Finding the Right Boarding Barn

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Perhaps you've decided that this winter, you'll board your horse instead of taking care of him yourself. What do you need to look for in a potential boarding situation?

1) Is it safe? Plan to spend a significant amount of time at your horse's potential new home. Inspect the stalls for sharp edges, the fences, the footing and the basic upkeep of the place. Are there fire extinguishers? Do the other boarders seem to take safety seriously?

2) Are the horses well cared for? How do the other horses look? Are they in good weight with shiny coats?

3) Is there adequate riding space? Perhaps wanting access to an indoor arena is the main reason to board your horse. Check it out: Is it dusty? Are there a lot of people using it all at once? Come at different times of the day to get a feel for the environment. Also, think about whether there's other space to ride. After all, you may want to head out on the trail when the sun shines through those winter clouds.

4) What's the care package? Will you be required to use the barn's veterinarians and farriers or can you bring in your own? Will your regular equine care team come to the new place? How about feed and blanketing? Does the barn have workers who'll put on and take off your horse's blanket? Is there someone on the property at night?

5) Besides the general care of your horse, how is the atmosphere? Does it seem friendly and welcoming? Uprooting your horse once can be disruptive to him, so make sure you'll be settled in for winter and won't have to move again.