Sometimes it seems that for as many good boarding facilities operating, there are just as many bad ones. I used to board too, so here are my tips for finding a quality home for your horse.
· Clean and tidy – if the barn area is unkempt with junk and clutter then it is likely that the pastures are not watched too closely for broken boards, nails, holes, etc.
· Courteous and friendly – you want the barn to be a fun and relaxing place, if the barn staff or other boarders are snooty or just unfriendly, you may not enjoy your time there.
· Feeding practices – does the general ideas about feeding that the barn management have match what you want for your horse? For example, if you prefer lots of hay and grazing, but the management style of the barn involves feeding lots of concentrates (grains and complete feeds) that may be an issue that you will butt heads on with management.
· Turnout – if you want your horse out all the time, or prefer just a few hours of individual turnout and the barn does the opposite of either of these then keep looking for somewhere that you will be happy in how your horse is cared for
· What is the atmosphere? If you love to show every weekend, and the barn is just a totally laid back place or the opposite – you just want to go for a trail ride but everyone else is in the arena drilling their flying changes, then you may not enjoy the atmosphere as much as if it fit with your likes and goals. When you go for a tour, just ask what everyone does.
· Professional – I have found that if the barn does not seem professional, with a boarding contract and some rules or ways of doing things, then you may have trouble down the road.
· Do they care? Does the staff seem like they truly care about the horses and will notice injuries or signs of colic? You want to be able to sleep well at night knowing that your horse is well taken care of.
The first thing to do when looking for a new barn is to ask for referrals. Check with friends, ask around at the local tack shop, or go to local forums or community blogs or websites and ask the community there. Visit the farm, and ask for their contracts and any rules upfront. Ask lots of questions and you will soon be able to feel whether it is a good fit or not.
Any other suggestions for finding the right barn? Please share, leave a comment below!