Horse Boarding is an expensive proposition and choosing a horse boarding farm or horse boarding stable can be a stressful experience. There are a few things that you want to make sure you look for when you are visiting a farm or stable where you’d like to board your horse. Over my 20 plus years with horses I’ve seen a few boarding stables and farms and I’ve gathered 5 things to help you evaluating any horse boarding facility.
Hygiene and Care
While it is not essential that a horse boarding farm or stable is kept spotless, the facility should be tidy and well cared for. A messy aisle or a yard with hay everywhere and equipment left lying around is an indication the facility may not be well managed. They are also worrying because things get lost in disorganized barns and if you’re moving in all your expensive equipment to the boarding stable then you want to be sure it won’t get lost.
You should also consider the level of care that the horses are getting – do they look like healthy and happy, with their heads out over the door or do they look too thin or too fat? While every horse has their own story about why they look they way they do, an excessive number of sickly looking horses should be an indication that the boarding stable or boarding farm is not the best place to send your precious horse!
Facilities and Amenities
Another thing to look for is the facilities that the barn has and whether it will cost you anything to use them. Things like an indoor arena are very valuable for riding through the winter and having one that you can use will be very useful. Does the barn have space for your stuff in a tack room? That way you don’t have to move everything back and forth each time you want to ride. It saves time and a huge amount of hassle.
On a more personal note, does the barn have a bathroom you can use? This is far more desirable than having to walk to a house or sneak into the bushes. Does the barn have a lounge or area you can relax in? Sometimes you need a place to sit down and wait for the vet or the farrier, or someone else to finish with the arena so that you can use it. While none of these are essential, they do make life a little more comfortable.
Hours of Operation
You want to find out when the boarding barn is open and when you are able to get in to ride and see your horse. You also want to find out what happens when the barn closes; are you able to get after-hours access if you need it? Horses sometimes need round-the-clock care and you may have to stay late to prepare for a show, or arrive early to leave for one. There may also be times when you need to see a vet with your horse after hours. After hours access is not something you think about until you really need it, so it’s best to be prepared by understanding the procedures in advance.
Rules and Regulations
Find out if there are any unusual rules in place at the boarding farm. Some boarding stables have rules in place that govern helmet use, riding around feeding times, cleaning up after yourself and all sorts of other things. Make sure you look at the rules before you move in and make sure you’re comfortable with them all before making your decision.
Some common requirements are using a helmet when mounted, cleaning up any droppings your horse left in the yard, and sharing the arena if you are using it. Make sure that you get the list from the horse boarding facility that you are looking at.
People at the Barn
Try and chat with some of the other people at the boarding stable. You can get a reference on how well the boarding farm is run, but more importantly you can also find out whether you like them and share interests. Having a barn full of people you like and enjoy spending time with makes going to the barn more of a social experience and allows you to get more involved in the fun side of owning a horse!
You also want to make sure that the people at the barn ride in the same style as you. It would be frustrating to be the only English rider at a western boarding farm for example. Make sure that if you ride English you end up at a boarding farm that is primarily English as well.
Take these things into account when you choose your horse boarding stable or horse boarding farm and you’ll smooth the shopping experience and take a lot of steps towards choosing a boarding stable where you’ll spend a long time and have a lot of fun! Do you have some other ideas about what to look for in a horse boarding farm? Leave a comment or tweet them to us at @poloponydesign.