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As much as I’m sure we would love to, most horse owners can’t keep their horses on their own property. It takes a lot of space, time, money, and commitment, which is why we generally find ourselves at boarding facilities. Since you’re trusting your horse with other people and spending good money in the process, it’s important to find a place where your horse is well cared for and you and your horse feel comfortable. Here are some tips on choosing a good facility:
- Always, always, always visit the facility before committing to boarding there! Pictures only give you so much information and it’s important to see how their horses and their facilities are treated.
- Make sure that they allow you to see and inspect the hay and grain that they feed and where they keep it. If they don’t, move on to the next barn! You have to be sure that everything is being stored properly, away from animals and mold conditions.
- If you are looking for pasture board, be sure to see the actual pasture that your horse will be in. It should have easy access to shelter, water, and hay. Also, a good question to ask is whether or not there is an extra charge to stall your horse if they get injured or sick.
- See what the barn environment is like. A lot of barns claim to be “no drama”, but that seems to be pretty rare. When visiting the facility, observe how the people interact with each other and determine whether or not it would be a good environment for you and your horse.
- Ask about the vet and farrier that the facility uses. They should be reputable and reliable in their fields.
- If you’ll be taking lessons or putting your horse into training, ask them about their trainer, and be sure to ask outsiders about their trainer as well to get a more unbiased opinion. You want somebody that you’ll be comfortable riding with, as well as somebody who will treat your horse well and get the job done.
- Ask questions! If you are going to pay to keep your horse somewhere, you should get all of your questions answered before making a commitment. The owner and/or manager of your barn should be happy to answer any questions that you have.
- Get reviews. Although online reviews can be somewhat unreliable, it is good to ask around in the horse community about the facilities you’re looking into. It’s important to get firsthand accounts of how things go at that facility.
It can be difficult to choose a place to keep your horse since there are so many different places with different amenities at different costs, but the most important part is that your horse is safe and happy and that you are safe and happy. You should never dread going to your barn because of the facility, the people that work there, or the other boarders; it’s supposed to be an enjoyable experience. As long as you do your due diligence when looking for a facility, you’ll end up somewhere that you’re happy with. Putting your horse’s safety and well-being into someone else’s hands can be stressful, but when you find the right place it’ll bring you a great deal of peace of mind!