Completely new to boarding - advice? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 05-16-2020, 02:33 AM Thread Starter
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Completely new to boarding - advice?

Hi all,

Iím going to try to keep this post short...I took a break from riding for a few years after having taking lessons, leased, and owned my own horses since I was a child. My dad own a farm where he has a few horses, and I eased my way back into riding slowly but surely on his horses. Finally, I felt inclined to be a horse owner once again, now that I have my degree, a good job, etc... Before, I kept my horse at my parents farm (very much so a small, backyard type of situation) but always took lessons and leased elsewhere. Keeping my horse at my dads was fine before as I was just occasionally going on trail rides, and mostly was just focused on getting my degree. However, I am quickly noticing this time around, I am not as happy keeping my horse at his place. For one, itís 45 minutes away and with me also working a full-time day job, this is just a pain. There are other issues as well such as lack of riding amenities and just a general lack of the ďbarn familyĒ atmosphere that I miss.

I am considering boarding my new mare elsewhere for these reasons, but I have never been a ďrealĒ boarder and I donít even know where to start? After taking a break from riding, I feel as though Iíve lost contact with every horse-related contact I had! I had a great relationship with the owner of an OTTB I leased for a while, and she has moved out of state, the facility she was at has sold, and for the life of me I canít find her contact. Same goes for multiple other folks. I assume I would need these people as references for a new BO? I have a vet as a reference, but Iím not sure what the process of approving new boarders is...Iím nervous I will not be able to find these contacts from years ago! Additionally, finding a positive and supportive barn family is so important to me but being out of this scene for so long, how do I even go about scoping out whether a facility has a group of happy, positive boarders?

Thereís also 1,000 other questions that come to mind...If I choose to board at a lesson barn, how is time in the arena typically divided up, if there is only one arena? Ideally I want a trainer on site in case I need a consult, a tune-up, etc. Iím used to having my dad to help out when I have any horse ownership related questions...Any advice on rebuilding the great network of horse people I once had years ago? Being a first-time boarder, will it be difficult to find a barn willing to take this chance on me, or is that not something I should be concerned about? Is there anything else I should be preparing myself for as I begin to look around at places? I am less concerned about the financial cost of board, as I have already calculated actual board costs into my budget, and more concerned (and honestly super nervous, and awkward-feeling) about finding a great facility for my horse and myself, rebuilding a lost network, and finding a BO whoís okay with a totally new boarder, and doing all of this kind of on my own!

As you can see, my thoughts are all over the place about this...Thoughts? Options? Experiences? Anything helps!

Thanks
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post #2 of 10 Old 05-16-2020, 02:50 AM
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I really wouldnít worry about it. Yards are commercial businesses - they are not going to ask you to be this perfect Instagram equestrian model.

I decided on a yard by taking lessons in their riding school at several places without telling them that I am looking for a yard. That way I got to feel the atmosphere without pressure. Also, kids at the riding school have very loose tongues - they will gossip like crazy if you approach them right.
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post #3 of 10 Old 05-16-2020, 06:27 AM
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I have boarded at two places, the first of which is the place I bought my horses from. In my experience, the main thing barn owners want to know about you is whether you can pay on time. None of the places I looked at when I was looking around asked for references. Secondary things would be (1) your horse's personality and (2) your personality.

When I was looking, I scoured many places on the internet to try to find all of the boarding barns near me. I made a spreadsheet that included all of the things I was interested in: price, distance from me, whether they had full pasture board, and also whether people online had anything bad to say about them. I got a list of maybe 25 places within 30 miles of me, and I was able to narrow it down to about four places that seemed good to me.

Most places are happy to give you a tour. Ask lots of questions! Having boarded for a couple of years now, one thing I would ask would be, what would trigger them to call me to let me know something was wrong with my horse. Because where I am now, I don't think they would call unless my horse was down in the field. I would also figure out what was important to you, and ask a really extreme question about it, to see how the barn owner reacts. For instance, if attitude of other boarders was important to me, I might ask what the barn owner would do if one boarder was really aggressively mean to other boarders.

