Often I have to remind myself that the reason I have bounced around to 8 barns in the area is not because I am that boarder.. Or at least I hope not. Two of the barns closed down entirely while I was there, two I left because they were either no longer a good fit for either myself or my horse, and the other three I left because the care was less than acceptable.I’ve come to realize that no boarding situation is ever perfect (although if you’ve found the magical perfect boarding barn, do tell!). So it’s up to us as the boarders what compromises we are willing to make. Personally, these compromises tend to be about my actual riding time. For instance, I would rather share a small arena with a couple other riders (a facilities compromise) than compromise on how much hay my horse is going to be fed. (true story) So if there was such a thing as a perfect boarding facility, what would that look like? Since we’re dreaming, I would love for it to have the following:
- An excellent barn manager
- who knows his/her stuff
- who alerts boarders to any unusual behavior/physical nuances
- who genuinely cares for the horses
- but does not micromanage boarders
- 2 arenas
- one jumping
- one for flat work
- both with great footing
- that I don’t have to share with kid lessons
- Tip-top care
- Good hay
- Good grain
- Good pasture
- Safe facilities
- A good atmosphere
- Happy, friendly boarders
- Peaceful, not-chaotic
- Bathroom available for boarders (made this mistake at the last barn)
- Zero drama
It’s a long wishlist, and still there’s plenty else I’d probably add to the list in due time.
We all have horror stories. Horses losing tons of weight, unnoticed blood running down legs, barn management trying to ride your horse… you get the deal.
What are your priorities in a boarding barn? What are your must haves, and what are you willing to compromise on?