Things To Consider When Deciding To Move Barns

Things To Consider When Deciding To Move Barns

Time flies when you’re having fun… or when you’re working and rehabbing your horse and supporting your husband through his last full semester of graduate school.  Time flies in those scenarios as well, maybe doubly so.

A while ago I announced that I would be moving Simon to a new barn and today is the day. Jen from Wyvern Oaks has graciously offered to trailer him to the new barn for me this afternoon (thank you thank you thank you 100 times thank you!). I’m both excited and anxious about it.

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Making the decision wasn’t an easy one for me, and I waffled for a long time – hence the subject of this post. Here’s a list of things I think everyone should ask themselves before they pursue moving their horse to a new boarding situation.

Questions to Ask While Evaluating Your Current Boarding Situation

  • Have things changed at your current barn, or are they the same as they always have been?
  • Are you frustrated by things that can be changed (like management) or cannot be changed (like facilities)?
  • If you are frustrated by things that can be changed, have you made an honest effort to try and address them?
  • Will you be leaving anything you can’t replace or replicate if you change barns?
  • Is your horse happy in his current boarding situation?

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Defining What You Want in a Boarding Barn

  • List out your “bare bones” essential facilities, ie a ring with lights.  Everyone wants their new barn to have a fancy indoor and a Euro hot walker and a hydrotherapy pool… but realistically what do you have to have to consider a place?
  • Make a budget.  We don’t enjoy our horses if we have to fully sacrifice clothes and gas and showing in order to keep them
  • List out what makes you unhappy about current boarding barn.  Just saying “I don’t like it!” won’t help you when trying to pick out a new place.  Have identifiable triggers that you can look for in places that hopefully satisfy these needs.
  • Are there any goals that you want to accomplish but felt you can’t in current boarding situation?  When I boarded at the trail riding barn, I felt like I couldn’t advance in hunter/jumpers – so I moved to a barn that had a good lesson program.
  • Make a map.  For working adult amateurs like myself, I suggest boarding close to home or close to work.  Decide which is best for you and pick a driving radius around either area
  • What kind of people do you want to be around?  This is really important for me.  Do you like the “AA” clique or do you want a more relaxed family experience?  Barn websites will often tell the story of the atmosphere before you even step foot on the property.

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Lauren’s Order of Top Boarding Priorities in a Barn

  1. Horse Care – if my pony aint happy, aint nobody happy.  Excellent care should be the most important.  I want to feel like I can go on vacation for two weeks and not need someone to check in on my ponykins.
  2. Price – I can afford to board here, and still do things like eat food and occasionally go to a movie.
  3. Facilities – frills are great even though they’re often expensive, but I need the bare minimum facilities available for me to be able to ride my horse safely.  On top of riding, the stalls need to be roomy and safe.  Pastures adequate and not filled with junk or have dangerous fencing.
  4. Training – the instruction is quality and affordable.  I feel like I can advance my riding and my horse’s training to the next level, or at the very least I can maintain where I am now.  I can show with a team and trainer and have guidance as we progress in our horsey career.  I can afford to do these things without convincing my husband we should take a 2nd mortgage.
  5. Location – I don’t spend more time driving than I do visiting my horse.  The barn is located in a place that I can easily hit my goal of riding 3-5 times per week.
  6. People – the barn is a part of my social life, and I enjoy spending time at this place.  I feel like (at least some) fellow boarders are my friends, and there’s a good sense of community.

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I was lucky in that my recent decision to move primarily came down to #5 – which means my old barn did a lot of things right.  Will update tomorrow with pictures to document Simon’s great migration to north Austin!

What’s your priority list when choosing an appropriate boarding facility for your horse?

29 thoughts on “Things To Consider When Deciding To Move Barns

  1. I really hope you enjoy your new barn!! looking for new barns/moving can be very frustrating and stressful. my current barn has an indoor but it’s tiny and super dusty and the fences are falling apart. (which is a lot of the reason why my trainer wants to move bc the owners won’t fix anything!) but I wouldn’t move unless my trainer does bc the horse care is top quality, the riding/showing/training opportunities are abundant, and the people are FABULOUS, and the location is great, all musts! but if my trainer leaves I’m severely limited bc I can’t afford to follow, since I can’t drive 30 minutes evertime I want to ride! no time for that!! & there are very few affordable close eventing barns around…

    I’m glad you’ve found a nice barn that seems to meet all of your needs and I hope it’s everything you’re hoping it is!! keep us updated and give us the grand tour!