Try to find a barn that matches what you want to do. If you want to show, go to a show barn. If you want to show at higher levels, ask the barn to tell you what their summer show schedule looks like, who hauls horses for them, how their riders placed, etc. Of course, this year there probably isn't a summer schedule, but you could ask about last year's. In my limited experience, the higher up the ladder you go in terms of showing, the less laid back things will be.

It's great that you're thinking ahead to having a trainer there. Find out who the trainers are, if there are more than one. Take a lesson with them so you can see if their approach will work for you. Watch other people taking lessons. Talk to other boarders when you tour. You can ask them what they like best about the barn. People tend to try to be diplomatic, but if it were me I'd be looking for a lot of people to say that they feel like their horses are well cared-for, and less interested if lots of people talk about how great the human amenities are (A lounge! A shower!). Having said that, I would ask about the bathroom situation.

That's all I can think of for now. If I think of more later, I will comment again.

ETA: Another thing I'd ask the barn owner / trainer would be about their approach to horsemanship. I think a good question to really draw this out would be something like, if my horse is being difficult and non-cooperative when I ride, how would you help me work on that. I personally would look for someone whose first response would be to try to evaluate the horse for pain, saddle fit, etc, and not someone who mostly talks about "respect," how you need to control the horse, be more assertive, etc. Of course, you can ask any question that gets to what is important to you, but if you're hoping to have this person around to help if you need it, I'd want to know what their philosophy of horsemanship was.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person

Last edited by ACinATX; 05-16-2020 at 06:34 AM.
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post #4 of 10 Old 05-16-2020, 09:52 AM
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I worked in barns as management and stall mucker, besides being a boarder.
So, no where did I ever need to bring references to be considered for boarding.
The horseworld is a small entity though and full of gossip and stories travel like wildfire so always remember what you say and about whom will be home and twisted before you can get there yourself.
Lesson barns have policies depending upon skill level of riders and their individual facilty about riding in the same ring as lesson takers or such.
Boarders though have as much right as students to utilize the facility that they pay to be at...
Where I worked, where I rode common ring courtesy was extended for all riders under instruction, you rode to their level with permission asked to join that ring and or you rode a different ring, period.

Here are some things for me are must-haves and what I want and look for...
For me, I want a barn free of drama...kids are kids and are happy at a barn but no one enjoys clicks that make others feel badly or excludes.
Barns I worked/rode/boarded at were clean and neat...things were put away out of "a danger zone" always.
Garbage pails were used, dumped often and had lids on them.
No dogs were ever permitted loose and even on a leash unless certified guide dog, leave them home or in your car. To many dog bites and issue with kids and horses besides the mess left behind that is just disgusting {I own dogs myself so get it!}
Horses smell like horses, barns do not reek of filth nor when you walk in a stall, even one not yet attended to is it so filled with poop and wet bedding that you go "gross"...
Water buckets are clean and if you run a finger down the side it is not slimy...
Feed tubs are clean, again not sticky, slimy or gross in appearance.
Stall walls go completely to the floor so less chance of a hoof hung/trapped, no holes and solid, no wobbly walls if you push on it.
Doors are of adequate height if desired the horse can put his head out, some horses are not "friendly" and either high doors, door webbing protectors or full doors need in place and if you see this you exercise caution around it.
Windows need to be of a height for airflow, see in & out but not be drafts across the backs. Closures snug to keep out stormy weather as appropriate.
Cobwebs...not seen.. Cobwebs are a huge fire danger and risk as is lots of gathered junk on aisleways...neat, neat and more neat and there are reasons for enforcing such!
No extension cords unless someone is clipping a horse right then. Fans should not be used with extension cords but hard-wired or plugged directly into a outlet., even then fans shouldbe enclosed motor sealed to reduce fire-risk.

Fire extinguishers in every barn and indoor arena near every doorway...ABC designation and large not those cheap tiny things.

