Hi all!  I am new to barn mice, so maybe you have had this discussion before...if you have please direct me to the archived discussion.


Here is my question:  What do you look for in a horse boarding facility as far as whats available, pens, care, arenas, riding areas,  etc.


We are in the planning stages of opening a boarding facility hopefully next summer.  We currently have a round pen, 120 x 270 foot outdoor arena, and 160 acres of trials to ride on, on our property, and 1 mile from our home you can be out on public trails that you could ride for days...


Our plans are to provide hay, mineral supplement, salt licks, water (of course!) for the horses that will be coming here to be boarded.  We are planning our pens to be private pens, that is there is no nose to nose contact over the fence with someone elses horse, so each pen will be separated by an alley.  Each pen will have its own shed, with an attached tack room.  Oh, and the pens are going to all be steel.


Any other suggestions or ideas would be appreciated.  -- My first suggestion is an indoor riding arena - but hubby has a hard time with that!


Thanks all! 


I look forward to your ideas.

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It really depends on what clientele you want. I board my competitive horse at a private facility with a constantly maintained barn temperature, soft stalls, heated indoor, sand outdoor (both 80x120) all weather paddocks, and turnout on grass fields every other day. It's exorbitantly priced, but this is my dressage horse who I train 5 times a week.

On the other hand, our other three horses are at a facility which is basically self care, with a small indoor arena, a bit dodgy outdoor, some mud issues, etc. Those three horses are a semi-retired mare, a broodmare and a baby, and my mother is out there 4 times a day tending them, she enjoys it.

I like that my competitive mare is extremely consistently cared for, I never have to worry about her, it's top notch. My mother likes that she is hands on and cares for her horses exactly the way she wants. Of course if she wants to go somewhere, I have to go down and take care of horses!

So, you need to set up for the clients you are looking for.
If you are aiming for the outdoorsey type riders, the indoor arena might be nice, but I'm not sure it's cost effective, depending on how crummy your weather is on average. Personally I think the huge acreage and trails are super attractive and you should capitalize on that type of customer. Showy people want heated, lighted barns to keep their horses coats in the right condition and with that approach those horses would not be able to handle an outdoor run in shed arrangement. The size and surface type of the private pen (and what kind of drainage if its wet) would be of interest to me, as my horse would get pretty antsy if he can't work up a trot, and would be nuts to ride if he had to manage in a stall. So everyone has of course very different needs. He needs a dry lot and grassy hay. I happen to be boarding a lady's elderly mare. She has opposite needs, so she goes out to a very lush pasture and just chugs along out there and gets up her condition for wintering. My guy can't get along on the rich pasture, gets way too fat, and sassy, and gets tenderfooted from the lush grass and alfalfa, even in limited amounts.. What you might need to figure out is how you accomodate people who want something different, more or less for their horse. So would you feed more or less hay to each horse, or are the owners supposed to drop by and make sure their horse gets extra if needed. Who is going to remove droppings when, and how will it be stored and disposed of, because that is going to be a major concern. Will the pens each have electricity, is water freezing a problem, and what is the plan if the power goes out. I would visit some other boarding facitilities, find out if they have some basic yard rules, what they going rates are for the type of set up you are planning. I would say just plan what you can realistically provide and don't try to make it unnecessarily difficult being everything to everyone. Hey good luck though, sounds like a great endeavor.
Great suggestions from Justice. Along that line, check your insurance policy. I discovered that although we had farm insurance (to cover workers and damage to farm equipment, buildings), it had a clause that it didn't apply to horse boarding facilities. You want waivers signed (by adults) that you are not responsible for injury to riders or horses, equipment. Make sure the fire department knows how to access your place. We live only just outside of our small town's city limits and the fire department didn't know how to get to a boarding barn just up the road from us. It meant about a ten minute delay in accessing the property, precious minutes. Fortunately for the horses the fire was at an extra residence on the property, not at the horse barn, but conditions were extremely dry at the time. Maybe have a solid paddock you can move the horses to if needed. My horse was a country block away but was totally terrified by all the smoke,sirens and flashing lights whizzing by, so I snagged him from his open pasture and put him in a solid pen to prevent injury, then headed up the road with halters.
Wow! Thank you all for the input! Lots to think about - especially the fire plan, never thought about that, as the barn we have won't be for horses, unless they are sick or with their owner for grooming or tacking. But I am thinking a disaster plan of some sort is definately in order. Like say a tornado! Very rare, but high winds during summer thunder storms can really get our horses uptight.

We live in the heart of cowboy country - Alberta - the major problem I 'm going to have is watering everybody. It can get to -40 to -45 overnight here in the middle of winter. During the day we can go for weeks without the temperature going above -28. It makes for long cold winters. The horses here are well prepared for it they get long thick coats and we supplement them with 'hot feed' and extra hay when it is really cold. A bucket of water can freeze solid here in a couple of hours! Most of us, don't ride when it's that cold, we feed, water and bed everybody down and go back in by the fire, after our 4 legged friends are taken care of, and wait for spring, or maybe a mid winter chinnook...

Electric buckets, de-icers, are the norm around here, but they come with their own unique set of problems.

So hey -- Happy Winter to all of you!!!! If you have any more insights, I am taking copious notes!

Thanks again!
"Old" cowpokes usually have the best advice! Thanks for yours. Personally I never pen any of our horses alone, always with a buddy. My thinking with the separated pens was to stop any potential striking at each other and getting a leg over or between the pipes. I guess I hope that the horses that come here come as 'couples' and that the ones that are alone will be able to be paired up with another after a time...with the owners permission of course.
Thank you so much for reminding me of the importance of touch in a horse's life.


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