    1. Will definitely keep everyone updated! I am feeling optimistic about the new place for sure. Hopefully your barn owners will fix the property up so your trainer doesn’t have to leave.

  2. Really enjoyed this post! I’m going to steal the list thing and use it on my blog, a few of my followers had emailed about searching for a new barn and some of the tips will come in handy. 🙂 I’ll link your blog in my post. 🙂 I hope you enjoy your new barn!!!! Can’t wait to see pictures of Mr. Simon and you riding around! 😀

  3. Very timely post. I’m in the process of giving a virtual barn tour of my barn, since I’m not moving, but will be pointing out all the reasons why I chose my barn 2.5 yrs ago. And you’re totally spot on with your order of priorities. There’s a lot of choices where I live from self care to AA barns. But ultimately, it’s a very personal decision everyone has to make for themselves – and sometimes it’s a feeling you get when all the other items on your list are checked off 😉

  4. A very useful and well-reasoned list! I’m often puzzled by how often folks seem to forget about the “figure out your priorities” bit of any decision-making process.

    1. Boarding is a huge part of your horse’s welfare, and it shouldn’t be a quick decision in my opinion. Plus, buyer’s remorse usually happens when you don’t think things 100% through!

  5. I love this list! I’ve been waffling about moving my horses for a while, and it’s nice to read someone else’s perspective on moving barns.

  6. Location is so important! Unfortunately there aren’t many options inside the Atlanta perimeter where I live and work, and driving at least 40 minutes is unavoidable. I opted to go for a barn that is farther away but on a route with less traffic. I figured driving 50 minutes to a horsey paradise is way better than driving in 1.5 hours of traffic to a barn that’s technically 40 minutes away.

    1. That’s pretty much what I did. Austin has HORRIBLE traffic so even though new barn is further away mile wise, the route is quicker and a more pleasant drive.

  7. I’m so lucky to not have this worry any more. I hope I can remember these things if I ever do get in a sticky situation though.

  8. All I want right now is a ring with GOOD FOOTING and JUMPS. I mean, aside from safe facilities that would make Madame Lex happy. I’m not moving barns right now, because I can’t afford to, but someday… I’d also love to have access to cross-country schooling! At my current barn, I have lots of hills to ride up and down, so at least there’s [only] that.

    1. Yeah, jumps are a good thing! Maybe you can pull some logs out onto the hill sat your current barn for some DIY cross country.

  9. One day I will have money to build the perfect place!!! I am thankful for my trainer and if it weren’t for her, I’d move 😉

  10. I agree, horse care is number one priority. Its good to know that you can go away for the weekend and trust that if your horse gets themselves in a bind, they won’t be ignored. I’m also a big stickler for meticulous stall mucking and good footing – although admittedly I haven’t found a single place that makes me happy in these categories (that I can afford).

    Hope the move goes smoothly!

    1. In my mind I lump the stall with horse care, but completely agree about the importance of good footing.

  11. Great advice!

    My only real complaint about the barn I’m at now is the presence of burrs in the pastures in the fall and winter. I absolutely cannot stand to have to pick burrs out of my horse’s mane and tail. Well, that and the lack of organization in the common tack rooms but sometimes you have to decide what you can live with as well as what you can’t live without.

  12. Great list! I think my own personal list is very similar, with a requirement for a sane, approachable barn manager that does what she says she’s going to do being right up there with excellent horse care. I’ve boarded under the care of some real pieces of work who knew only the basics of taking care of a barn. Thankfully, these were partial board facilities (we provided feed and hay, they fed am and pm for us; we were responsible for everything else), so I was at the barn every single day. The drawback was that we never once went on vacation while boarding at these facilities. At my current barn, I wish there were more paddocks for private/semi-private turnout; I wish there was a real round pen; I wish there was a hospital paddock out of sight of the big field and NOT next to a horse-aggressive mare that charges the paddock fence (!); I wish they’d maintain the chute between upper and lower parts of the big field so it’s not a sucking mud pit in the winter (I still blame that for Lily’s current injury); I wish there were sheds in the paddocks and fields so the horses could get away from the elements; and I wish there was a field board option. I think Lily wouldn’t be such a nut when initially set free in turnout if she were turned out 24/7. But I love management, I love the knowledgeable stable hands that truly pay attention (they catch lamenesses before anyone else!), the indoor, the trail access, the little things they include that other barns will charge extra for (blanketing, premium grain, extra hay, hand walks, therapies, etc), and the fact that the barn is only 15 minutes from home. So I’ll deal with the issues in the meantime. 🙂
    I hope your new barn is everything you’re expecting and more! Can’t wait to see pics!

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