When looking for a barn to keep your horse, most people know the basics to look at: quality of feed, fencing and facility;
affordability, including extra charges; suitability of location and instruction available, as well as checking that the barns
arena schedule and operating hours are suitable. These are all important things to consider, but they really don't give you an
insight into the long term quality of care at the facility.

After a few weeks or months, you may find you aren't happy there at all, and even worse, that your horse's health and well
being have been negatively affected.

It is up to us, as responsible horse owners, to adequately research possible boarding stables to ensure our equine friends
will be well looked after. A little bit of extra time and research done before moving in, can save a lot of grief and stress
down the road!

Here are a few additional things to consider when looking at a new facility to move to: things that will help you to ascertain
the long term suitability and level of care at the chosen location.

1) Does the barn have a regular vet and health care program? All boarding stables should have at least one vet that they
use consistently. Most barns have more than one vet that they use on a regular basis.

A barn that does not have a consistent vet likely has some issues with their level of care. Either they don't use a vet on a
routine basis for herd health and dental care, or vets they have used in the past have had issues with the care at the barn
and aren't willing to come back.

A reputable barn should ensure that all horses on the property have regular vaccinations and dental work to make sure that
the entire herd of horses are in good health.

Barns should be able to provide a reference from their vet(s). If the barn recently switched vets, find out why and see if
you can talk to their former vet.

See below for more information on calling for a reference check.

2) Does the barn have a regular farrier? Similar to the importance of having a consistent vet, a barn should have at least
one regular farrier to provide reliable farrier care for the horses. A well managed barn insures that all horses on the
property have regular hoof care, not just their own horses.

When visiting the property, ask about the farrier care and scheduling. If you plan to continue using your own farrier clear
that with the barn first and make sure your farrier is willing to go to that barn. Also be sure to ask if there is an extra charge
for holding horses for the farrier, or if that is even a service that is offered.

3) Who is their hay supplier? Most people know that consistent feeding is best for a horse. Quality, quantity and
scheduling should remain as regular as possible and a barn that understands this importance will have a consistent hay
supplier.

Again, feel free to ask for references here too! A barn with a long term hay supplier is also more likely to be able to secure
hay in the event of a hay shortage.

Be wary of a barn that shops for hay based on price alone as you may find your horse eating dusty hay, or hay of varying
nutrition.

4) Consistency of Staff: Like many industries that have low paying employment, riding stables are having trouble hiring and
keeping staff. Your horse's care will be affected by under staffing and high staff turnover. This is minimized if the barn has a
long term barn manager who is there to fill in as needed, to train staff, and to oversee operations for consistent care. Many
barns have a steady weekday staff, but then employ different staff on weekends, often kids. Make sure you are
comfortable that the weekend staff will provide the same standard of care as weekday staff, and that they have the
knowledge to recognize and deal with unexpected issues or injuries that may occur.

I knew a boarder at a near by barn who reported that on weekends the entire weekend staff consisted of four kids under
15 years of age. Only one of the kids was able to deal with leading many of the horses, and so on weekends, horse turnout
took much longer so turnout times were greatly shortened, and there was also an issue with the quality of stall cleaning and
consistency of feeding. Many boarders felt that they needed to be at the barn on weekends to ensure their horse was
properly fed, blanketed, and stall cleaned.

On site staff/barn owner is preferable for the security of the facility as well as in case of an emergency with a horse or with
the facility. Make sure there is someone you can call during operating hours that is willing and able to come out if needed.

5) How do the other boarders like it? You should ask for references from boarders with similar interests as you, ones that
have been there for more than a year. If the facility is new, then that may be an issue, but you should then be able to get a
reference regarding the barn owner/managers experience.

If a barn has a lot of boarders coming and going, it may be a sign that things aren't all that they seem! If it is just that they
encourage transient boarders such as racetrack layovers, or breeding stock, then you will have to decide if you are
comfortable with horses coming and going like that; higher risk of disease and stress.

6) Barn Owner/Manager is New to the Business: Owning a barn and looking after horses in a large responsibility and not
one that should be leapt into without prior experience. It is common for a new barn owner to start out with big plans and a
high standard of care, only for things to go downhill once the reality of how much work barn ownership is, and how
expensive everything can get. You are much more likely to be able to count on consistent care if the barn owner/manager
has past experience at their own facility or working for someone else.

7) Horses show little interest in visitors: Most horses find people interesting, or at the very least will look to them in hope of
a snack or a scratch. A horse that shows little interest in its environment is likely suffering either from lack of regular
stimulus, or from poor nutrition, so if the majority of horses at the barn are like that, then there is likely something not quite
right about their care.
8) Other boarders don't talk to you or acknowledge the barn owner while showing you around: How the other boarders
relate to the barn owner can let you know the amount of respect the boarders have for them, and the sort of relationship
they have. Some barns are quite snobby and political. If this is not the type of barn you want to be at, pay attention to how
the boarders inter-relate and how they talk to you.

9) Riders in the barn/arena are short tempered with their horses. Some barns believe that an owner can treat his/her horse
however they want, and some barns lead by example in not treating their horses very well. Consider that your horse may
end up being treated roughly when you are not around if that is how staff feel horses are to be treated. As well, you may
find it unpleasant to be in an environment that is negative and abusive. At worst you may find it dangerous; even a well
trained horse may act up when in the presence of a horse that is afraid and being abused.