Feed in a barn kept away from where the horses are and in tight locking containers for storage, to me storage areas need padlocks from greedy hands too!
Hay storage...if you board, full board they feed what they feed or you pay board and still fund your own = not in my book. You want to see what quality of feed they use and the look of their hay. Ask to see it..
Shavings, loose or bagged...but horse bedding please as it is special in no to certain woods in it or call the vet now to euthanize the horse if they contact the wrong stuff and drop a coffin bone through hoof sole bottom, truth!
Barns have a way to secure the aisleway so in summer heat, airflow during the night happens to cool the place, but horses if got loose are not off and gone wandering the facility.
Parking for your car and a driveway approach that is not pot-hole riddled.
Fencing in good condition and preferably a perimeter fence for the nightime escapee that happens on occasion.
Knowledgeable workers who care and keep their mouth shut, not gossip about you or your animal. If they notice something, they contact you through proper channels to address it.
Your equipment is safe and secured...no "borrowing" goes on.
Those should get you started....

As adults we get more refined and less tolerant in what we want after we have been exposed to many barns and atmospheres as younger riders.
As adults, well I know I have no tolerance for wandering fingers, borrowing, stealing and feeding one not another hay/feed...
As a adult who worked many areas and many kinds of barn situations...my eyes see and understand far more than most ever recognize in care given, facility cleanliness and animal well-being in appearance of not only a facility but the workers present too and there interactions with everything.
For that reason my horses are home in my yard and when the day comes I can no longer do mine at home, they will be sold cause no tolerance do I have for poor horse-keeping excuses either.
I worked from the corner hack stable to the exclusive elite barns and with million dollar home and barn with the horses that match...know how it should be done, what is acceptable and what surely is not.
I am no snob and can and do pick up and pitch in to clean stalls where needed at friends places and just "fix/correct" if seeing a need concerning safety for horse or human in front of me.
AC hit on lessons, instructors and such so left that alone...


You too by description have been exposed to much...look around for a place that seems to fit.
Try it and if it not fit, find another that does...sometimes we hit a good match first time and sometimes it takes a few to find a good home.
Good luck and welcome back to horse ownership!!
...
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....

Last edited by horselovinguy; 05-16-2020 at 09:58 AM.
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post #5 of 10 Old 05-16-2020, 02:12 PM
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Just look for a place that you like. Do the horses look cared for? Does the place look clean? Everything all depends on what you want. Do you want a full facility to train in? Do you want just a relaxed place to go see your horse and ride? Are there trails nearby to ride if that is what you want to do?

In my experience, most don't ask for a load of references. Just make a list of must haves, things that you would like but can let go of for a must have, and things that you can do without. Start visiting places, ask questions surrounding your needs, and get the feel of the place.

There will be only one of you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-16-2020, 02:36 PM
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you can ask here, for recommendations of a good boarding place in your area, and use FB for such a request for recommendations.


Often, it comes down to one that is best for you, and one that is best for you horse, such as on has a great indoor arena, great trainer, etc, but no pasture turn out.


I would say to error on the side of what keeps your horse mentally and physically happy.


best of luck.
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-26-2020, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much for your input and helpful responses!

I have now created a list of must haves, and working on compiling a list of boarding options in my area to go through in detail, and plan to continue on my search this way. As far as preparing for moving my horse (once I finally get there and have found a suitable barn), what preparations should there be on my end? Of course the obvious, like preparing to move all of my tack and whatnot, her vet records and coggins will be UTD - Is there anything else?

Another question I wanted to ask here, which may be dependent on specific barn culture, but how do vet and farrier visits typically work at boarding barns? Do you all use the vet and/or farrier that your BO and the other boarders use? Are annual/regular vet and farrier visits coordinated with all boarders? As in - will the BO schedule for the vet/farrier to come out one day, and have each horse checked up, vaccinated, trimmed, etc. etc...? Or do you still coordinate your own vet visits and whatnot? I am only asking for regular visits, obviously not for any emergencies, injuries or accidents that randomly come up. Thanks all!
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-26-2020, 04:00 PM
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When we've moved barns, and when I've seen others move, the new boarding barn usually hauls the horse there at no or low cost. It may be different in your area. We didn't make any preparations the first time we moved -- we had never hauled horses at that time and left it all up to the barn owner. I would make sure your horse trailers well. If the new barn will be hauling, ask what sort of trailer it is, and make sure your horse is comfortable with that sort of trailer.

