When searching for a boarding facility for a newly purchased horse there are many things to consider. Don’t get in the kind of situation my family has experienced in the recent past. Before choosing the right facility, here are several questions and items that will need to be considered.
Cost Considerations – The cost of a facility can be for full or partial care. Before you commit to using a boarding facility for your horse ask yourself if full or partial care is needed. Full care facilities usually provide, a stall, paddock or field turn out on good days, blanketing for cold weather, feeding twice or three times a day with grain and supplements in the cost of boarding, stall cleaning once or twice a day. Check to be sure if you need an arena that it is onsite at the barn area. Is there a wash stall for cleaning your horse, be sure it has hot and cold running water, your horse will not like a cold shower.
Added Cost When Boarding to Consider – When boarding a horse keep in mind that a veterinarian call will cost a substantial fee. Many boarding facilities will call out your veterinarian if an injury or illness occurs but some facilities can provide simple treatments such as wound care, vaccinations (giving the shot, getting the medication from the seed/feed or vet), distribution of medications when needed. Many facilities will charge an extra fee. Be sure that you understand clearly the rules for medical needs. Does the barn owner/manager call you before the vet is called out, if you are unavailable be sure you trust the barn owner/managers judgement on these kinds of issues.
Make Sure Your Directions and Wishes are Followed – if you wish the horse stalled every night make sure to ask if this is a common procedure at the facility. Many full care boarders get turn in and turn out and partial care means you have to come and turn in and turn out. Make sure that your agreement with the facility allows for some changes in procedures that are along the lines of what you wish to be done.
Drama Free Zone – Is the facility drama free. What I mean by this is, if the facility owner or manager tells you during your first interview that one of the children is slow and not very bright, the lady whose horse just left the facility had to let it go due to financial problems, that the other young boarder was kicked out of other barns for not following the rules, then you can be assured that there is drama in the barn. It means that personal information is not private and the barn owner or manager will probably discuss your issues with other boarders in the barn.
Training on Site – Is there a trainer available for training lessons. Does the barn owner/manager use one certain trainer, is there a restriction on you bringing in a trainer from outside. Our experience has been, we were not clearly told any trainer we wanted to use had to be approved and would be required to use only the method of the barn owner’s choice for training a horse.
Check Contracts Closely – Make sure any documents on barn rules and regulations are clear and answer all your questions. It is sometimes necessary to ask for clarification in writing. Don’t do like my family did and agree to board at a facility where the regulations were not clearly written. The owner/manager can come through with verbal regulations and change them at will. A signed contract is very important in this area.
Rules are Rules for Every Boarder – Make sure that all of the boarders are made to follow the same rules. In our recent experience we found that not all barns make all boarders follow the same rules. Some are allowed to do things that others are not. If the rules are that you clean up after your horse, then everyone who boards should have to clean up their horse’s not leave it for the next person.
You are the Owner – The Stable is the Stable – Make sure that you, the owner, have complete control over your horse. By this I mean, if you decide to allow a friend to ride your horse, then it is your choice and responsibility. What we ran into was the owner of the barn decided that we could not allow anyone to ride our horse (even with the signed releases) because she, the barn owner, felt we did not know our new horse well enough or that were we experienced enough to keep the well being of our horse in mind never mind the fact that she did not care about the rider only the well being of the horse.
Tack is Expensive Yours is Yours – Make sure to use your own tack, to not allow anyone to use your items and do not ask to use another persons items. This may not always be clearly stated in the rules but it is important for the drama free barn area. Tack is very expensive, in fact, all horse supplies are expensive, make sure that the barn doesn’t allow others to use your items.
Safety in the Barn – Make sure that the tack room is locked at all times, make sure the barn hours are to your liking, make sure that the facility allows you to give them instructions regarding your horse and it’s feeding schedule and care. Do not give your barn owner/manager complete control of your animal. Make sure that the facility is secure after hours and during weekends and if the facility owner is away for a trip that a qualified person is in charge.