Picking a boarding barn for your horse is a big decision. In fact, it can even seem overwhelming at times. Here are some things to consider throughout the process.
Whether or not the price is right:
This may seem shallow to start off with, but before you do anything, you need to set a budget before you choose a place for your horse to live. I know I could not afford a $500 board every month. It’s like paying a second rent! I think anywhere from $180 - $200 is manageable. I’d also encourage everyone looking for board to consider a "working for board" trade. This is exceptionally useful for teens who want a horse but can’t afford their care.
Does this facility meet your specific needs?
Are you a barrel racer? Is their arena big enough and is the footing grated regularly? Do you participate in dressage? Is there a properly set up dressage arena? Before moving to a boarding barn, you should assess if the facility has what you need. Personally, I need an arena, round pen, and a place to turn out.
Is it drama free?
Conflict happens everywhere, but especially at boarding barns. You are throwing horse people together in one place. They have different personalities, temperaments, and opinions. In my experience, animal lovers tend to be more opinionated than most. If you tour a boarding barn and are thinking about moving your furry friend there, then you should talk to some who are already patrons. You get an inside opinion and you get to see if you will be able to make friends.
Does it have reliable services?
Some barns include farrier visits, vet visits, and more. Make sure you approve of those who provide the services. You should also review any grooms or feeders that will be in contact with your animal.
What is the manager like?
A good barn manager makes sure all the animals are properly taken care of, makes sure the facilities are safe, and effectively addresses any problems that might arise. You should make sure the manager does their job correctly and that you trust their ability to continue doing so.
Is there quality feed?
Some boarding barns will have you provide your own feed. However, if you choose a barn that feeds your horse for you, then you should ensure that they have the same quality feed your horse is used to.
Are they well organized?
Nothing infuriates me more than a disorganized barn. A disorganized barn is barn that overlooks mistakes. An organized barn means the horses have a clear routine, there are a specific set of rules, and staff are informed about who's doing what.
This may just be a personal opinion of mine, but I don’t think horses belong in a stall all day, every day. They need room to play, buck, and run. Make sure your steed has access to daily turnout.
Will your horse be happy here?
At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself if this is the place your horse will be happiest. If it is, congratulations, you've found your barn! If not, keep looking. We promise it's out there somewhere.