The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
Betsy Carter’s Horse Scene: Clean facilities mean cared-for horses
ON WEDNESDAY, I took my horse to see the vet at his location in his barn and was struck by the fact that it was so clean.
That is the tried-and-true way of judging the care of the animals. If the barn is cared for, the animals are taken care of even better.
The vet’s barn is not new, but there are no cobwebs, the stalls are pristine, the water buckets are beat up but scrubbed clean and the aisle is swept clean without a trace of hay or shavings. There is also nothing that would encumber a horse or rider in the aisle—no trunks, chairs, brooms or rakes. The only thing in the aisle is one sturdy church pew for sitting. And the barn smells good, of fresh shavings and sweet hay.
By contrast, I remember visiting the absolute other end of the spectrum in barn management. I’d gone with a friend to look at a horse at this barn. We drove up and saw that the barnyard was a little untidy, then we walked into the barn.
It was a big, new barn with aluminum siding and shining new bars on all the stall fronts. However, the aisle was a dirty mess, and it was cluttered with trunks and chairs and horse blankets and towels thrown all over the place.
But what was worse, and immediately noticeable, was the smell. There was the choking odor of wet, dirty stalls. The ammonia smell was so strong, it was difficult to breath. This was not the smell of a barn that has not yet been cleaned that day. This was a barn that hadn’t had its wet spots done for months.
About the time my friend and I reached the middle of the long barn aisle, we looked at each other and ran the rest of the way down the aisle to reach the fresh air. We did not stay to look at the horse we had come to see, though I’m sure the horse must have needed to be rescued. We wondered aloud how the horses in that barn could breathe and whether they all had respiratory problems, and we felt sorry for them.
The owner/manager/trainer of this barn was one known for her rough treatment of the horses she trained, and her overall bullying attitude matched the condition of her barn. It stank.
I also remember thinking at the time that the old adage was right, that a barn’s cleanliness reflects the care of the animals who live and work there.
My vet treats the horses who come for his care gently, with obvious concern for their well-being. He and his barn help must also care for the horses who regularly live in that barn with the same compassion and care reflected in the cleanliness of the barn.
Sept. 12–16: Maryland Horse and Pony show
Sept. 15: Silver Star; Fox chase; Kelly’s Ford; Stillmeadow; Carlton.
Sept. 15: Chase’s Inn, Bowling Green; fox hunting clinic, sponsored by the Caroline Hunt Club. $60 for mounted participants; $20 for auditors. Call Beth at 540/623-5581 for further information.
Sept. 16: Hazelwild; Sandstone; Speakeasy
Sept. 18–23: Middleburg Classic
Sept. 22: Moriah; Fox chase; Coventry; Elmington
Sept. 23: Oakland Heights; BBHSA; Hidden Haven; Sandstone
Sept. 26–30: HITS Culpeper
Sept. 29: Whitestone; Silver Lining
Sept. 30: Lake of the Woods; TWA Warrenton; Sumerduck
Betsy Carter can be reached at The Free Lance-Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401; or by fax at 540/373-8455.