When trying to make a major decision, it’s important that you research and plan before making a final choice. When you decide to purchase a new car, you think about the amenities you want beyond air conditioning, safety, and good handling at high speed. A list is developed of the additional amenities and you begin to research the type of vehicles that offer these additional items. You evaluate the different choices and balance your needs and wants until you find that perfect vehicle…. DONE!
The same process is required when looking for the perfect horse farm to board your horse. What amenities are important to you as they relate to the care of your horse as well as to you as a horse owner and rider?
At the top of the list – CLEAN! A well-managed boarding facility will be clean and well maintained regardless of the age of the facility. You shouldn’t find layers upon layers of dust and dirt on everything. Aisles should be swept and there should be nothing blocking the aisles. Secure latches should be on every stall door. Missing, warped or oddly shaped boards in the stalls is not a sign of a well-maintained facility and can cause injury to the animal. Stall shavings should be cleaned and replaced often.
Fencing is another very important amenity. You should be able to instantaneously tell if the boarding facility is serious about proper fencing…. if the fences are well maintained, you know that they are serious about the safety of the horses at the facility. Horses can easily become injured when fences are broken, have missing boards, and when there are sharp edges/nails visible.
Pastures for turn-out should have fresh green grasses with fresh water available. To ensure that horses are not overcrowded in the pastures, there should be several different options for turn-out. Ask what the turn-out schedule is and if horses are let out individually or with others. Walk the pastures to make sure that they are safe for your horse.
Good footing in arenas is a must for your horse to remain safe and healthy when you ride. How is the footing built and is it maintained? Is there a schedule for arena usage?
A well-managed boarding facility has access to both veterinarians and farriers who visit on a regular schedule to ensure the health and safety of all horses in their care. If your horse requires special medication and care, inquire about these additional needs over and above the normal vaccinations and worming programs.
Feed should also be towards the top of the list, of course. Most facilities will provide some sort of feed program, but look for a barn that develops feeding programs for each individual horse to ensure that their nutritional requirements are met based on size, age, and activity level. Inquire about the brand or quality of the feed, hay, and pasture grasses.
ALWAYS tour the facility before agreeing to sign a contract so that you can see first hand the care given to the facilities and the horses. Ask any questions and try to visit when other boarders are around so that you can ask them any questions as well.