Finding the a boarding barn that is a good fit for you and your horse can be stressful. A way to ease that burden is by asking the right questions before you bring your horse to a barn. Here is a brief list (hah!) of things you can ask at a potential boarding barn.
From SmartPaker Annina McMillan
As a horse owner, I find that searching for a new boarding barn can sometimes be the most stressful part of horse ownership. I’ve made some moves across multiples states and brought my horse along with me each time. I always worried more about finding my horse a good barn than finding myself an apartment!
Before agreeing to any new facility, I’ve developed a list of questions I like to ask potential boarding barns. And for most, there are no right or wrong answers – each horse is different, and certain setups will be perfect for some while another horse might need some adjustments. I also believe communication is key. Making sure everyone is on the same page before moving your horse in makes everything go smoother.
Below is my favorite list of questions by category, and please feel free to add your favorite questions in the comments below:
- What boarding options are available? (pasture board, stalled, stalled with run, etc)
- What is the price of each board option?
- What is included in the price of board?
- Are there any board add-ons? (Holding for farrier, blanketing, etc) If so, what are they?
- How is board billed?
- When is board due?
- How do you accept board payments? (PayPal, Venmo, Check, etc?)
- In the event I may be late on board, how is this handled?**
**I recommend especially asking this question ahead of time – as someone who has had to delay board payments due to unexpected veterinarian expenses, knowing what this policy was before discussing it with my barn owner made the conversation easier on both sides and helped remove any awkward barn interactions.
- How much turn out do the horses get (if stalled)?
- For horses turned out in groups, how are turnout buddies selected?
- How are new horses introduced to their new herds?
- Are there pastures? If so, how are they maintained? (Rotations? Fertilizing? Seeding? Mowing? Etc.)
- Are there any dry lots?
- If pasture, if necessary and provided, can my horse be turned out with a grazing muzzle? If so, are there any additional charges for this?
- For horses that may need limited turnout when rehabbing from an injury, are there any smaller medical paddocks? Is individual turnout an option?
- If there are any adjustments that need to be made for a horse (ie. night turnout, due to injury, personality conflicts, etc), how are those adjustments handled? What adjustments are available and can be accommodated for?
- How are fly sheets/stable sheets/stable blankets/turnout sheets/turnout blankets handled? Any additional blanketing charges for this?
- What kind of hay is fed?
- How much hay is fed? How often is hay fed per day?
- Can adjustments be made regarding hay feedings for individual horses if needed? (frequency, amount, more alfalfa, no alfalfa, more grass hay, no grass hay, etc) If a horse needs these adjustments, is there an additional charge?
- Do you have a consistent hay supplier?
- How often are horses grained?
- What grain does the barn feed?
- What adjustments can be made to grain feedings as needed for individual horses? (amount given, frequency of feedings, grain type, etc) If a horse needs adjustment to his grain, are there any additional charges?
- How are supplements fed? (SmartPaks are perfect for making supplements easy to feed for your barn!)
- Any additional charges for feeding supplements?
Area and Facility Questions
- Are there open barn hours? If so, what are they?
- If I need to be at the barn outside of barn hours (i.e to administer medication to my horse, etc), is that possible? Who do I need to let know if I need to be at the barn outside of the normal hours?
- Is there a tack room or tack lockers?
- How is the tack room/tack locker space divided up? (if there are tack lockers, is that included in the board price or is there an extra charge?)
- Are there arena hours?
- Is there an arena dragging schedule?
- How is the arena shared? (lessons, clinics, solo rides, etc)
- When is the arena off-limits?
- Are there jumps/barrels/cones/etc that riders can use? If so, where are they stored? Can they be moved?
- Any additional arena rules for me to know? (i.e. if can lunge in certain areas, etc)
- Any additional barn rules I should know? (i.e. are some lights purposefully left on at night, are certain doors left open/closed, etc)
- Are there any trainers? What disciplines do they teach?
- Does the barn host clinics/shows? If so, what do I need to be aware of during these times?
- How many other boarders/riders are there?
- What disciplines do the other boarders do?
- Are there any nearby trails?
- Do other boarders trailer off property for rides?
- Are there popular/busy hours at the barn?
Personal Emergency Related Questions:
- What are the steps in the event of a medical emergency for horses?
- What are the steps in the event of a medical emergency for riders?
- If my horse has a medical emergency and I am unreachable, what steps do you take?
- If I am unreachable, how are decisions for emergency care made for my horse?
Equine Emergency Related Questions:
- How are emergencies handled for your horse?
- What happens in the event the owner is unreachable for any reason?
- If I am unreachable, how are decisions for emergency care made in my stead?
- Any additional charges for holding my horse for the vet or administering medication if I am not able to?
This is just my not-so-little list of questions to ask a potential new boarding barn! There are no wrong answers, and it’s to get a feel if a barn might be a good fit. A semi-retired trail horse who hates being stalled and is an easy keeper would most likely need a different set up from a younger off-the-track thoroughbred that needs night turnout and is a hard keeper. In addition, feel free to ask question specific to your horse, such as “My horse does better on night turn out, is that possible?” or “My easy keeper really needs a grazing muzzle in spring – is that something that could be accommodated?”
Anyone else any have any other great questions to ask a potential new boarding barn? Let us know in the Facebook comments.
You can find this and more on the SmartPak blog. Go SmartPak and go riding!