Unless you’re lucky enough to live in the country on property that’s suitable for equines, you’ll need to look into local horse stables that offer boarding. Here are some top tips for selecting the best place for your horse to live in comfort and safety. If you’re still in the process of choosing a horse, it can be very helpful to visit stables beforehand so you have a place already setup for him to stay.
Determine Your Needs
The first step in deciding on horse stables is to decide what your needs are. Will your horse need a large box stall and daily turnout, or would he rather spend most of his time in a pasture with a simple run-in shelter and one or two compatible horses to keep him company? Do you need to have the stable owners provide your horse with any special care or a certain type of feed or supplements? Is there a secure place for you to store your saddles, tack, and other items?
Last, but certainly not least, how would you like to spend your time when you’re working with your horse? Do you prefer trail riding, or would you rather have access to rings for flat work or an arena with equipment for gaming, gymkhana practice, or jumping? Once you know what your needs are, you should be able to narrow down your list of compatible horse stables significantly.
Find Out What Type of Care is Offered
Some boarding stables require horse owners or authorized representatives to visit at least once daily to provide their horses with turnout, groom them, and tend to other needs. Others provide full care, so that owners or lessors with busy schedules can ride or visit with their horses when they have time. Find the level of care that is best for you, and that works for your horse. Keep in mind that the more care and extra services are provided, the higher the horse stables boarding cost is likely to be!
Visit the Stables
Arrange for a tour of the stables where you’d like to keep your horse. Try to tour at least three different stables so that you can make a good comparison. Some things to watch for as you take your tour:
- How do the employees interact with the horses and any owners present?
- Is the hay and feed on offer of good quality, or does it seem stale?
- Are there automatic waterers in the stalls, and is water available in the pastures and paddocks at all times?
- Do the horses appear to be content, clean and healthy?
- Do the horses have free access to salt and mineral licks?
- Is there a set routine for feeding, blanketing, turnout, etc.?
In addition to these basics, keep an eye out for safety. All areas including fences, stalls, doors, ceilings and walls should be sturdy, horse-safe, and free of any hazards. You should be able to lay eyes on a telephone, fire extinguishers, and emergency equipment including first aid kits for both horses and humans.
Finally, think about how you feel while you are visiting. Do others appear relaxed and friendly? Do you see people who seem to be interested in the same equine sports you’re into? Do you feel like everyone is being open and honest with you? If anything feels “off” be sure to trust your instincts. You’ll be spending plenty of time at the horse stables and will want to enjoy every minute of it.