10) Horses aren't shedding properly and/or have rough coats and some or many hooves are untrimmed or in poor
condition. Poor coat and hoof condition found in many horses is a sign of poor nutrition. A good barn will take an interest
in the condition of all the horses on their property, not just the ones they own. All horses should be on a regular health
program and farrier program. A barn that leaves this type of care solely to the horses owners, and allows horses to fall into
poor condition, is showing a lack of general care and compassion for horses in general.

11) Ask for details: If something advertised is important to you, ask for specific details! For example, I know of a couple
local barns that advertise as being heated. Although it is true they may have heaters, in some cased the heaters sit unused
even though the temperature drops, and in other cases the heat offered is minimal and is barely enough to be noticeable. If
heat is important to you and you are barn shopping in the summer, ask the barn owner what temperature the barn and
arena are kept at in the winter, and ask your references the same question. If a certain feature is very important to you, you
can even put the provision of that feature in your boarding contract.

If the barn in question passes these tests with flying colours, then congratulations, you have found a new home for your
horse. Even so, before moving in though, make sure you have the standard of care written out in detail before you sign a
contract and move your horse in.
Finding a Boarding Stable
April 2008
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When looking for a barn to keep your horse, most people know the basics to look at: quality of feed, fencing and facility;
affordability, including extra charges; suitability of location and instruction available, as well as checking that the barns
arena schedule and operating hours are suitable. These are all important things to consider, but they really don't give you an
insight into the long term quality of care at the facility.

After a few weeks or months, you may find you aren't happy there at all, and even worse, that your horse's health and well
being have been negatively affected.

It is up to us, as responsible horse owners, to adequately research possible boarding stables to ensure our equine friends
will be well looked after. A little bit of extra time and research done before moving in, can save a lot of grief and stress
down the road!

Here are a few additional things to consider when looking at a new facility to move to: things that will help you to ascertain
the long term suitability and level of care at the chosen location.

1) Does the barn have a regular vet and health care program? All boarding stables should have at least one vet that they
use consistently. Most barns have more than one vet that they use on a regular basis.

A barn that does not have a consistent vet likely has some issues with their level of care. Either they don't use a vet on a
routine basis for herd health and dental care, or vets they have used in the past have had issues with the care at the barn
and aren't willing to come back.

A reputable barn should ensure that all horses on the property have regular vaccinations and dental work to make sure that
the entire herd of horses are in good health.

Barns should be able to provide a reference from their vet(s). If the barn recently switched vets, find out why and see if
you can talk to their former vet.

See below for more information on calling for a reference check.

2) Does the barn have a regular farrier? Similar to the importance of having a consistent vet, a barn should have at least
one regular farrier to provide reliable farrier care for the horses. A well managed barn insures that all horses on the
property have regular hoof care, not just their own horses.

When visiting the property, ask about the farrier care and scheduling. If you plan to continue using your own farrier clear
that with the barn first and make sure your farrier is willing to go to that barn. Also be sure to ask if there is an extra charge
for holding horses for the farrier, or if that is even a service that is offered.

3) Who is their hay supplier? Most people know that consistent feeding is best for a horse. Quality, quantity and
scheduling should remain as regular as possible and a barn that understands this importance will have a consistent hay
supplier.

Again, feel free to ask for references here too! A barn with a long term hay supplier is also more likely to be able to secure
hay in the event of a hay shortage.

Be wary of a barn that shops for hay based on price alone as you may find your horse eating dusty hay, or hay of varying
nutrition.

4) Consistency of Staff: Like many industries that have low paying employment, riding stables are having trouble hiring and
keeping staff. Your horse's care will be affected by under staffing and high staff turnover. This is minimized if the barn has a
long term barn manager who is there to fill in as needed, to train staff, and to oversee operations for consistent care. Many
barns have a steady weekday staff, but then employ different staff on weekends, often kids. Make sure you are
comfortable that the weekend staff will provide the same standard of care as weekday staff, and that they have the
knowledge to recognize and deal with unexpected issues or injuries that may occur.

I knew a boarder at a near by barn who reported that on weekends the entire weekend staff consisted of four kids under
15 years of age. Only one of the kids was able to deal with leading many of the horses, and so on weekends, horse turnout
took much longer so turnout times were greatly shortened, and there was also an issue with the quality of stall cleaning and
consistency of feeding. Many boarders felt that they needed to be at the barn on weekends to ensure their horse was
properly fed, blanketed, and stall cleaned.

On site staff/barn owner is preferable for the security of the facility as well as in case of an emergency with a horse or with
the facility. Make sure there is someone you can call during operating hours that is willing and able to come out if needed.

5) How do the other boarders like it? You should ask for references from boarders with similar interests as you, ones that
have been there for more than a year. If the facility is new, then that may be an issue, but you should then be able to get a
reference regarding the barn owner/managers experience.

If a barn has a lot of boarders coming and going, it may be a sign that things aren't all that they seem! If it is just that they
encourage transient boarders such as racetrack layovers, or breeding stock, then you will have to decide if you are
comfortable with horses coming and going like that; higher risk of disease and stress.

6) Barn Owner/Manager is New to the Business: Owning a barn and looking after horses in a large responsibility and not
one that should be leapt into without prior experience. It is common for a new barn owner to start out with big plans and a
high standard of care, only for things to go downhill once the reality of how much work barn ownership is, and how
expensive everything can get. You are much more likely to be able to count on consistent care if the barn owner/manager
has past experience at their own facility or working for someone else.

7) Horses show little interest in visitors: Most horses find people interesting, or at the very least will look to them in hope of
a snack or a scratch. A horse that shows little interest in its environment is likely suffering either from lack of regular
stimulus, or from poor nutrition, so if the majority of horses at the barn are like that, then there is likely something not quite
right about their care.