I board at a pretty large facility (76 stalls) and have had a largely positive experience, too. I'd like to one day have my horse at home, but even if I had the land to do so (which I don't) I also travel frequently for work and DH would not be happy taking on the horse chores, so it might be a while before that's realistic...
- BO lives on-site and never seems to sleep. She does a night walk-through at 1 or 2 am, and her husband feeds first hay at ~6am.
- Horses are turned out on a consistent schedule, in closely managed herds to ensure compatibility. Horses can also be turned out individually or in small groups if needed.
- Variety of stall sizes, from a couple small ones built specifically for the resident minis, to larger outdoor covered panel pens for horses that have special needs. There's no difference in boarding rate for the different sizes and when one comes up free it's first-come, first-served unless there's a horse that needs it.
- Four arenas- a large indoor, a small indoor, an indoor roundpen, and a small outdoor.
- Wash rack with hot and cold water
- Washer, dryer, and clothes line
- Blankets on/off at no extra charge
- Fly masks on/off at no extra charge (would probably do fly spray, too, but I've never asked)
- Hay is fed 3 times, grain twice, and mash once each day.
- Trailer parking at no extra charge
- Farrier comes every week, and you can sign your horse up just by putting his name on the white board
- 3 trainers/instructors on-site, plus at least one other (that I'm aware of) who comes every other week or by appointment. They do beginner lessons English or Western, but only really do more advanced lessons in dressage.
- Surprisingly little drama, especially considering how many people there are.
- People who do all kinds of disciplines- English, Western, driving, natural horsemanship, etc.
- Vet's office is less than 2 miles away (cheap barn calls!) and one of the vets boards her horse here.
- Lots of people means you can almost always find someone else to split barn call fees for other service providers (chiro, acupuncture, saddle fitting, etc.)
- Turnout space is limited, so horses only get 3-4 hours of turnout per day, and pastures get overgrazed pretty quickly.
- Lots of horses rotating through the turnouts means lots of cross-contamination; somehow my horse has managed to always come up with a clean FEC, though.
- Herds have priority on the grass pasture; horses that don't play well with others tend to get turned out on the smaller dry lots where there's not as much room to run. (Luckily my horse is in a herd)
- Different people feed all the time, and not everyone measures feed the same way. Hay is fed by the flake, but they vary A LOT in weight. Most horses get 1 flake, 3 times a day, which could be as little as 9 lbs of hay when the flakes are smaller. I know of one feeder who actually splits larger flakes in half when feeding; the same feeder decided one of the horses was getting too much feed and would cut it in half when she fed
- Different feeders also means it's harder to get special requests honored (like medication in the feed). It would also be nearly impossible to have your horse's hay fed in a hay net if it were up to the feeders to fill it.
- Some of the stall cleaners are better than others; the one who usually does my horse's stall doesn't remove the pee spot. To my knowledge the stalls are never completely stripped and re-bedded.
- Barn farrier is mediocre and not good at communication; when I used him I tried calling him and never got an answer, and tried coming when he's usually there and wasn't able to catch him before I had to go back to work. I use a different farrier now.
I've gotten around some of the cons by doing some of the work myself.
- I provide my own grain, so I pre-measure it out into baggies labeled for each meal. No need to worry if my horse is getting the right amount or if all his supplements are being fed.
- I got a bunch of cheap small hole hay nets and fill them up myself. Instead of throwing my horse a flake of hay, the feeder takes down the empty net and puts a filled one up. This way I know my horse is getting his 20 lbs of hay each day, plus it lasts him a lot longer.
- I keep a close eye on my horse's stall and remove soiled bedding as needed when I visit.