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RC: Question for the serious trail rider.
<If you were looking for a place to board and a serious trail rider,
what would you be looking for in a boarding facility geared toward the
To respond to your question in another way, here are some actual
comments that have, over the years, caused me to keep looking:
"You can't put up a stall guard because your horse might reach out and
nip another horse walking by/in the cross ties."
"The stall doors must be kept closed at all times so the horses won't
eat our fancy wood paneling."
"Our horses are turned out every day, and brought in to their stalls
every night, regardless of the season, because THAT'S THE SCHEDULE."
"You can provide supplements, [but they may or may not be fed because we
never know who's going to show up to do chores that day]."
"No, your horse can't have 'extra' hay because she might waste it."
"Run-in sheds? No, we'd rather bring the horses in because that's what
most of our clients like. They don't want to have to walk too far to
collect their horse."
"We're 'closed' on Mondays and Thursdays, and we'd rather that you
didn't come before 7 a.m. or after 11 p.m."
"You're welcome to use the arena anytime [that we're not having a
dressage clinic or giving lessons, which is between noon and one p.m.
every other Wednesday]."
Okay, here then are a few things that I would specifically look for in a
• the basics: safe fencing, clean pure water, high quality hay,
• the ability to provide my own feed and supplements
• large stalls with Dutch doors or stall guards, with adequate
ventilation, cleaned daily and adequately bedded; no ammonia fumes when
you walk into the barn
• clean, fresh water changed daily and buckets scrubbed out at least weekly
• rolling, roomy pastures that are not overgrazed; sufficient acreage to
rotate pastures (where applicable)
• horses brought in only to eat or during seriously bad weather
• good pasture and manure management -- the pasture is not overrun with
weeds, and it's mowed to a height of not less than four inches (when
horses are less likely to eat it)
• an effort to keep stable and arena dust to a minimum
• minimal chemical load, i.e., no requirement for year-round Strongid C,
automatic fly control, excessive vaccinations
• an understanding that horses are healthier when they are allowed to be horses
• a willingness (within reason) to be flexible to my horse's specific needs
• direct access to trails, and a place to park my trailer.
In short, I would look for a place that _puts the horse first_.
Most of the above experiences are from the Eastern time zone....I've
found horsekeeping to be quite different in the West, where it's typical
to provide your own feed and mix it up once a day.
I will also say that boarding horses ain't easy...you will have
demanding clients, will be pretty much on call 24/7...and you sometimes
will have to "lay down the law." :) On the other hand, endurance folks
make the best boarders (have you ever seen a tee-shirt that said
"Endurance Queen"? Well, on second thought...:) If you decide to go for
it, I wish you the best!
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