Finding a new riding facility can be just as important of a decision as finding a new place to live. It is a location that both you and your horse will be spending a great deal of time at. Below are some of the top tips when looking for a new home for both yourself and your horse.
1: How close is it to your home or job?
Location, location, location! You are going to be going there daily. The commute time alone will take precious time away from riding, job or family life. Not to mention wear and tear on your car and gas money. If the facility is a hassle to get to or you don’t mind being a weekend rider, location is everything.
2: Is it affordable? What are the hidden costs?
The price of boarding is not limited to the amount advertised for a stall. You must also investigate what is provided for that boarding fee. Some of the questions to ask are:
1. Does the facility provide hay or cubes?
If you want hay, is that included in the costs? Is it available or do you have to purchase it yourself?
2. Do you have to purchase your own stall bedding.
3. How many times a day are the stalls cleaned?
4. Do they allow stall guards on each stall?
5. Is a locker provided for your personal equestrian supplies
6. Do they include feeding grains between hay/cube feeding?
7. Do they fill water buckets?
8. What size of stalls are available? What are the costs differences?
9. Are there equine laundry facilities?
10. Does the facility provide hot and cold water in the showers?
3: What arenas are you allowed to ride in?
Logistics are everything. A riding facilities may have many arenas, including covered arenas, but are you allowed to use them? If so, WHEN are you allowed to used them. Frequently, an arena is assigned to a resident trainer and is not available to the boarders at large. It may be that the trainers have invested actual money into additives to these areas so it might have some restrictions on when you can use it. Find out what you can use and when.
4: How many turn-outs or pastures available?
Horses need to move in order to remain healthy and sound. Find out how many turn out facilities are available in portion to how many horses are resident on the property. Also discuss how long your horse can be turned out daily. If your horse is older, keeping them moving by providing turn out space is essential to their health.
5: Is the footing decent for your horses ?
Even the most expensive facility might not have the best footing or arena management. Make sure that the facility takes daily care and uses the correct amount of water, evenly around the arena. Depending on your horses and the type of training, the type of footing that is good for your horse, can vary.
6: Is there a covered arena and can you use it?
Weather happens. Rings get flooded effectually putting you on hold until the weather clears and the arenas dry. Unless the facility has a system for covering the outdoor footing, a covered arena is your only method of continuing the training and lessons. Find out what the terms and hours are for the using the covered arena.
7: Are there hot walkers available to use?
Not all facilities have amenities that allow a horse to be exercised. Is there an extra fee for usage? What are the rules?
8: How many professional trainers are available at the facility and what services they offer.
Everyone needs help now and then. You may choose to be in-training with a professional resident trainer or you may be boarding only and riding on your own. But you can not be there 24-7. If the facility does not offer such services as: taking your horse out for turn-outs, filling water buckets and feeding grains, trainers frequently fill in the gap. You will need to ask:
1. Do you have to be in-training or can services only be provided?
2. Are the services provided on a per-day basis or are they individualized. For example filling water buckets, taking your horse to the turn out, feeding grain, wrapping legs and blanketing.
9: What hours is the facility available for access?
Some boarding facility have strict hours of access availability. While some facilities will lock the gates, other provide gate code access, giving you access to your horse 24/7. This becomes especially important if you horse has a colic issue or the facility may be threatened by fire or other natural disasters.
10: Does someone live on property?
You can not be with your horse 24/7. But emergency events happen. Having someone resident, on property, can protect your horse in the event of a flood, fire or other natural disaster. They can facilitate getting your horse out of harms way.
What is most important is, do you like being at the facility? You are going to be spending a lot of time there. Pick a place that is both safe for your horse and fun for you.
About the author:
Debbie Kurth is a former Walt Disney Imagineer, amateur dressage rider and the creator of the Horse Professionals Network. She presently holds her USDF bronze and silver medals. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org