Where we've boarded, the barn owners have tended to take care of scheduling for the farrier and vet, and holding if necessary (holding for a fee). However, where we are now, I prefer to make my own arrangements, and that hasn't been a problem. It seems like most people I talk to, the barn owner makes arrangements because the owners don't want to have to deal with it.

I chose to schedule my own people after observing my current barn owner do it for a while. I don't like the way she handles it, so I do it myself. I'm happy to hold my horses for the farrier and vet, because it means that I'm the one who is asking questions and getting information, and I don't have to depend on the barn owner to do it for me. I have heard that in some barns, they require that everyone use the same farrier and vet. Other barns will hold your horse if it's the farrier they usually use (they schedule all the horses on the same day) but not if you bring in your own farrier.

ETA: if this is an important issue to you, then I'd definitely ask about it. Different barns do it differently.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person

Last edited by ACinATX; 05-26-2020 at 04:09 PM.
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-26-2020, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Hooves View Post
What preparations should there be on my end? Of course the obvious, like preparing to move all of my tack and whatnot, her vet records and coggins will be UTD - Is there anything else?

Another question I wanted to ask here, which may be dependent on specific barn culture, but how do vet and farrier visits typically work at boarding barns? Do you all use the vet and/or farrier that your BO and the other boarders use? Are annual/regular vet and farrier visits coordinated with all boarders? As in - will the BO schedule for the vet/farrier to come out one day, and have each horse checked up, vaccinated, trimmed, etc. etc...? Or do you still coordinate your own vet visits and whatnot? I am only asking for regular visits, obviously not for any emergencies, injuries or accidents that randomly come up. Thanks all!

If you are leaving on good terms it isn't often a problem...make sure all bills/monthly expenses are cleared and paid up.
Alert the vet and farrier you are moving and to the location. Hopefully they will work from their too.
For the new barn...
A legible list {I typed mine} of who to contact in a emergency...several names who can make decisions that could be life or death so be choosy who you pick. Name and number of vet & farrier of choice, secondary if you have choices and if you have never, ever the barn needs to know that too.
A copy of her vet records you may want to show proving she is UTD on care, originals are for your safekeeping. Do not bring originals to the barn!

A new barn may request a copy to keep or at least see her coggins. Today, even color coggins make wonderful copies on home printers.. Original stays home...
When I show we are required to give the show venue our coggins, yes, a copy not a original as they keep it!
Barns I worked at or boarded at if you used the barn farrier there was a board you wrote your horses name on so horse was seen by that farrier next visit. Our facility was large enough farriers came weekly..
Same as vet, during annual vaccination time you placed your horses name and what you needed/wanted done and it was done...some barns will charge/include the fee to your board bill other places you paid your own bill with the professional directly.
Barns I was affiliated with allowed all farriers and vets space to work...first to arrive if a busy day got best location pick of the day.
We as workers helped if needed, but most professionals bring a helper with them I found.
If it was a emergent care case, as workers we stepped in and already were doing preliminary care awaiting the vet and owners arrival. The animal was paramount in needs met, then we would worry about the rest.
If the horse needs daily supplements or medication...we loved individual labeled bags or containers. Today SmartPak charges a fortune for that...we used Ziploc baggies and did it ourselves.
Know about safe storage of your equipment. I had locks on my trunks to keep wandering fingers out... no one had combinations or keys but me... My tack/grooming supplies, blankets/sheets were all marked so identifiable just in case.
That should get you started...
...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-26-2020, 06:52 PM
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Some good suggestions here and I thought I would add, for getting to know other equine friends I found joining a local club if you can find one especially if they have club shows in the type of riding you are interested in.

Volunteering at some local shows is also a good way to get to know people who ride and show, they are always looking for folks to help out at the shows and you can see if this is something you would like to do with your horse, and make some new friends.

Good luck with your search
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