Choosing place for horse boarding can be a stressful experience because you’re looking for a home for something that is both precious and expensive. To help ease the stress we’ve come up with 5 tips for helping you choose a horse boarding farm or horse boarding stable.
The first thing you want to take a look at is how often the horse is fed. The boarding barn should feed the horses at least twice a day, more if needed, and the feeding times should be consistent from day to day. That way you know when you can come and ride without interfering with the feeding times. You should also make sure you know what happens when you get off the feeding schedule, for example if you leave the barn early for a show. Are you responsible for feeding or is there a plan in place to deal with unusual events?
Horses need to move around, both for their mental health and to keep their digestive systems and joints in proper working order. You should find out the horse’s turn-out schedule. Are they out all day and in at night or out all night as well? How many hours a day do they get outside. You want to make sure that your horse is out as much as possible. In my experience, it is easily possible to have a horse outside for 22 plus hours a day if the weather is co-operating. Don’t let someone tell you it is impossible to let them out for more than two or three hours a day.
While you’re talking about turn-out ask about how it’s done and take a look at where it is. Are horses turned out with other horses or are they turned out alone? Horses are social creatures and if the boarding stable leaves them alone in the fields then they will be lonely and the turn-out will not have the desired effect. Make sure that the barn manager tells you who your horses will be turned out with as well as how long they’ll be out.
How much and how often will you pay?
Knowing how much money you’ll be paying is obviously important, as is knowing how often you’ll have to pay it. If you get this information up front then you can evaluate everything about the barn in relation to this amount. As with everything else in life, you get what you pay for, but some horse boarding farms are better value for money than others.
How often you’ll pay is important because you want to know how often you’ll pay, but also how organized the barn is about their finances. If they’re organized about collecting the money then we hope their also organized about their feed and hay buying schedules as well. While this is not always the case, asking how often you pay and when things are due is a good starting point!
How are emergencies handled?
Eventually something will go wrong with either your horse or someone else’s and it is very important to know how the barn handles these. If you’re horse is sick then you have a right to know, how will they inform you? Will they call the vet and be there when the vet arrives or is that your responsibility as the horse owner? Knowing these things up front helps you judge the organization level of the barn as well as their responsiveness to problems.
You should also find out whether you are required to use a certain veterinarian or farrier. Some horse boarding barns require you to use a certain vet or farrier they always call when they have a problem. Changing vets is not too difficult, but if you have a good vet or farrier that knows your horse then you may want to think twice before moving somewhere they won’t be able to work on your horse.
Any Extra Charges?
You should find out what is included in the horse boarding fee and have it spelled out in a boarding agreement. This means that you’ll know what is included in the basic boarding fee and what is going to cost you extra. If it is not in the contract don’t assume that it is included, make sure everything is spelled out and don’t take verbal promises. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about verbal promises that weren’t kept by unscrupulous boarding farm and boarding stable owners that resulted in discomfort or worse to the horse.
Extra charges, the service and the price, should be also be spelled out in the contract. Does it cost money for them to blanket or exercise a horse? Does it cost more to use the arena or other facilities at the boarding barn? Make sure you know and understand what these charges are before you get involved and stuck with costs you didn’t understand.
Take these tips into account as you’re looking for a horse boarding stable or farm and it may save you a lot of time and trouble. Many people who board horses are great individuals who charge a fair rate for their time and trouble but there are also those who will over-charge and under-work. If you have more ideas for choosing a horse boarding farm or stable then tweet them to @poloponydesign.