Aug 032015

How do you go about finding the right barn for your horse?

Sometimes it’s easy to find the right facility and other times, well, it can be quite challenging.

Since picking Casey up near the end of May, she’s been to 4 different barns / farms. Granted, one was a one week stay with a trainer, but still, it’s a lot of moving. While she was originally down near a friend’s place with the idea we could ride together over the summer, her greenness made it obvious I should bring her up near me where I could work with her daily, so after a week with a trainer (2nd farm) I brought her up the road (third farm) and then after 3 weeks decided I needed a different situation so we just moved a couple of days ago (fourth farm) (in what, just about two months?).

Finding the right farm for your horse

The new farm, from out in the pasture looking back

To her credit, she has settled in very quickly to each location.  When trying to find the right barn for your horse there are SO many thing to consider:

  • Location: proximity to you, proximity to other amenities
  • Care Type: Field, Stall, Combo, feed type/schedule, hay type and quality
  • Size: pasture size, # of head, # of boarders
  • Amenities: tack room, heat/no heat, ring (indoor/outdoor), wash stall, XC trails, pleasure trails
  • Health Care/Support: do they worm or do you, do they have a vet ‘on call’ do you need your own, what farrier do they use…
  • Trainer on site/Lesson program
  • Show barn, pleasure barn, private/public (what’s the ‘temperament’ of the barn – layed back, high stress, competitive, social)
  • Watering system – how will your horse access fresh water?
  • Price
  • Rules: what rules do they have specific to their farm? For instance, are there hours of operation or do you have 24 hour access to your horse?
  • and more.

Some of my thought process to find the right home for me and my horse:

  • Because of my schedule I knew I wanted her close to me, ideally within ten minutes. This was VERY important to me.
  • Also because of my schedule and being a single parent, the level of care became important (hence this final move). I wanted more of a full care arrangement. They feed once or twice a day (as needed).  This will free me up in the fall as my son starts high school.
  • Access to trails is very important to me – and the right kind of trails matters. I grew up riding an extensive trail system, being able to ride all day without crossing the same trail. I wanted that again. (and in fact both farms I landed at this go round have access to the SAME trail system!)
  • For me, price was also a HUGE factor. I can’t afford 600.00/month.

Secondary considerations for me:

I was also interested in having access to a ring or round pen where I can school and have access to jumps. This would not have been a deciding factor, but I am very glad that each facility I seriously considered has at least an outdoor ring.

Some items were negotiable to me – for the right situation I could provide my own feed (as long as they gave it!).

And some things would be nice but I could do without (an indoor arena, hot wash stall).

The barn I’m at now has a hot/cold wash stall, separate tack rooms for each stable, fans in the barns, and is small.  Each barn has 4 – 6 stalls and there is a series of gates and paddocking system that offers separation when and if needed.

I think we will be very happy here – although small has its ups and downs. Right now I’m missing (VERY much) the people from my other barn 🙁 as well as the ‘pace’ of the place. It was nice that there were always other people around and the owner has such an incredible knowledge base having been at this for SO many years. I’m really going to miss it all. However, for where I am in my life right now, this will be a better fit for me in terms of schedule and my horse should fare well.


From the main barn looking out towards the pasture.

Casey has paced herself silly up and down the fence line for two days as the barn manager doesn’t like to just toss a new horse out into the mix (smart way to do it I think!) Casey has had the opportunity to meet the gang over the fence line before having to find her place in the pecking order.

Unfortunately I had an out of town trip scheduled and wasn’t there to see her get turned out last night


Way out in the pasture

but I understand she did very well and quickly settled down to happily munch grass. I can’t wait to get back and see her. The first two days she was so anxious I could barely groom her so really we didn’t even do that. I checked in on her, fed her, put some ointment on that nasty rash (and her new cuts) and then let her be. No sense in making us both crazy when she was CLEARLY quite worked up.

I am looking forward to seeing how her head is after having been turned out with the others. Hopefully she’ll be settled down and ready to focus. I long to get into a regular riding schedule for the rest of August before life gets crazy with LG starting 9th grade. ( Those ‘hours’ have FLOWN by, hard to believe we’re starting high school. )

Join the conversation – how did yo go about finding the right barn or your horse?  Tell us know about your barn/stable/situation – what are your top ‘must haves’ and what’s on your wishlist?

If your wondering how to even get starting finding the right barn for your horse in terms of finding options to research, here are a few ideas:

  • Of course, ask others you know for suggestions. If you presently own or lease or take lessons, then you know people who can help.
  • Join some horse related FB groups – then look at their files/resources, watch for posts about barn openings, outright ask in a post for ideas based on what you’re looking for.
  • Find the local horse leagues, boards, clubs in your area. Google is worth it’s weight in gold here. In MD there is a licensing program and you can get a listing of licensed stables in your area – MD Horse Industry Board. There is also the League of MD Horsemen , and the Maryland Horse Show Association has a professional services directory.
  • Search online sites like Equine Now, New Horse – boarding stables,
  • Craigslist – seriously, you may be surprised. This is actually where I found my current barn!
  • Drive the area. If you have an idea where you want to be – drive the area. Many farms have signage with a farm name and a phone number.

And another tip, start your search early but also recognize that if a barn has an opening, they may not be able to hold it. You may have to go ahead and make the move or at least start paying for it.

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