6 Steps for Relocating Your Horse
By Susan Tinder
Owner: Tolland Falls Ventures
Step 4: Due Diligence.
Be sure that you do research not only on the facility, but find out as much as you can about the owners, managers and trainers that are associated with it. After doing your research, make a short list of facilities that appear to meet your criteria. A phone call, or email, to the Farm Manager or Head Trainer would be the next step. Ask as many questions as you can via phone (based upon your criteria you set in Step 2) and get a feel for the farm and its program. Eliminate any facilities that do not meet your needs or don't quite feel right. Finally, your last step will be to actually visit the farm(s). You may have to schedule an appointment to do this, just be sure you have enough time allotted for your trip to get all of your questions answered and adequate time to just walk around and observe not only the facility but how the horses in their care look and behave. Also note how the staff interacts with both boarders and their horses. Be courteous, but feel free to stop and ask any boarders that may be around any questions you may have about the facility, trainers or management. You can also ask the farm for references if you are comfortable following up and calling them.
Remember, the things you will be specifically looking for will be:
- Cleanliness of the barn and how well the facility is maintained
- How the stalls are cleaned and bedded
- Fencing and how it is maintained
- The number of horses allocated to each enclosure
- Arena Footing and how it is maintained
- The Feeding Program(s)
- How feed and hay are stored and administered
- How often are pastured horses monitored, fed and watered
Also be sure to ask about:
- The Farm's Hours of Operation
- Days the Farm may be closed
- Turn-out Options and Hours (length of turn-out)
- Staffing and the Staff's Qualifications
- The Owner's Background and Involvement with the Operation
- Who is in Charge of Day to Day Operations and their qualifications
- What kind of turn-over does the facility experience (staff and boarders)
- Barn Rules (e.g. supervision of children, are dogs allowed, arena usage)
- Storage Facilities (tack, tack trunks, blankets, trailers)
- Special or Extra Services the Farm provides and the associated costs
- Does the Farm carry insurance, do the trainers also carry insurance
- Does the Farm have an Advanced Medical Directive Policy
- Is there an emergency or disaster plan in place
Finally, once you have made your decision, review the Boarding Contract carefully. If you have any questions, make sure that you have a satisfactory answer before signing any documents. Be sure you understand the pricing and specifically what services are included in that price. Ask if the farm requires a deposit, when the deposit needs to be made, if the deposit is refundable and under what conditions it would be withheld. Before you move in, it is also good to know what type of notice requirements the farm has if you would decide to leave. It is also a good idea to talk to the farm's regular vet and farrier so that you will feel comfortable with them working with your horse.
If a trainer, or training services, are involved it is also a good idea to make sure you have an up to date price sheet from them and understand what their program entails. Discussing and clearly stating your goals with a new trainer will go a long way in making that relationship a satisfying one.
If you are going to engage the services of a trainer, or if being in a training program is a condition of boarding at the facility, it is very important that you observe a lesson (or lessons) taught by the trainer and/or actually watch them ride and school one of the horses that they currently have in training. You need to make sure that their teaching style is compatible with the way you learn and that you are comfortable with the way they handle a horse. If it is at all possible, take a lesson or two from this person on a school horse before making any decision to sign up for their program. Ideally, it would also be beneficial to observe them at a horse show and evaluate their set-up, their schooling techniques as well as having the opportunity to watch them ride.
Most trainers are flexible up to a point, but if your goals differ significantly from the programs that they offer, it may be better for you to seek out someone else. Make sure that you understand if you will be required to pay for a certain number of contacts each month from the trainer or if all of their training services will be ala carte. If you are required to purchase a "package" in advance ask if you can you carry over monies from one month to the next or if the policy is "use it or loose it". Ask what happens if your horse, or you for that matter, is laid up and will not be in training for a period of time. And be sure you understand what will happen if the trainer is at a show and you choose not to participate. Will someone else take over "training at home" or are you on your own while they are gone? What arrangements are made if there other services that the trainer normally provides that you will still need while they are away?
Susan can be reached by calling 303-688-8725
or email her at: Manager@TollandFalls.com