Self-Care Boarding 101

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Plans to make and supplies to gather before committing to self-care

I didn’t really choose to become a self-care boarder. I was happy with the care my Thoroughbred gelding, Dorado, received on full board. After years of having him at home, I enjoyed the extra time I had to check things off my to-do list.

But unexpectedly, Dorado suffered a laminitic episode. The barn staff caught it early, which allowed us to treat him quickly, but I still needed to medicate and check on him at least twice a day for the initial recovery period. I told the barn owner that I’d switch to self-care for the time being because I’d be at the farm so frequently. I never switched back.

Yes, it was a ton of work. And, yes, I spent significantly more time at the barn than when Dorado was on full board. But I found that I loved starting my day with Dorado. I enjoyed unwinding after work by cleaning a stall and going for a ride. And, even though picking up stable essentials meant an extra trip out at night or on weekends, I loved the freedom of selecting my own feed, hay, and bedding. I also believe the extra time spent with Dorado strengthened our relationship.

All that to say: Self-care boarding takes a lot of time and effort, but it can be just what some horse owners need.

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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