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Checklist for finding a great boarding facility and avoiding a bad one!
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Checklist for finding a great boarding facility and avoiding a bad one!

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!

Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.

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  1. Michelle Jane
    Michelle Jane
    Oh, and I forgot to mention one other big red flag- if the facility says they feed hay to the outdoor pasture horses but once you are a boarder you find out that they only feed hay outside from November 1st on... even when the pastures clearly are not growing anymore and its cold & rainy (WI), the horses are shivering and although they have greatly increased the amount of hay fed to the stall board horses, they still refuse to feed the pasture board horses because its not Nov 1st so you have to go out and buy your own hay and feed it to your horse and all of his pasturemates! Yeah, really BIG red flag! Lets just say, we didn't stay there long. the facility was beautiful, two big indoor arenas, huge outdoor arena, riding trails and very sketchy care for the horses, at best.
  2. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Voted. Great advice. I don't own a horse but if I did I would definitely use this checklist! You might be interested in my latest blog here, Those Famous Budweiser Horses, please check it out and vote if you like it. :-)
    1. Michelle Jane
      Michelle Jane
      voted! :)
  3. Terri AP Widdowson
    Very detailed information, and yet it held the attention of my six year old daughter as I read it out loud.
    1. Michelle Jane
      Michelle Jane
      Just saying that at first glance you cannot always know how a facility is really run. Hopefully my mistakes can help someone else avoid making the same ones.
  4. jst4horses
    Avoid the "we are going to fix it up" guys. We just got our horses moved in to a new stable after a long stretch in a beautiful setting, but the owner would not even let US at our own expense put in adequate stalls. The horses did love the big pastures though. Another thing is to keep a careful watch. I used to go through every single horse in a boarding facility to make sure before I left that the waters were working (often they were not) and no one had colic. I saved many a horse because no one would have checked until the next day. AND watch for injuries. I had my horses at stables where I always watch the stall cleaning people. I have seen too many of them harm horses, just because they are mean, and have low jobs. I found stables which might not have been so classy outside, but they also had had the stall staff for YEARS because they loved horses. One guy was a car repo guy and made a fortune, but it was stressful, and he just liked to come and calm down cleaning stalls. He kept his own horses there so we knew him. Great person. One lady had a really great person, but he got sick. The replacement, had no horse knowledge, just lied. He kicked one of my horses in the chest, and when I got there, those long metal cow boy boot tips had left my horse with a broken vein or artery that left a bruise hanging outside his chest. As soon as I called the vet, I called another stable and moved my two horses. The lady was nice, the stable was nice, but that one change was almost deadly. I will never forget how awful I felt when I saw Raskel, I felt like I had really let him down. Luckily I had a friend who when I called crying said "sure, bring them on over" for as long as I needed. It was a LOT further drive, but safe. HIS stall cleaner was another owner, who just liked the quiet and time of being with horses every day.
  5. maximumexchange
    It was so hard for me to find any place at all to board my horse. the pickings were slim when we moved and I should have went with my instinct when i paid the firsts months board at the place where they not only allowed my horse to be kicked and chewed to pieces by the other horses after me asking for him to be turned out seperate but also left him out in the rain for him to get a nasty case of ring rot. I blame myself and feel terrible that i took him there in the first place... Loving where we board now! great facilities great knowledgeable horse people who arent lazy and dont mind doing their job. i have a much happier healthier horse thanks to chalakee ranch.
    1. jst4horses
      You were very lucky to get your horse out and saved. I had a horse no one was supposed to take out of his stall but me. I came every single day. One day I got a call. One of the horse workers had decided he needed to be turned out with a very vicious horse. I personally will never get over thinking it was a personal attack on me, because I had told the man to NOT touch my horse. This was one of the sweetest, nicest horses in the world, He had just retired, a winner, after seven years on the track and lovingly turned into a therapy horse for teenage girls. He was kicked to death when his shoe was caught in a fence. One of his legs was broken in three places. I could not even get it fixed. I had to have him put down. When we got him to the equine hospital by ambulance, in the light, his whole underside had been kicked and kicked and kicked after he got caught in the fence trying to escape that monster horse.I will never forgive myself for boarding him there. It was clean, prestigious, and everyone still loves the place. I can not drive by without feeling guilty. The trainer I bought him from took years to forgive me for having boarded him there.
      1. Michelle Jane
        Michelle Jane
        I am so sorry for your loss! We were forced to move our horse by the rescue we had adopted him through, not because he was not being cared for but because the lady running the rescue had a personal gripe with the facility owner - our horse was getting exceptional care by the owner of the facility and us- we visited and cared for him daily- twice daily if neccessary- but that didn't matter to her- she gave us 10 days to move him and we found the "beautiful facility with crazy people" so we only stayed two months and got the heck out of there- he was put in with psycho horse that never had his owner visit or even care about him and I am afraid if we had stayed there he may have met the same fate as your beloved horse- I can only imagine the anger and grief you felt- I am soooo sorry! I feel a blog coming on about our not so wonderful rescue experience...... sad!

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