To make sense of this week, we need to go back in time and expand on some items.
In June of 2018, due to a series of unfortunate decisions on the part of our "old" barn owner, I moved barns. I moved to a barn almost 40 minutes away for a couple of reasons: 1) Amanda moved herself and her students to the new barn, and 2) we were having feed quality issues with the old barn and Ashke was losing weight. There was the additional benefit of having the barn two minutes from where Amanda lived (for blanketing, night checks on sick horses, checking on them when there were fireworks) and at the time we moved in, the board was about the same.
The physical benefits aside, there was also the benefit of boarding with women I feel like I had just begun to know. We moved into one wing of the barn and over the course of the past two years and four months, this group has become family. When we moved into the barn I already knew that my ex was having an affair. It was beyond obvious, and I suspected at that time the affair had started a couple of years prior. I didn't have definitive proof (harder to prove since lesbians have female friends that aren't lovers), however, my personal life was very solitary and lonely. The barn became my second home, and the women I boarded with were one of the reasons I was able to survive last year. One of my barn mates was my realtor, and she has become one of my very best friends. One of them is my vet and handled the spay of our three baby animals last year. One of them is a ray of light to everyone she is around, and has organized all of the get-togethers we've had as a group. Amanda is not just my trainer, but my dear friend. And one of them is the woman I ride with in lessons, since we both work on the same stuff and enjoy riding together (you can learn as much watching someone else figure out the canter pirouette as you can trying it yourself). I value and love all of them and have cherished the time spent at the barn, the moments of our lives that we share, the conversations and laughter. It's been a lifeline.
Tuesday night we lost one of the horses at the barn. He had broken his leg, had it surgically repaired, and then developed laminitis during his recovery. His owner had tried everything, but once the rads showed coffin bone rotation in both front feet, she made the decision to put him down. I didn't go to the barn on Tuesday, because they were taking care of him that late afternoon (and because I wanted to watch the debacle of a debate). Weds just after noon I got a message from one of my friends that a letter had been distributed, which she took pics of and messaged them to me.
The barn owner raised her rate for board by $100/month.
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Just to be clear, I am on a shoestring budget and I have no more money for board. I am very limited in my options. I couldn't afford to pay any more than I was paying now. I needed to find another place to board or I needed to sell Ashke. On top of that, we had eleven horses that we needed to find a place for, if we were going to stay together, which I didn't think would happen. I burst into tears at both the thought of losing my horse and at the thought of losing my barn family. I sent a message to my coworkers and then headed home. I just couldn't cope.
In the two days since then, I have toured a couple of different barns, talked with a lot of my barn peeps, and just been amazed at the resilience of this group of women. We've found a place for eleven horses in stalls with runs, a huge tack room that doesn't pour rain during any storm, good lights and lots of outside space to ride and explore. And we will be paying less for the new place over the old one.
Most importantly, our core group will be staying together.