Stable Advice: How to Find a Boarding Barn


Editor’s Note: Stable Advice is a place
for our readers to offer their advice on some of those uniquely
equestrian problems. These aren’t the questions that you’d normally ask
your vet or trainer. These are questions about horse life, like dealing
with interpersonal struggles at the barn, juggling horse commitments and
“real world” obligations, and generally navigating the challenges of
living in the 21st-century horse world. Think of this as a place to
share advice with a group of your best equestrian friends.

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Horse Barn


This month’s question:

I will soon be moving to a new region of the country and I’m looking forward to getting involved in a new horse community. I’ve been searching for a boarding stable and trainer/instructor near where I’ll be living, and the good news is that there seem to be quite a few options. The less-good news is that I don’t know anyone in that area, which means I’m dependent upon looking at farms’ websites or reading the opinions of strangers on message boards to decide which barns to put on my short list. I know that a lot of good farms have bad websites (or no website) and bad farms can make themselves look great online, and people who post online might be biased or not tell the full story. I just don’t know what else to do.

I’m planning to haul my horse with me when I make the move, so I need to have somewhere for him to go right away. What can I do to find a good home for my horse when I don’t have the luxury of visiting lots of farms or talking to trusted people in the area?

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  1. First, figure out what you are looking for at where you want to go – pleasure / show / combination. Develop a list of questions. As I have made moves the answers to some of my basic questions told me whether or not to continue the conversation or not. (or even if you have to leave a message how long before you get a response) Call and ask all your questions- ask for references. The references can include current boaders / riders and I would ask for someone who who has moved on. Ask who the vet /farrier they use and call them Ask for copies of the “typical” cntract I would research as much as possible online. It may be a bit easier if you are looking for a show barn because you can look at the results from the shows they have attended

  2. I’m relocating across the country from sunny California so I did go and visit as many facilities as I could before I made the decision. (Looking at websites, boards, FB and making calls to barns, farriers, vets & tack stores was almost useless) Quite frankly, I was horrified by what I saw compared to where we were. But move we must, so I found the best I could that would be CLOSEST to where I would be living, so I can check on my horse frequently. I know that once we are there, if we’re not happy, I’ll have the time to look around and meet some horse people and make changes if needed. We both can survive a month in the wrong facility. Good luck!

  3. Word of mouth is the best advice everyone and anyone has given me. Even if you have to find a place just to keep him at for a couple days until you can go to some local tack and feed shops and ask around. Once you make friends in your new area you can look around the community for help. Facebook also is a big help since people can leave reviews no matter what they are, on the barn’s page. Hope you find the right place soon!

  4. I was actually just in your (horse) shoes! My husband and I moved down to Florida from Ohio earlier this year and I was in the same situation, needing to find a place to bring my mare to right away and not being able to visit it beforehand. I searched on Google for “horse boarding” in that area and then visited websites to narrow the list down a bit. Then from there I emailed the barns and even asked if some would be willing to give me a “virtual tour” – just a quick video on their phone to show me around. The barn I settled on was happy to oblige and I’m very happy with my choice! You can also visit Facebook pages in that area centered around riding and post asking for local opinions on boarding. Just know you’ll have to take some advice with a grain of salt…even the best barns can have a person who had a bad experience and is all too happy to “warn” you against boarding there. So you just have to be able to find a common ground in the good and bad reviews of each. I also made a spreadsheet to compare notes between barns and keep from getting confused. It’s an important decision but also know that you aren’t stuck there forever either, you can always relocate once you arrive if you find the barn you chose isn’t working for you or your horse. Best wishes for a safe arrival in your new home! 🙂

  5. I wouldn’t move my horse until I’ve looked at a couple places and talked to the owners/managers and boarders. When me and my friends all moved away to college, we all left our horses at homes for a few months. During that time, I took the chance to visit stables within 15 minutes of my new home. There were many to choose from and all the websites made the barns and arenas look fabulous. However, when I went to visit two of the stables they had numerous problems, such as bad fencing, tiny arenas, and maintenence issues in the barns (broken roofs, stalls falling apart). I’m glad I went saw the stables because no matter how quickly I wanted my horse to join me, his safety was not worth it.

  6. I think in order to answer this appropriately we would need a bit more info. Will you be starting a new job in the new location? Do you have a place to live yet? So, I am doing guess work on that. I would not move my horse immediately. Leave it at the barn where he feels home, is with his buddies. Your horse and you know the people who take care of him and you can be more relaxed. Find a place to live (if you don’t have one yet), get settled in your home and job, and check out as many boarding facilities, talk to as many people as possible, to find the appropriate place for your horse. You will be stressed enough by moving to a new location, into a new home, starting a new job (?). You and your horse don’t need the added stress and pressure. This way you have more time to look properly for a place. And then, you go and pick up hour horse. You will be more settled and relaxed and can make his transition easier. You will be able to spend more time with your horse so he gets used to his new environment, new people and new horses. Good luck!

  7. If I where you I would wait to move my horse to a new barn until I’m all moved into my new home. Once you’re moved in you can take a look around, visit the barns, and hopefully talk with the barn owners and some boarders there. Then you should hopefully be able to find the right place for your equine friend to stay. While you’re moving yourself in you won’t have to worry about your horse getting along well with his new pasture makes, and likewise, you’ll not need to stress out about getting yourself all moved in while focusing on settling in your horse to his new home. This way it keeps the stress to a minimal for both you and your horse!

  8. You should first write a list of what you are looking for. If you need a full service barn or big turnout these should be at the top of your list. Keep things live distance from your house, your horse’s needs, and rider needs. If the barn is miles away it will be hard to commute and this may affect how often you will get to see your horse. If your horse needs a big turnout and needs to get his supplements daily, you need to look for a full service barn. If you are English or Western rider finding a barn with a trainer matching your discipline is important. Keeping all these things in mind, make a list of questions to ask barn owners. Their answers can tell you a ton about their barn and if they are knowledgeable about horses. Personally, I wouldn’t move my horse to a place without seeing it. Worst case scenario, if the place you choose doesn’t work out for you, just move barns. Even if it is stressful for you and your horse, it is always better to have both of you happy in the long run.

  9. Hi there! My uncle has been thinking of upgrading the horse barn in his backyard very soon. I really like it when you mentioned that we should choose building materials that can withstand external elements as well. I’ll certainly ask him to consider this option so he’ll make the right installation later.


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