Okay, everyone - here is the place to share your "dos and don'ts" of being a boarder. Barn Owners - now is your chance - what is acceptable and what is not? Fellow Boarders - what do you wish your peers knew?
Please title your "Chapter" and discuss the whys and hows of your contribution, just so everyone understands your perspective.
Chapter One: The Basics
You own a horse. You don't own a barn - whether it is by choice (too much work/too far of a commute/whatever) or by lack of funds (you can't afford to buy a farm, much less one with an indoor arena, etc). As such, you have to seek equine care facilities and services (yes, these are two different things).
As a horse owner, it is your responsibility to do your homework on everything from your horse's dietary needs, to riding lessons/basic horsemanship skills, to actually investigating the locations you think might
be a good place to keep your hooved family member. Your horse is solely your responsibility - financially and otherwise. A good place to start when considering the care and keeping of your horse is to research feed prices... then, expect to tack on at least $150.00 (that is a minimum that includes a bare-bones "pasture board" facility in most geographic locations) in facility fees. Facility fees will vary drastically based on geographic location, size/quality/amenities of the facility, and the type/amount of labor provided for caring for your horse.
Start by listing the amenities and services you'd like to have at the facility you board your horse. This includes, but is not limited to:
Okay - STOP RIGHT HERE: If you can't afford to build it yourself, now is a GREAT TIME to understand that the likelihood of finding a conveniently located facility, with a great staff who does EVERYTHING according to your dreams/standards, with every amenity you could ever want, with a price tag you can afford is pretty slim. Okay... impossible, really. On that note: you can't be a jerk every time something isn't done your way - no matter HOW MUCH you are paying. I can't emphasize this enough... by boarding at a location, it is important to remember that you aren't buying stock in that farm or in the people who run it.
- Grass Pastures
- Run In-Sheds
- Hot Running Water available outside or in the barn (for bathing)
- Indoor arena (what size, footed for what type of equine sports?)
- Outdoor arena
- Access to trails (state park nearby, private property, etc)
- How many times daily are horses fed?
- What types of concentrate feed (if any) are included in board?
- What type of hay (if any) is included in board?
- How are horses handled, by whom, and how often?
- How often are stalls cleaned?
- Is there a trainer available (for your discipline of choice)?
- Is there a surveillance system?
- What do BO's/Barn Employees do in cases of emergency?
- ... the list goes ON and ON and ON into eternity.
, now that everyone is clear on that, we can move on
Now the fun part: exploring your options! Find barns on google, in your local yellow pages, by word of mouth at the local tack shop, wherever you can... then start calling. Find out what is offered, and ask questions specifically related to what you have determined you and your horse need.
What will you find? Crap barns. Crappier barns. Rude people. Poor horsemanship. Horses that are too thin. Horses that are too fat. Horses that don't have enough shelter. Horses that don't see the light of day.
Then, with diligence, you will find a barn with nice people, who have a few of the things on your list who may be willing to compromise with you (or not, depends on the barn and how demanding you are). You will find a different definition of what your "board fees" include at each and every barn you contact. But, with patience and diligence, you'll find something great. Emphasis on GREAT.
Keep in mind that most horse farms make their profits giving riding lessons or training horses. They don't make a killing in profits charging to care for your horse. Actually, the barn probably doesn't charge you enough to pay themselves minimum wage for the time spent caring for your horse. The horse care-takers don't get paid holidays or sick days, nor do they get paid even minimum wage. Am I being redundant here? Okay - Remember this at all times.
I think that is a pretty good start... now, everyone else - fire away!