Center.
The property came with a 16 stall barn, indoor arena, outdoor arena, many secure fenced areas, and acres of amazing trails. It's a beautiful, unique piece of land and represented my 'field of dreams'. I knew it would be hard work but I also knew I could do it. I have loved the challenge, the fresh air, and of course the horses but it also came with a fair share of stress, sleepless nights, and 13 hour days.
The decision to take the barn was scary and one I didn't rush into. I crunched the numbers every which way I could and stepped outside my comfort zone but knew it was something I just had to do. There were highs and lows. Getting a 70 at my first rated show with White Rose Fandango (Annie) was one of the highs. The biggest low was telling my riders that I wasn't going to renew the lease.
Renting isn't for us. We want to run a quality operation and expect things to be up to a certain standard and it's difficult putting money into a property that we will never own. So things are on hold for a while.
It's been a great adventure and we very much appreciate everyone who came along with us.
Here are the things, in no particular order, that I learned over the last 12 months while running a lesson and boarding barn.
- Staying in bed until 6:30 a.m. feels like a sleep in
- Going to bed after 9:30 p.m. is staying up late
- Some horses are crazy
- Some horse owners are crazy
- Horses can pee twice as much as they drink
- It never rains when you want it to
- Horses that like each other can, for no apparent reason, suddenly not like each other
- Male horses shouldn't be gelded until they've learned to poop in a corner
- Winter sucks
- I would be rich if I were paid every time I said, "Put your heels down"
- I would be rich if I were paid every time I changed the feed chart
- Bailing twine, duct tape, and WD40 are a barn girl's best friend
- You can't please everyone but it didn't stop me trying
- Working outside beats working inside
- Looking after a large lesson and boarding barn leaves little time to ride
- Tractor driving is fun
- Zero-turn driving is scary
- Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton are great company when you're mucking stalls
- It's great to be up before the dickeries
- It's easy to get attached to horses even if they don't belong to you
- No-kink hoses don't exist
- Working 7 days a week makes it difficult to know what day it is
- You can not teach your own children… anything!
- Black coffee is better than no coffee
- Cold coffee is better than no coffee
- Any coffee is better than no coffee
- Barn chores produce awesome muscles affectionately known as poop muscles
- Growing up in a barn is great for kids of all ages
- Fresh shavings smell wonderful
- It's harder than you would think to get onto the People of Wal-Mart page
- The bite of a horse fly hurts, really hurts!
- You never stop learning
- I get as much pleasure when my riders do well as I do when I win a blue ribbon
- What people do is more telling about them than what they say they will do
- Barn swallows (and sandy colored cats) are a great desensitizing tool for horses riding in the indoor
- A 33 year old golf cart makes a great barn vehicle
- Some people are magnets to anything that bites, stings, stomps, or kicks
- Paperwork takes up way more time than you would expect
- Eating fast food at 9pm is sometimes the only way to not starve
- Good help is hard to come by. I am very grateful to those who were always there for me!!! You know who you are.
- The most expensive clothes you own are your show clothes
- There are never enough hours in the day
- Barn germs don't count
- A farmer's tan is a must-have summer fashion accessory
- Walking over 140,000 steps in a week is easy-peasy
- Hat hair is the only hair style anyone needs
- Thank goodness for baseball caps
- None of this would have been possible without the help and support of my wonderful husband
- It takes a village
- It's good to take chances
So as we move onto the next chapter in our lives I would like to thank our boarders, riders, helpers, and volunteers. The last 12 months have been some of the most trying, exciting, funny, tiring, exuberating, rewarding, and challenging of my life. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. And as Dr. Seuss would say, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."