Shopping for a Boarding Stable
Picking the right boarding stable can be a stressful decision that can then have a very positive or negative effect on your horse time. Consider how much thought you put into choosing the right apartment or house and it’s pretty similar. This is where your pride and joy will live – mostly unsupervised by you! We want to help you make the best choice for both you and your horse, so we are breaking it down into some simple considerations:
How far is the barn from your house and your place of work? If it’s right around the corner, that means a shorter drive time and probably more barn time. If you’re in a large city, this can often come with a higher price tag depending on how urban the area is. A barn that is further away from the city might be more affordable, but you’ll spend more on gas and a lot more time trekking to it. Which one is more important to you?
What matters to you as a horse owner? People with retired horses may just want a nice, lush pasture with reliable shelter for their horse to stay happy and healthy. Those who are competitive on the show circuit may need a covered arena, round pen, wash racks, outdoor hacking areas, etc. You will also need to consider what housing situation you would like for your horse. For example, a paddock with a lean-to barn might be great if you prefer your horse to move around throughout the day. On the flip side, you may have a show horse who needs to spend more time in a stall. Additionally, you will need to weigh whether or not you want your horse turned out with other horses or within sight them. Another amenity to consider is a comfortable area for parents or spouses of riders to wait while their loved one works with their horse. Do you need an area with WiFi so you can get tasks done while at the barn? Does your region’s climate mean that area will need air conditioning?
Your horse’s health is paramount, so picking a barn that puts your horse’s needs first is essential. We suggest learning what they feed standard to boarders or if you have the option to select your own type of grain. When it comes to hay, check out their hay quality and ensure they have a good supplier who will routinely provide high-quality forage for your horse. Ask about supplements and blanketing. Sometimes boarding facilities will charge daily or monthly for these to be added to your horse’s care routine, but they can be well worth the investment – especially if you have a busy work schedule. Take some time to look at the body conditions of horses already boarded there. This will give you proof of the kind of care they provide their clients. While you’re there, check to see if stalls and paddocks are free of excess manure, flies, sharp objects, or downed boards. Find out if the staff will assist in scheduling farrier or vet visits and if they are able to help with minor first aid when necessary.
While your horse’s health is at the top of the list of considerations when selecting a boarding stable, the people also really matter. These are people you will spend countless hours with. Get to know them and ensure you can trust them to care for your horse well while you are away. If finding a barn that shares your discipline is important to you, make sure you ask about what other people ride. This could open up opportunities to haul to shows together or take group lessons.
Questions to Ask
Visiting a boarding barn to consider it as an option for your horse can often turn into a bit of an interview because it’s important! Have no fear, below is a list of questions to ask to walk into that conversation confidently:
- What do you do to keep rodents/pests out of grain and hay areas?
- What are the dog, children, and guest policies?
- Is there a bathroom available for boarders?
- What are the hours of operations? Does this change on weekends or holidays?
- How am I able to contact you (and vice versa) in emergencies?
- How often are stalls cleaned?
- Are there fire extinguishers throughout the barn?
- Who will be handling my horse and how long has they worked here?
- Do they have references or reviews you are able to access or is there a current boarder you can speak with directly?
- What is their philosophy on horse care?
Selecting a boarding barn doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember… this is business, it’s not personal and a good boarding stable will present itself as such. Once the big decision is made, the fun begins. You will forge new relationships with other passionate horse owners and go on many exciting adventures with your horse in his or her new home!