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A year and a half ago I foolishly thought it’d be easy to build a horse farm from the ground up. I had a lot of success at first and I thought wow, this is so easy. Now, I’ve realized that I have so much more to learn and not nearly enough time to learn it. In the beginning I didn’t think about money, I just wanted people to come board so I kept prices low. My kindness and hopefulness has been both a blessing and a curse it brought a great community to me but at the same time I’ve ruined my finances (not for the first time).
I wonder, do I have what it takes to run a horse farm full time?
The real question I should be asking is- do I want to run a horse farm full time? My answer varies day by day. Some days I’m enjoying every second that at the farm and I rejoice in the progress we’ve made. Other days I look at the area around me and I just want to walk away from it all. Maybe I’d go and travel the world. Explore new places and get lost for a time.
Then I think about my horses, the ones I’ve taken responsibility of, I think about my barn cats and the barn dog. Then I think about my boarders and how much they need the peace my facility provides. I don’t walk away because this plan is about more than just me. At times I look around and curse my curiosity and my creativeness- follow us on Instagram if you want to learn more about all the projects we have going on.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to make my farm sustainable and I want to make it a place all feel welcome at. I’m an introvert by nature and so, sharing my peace zone is something I dislike but again, this place, this facility isn’t about me. It’s about building community and helping those around me grow.
Where does this cross with sustainability?
Well, there are a few things I plan on implementing. At horse farms we waste a lot of water, a lot of valuable manure and a lot of time.
My action plan is to create a way to capture heat/ energy from decomposing manure. I want to use the compost created to feed the plants I want to grow. We have to dump water buckets daily and instead of letting it go down the drain I plan on creating a gray water irrigation system to water the paddocks and the gardens I’ve started. I want to put solar panels on the barn roof and use wind energy (if we get any) to help power the water pumps needed to move water around. Lastly, I want to have a composting toilet for the human occupants of the farm. The thing here is to stop being wasteful. Ideally, I’d like to reduce our carbon foot print to zero. That will take a lot of work and a lot of retraining of my community. We are after all a little bit lazy and we will have to step back and try to make ourselves brand new.
This is a journey I never expected to take. If you had asked me five years ago I wouldn’t have said I plan on developing and building a sustainable horse farm. However, here I am in the midst of planning this great adventure. Something, that is sure to have many bumps along the road. I just hope that my errors will help future barn owners run better barns that cost less, so we, as horse people can spend more time with the beasts we love so very much.
Hidden Meadow Equestrian Center is in the process of getting ready for visitors. While I’ve managed other barns in the past, it has always been for someone else. I oversaw the day to day operations but I didn’t was the one who paid the bills. It was a lot of stress and I didn’t really have control over the outcome. Working for Whimsy Brook Farm taught me a lot and I am thankful I had the opportunity to work there right out of college. I got to realize my dream of being a riding instructor and horse trainer. I also realized how hard of a life that is and I learned that I didn’t want to only be a riding instructor/ horse trainer. It took me a while to get back up from that realization. I had to reconsider my choices and what I wanted to do. I had to reinvent “the wheel” so to speak.
The most challenging thing about needing to realign my thinking was that I still had to deal with horses and their owners. It’s a joke in the horse industry that the worst thing about dealing with horses are the humans that come with the horses. An unfortunate truth is that a common thing to hear while at a horse show is “Ms. Smith Trainer Extraordinaire is great with horses but horrible to deal with in person.” Then there are horse trainers that are people savvy. Often these are the people who are great to deal with and can convince everyone around them that they are AMAZING at what they do as and yet for some reason the horses they work with end up lame or injured or unrideable. Those people are the ones who are flashy and can talk the talk but when it comes to the safety of horses, well, that is something they don’t consider.
Which is quite a difficult thing to work around the question usually ends up being- as a riding instructor/ horse trainer and human how do you maintain the contact you need to succeed while still keeping the safety of the horse in mind?
This question is especially relevant as we see horses compete and train at increasing higher levels. The more we demand of our horses, the more we need to think about their safety. As a horse owner and a horse professional I’ve opted to keep out of the show scene- for me, showing off my skills isn’t as important as providing a safe, relaxed and enjoyable environment for my horses. Luckily for me, I happen to have boarders who are of the same mind.
Stay tuned for more from the Hidden Meadow team.