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.
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?
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.
Lauren’s Order of Top Boarding Priorities in a Barn
- 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.
- Price – I can afford to board here, and still do things like eat food and occasionally go to a movie.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?