There are generally two types of boarding, full-board and self-board. Sometimes you can get a hybrid of that depending on the barn you are at, but for the most part it’s one or the other.
Below is a video where I do some talking (maybe too much, I’ll condense things in future videos I think but it’s still pretty good and I do get the horses past the barrel problem at the end, so that was really good) about boarding options but the biggest takeaway from the video we hope is received is that if you are going to do full board, make sure you do your research and check things out thoroughly. There are good barns and bad barns and everything in between. You always want to make sure your horse is taken care of to the best ability of the barn owner and manager and it’s something to keep a regular eye on.
When it comes to shelling out anywhere from $500 to thousands of dollars for full board care of a horse, you’re going to want to make sure you keep a few things in mind:
1. Feeding. Will your horse get fed well, proper and regularly? Feeding is a topic in and of itself, but you’d be surprised at how many barns don’t quite get it right either in consistency, quality or quantity. Maintaining your horse’s health is still on you. That means you may have to chase after the owner a bit to get what you think your horse needs.
2. Water. In the summer, does your horse get enough water, does the tub run out? Is the water dirty? Changed daily or so. In the winter does it freeze and not get cleared off? Any heaters to keep the water from freezing? Regular top ups of water and is it maintained fresh?
3. Cost vs Value. If you have to keep on top of things like making sure the water or food is good or the environment isn’t a total mess of manure and urine, then you are probably at the wrong place unless the cost reflects such neglectfulness. If you pay a lot, expect a lot. These people have one job and it’s expected they fulfill it.
4. Extra care. Blankets on and off, stall to paddock or field walking, free running around time in a field, inspection for injuries, careful care when interacting etc. Remember, these people are either building your horse up or tearing it down with their daily interactions. Someone who cares about what they are doing each and every day will help your horse be better with people, the opposite runs true to make them worse.
The second takeaway we’re hoping is received regarding the difference between self and full board, is the amount of time spent and the quality of time spent with your horse. If you have to be there everyday to take care of your horse, you can check out their health, food, water, environment and in general continue to build a relationship with the horse. If somebody else is doing this then it’s on them to be building the horse’s manners up on a daily basis and that may not be being done to the quality that you’re hoping for. I’ve seen horses treated quite poorly by those that don’t own them and that has translated to the owner who then doesn’t understand why their horse is suddenly head shy. I’m not saying it’s common, but it happens.
There are pros and cons to both self and full board, obviously if you don’t have time or availability to take care of the horse but really want to own it, then full board is the only way and the best way for the horse. It’s more costly obviously but you can then dedicate the time you would have spent with your horse taking care of it and instead can do quality work riding or groundwork. It’s something to be measured and evaluated as you go.