Looking for a new place to live is a long, careful process of matching a home with the needs of you and your family. Choosing a home for your horse is not much different. Whether you have just purchased your first horse and need a boarding facility, or you have found a reason to move on from your current barn, we want to make sure you are taking everything into consideration when making this crucial decision. Here are a few things to consider during your barn-hunting process.
It would be great to say that money isn’t part of this decision, but when it comes down to it, money is an important part of every decision. In order to prevent yourself from falling in love with a place you can’t afford, set a budget right out of the gate. Many barns offer feed, turnout, blanketing or other options as part of the board. So the budget may have to be a bit flexible based on whether or not everything your horse needs is included. If turnout is an up charge, you may want to lower your budget so you have the money to pay for it. Sticking to the budget is important, so do your research online or over the phone before you go for a visit.
Location, location, location
Location is the next big thing you need to consider. How far of a commute is reasonable? Owning a horse means spending A LOT of time at the barn, so the barn you choose should be in a location you don’t mind driving to day after day. You may also want to consider how close the nearest vet and farrier are, as well as the local horse shows you will be frequenting.
Amenities are key
The barn you choose should have everything you need to keep you and your horse in good shape day after day. If you live in an area with crazy weather, does the facility have an indoor arena? This may increase the price of your board, but it will prevent you from having to trailer to an indoor for a few months out of the year. Is there plenty of room to turn your horse out? Are the pastures grassy or mostly dirt? Horses can’t be penned up in their stalls all day, so take a good look at the pastures. The quality of the pastures is also something to take into consideration.
Talk to the barn manager, trainer, as well as other boarders. Is there someone onsite 24/7 to keep an eye on your horse? Night check will definitely up the price of board, but can be the difference between life of death if your horse gets stuck in their stall or colics in the middle of the night.
Find out who is feeding your horse and how many times a day they are getting fresh hay and water. Also ask if blanketing is included so you don’t have to stop at the barn every night when cold weather hits. It is almost impossible to show up at the barn every day, so having someone on staff to take care of the little things will make your life much easier.
Take it all in When you go to visit a barn for the first time, play close attention to the atmosphere. Are there kids running wild everywhere? You may like this if you are choosing a barn for your child, but if you like a laidback place to ride, think again. Are the other boarders friendly? Riding is more fun when you do it with friends, so think carefully about whether or not these are the people you want to spend your nights and weekends with.
Your horse needs to be happy here, too! Take a look at the other horses. Do they seem clean, healthy and happy? They are the best way to tell if your horse will be well taken care of when you’re not around. Look at the size of the stalls, the quality of the hay and if the water bowls are nice and clean. If you wouldn’t want to spend time in those stalls, your horse won’t either!
Rules and regulations
Every barn has its rules, but does this barn have rules you want to follow? Ask for a copy of the boarding contract and read it thoroughly. If there are any rules in the contract you feel you can’t stick to, this is not the place for you. Hours also come into play here. If the hours of a particular barn don’t work well with your schedule, you may not be able to ride as much as you’d like. Take note of the closing time at night and how long the barn is open on the weekends, especially Sundays.
Choosing a barn can be fun, but it is also nerve racking. This is a big decision for you and your horse. By taking all the things we mentioned into consideration, you can rest assured you are making the right decision for both of you. What are the most important things in a barn for you and your horse?