I've been to a few barns in my area over the last year. I am now paying the most I ever have, but honestly it's worth it.
- cheque/cash payments
- No indoor board or proper riding arena (outdoor 'arena' was not flat enough and was grass. It was also not cleared out in the winter).
- had a round-pen set up all year round, which I liked. Grass though, not sand
- barn was incredibly small, could only tie maybe 2 horses in it in the winter. The rest of the ties are outdoors.
- Lessons only in the summer months.
- really, REALLY nice barn owners who live on-site. They love people and what they do and help children with cancer with their ponies. They are the do-anything-for-you type people. Unfortunately they didn't offer enough services for my liking.
- horse training not available
- $275/month outdoor, $375/month outdoor unheated stalled, $475/month indoor heated stalled.
- Had an indoor arena. I live in Canada where we have winter half of the year so this is really important to me!
- had an outdoor arena, but the BO never used it as such. Instead, decided to use is as a stabling pen.
- no round pen
- lessons/schedules posted on a cluttered white board. I didn't like that I didn't have a barn schedule to take with me to see when the barn was available for use.
- not allowed to ride outdoors... I never understood this. As long as I sign a waiver (which is required when you board), anything that happens should be my choice and responsibility. I always had to sneak behind the BO's back to ride outdoors as the indoor arena was always packed for lessons and camps.
- Only 3 cross ties. This can get packed quickly at lesson times and on weekends.
- Show barn: this has its ups and downs. I liked that it gave me the opportunity to possibly go to shows, but I detested the attitude of the instructor and riders there.
- BO is also the main instructor and a registered Morgan breeder. I felt the pressure to buy one of her horses and it seemed like everything was money to her. At times, I felt as though she treated me differently because I did not own a Morgan horse and so therefor she did not have an investment in me as a student. It is easy for people to feel isolated in this environment.
- On the upside, the instructor was a really good teacher. Firm sometimes, but she needs to be. But her political attitude just did not fly with me.
- BO was also the bookkeeper and she did not stay on top of her finances that well. This caused a big uproar when I left when she claimed I owed her money when I didn't. This got sorted out eventually. I also hated that I could only pay by cheque.
- no trail rides or any leisurely fun activities. Riders are going to shows often and so there is no time for anything else during the summer months. This barn caters to the advanced riders and there seems to be nothing to do for the beginners/intermediate riders. Just not a fun environment to be in.
- training available as long as the BO remembers that you want to sign up for training... Horrible bookkeeper. Also make sure you're prepared for her to bash your horse for its horrible attitude and conformation, further pressuring you to sell your baby and buy one of hers.
- if you don't own one of her horses, good luck letting her let you use your own horse in lessons.
- lessons are hunter flat and saddleseat depending on the breed of horse you own.
- Tack rooms are half-sized and only fit English saddles. I ruined my good western saddle trying to squeeze it onto the dusty floor in the tack box.
- not allowed to store trailers. Many boarders don't live on farms (hence why they board), where are we going to keep our trailers?
- $315/month (includes GST).
- everything is online: from lessons registration to waivers, you always get a copy in your email! I love this because I just don't do paper anything these days and I know I will always have a copy.
- All the banking is done online: also awesome for financial bookkeeping
- Instructors give us our schedules via email. Needless to say I love this. She also sends out event notices this way as well.
- LARGE property with indoor and outdoor arena as well as back trails. Two barns and LOTS of space for tying indoor and outdoor. There will never be a lack of room.
- Trail rides and events are a regular thing and if going trail riding off-site, you can trailer with the BO for $40 (gas). You can even rent lesson horses for your friends and family for the cost of gas.
- farrier comes in rotations
- deworming and vaccinations done on-site
- hard keeper and easy keeper fields, mares and geldings separate.
- lessons and training available for ALL disciplines and age groups.
- you are treated fairly and equally not matter WHAT breed you own. If you go into training or lessons and your horse has a bad habit or issue, the instructors work with you to correct them and are not rude about it.
- can use your own horse in lessons at a discounted cost (HALF the price). Friends and family can also use your horse should they choose.
- Showing is available for experienced riders on lesson horses and all riders with their own may go into shows. NOT a show barn, but that doesn't mean we don't compete.
- room for my tiny 2 horse trailer.
- no round pen, but there are panels to set one up. A bit more work but at least it's available if I need it. I would say this is the only thing I don't like.
Sorry... I know the second post is a bit of a rant, but it is seriously not fun to be in an environment like that. I spent many months stressing and feeling like I was in high school again: not something I want as a grown adult.
Yes, I am paying more, but I'm getting a lot out of it. I finally have a place that has everything I could possibly need: indoor and outdoor arenas and board, trails, a huge property so there is no feeling of clutter, friendly boarders, a full sized tack room with room to expand if I want, knowledgeable yet kind instructors, and ELECTRONIC EVERYTHING. Love it. Worth the money.
I think service is more important than money. If you have to fork out an extra $50 to move to a barn where you can have EVERYTHING you and your horse need, why wouldn't you? (Assuming you can afford it).