We all have this image in our heads of the perfect yard; big open American barn, light airy boxes, hanging baskets, lush green grazing and neat tidy yard…. And I suppose this is an option for some. However, I do wonder whether in reality is there really such a thing as the perfect yard?
With Hammy being my first horse (and when I took him on I kept him where he was), I had never really thought about relocating, I hadn’t had the need and to be honest and I don’t like change! However, when one of my best friends made the decision to move her horse (also Hamish’s best friend) I did start to wonder what else was out there, what might I be missing out on? At the time, I was travelling for about half an hour to 45 minutes to get my yard from home/work; mainly due to traffic, the journey was much quicker when the roads were quiet but still about 15 to 20 minutes. The thought of being somewhere a little closer to home really was inviting. However, at that stage I had no intentions whatsoever of actually moving Hamish – in fact the thought filled me with worry and dread!
I thought I was relatively happy where I was and I didn’t think any other yards would be as nice as the one I was at – I was pretty set in my routine and the thought of changing both mine and Hamish’s routine seemed daunting.
I said I would help Julia look around some local yards, for a second opinion and also to be a bit nosey, in all honesty. When a yard was finally decided on and Julia moved, it gave me a bit of a nudge to really consider the idea for Hammy and I. The yard Julia moved to was very different to where I was at the time, nothing negative but the stables were external for a start and I was used to having an indoor barn; “what on earth would I do in the winter or when it was raining…!?” These are the sort of irrational thoughts that would pop into my head about various things when I had looked at yards. None of these things were ever actual problems or reasons to ‘write off’ potential new horsey homes.
I often thought about Julia’s new yard and the more I thought about it the more I considered the idea of moving. The stable would actually be far bigger for Ham and he would be able to see other horses out of his window – both in the stable block and in the field. The school was soo much bigger and the surface was excellent all year round, the hacking was great with various routes out of the yard and I knew this would make it less ‘nappy’ (for Ham at least) and the people were lovely, friendly and interested in making an effort to welcome me onto the yard. On top of all this, it was less than a 10 minute drive from home – it really did tick a lot more boxes than I had initially thought.
It was then that I realised that I wasn’t at this, so thought, perfect yard that I had gotten so comfortable at. Maybe it was time for a change? I would save a lot of money on fuel and be able to spend more of my time with Hamish, as opposed to getting to him. I’ll be honest, this was still quite a big decision for me and when moving day came and Hamish was loaded up and we were driving out of the driveway, I won’t lie, I did wonder if I was definitely doing the right thing and whether Hamish would be happy and settle in okay. These thoughts ran through my head most of the lead up to the moving day, until we unloaded Hamish at the other end.
I wasn’t at the perfect yard, I probably wouldn’t move to the perfect yard and in fact, there realistically isn’t going to be a perfect yard!!
When we unloaded him at the other end and walked him round to his new box, he went straight in without hesitation, had a little sniff around, did a poo and had a roll – I don’t think it could have gone much better! I think at that point, I finally relaxed and I knew that I had made the right decision. He shared a huge field, which had plenty of lush grass and a big tree for shelter and shade. To top it off he was able to go out in the field with his Friend Wizard, who he already knew from our previous yard. I do believe this was one of the main reasons he was able to settle in so quickly, so thanks Wiz Man for being a good pal. Not only did Hamish settle in quickly, but I did too! The lovely people at the new yard just loved being up there with their horses, and although we might all have had different interests when it came to riding, we all shared the same love of being at the stables, it was refreshing to be somewhere, sharing my hobby, with likeminded people.
So I guess the outcome of my experience with moving was that actually, change is okay and it doesn’t have to be so daunting. If you spend the time to find the right yard, it really can make all the difference. It wasn’t until I moved that I realised how much happier I was – considering this is the place I spend every spare second of my time, this was a pretty big deal.
If you are considering moving your horse, here’s some advice following my experience that’ll hopefully help you find your pal a lovely new pad.
Expectations: Be realistic with your expectations. Try to walk onto new yards with an open mind and don’t set yourself up for disappointment with super high (and maybe unrealistic) expectations. This will also tie in with your budget; you need to be realistic with what you can afford and what you can therefore expect to get for your money. This also means not paying over the odds for a yard without the facilities to match! I think it is a good idea to speak to friends at different yards or visit a few of your local yards and try to get a bit of an understanding for the ‘going rate’ and what is included in this so you know where you stand.
Understand what is important: This is probably the most helpful thing you can do for yourself. Make a list of the things that you would like most from a yard, whether it be a great school surface, ample all year round grazing, or even just having the necessities close, to save you time. Your list may be really long; it may not, but out of the things listed, try to then put them into an order of most to least important. This way, if the yard meets the top 3 or 4 things it’s probably a winner. It’ll be unlikely anywhere will ever meet all of your criteria but if it can meet the most important things it’s a good start!
Keep your horse in mind: It is easy to look at a yard, and think wow – I would love to be here. But this doesn’t always mean your horse will feel the same way. Try to keep this in mind when looking to move, does your horse need to be somewhere which is more of a competition yard? Or would they be suited to somewhere quieter? Do they need lots of rich grass or do they need less rich grass and small paddocks? These are the things that will help you both to settle into the new place quickly and stress free.
I would love to hear about your experiences with moving yards, how you got on and any advice you might have for other people reading this post, who are moving too.