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Choosing a New Barn – Four Things to Look For

I’m back! After a long blogging hiatus due to 3 papers, 1 group paper and studying for exams, I am now in the home stretch to summer, which means more blog posts!

This summer I am lucky enough to have gotten a job close to my cottage, but that meant that my current barn would be 2.5 hours away, so I went barn shopping for a summer home for Phee. Below is a list of my top 4 things to look for when choosing a new barn, whether for the summer or long-term.

1. Location

Location is a huge deal for me – even if it’s a perfect barn, but it’s 2 hours away, I’m not going to see my horse much. My maximum drive time that I’m okay with  is about 45 minutes. Living in a big city, I know that’s how far you have to go out to find reasonably priced board. Near my cottage, it’s a relatively rural area, so I knew I would have to drive at least half an hour to see Phee.

2. Facilities and Hours

Happy pony in her stall!

Happy pony in her stall!

If you live somewhere where there is snow, you will definitely want to consider somewhere that has an indoor arena. It’s the middle of April, and I haven’t been able to ride outside since November – I would have died without an arena! I’ve ridden at barns in the summer without an indoor, and I was happy with that because it was summer. The barn I have chosen for the summer has a very nice indoor, so I can ride rain or shine, and escape the bugs!

Just because you like a facility, doesn’t mean that your horse will love it too. Make sure the stalls are set-up in a way that keeps your equine partner happy and comfortable. Some horses like being able to see their neighbours, and others don’t, so check out what the stall dividers are. Other horses may be nervous having a ring situated near a busy road, so also keep the layout and location of the facility in mind.

3. Turnout options

IMG_1642 (1)

Phee likes her alone time, so individual turnout is a must for her. I’m also picky about how long she goes out for, and that there is water outside in the summer months. Some horses may do better on a night turnout program, whereas others may prefer going out for a half day.

Also important is size of turnout groups, shelters in the field, types of turnout fencing, grass and the size of the paddocks. As Phee and I require individual turnout, I won’t look at a facility that doesn’t offer that. If your horse is on outdoor board, you will likely want a shelter in the paddock, and even horses on indoor board, you may want a shelter or windbreak available. Safety of fencing is also important; Some horses may not respect an electric fence, so be aware of fencing types and what your horse does best in.

4. Trainers

If you are looking for a training board program, liking the trainers and riders at the barn is important. If you’re showing, make sure they go to the shows that you want to go to. However, if you aren’t showing, find out if someone will be at home to teach you, and also that there is adequate staffing when the rest of the barn may be at a show. Currently, I use a trainer not based out of my home barn, so I like looking for a barn that allows outside coaches, however this is not a deal breaker for me if I like the program at a prospective boarding facility.

Are there any things you always look for when choosing a new home for your horse? Share them in the comments below!

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