Having a horse is a wonderful opportunity to share the bond of a lifetime, but they take a lot of work. They need lots of space for daily exercise, a clean stall, plenty of quality fodder, and opportunities to socialize. For one reason or another, many equestrians simply don't have the resources to keep a horse on their own property. Horse boarding facilities are a great alternative for those in this situation, but not all boarding facilities are equal. As you tour and compare barns, keep these five factors in mind.
When choosing a boarding a facility, the location is one of the most important to you. A facility in an area where land is expensive (typically closer to the city) will probably cost more. Facilities further from the city are likely to charge less, but is the extra drive time worth it? According to this article, if you live out west, you might be able to find a rancher who will allow your horses to graze his pastures for a relatively cheap rate. The problems, however, might include a fairly long drive to his ranch and a hike through his pasture to find and catch your horse. In more populous areas of the East and far West, there are fewer large-acreage farms and land is more valuable on a per acre basis. The result could be a higher boarding rate. If you enjoy riding on trails, look for facilities with access.
Cleanliness and Services
Be clear with what you want from a facility. Will you be doing the majority of the chores yourself, or will you need the staff to take on more of the responsibility? Some facilities will provide food and water as well as stall cleaning, but other things like grooming and exercise may be available for an extra fee. Once you've found a place that offers the services you want at a price you're satisfied with, take a personal tour of the establishment to make sure that everything is clean, in good repair, and that the horses are well cared for.
Pasture access is a great feature for a boarding facility. This means your horse will be able to exercise and interact with other horses frequently. According to this article, if horses spend most of their days in the stable, it’s important to note that the facilities try to turn them out to pasture at least once a day for a period of time. If horses can remain outside for a good portion of the day, make sure that the area has shade trees or some form of sheltered covering where horses can be out of direct sunlight. Make sure that the pastures are tidied regularly and that adequate shelter is available. Find out if they rotate pastures to let the grass recover, and ask about what measures they take (if any) to reduce parasites.
Know what rules exist regarding your business relationship with a facility. What vaccinations must you stay on top of? Is the boarding facility owner authorized to let a vet see your horse, and possibly perform surgery, in an emergency? How often will they update you with any pertinent information about your horse, and are they responsive to calls and other forms of communication?
Look for reviews online and ask other customers who use the facility. This can give you a more realistic example of how your horse will be treated in someone else's care.
Boarding a horse is a great option for many owners and these facilities can be a dream home for your horse. With some research, you can find the facility that's right for you.
For more tips about caring for your horse, check out our other articles!