The barn manager of a boarding facility is a key factor in choosing a barn. Prepare a list of questions to go over with the owner.
When you visit the facility, look around. Is the barn area clean and neat? Are the stalls clean? Is there a schedule for feeding, worming and vet visits? Are there children running around? Who will cover the daily chores if the manager is away? Are there lessons at the times you want to ride? Are the barn owners’ horses taken care of? Are the horses content? Is there an emergency plan? Do not make this your first and last visit. Be sure to stop by unannounced to see if there is anything different happening that was not discussed. If you are not experienced, make sure you choose an owner or manager who is.
Pasture and Paddock Turnout
Turnout situations can be a factor in determining the facility you choose. Ask if the horses are turned out together in large pasture herds, smaller groups of 2 or 3, or individually. Also, will the horses be turned out on pasture or a dry lot. Only you know your horse and understand what his requirements are and whether you are comfortable with group out or alone on. You your decision will largely depend on the following criteria:
- does my horse get along well with others
- is my horse fit enough to handle herd dynamics
- is my horse healthy enough to be on pasture grass
- is my horse shod (bumpy, roots, muddy, rocky ground)
- are any horses, including yours shod in the rear (kicking!)
Grain and Hay for Feed
Aside from foraging in the pasture, grain and hay are the staples that keep your horses fed. Your choice of grain should be what works best for your horse and should not deter your decision to move to a facility. If you are deciding on a full board facility and they do not offer your grain, ask if they would. If they will not incorporate your grain, see what differences there are between your grain and what they offer, if the barn is your top choice, make your decision based on the nutrition levels of the grain offered or ask if they can provide a reduction in board if you provide the grain. A good quality hay should be offered at a minimum of twice a day, three or four times is better, and free choice is the best, but hard to find. Again, your decision rests on what is best for your horse and if the facility you are moving to meets your standards.