10 Criteria to Find the Right Boarding Facility For You and Your Horse
Beside your budget, boarding your horse is about personal fit and preference. Here are my top 10 criteria:
- Instruction or training in your riding discipline – make sure that the trainers and instructors are suited to your needs and style. Check out their lessons in advance. Will they allow other trainers at the facility?
- Level of Service – If you work or travel a lot you may need a more full-service barn so that your horse can be properly attended to during your absence or tacked up for you when you are pinched for time. If you like to do things yourself and have the time, then less is OK.
- Riding/Schooling Arenas – depending on where you live and your schedule, assess whether the available arenas will suit your needs. Multiple riding arenas and indoor/outdoor options should be considered. If a facility has one riding arena, are you OK working in a busy arena?
- Hours of Operation – are they open for business during the times that you are most often going to ride?
- Turn out – look for quality: maintained (pasture and fencing) and well drained paddocks are important. Ask about the ratio of horses to each acre of turnout and about the facility’s pasture management practices. Inquire about inclement weather turnout. Some barns turnout in all kinds of whether as long as it is not life-threatening. Others will avoid turning out in wet weather to preserve the paddocks and/or to avoid injuries.
- Cleanliness – well-swept aisles, dry and airy stalls, clean/organized tack areas.
- On-Site Management – is there somebody there at all times? Is there a nightwatch? Who is in charge when management is away at horseshows?
- Feed – who is in charge of feeding? Will they allow custom feeding programs or do they follow their own? How are supplements and medications administered and managed?
- Vets and Farriers – do they use their own vets and farriers and/or are you free to bring in your own?
- Bells and whistles – security, space to keep your stuff, round pen availability, hot walkers are among other things you may desire or have a need for.