Visiting mid-day is a little too specific. For example if someone visited my barn tomorrow at say 1pm...stalls wouldn't be clean or in the middle of being cleaned... buckets would be dirty and the isle way wouldn't be spotless.
My husband turns horses out at 7:30 am when he gets home from work and my help arrives from noon-1.
However, Puck did have a good point. Lets say your horses needs vary quite differently from the barn's regular program (exp. they feed strategy and feed coastal and you have a hard keeper on triple crown senior and alfalfa cubes soaked). If your horse is the ONLY one on that program then there may be problems.
Another good example is a new boarder of mine came from a $700 a month show barn. They had an indoor, deep shavings and 4 hours of turn out alone every day. I charge $350.. outdoor ring only, and horses are turned out all day with 2 other horses.
No I won't leave your horse in all day unless he's sick.. No you can't store 20 bales of alfalfa in my barn I don't have the room. No you can't buy your own feed because you will get low and I will end up buying it anyway. I have 3 feeds to choose from (Strategy, Ultium, Senior) if you don't like it go some where else. I will add some extra shavings but I'm not going to bed your horses stall 8 inches deep for at least 5 reasons I can think of that I don't feel like typing out. As a BO I will tailor needs to an extent but if you're completely off wall then all I can do is try.
I think every boarder should do our job for at least a week. :o) It is like every horse person's dream job and it isn't. Can't you tell I'm on a mission to create understanding boarder awareness? LOL
I've moved a lot lately. I have run up a rather extensive checklist. It all revolves around the fact that most barn owners apparently will tell you whatever you want to hear to get you in there only to later recant.
1. Visit midday. Take notice if the horses have any hay left to eat and if the water buckets are sufficiently full. Most barn owners tell me on the phone that their horses get plenty of hay which is usually BS. If you don't see any hay on the ground, ask the BO why they have no food. The answer will determine whether you should just walk away right then and there. Also if the water buckets are empty, just leave. It won't change.
2. Look at the horses. Are they outside or in their stalls? Do they have shelter from passing storms? Are they ribby or fat and happy? Are they happily dozing or do they look stressed out?
3. Fencing - Simple stuff. Is the fencing strong and sturdy or about to flop over? Any jagged pieces sticking out? Any nails? Pieces of wire?
4. Ask about the feeding program. Are all horses fed the same quantity of grain regardless of their needs, or is it talored to the individual horse? If the answer is all get the same and you're welcome to buy your own weight gain supplement, run for the door. I've been at barns where I thought I was saving $100 a month, but paying it all back out in supplements to keep weight on my horse.
5. Check the footing in the ring or rings. Too deep - leg injuries. Too hard - same thing, just different injuries.
6. Ask other boarders if they are happy with the place when you can get away from the BO. If you have time to make your choice, visit a few different days and times.