Guest Author - Kim Wende
This is something not to be taken lightly as you will want to check out several facilities before you make a decision. Boarding facilities are not regulated or inspected by any agency and anyone can decide to board horses.
You wouldn't leave your child at any daycare so why would you leave your horse at any boarding facility?
These are some things you'll want to find out:
Does the facility offer full or partial board or do you have to feed your horse? If they offer full board what kind of hay do they feed? Ask what kind of hay and how much do they give? Ask to see the hay as you want to make sure it is of good quality.
Do they also provide the grain? If they provide the grain you may not like what they have so ask if you can provide your own. More than likely you won't get a discount, but you can ask.
If the facility does not offer full board keep in mind that you will need to feed your horse and you will need to take into consideration how far you have to drive to the facility?
Will the horse be in a stall every day or will they get turned out to pasture? For how long? If they are in a stall how big is the stall? Is the stall safe? Does the stall have plenty of light or is it dark? Is the stall cleaned every day?
Check the latch on the stall would it be easy for your horse too open? If for some reason your horse were to get out would it be easy for them to get into the feed room?
For water is it an automatic waterer or are there buckets? If they have buckets how often is the water checked and how often are the buckets cleaned? With an automatic waterer you will not know how much your horse is drinking which could be a problem.
As you're taking a tour of the facility check the water buckets and see if they have enough water and if they're clean. Also, notice the other horses and their behaviors. Any weavers? If so ask to be stalled away from that particular horse as some horses will pick up that behavior.
If your horse will be kept in the pasture will they be with other horses? If so how many? Look at the horses in the pasture how are they behaving to each other? Do they have bite marks all over them? Are the fences in good shape, safe and secure? Do they have access to a shed for protection?
Is blanketing included in the monthly fee? If not how much extra do they charge? Is holding the horse for the farrier extra or included in the monthly fee?
Is there an arena to ride in? If so how often can you ride in the arena? Are there trails available to ride on? Is this an all adult facility or are children allowed? If children are allowed are they running around out of control?
Are the other boarders friendly or is there tension? Also, look at the other horses how do they act? Are they in good body weight? Are they standing in a lot of manure?
Is there are regular veterinarian that visits the barn? What is the name of the veterinarian? Also, ask them if they have an emergency plan in place and what the procedures are if an emergency were to occur.
If you don't have a trainer and you're interested in lessons ask if they have a trainer on site that gives lessons. Schedule a time with the trainer to see if you two are a good match. You will want to observe them in action giving a lesson before you make a decision to take a lesson with them. If you already have a trainer ask the barn manager if your trainer is allowed to come and give you lessons at the facility.
After visiting a few facilities, then narrow it down to a few and show up unannounced. Walk through the facility and make sure everything is as discussed. You can also ask for references from the other boarders.
Most facilities will have a contract for you to sign and if not it would be in your best interest for you to compose one yourself and get signatures. You are your horses voice so make sure you are putting them in a facility that will give them the best of care.