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How To Choose A Horse Boarding Facility

Updated on October 31, 2015

What To Look For In A Good Horse Boarding Barn

When you can't have your horse at your house, you have the daunting task of finding a place to board them where they will be safe and be well taken care of when you can't be there. You want them to be taken care of the same way you would take care of them if you could keep them on your own property.

Here are 10 things to look for when you're choosing a boarding barn. These are all nice things to have but don't forget to take your horse's emotional well-being into account as much as their physical well-being. The move to a new facility should be as stress free on your horse as possible.

Nice Pastures

Beautiful lush green pastures are a must!
Beautiful lush green pastures are a must!


A good pasture is important for a couple of reasons. You want to make sure that your horse has plenty of room to run around and play in. The pasture also needs to be able to provide your horse with nourishment if they are not being fed hay. A good barn manager will make sure that the pasture is in good condition and will watch for things like toxic weeds and dangerous ice patches. They will also rotate the horses so that different pastures are given a chance to replenish every few weeks.

Food and Hay

You will need to check with the barn owner to find out if you need to provide the feed or if they will be providing it. Some barns will provide a standard grain and if you want your horse fed something different, then you need to bring it yourself. The hay should be of a good quality. When you are there, check the other horses at the barn to see how they look. If they are too skinny, then move on and find someplace else. Also make sure that the barn owners know different breeds of horses, otherwise they may not be able to recognize as quickly when your unique breed is gaining or losing weight.

Tack Area

It's nice if you have a place to keep all your tack. Horses require lots of equipment and it's nice if it can be kept safe and secure and easily accessible. Those western saddles can get awfully heavy after you've been riding for a few hours! Having a place close by to store it will save you a little energy.

If this is your first horse and you aren't sure what tack you will need CLICK HERE

Indoor Arena

This is more of a luxury for most but if you can find a barn with an indoor riding arena, you will have much more time for riding, especially in the winter months if you live in a northern state. You can also ride longer in the evenings and in the rain without worrying about the weather. Definitely a big plus.

What Else Can You Do In the Indoor Arena?

Besides riding in the indoor arena, lunging your horse is another way for your horse to get some exercise. it also helps get the fresh out of your horse when you haven't ridden in awhile or there was a sudden change in temperature. You can also use lunging as a way to make sure that your horse doesn't have any problems before you get on - it's easier to assess what might be going on when you're on the ground. You can see if your horse is limping or is a little stiff in the legs. You'll be able to do that in an indoor arena.

You can also set up trail patterns and jumps in an indoor arena. We even drive our miniature horse in the indoor.

It's nice to be able to store your trailer at the same place your horse stays.
It's nice to be able to store your trailer at the same place your horse stays.

Trailer Storage

If you live in the city somewhere without much outside room, it's nice to be able to leave your trailer at the same place that you are boarding your horse. Then you don't have to haul it back and forth every time you are trailering your horse anywhere. Some places will let you keep your trailer there if you have a horse but some will charge you a little extra for the storage.

Make sure your horse has a 3-sided shelter available at all times.
Make sure your horse has a 3-sided shelter available at all times.

Outside Shelters

Most states have a law that requires each pasture to have a three sided shelter that the horses can get to at any time. Make sure that the boarding facility that you are looking at has them. These are extremely important so that the horse can get protection from inclement weather - wind, rain, ice, hail, sun, etc.

Try to find someplace close to home.
Try to find someplace close to home.

Distance From Home

You might not have an option with this one but if you can, try to find some place that isn't too far away. The further away the barn is, the less often you will be able to visit your horse. Some days you might only have an hour or two. If the barn is an hour away, there's no chance you can go but if the barn is only 15 minutes away, that's enough time to go brush your horse and maybe even lunge for a little bit. Also, if there's an emergency, it's nice to be able to get there as quickly as possible.

Caring Owners

This one should probably go without saying but you want to look for barn owners who really care about the horses, not just the money that you give them each month. You want an owner who is going to call you when your horse is covered in burrs and not just leave your horse tangled up and miserable for days while you are out of town. If they think your horse needs a vet, it's nice when they call you up and tell you that too. It's best if they live on the property and can oversee what's going on at the barn.

Blanketing and Supplements

Some places blanket for free but some charge for the service.
Some places blanket for free but some charge for the service.

Blankets and Supplements

Some barns charge extra for blanketing and supplementing the horses. Make sure that you find out about that when you are looking at a barn. Some places charge a dollar or more per day for putting a blanket on.

Do You Pay Extra for Blanketing and Supplementing Your Horse?

I'm curious how common it is for people to pay extra for these services. I've seen it advertised at a lot of barns but haven't encountered it myself.

Do you pay extra for someone to put a blanket on in the winter or for giving your horse supplements?

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Well Maintained Stalls

If your horse will be boarded inside overnight, make sure that the stalls are big enough that your horse can move around in and that they are well maintained. Make sure that there are no nails or other hazards sticking out of the walls that your horse could get hurt on. There shouldn't be any loose or missing boards. They don't have to be pristine clean, but they shouldn't be falling apart either.

Horse Guides to Help You Find the Perfect Place to Keep Your Horse

Doing your research and knowing what you're looking for in a boarding barn is very important. Not all places are created equally. Find great advice on boarding and other great horse information in available books.

Adding New Horses to the Herd

Anything Else?

I'm sure there's something that I'm forgetting in this list. What's something that you think is important to look for in a boarding facility?

What Am I Forgetting?

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