The new barn has its advantages - a nice indoor, not too crowded, nice people, very large 12x14' stalls with 7 day stall cleaning and very acceptable hay and feeding, and good general horse oversight - I like the barn manager, who is also one of the trainers, a lot. But muddy, small turnouts, with no grass and no herd. No trails or trail access - I'd have to trailer out. And here's the kicker - Maisie seems increasingly unhappy. She's stopped eating the hay they give her in turnout, and comes running and whinnying to me whenever I come to get her. Before she sees me, she's just listlessly standing there - she never runs or plays although she does roll occasionally. She clearly hates the turnouts. And in her stall, although she was initially happy to be there, her expression these days isn't as happy, and she often stands with her head in the corner away from the door. It's almost as though she thought she was on a short trip somewhere that turned into a permanent move, which she hadn't expected. And, because of the limited turnout, I feel obliged to ride her every day, which has its good and bad points.
Now, I'm not saying that it's always unacceptable to keep horses in stalls with limited turnout, as is often the case at show barns. I think horses can be OK in lots of different environments. But Maisie used to be turned out with a herd, on grass pasture, and it's pretty clear that she's unhappy with the change. She just plain looks sad. I remember that look - when I got her, she was a sad, depressed, shut-down horse who wouldn't interact with me at all. It took a long time to get her to open up, and I feel like we're going backwards somewhat in our relationship, although the riding's going well.
And, in addition, the people at the new barn are there to train and show in the hunter/jumper world. I used to do that myself, and they're a pretty nice bunch of people, but I'm never going to jump or show Maisie - she wouldn't stay sound for that, I believe, and besides I have little interest in showing. I like doing lots of things - riding, ground work, obstacles, trails - and some of those options are closed to me due to the facility and the type of riding that's going on there.
Long preamble - Maisie's moved back to the old barn as of this morning. The grass is much less lush than it was in the spring and early summer, and she'll be able to gradually be reintroduced to grass and to her herd of mares. In spring when the horses first go to pasture, she can be kept in during the day and turned out all night with a friend (probably Dawn) in a small dry lot with a shed (now why didn't I think of that before?). When the weather's bad or too cold, I won't ride. When I don't feel like it, I won't ride - she'll be getting lots of turnout so that won't matter. Same applies to Dawn. Will things perhaps progress slowly on the training front? Probably. Does that matter? Probably not. I've got the physical labor issue under control for now as well - several of the other boarders will clean my stalls on Saturday and Sunday for pay - I've finally concluded that I can no longer do this myself, nor do I want to. Now that I'm not working the morning feeding/turnout job 7 days a week, I can do other things and even take a vacation from time to time without worrying.
No situation is perfect, but sometimes working within the limits of your situation can provide more, rather than less, particularly if you take a step away for a bit to look at the situation more clearly. I'm glad Maisie's back in her old home, and expect she'll be glad too.