It's not uncommon for me to knock on the door, they live on the property, and ask for Dario. I ALWAYS need something. Sometimes it's easy stuff, like a quick heads-up that I'll be gone for a day or two (they have all emergency information in my file). Other times I need help with a construction project in my trailer or stall. If I need to leave a check for the farrier, Dario is more than happy to walk it out to his truck when he sees the farrier pull in. The kindest thing that Dario does for me has to do with feeding.
Since it's been so ridiculously hot, I've been arriving at the barn around 6:30 a.m. Depending on the daylight hours, Dario cleans the stalls first, and then feeds the horses around 7:00 a.m. (He hates to see them eating in manure-filled stalls.) But since he knows I come out so regularly, he feeds my horses at sixish when he starts to clean so that they've had some breakfast before they begin working. I can't tell you how much that means to me. And if I am trailering somewhere early in the morning, he happily feeds the morning ration late the night before so that my horse is well-fed when I pull out for the show or trail ride. And when I return, there's always fresh hay waiting even though Speedy G or Sydney already ate "breakfast."
When Dario feeds, he looks at WHO he is feeding and doles out the right amount of hay for that particular horse. Some get two flakes, like Sydney, some get a flake and a half, like Speedy G, and others get just one flake. We all pay the same board, but Dario makes sure that each horse is fed according to his size and work load. My boys tend to stay on the lean side, they're just not easy keepers, so he always feeds enough that some hay is left over between feedings. My boys never clean their plates, but Dario doesn't reduce the hay. He understands that it is much healthier, and more natural for horses to 'graze' throughout the day. But there are no fat horses at the barn either. The fatties don't get as much, but they've learned not to hoover it down. There's no pressure or competition for the food. More is always coming.
In between his careful feeding routine, Dario cleans the stalls each morning and checks all of the horses' automatic waterers. If they've gotten a bit green, he whips out his scrubby brush and gives them a quick cleaning. If the waterers aren't working properly, he repairs them as quickly as possible and provides an alternate water source if necessary. If boarders need it, he'll also turn horses out, remove blankets, add sand to the stalls, and deal with the fly traps.
And then there's me again with the special requests. I've been "complaining" about the morning dust that hangs in the air in the barn aisle. When I arrived at the barn on Saturday morning, my two horses were happily munching on their early breakfasts in stalls that were dust-free. The barn aisle, and my stalls, had been hosed down. I knew a blog post had to be written!
My board must be outrageous! I know that's what you're thinking. I am almost embarrassed to tell you what we pay. For twice daily feeding, morning cleaning, a tack room per stall, and all of the extra care that Dario gives, we pay only $185 per horse. Quite a bargain, isn't it?
If you missed my earlier barn tour, you can see it here or here. Silvarado Stables is located at 4600 Alfred Harrell Highway, Bakersfield, CA 93306. For local riders, we're across the street from Ethel's Old Corral, below the Panorama Bluffs.
Click photos for larger view and captions.