One of the most important considerations before buying a horse is where you will keep it. Often, the decision of whether to keep a horse at home or board it elsewhere is a matter of whether you have a property suitable for a horse. If you don’t have a barn and a pasture, you’ll need to consider boarding options for your horse. Even if you don’t necessarily need to, however, there are some advantages to boarding your horse and also several different choices to consider. Here’s what you need to know about boarding stables for horses, including the benefits, types of boarding, and costs.
Benefits of Boarding Your Horse
Though most people may think keeping their horse at home is the best option, that’s not always the case. There are some good reasons to consider boarding your horse, even if you already have a property suitable for a horse. Here are some of the benefits of boarding your horse:
- Riders new to horse ownership can learn to care for a horse in a safe environment with professional help nearby.
- Owners can focus on establishing a relationship with the horse without the responsibility of daily care.
- Experienced professionals handle your horse’s care.
- You can easily meet other horse owners.
- There’s no need to plan for horse care when you’re traveling.
- Social interaction for your horse is provided.
- When your horse is sick or injured, he can get routine follow-up care and have medication administered properly.
- Liability insurance is covered by the boarding facility.
- There are fewer up-front and ongoing costs for tools and equipment like wheelbarrows, tractors, manure forks, and more. Additionally, someone else handles expenses like water, electricity, manure removal, and upkeep of the barn, pasture, fencing, etc.
- You and your horse have easy access to trainers and instructors.
- If you’re planning to compete with your horse, some boarding facilities will even transport your horse to events for an additional fee. Or you can meet other competitors at the facility to travel together and save money.
Types of Horse Boarding
Before you consider boarding your horse, it’s helpful to know that there are different types of horse boarding, each offering various services. No matter what you decide is right for you, review the boarding contract carefully. It should outline all of the services provided and the costs for those services, as well as any extras available. You may not need a particular service now, but if you want to keep your horse at a facility long-term for stability, give some thought to what you may need down the road.
A full board, also called full-service horse boarding, includes the full range of care needed for your horse. It’s an excellent solution for people with a busy schedule who want a horse but don’t have the time to provide the necessary care. This type of boarding includes a stall in the barn, a full turnout to pasture, and all of your horse’s daily necessities. Staff feed your horse and clean out the stall daily. They also facilitate farrier and vet calls. Some full board facilities may charge extra for specialized feeds and supplements, treatments, blanketing, and other services. They may also offer lessons, access to equipment, arenas, and other riding areas.
The cost of a full board will depend on the services provided and where you are in the country. You’ll see a range of costs from $1200 to $2,000+ per month. With a full board, you limit your time and responsibility for your horse’s care, putting him in the hands of professionals. However, the cost can be high for full boarding, and you’re placing a lot of trust in the boarding facility staff. Make sure you do your research to ensure it’s a reputable facility, so you feel comfortable with your choice.
Leases and Partial Boarding
Leasing is when you share your horse with someone else to help cover part of the boarding expenses. Partial board, sometimes referred to as part-board, is when you board your horse at the facility but put in some work at the barn to offset the monthly boarding cost. Let’s take a closer look at each option.
Lease and Half Lease Boarding
Lease boarding is when you find someone to “lease” your horse to offset boarding costs. Sometimes this can be the farm, which might use your horse for lessons in exchange for lower boarding rates. With this option, you’ll want to know exactly what the arrangement would look like since someone else is riding your horse. And you’ll want to make sure the rider will have similar riding and handling skills as you do. You’ll also want to consider that lease boarding might mean you don’t get to ride your horse when you want to ride your horse.
In this arrangement, the barn typically feeds your horse twice a day at the owner’s cost. The farm staff turns out and brings in your house, but it is the owner’s responsibility to deal with blanketing, stall cleaning, bedding, and attending to vet and farrier appointments.
If you’re interested in this option, you might also want to see if there is an opportunity to help out at the barn. When I was a kid, I cleaned five stalls a day for seven days a week at my boarding stable for half board. There can be significant cost savings if you have the time and interest to do this.
For partial boarding, lease, or hybrid boarding you can expect to pay in the range of $300 to $1200, but rates could be higher depending on the stable and part of the country you’re in.
With a self-care boarding option, the boarding facility is provided, but the owner handles all care. Owners are usually responsible for providing feed and bedding. They are also required to feed the horse, muck out the stall, and turn out the horse daily. Additionally, farrier and vet services need to be coordinated by the owner. Self-care boarding is a good option for people who live close to the stable and want to handle the daily care for their horse, but don’t have a suitable property.
Self-care boarding costs can range from $400 to $1,000 per month. There can be a wide range of services provided among different boarding facilities, so be sure to check the contract to understand what is offered and at what cost. Since you’re responsible for most of your horse’s daily care, be sure you have the time and commitment to follow through. With self-care boarding, you may be able to purchase additional care when you’re traveling, a convenience you won’t have if you board your horse at home.
The last boarding option is pasture boarding, where your horse lives outdoors with a group of other horses also on pasture board year-round with feed and water. Depending on the location, your horse may also have a run-in shelter, a small, three-sided barn-like structure where a horse can get out of the sun or get shelter from inclement weather. The staff keeps an eye on pasture board horses, but they may not get daily individual attention.
Pasture boarding can cost between $300 and $1,000 per month based on the location, amenities, and level of care offered by the facility. It’s a great option for horses who don’t like to be stabled or are better off not being stabled for health reasons. It’s an affordable option for the right situation and horse. However, it’s not suitable for all horses.
What You Need To Board Your Horse
Before you board your horse, give some thought to your needs, your availability, the costs, and the location. Consider the different boarding options available and what will work best for you and your horse. Make sure you have confidence in the facility owner and staff who will care for your horse. The contract you sign should detail everything, and you may be required to stay for a certain length of time or provide notice when you plan to leave. If you plan to compete, consider places that support your English riding discipline and can provide training and instruction if you need it.
Is Horse Boarding Right for You?
Determining where you’re going to keep your horse is a primary consideration before you purchase one. Though you may think you’re best off keeping him at home with you, that’s not always the case — particularly for new horse owners. Weigh the pros and cons of the various horse boarding stables and their boarding options if you don’t have a suitable horse property or if you’ve decided to board at a professional facility for training and other support. Many facilities give horse owners the option to make changes once the relationship has been established, so be careful not to get locked into a contract that doesn’t allow for some flexibility. Above all, be sure to choose a facility that will help you make the most of horse ownership.
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