Checklist for finding a great boarding facility
Because we can't all have our own equine facility, I am sharing the lessons I have learned the hard way...
1. Are the fences in constant disrepair? Is there a secure area for your horse to have daily turnout?
2. Are the horses living there injured or ill on a regular basis?
3. Are the horses given an ample water supply? If you live in a cold climate do they provide tank heaters or heated water buckets? Or as a horse owner, can you bring your own heated bucket for your horses stall? Are the tanks and or buckets clean?
4.Is the barn clean? A clean barn is a good sign that it's a healthy barn.
5.Is the barn safe? Is it well ventilated? Are there dangerous nails or screws protruding from walls or stall boards? Are there proper stall locks on each stall door? Is all of electrical wiring safe and up to code?
6. Is there a knowledgeable horse person that lives on the premises? Especially if you are a first time horse owner, you should be sure to find a horse person that is able and willing to help you out.
7. If the owner of the facility does not provide daily care for the horses, does the stable manager have adequate knowledge and the ability to provide adequate care for your horse?
8. Is the hay/feed securely stored dry & safely fed out? Are the strings taken off the bales to avoid ingestion?
9. Is the feed room secure and not accessible to stray animals and horses?
10. Are the stalls clean? Are they cleaned out and inspected for any hazards on a regular basis (preferably daily)?
11. Will the boarding facility manger/owner call a veterinarian and you if something is "off" with your horse?
12. Is there safe and adequate turnout for your horse? Is it secure?
13. If your horse is to have pasture board, is there adequate shelter from the elements? Is there a reliable/fresh water supply and adequate hay when the pasture is not producing adequate grass for grazing?
14. Do they allow you to bring in your veterinarian or farrier if need be?
15. Will your tack and equipment be safe? Are the other boarders respectful of your equipment?
16. Are you able to use the facilities (riding arenas, trails, etc.) at times that are convenient to you and your schedule or do they dictate when you can/cannot use the facility?
17. Do they (barn owner/manager) have genuine concern for the wellbeing of all the animals on the property?
18. Do you witness a neighbor's horse that has wandered off or made an escape from their property onto the boarding facility property and the neighbor ties the two year old horse to the back of his truck to drag it home, and then proceeds to back the truck up into its shoulder when it sits down to refuse going home? (yes, I really saw that at a facility we briefly boarded our horse at)
19. Are the horses in your horse's paddock/pasture safe to be around for you and your horse? If you find yourself wearing a helmet to go out to get your horse from the pasture because his pasturemate kicks at your head whenever you try to bring your horse in, that's not a good sign!
20. Remember it's not how "fancy" the barn or facility is, it's how well its run.
20. Lastly, if you notice a pasturemate that has not had his feet trimmed in months, has open wounds on his leg for weeks and whose owner is NEVER at the barn providing any care for the horse, when you ask the facility owner about him and his lack of proper care, if the response is "NOT your horse, NOT your problem", then please run, don't walk, in the other direction!
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