Not everyone can lodge their horse at home, so it is important to find the right place to keep your horse. Stabled horses rely solely on humans for care and there are some basic needs that you need to make sure are met at a boarding stable.
If at all possible, start your search well in advance of the date you would like to move. It is never a good idea to go somewhere just because they are the only ones with room. Most barns and stables will know in advance if someone is leaving, or will be able to hold an open slot with some sort of deposit.
Contacting local feed stores, tack stores, riding clubs or breed affiliations is a good place to start. They may be able to give you tips on finding places with available space. They will also know through word of mouth who runs a good stable and whom to avoid. Most local feed stores deliver, and thus see the environmental conditions of the barn weekly, in addition to what goes on while they are there. Breed or discipline affiliations are also especially helpful. It is often very difficult to place a horse of one breed in a barn full of another breed. Breed characteristics vary, and require different types of training and behavior management. Make sure that your horse is in capable hands, with people who are used to dealing with his specific needs.
Once you have settled on a few decent places, there are a group of qualities that you should look for, as well as questions that need to be asked. When you go on your initial visits, try to give vague or general ideas as to when you may be arriving. This way you are more apt to walk in on the events as they unfold day to day.
Here is a checklist of things that you should look for:
- Cleanliness of water buckets
- Amount of water in both indoor and outdoor waters
- Quality of the hay and grain
- Physical condition of the stalls
- Cleanliness of the stalls
- Footing in the riding arenas
- Safety of any available trails
- Condition of fence lines
- Adequate lighting
- Inspect the general condition of the animals that are currently there – look at hooves, hair coat, eyes, and overall attitude
There is also an important checklist of questions:
- Who lives on the property? Will someone be here at all times in case of emergency?
- How often do you feed? If your horse gets additional supplements, ask if that will be a problem.
- If your horse is going to spend time a pasture, will he have others with him? What is the policy if another animal injures your horse?
- Are the horses fed additional hay and grain if they live outdoors?
- How often does the farrier come?
- Who is the vet that they use? How far away is the nearest clinic?
- What are the hours of operation?
- What are the safety policies?
- Are riding lessons or training available?
These questions will get you a general idea of what to expect, and whether or not this is the right place for both you and your horse. As long as the environment as well as the people appear animal friendly and these basic guidelines are met, you should both be happy.