6 Steps for Relocating Your Horse
By Susan Tinder
Owner: Tolland Falls Ventures
Step 2: Understand/Define What Type of Environment You Want for Your Horse.
- Do you want him to be outside all of the time?
- Can he be turned out with other horses or does he need to be by himself?
- Do you want him to have a stall?
- Do you want him to be inside in a stall at night and turned out during the day?
- Do you want him to have a stall with a run?
- Is it important to have a riding arena? How about an indoor or covered arena?
- Is it important to have access to a trail system?
- Are you interested in keeping him at a facility that specializes in your discipline (i.e. dressage, hunter/jumper, gaited horses, trail riding, western, etc)?
- Is it important to be in a "show barn" or do you prefer a more laid back atmosphere?
- Are you looking for a barn with a greater percentage of junior riders or would you prefer to be in a barn that catered mostly to adults? Would you prefer a mixture of clientele?
- Do you care if the facility caters to more than one discipline?
- Do you want to be responsible for some of the care of your horse; for example, do you want to clean your own stall or provide your own feed or are you looking for a full service boarding facility?
- What is your definition of Full Service Boarding? For example, should it include blanketing, daily turn-out, managing farrier and vet care? Does your definition also include training or lessons?
- How important is it to have a resident trainer?
- Do you want to be at a farm that mandates that you are in training or do you want to be able to choose to do "your own thing"?
- How important is it to have an on-site farm manager that does not travel to shows?
- Will you be bringing a horse trailer or will you need someone from the boarding facility to be able to transport your horse for you from time to time? Will you need to store your trailer at the facility?
- Is it important to have a place to store your equipment? Do you feel more comfortable if you are able to lock or secure your equipment when you aren't there?
- Is it important for the facility to have a boarder's lounge or club house?
- Do you care if the facility does not have restrooms or if the restrooms are a Porta-John?
- Is it important to have your horse in a heated barn?
- Do you feel that it is necessary to have wash stalls, hot and cold water or laundry facilities?
After answering these questions and adding some of your own you should have a pretty good picture of what your ideal boarding facility should look like and it is a good idea to prioritize that list into what you "have to have" and what you would "like to have". As you start searching for that ideal, keep in mind that even if the facility doesn't have all of the amenities and programs that you are looking for, all well managed boarding facilities will have the following qualities:.
Well managed boarding facilities are first and foremost: CLEAN.
A boarding facility may be old and it may not be fancy, but i7 MUST BE clean and clutter free. And though a clean barn is nice to look at, cleanliness is first and foremost a safety factor and secondly, is it a health factor. If nothing else, you are looking for a safe and healthy environment for you and your horse. There should not be layers of dust on everything, the aisles should be swept with nothing blocking the aisles, stall doors should have secure latches, and there should be no missing or oddly shaped or warped boards in the stalls or anything else that a horse could get caught on or a person could trip over. This is why, when you narrow your initial list of facilities down, you should make at least one physical visit to each facility before you make a final selection and go through the effort to move your horse there.
Well managed boarding facilities are serious about their fencing, and more importantly, how their fencing is maintained.
There are many types of fencing and they all have advantages and disadvantages. As long as the fencing is in excellent repair and has no missing or broken/sagging boards, sagging/loose wire, electric tape or electric wire that is "tied" together with no "charge", the fencing should be workable. Note: If the farm is using wire or electric fencing and it is attached via "t-posts" make sure that all "t-posts" have safety caps on the top of each post.
The area around the fencing should be mowed not only for fire mitigation but to discourage horses from grazing under or leaning on the fence. The number of horses placed in any one enclosure should be limited to avoid over crowding and fighting (if more than one horse is put in the enclosure). It is preferable that shared fence lines are separated or have "hot wire" on top to discourage fighting over the shared fence line. Horses are herd animals so they should be able to see other horses when they are turned out even if they are not turned out together. All turn-out areas should have access to fresh clean water in "horse friendly" tanks or automatic waterers.
Well managed boarding facilities have good footing in their arenas and these facilities are diligent about maintaining that footing.
The definition of good footing varies greatly by discipline and geographic location and there are many different options that can be used to minimize impact, reduce shear, add traction, retain water, reduce dust and maintain consistency throughout the arena(s). Don't forget to ask about footing and be sure to walk around on the arena when doing a farm visit as well as inquire about how the arena is maintained (i.e., how often, or if, it is watered, type and frequency of drags, erosion control, etc.).
Well managed boarding facilities have quality, consistent feed programs.
They feed according to each horse's need rather than a specified amount per head. Even if the facility has an up-charge for feeding more than their "usual" amount, you want to know that your horse will be fed in accordance with his nutritional requirements based on his size, age and work load. Inquire about the number of times the horses are fed each day and check out the quality of the grass pastures and the barn's pasture maintenance program if your horse is to be stabled outside. Inquire about hay quality and options (grass, alfalfa, grass/alfalfa mixture) and inspect the hay when making a farm visit. If grain is included in the board ask about what grain options are offered and check on the brand(s) that the farm uses. If grain is not included in the board, ask about storage/security options if you have to supply it yourself. Ask if supplements are administered with each feeding and if there is a charge for administering supplements.
Well managed boarding facilities have access to veterinarians and farriers
Ideally these professionals visit the facility on a regular basis and are familiar with the facility. The farm should have a set procedure for routine health exams, vaccinations and worming. This is especially important if your horse is turned-out, or will live with, other horses. Well managed facilities require that any new horses admitted to the facility have a current health certificate and a current negative coggins test.
Well managed boarding facilities manage their facility as a business and will have a boarding contract
The boarding contract will outline what services they provide as well as any other obligations on the part of the farm or on the part of the boarder. A boarding contract may be very simple to very complex, but at a minimum it will specify services, prices for those services, billing procedures, payment policies and the rules and regulations of the facility.
Susan can be reached by calling 303-688-8725
or email her at: Manager@TollandFalls.com