I love my barn Here are some of the points that stand out to me:
-large group turnout paddocks (5-10 horses each separated G/M), each with large run-ins (big enough for all the horses to be in at the same time), and additional trees provide shelter along the fence line. Rolling hills in the paddocks to work those bootys when they're running around!
-paddocks are mowed when the grass gets too long
-paddocks are plowed when there's a lot of snow.
-large water troughs that are cleaned 2x/week and heated in the winter
-horses are checked head to toe when they come in, and pulses checked when there are changes to turnout (increasing TO time, changing fields, extremely lush patures, etc.).
-barn provides fly spray and sprays each horse before being turned out
-lots of options for riding areas: 2 outdoor rings, one for jumping and one is empty for flatting. The indoor is left clear year round but has jumps that you can set up. Trails with xc jumps and other mowed/maintained fields for riding around the property.
-rings are dragged about every other day, even though it's a pretty small facility so there aren't a ton of people riding every day
-horses can stick their heads out of stalls
-each stall has a fan for the summer
-good quality/free choice hay
-in the winter, they throw flakes of hay into the paddocks instead of having a round bale sit outside to get icky
-full board and field board options availalbe. Field board horses get the same individualized attention (head to toe check daily, fed 2x/day, fly sprayed) as stall boarded horses
-night checks every night where they actually check the horses and top off water buckets
-horses are on a vet program for vaccines/worming/coggins/teeth, but you can arrange it yourself if you prefer a different vet.
-there is no one barn farrier who expects to do all the horses that come in. There are about 5 different farriers who come in and you can either choose one of those or bring another
-rubber mats in the center of the isles
-no trainer is associated with the farm, so you can bring in whoever, or go take a lesson or two with another trainer and there isn't any drama with it.
-No additional charges...we have good boarders though and no one takes advantage of it. If I need something special for my horse done and I can't get out, I usually ask one of my fellow boarders to do it instead of calling the barn manager. We all help each other out. But if I needed it the barn manager would do anything. I throw them a tip if it's above and beyond.
-no barn hours
-barn manager/help live on site
-storage: large lockers and cubbies for each boarder, plus another room to store trunks
-heated bathroom/tack room
-washer/dryer in the barn
-awesome/eclectic mix of boarders and no drama
In an ideal world:
-cold/hot indoor wash stall. We have cold/hot water but it's outside.
-sink with hot/cold water in the tack room
-being able to keep jumps up in the indoor sometimes. This is a love/hate for me. I think that it's great to have it empty for flatting, but it would be nice if we could set up a course to keep up for a few days. Maybe Mon-Wed course can stay up, then pull it down for the rest of the week. It's tiring to pull out jumps and put them back each time I want to jump, then have the next person do the same!
-Choice of feed: we have a wide variety of horses from old/retired, to just starting their riding career, to competing PSG dressage. Some owners provide specialized feed, but it would be nice to have two types of feed to choose from so that each horse could get what they needed.
Be careful what you wish for with saying that you *want* to do high maintenance horses (read: owners) for more money.
This is because you have signed up for the kind of person that will want something special, something you haven't thought of or something you think is a silly, unnecessary PITA. That's by definition. Are you ready for that kind of customer service?
I guess my pet peeve is a BM/BO who doesn't know themselves and their facility well. I do know what I want and what my horse needs. I'll ask you about those ingredients. If you can't deliver them or don't want to, Tell Me Now and spare us both the agony.
Otherwise, I guess my silly pet peeve is a stall bedded on the cheap side at an otherwise elegant facility. It costs what it costs to create a bed that can double as a bathroom. To me that means deep enough bedding, no odors and the stall picked out for a second time each day if you don't want to spend a fortune on bedding. I get it. I'm willing to pay the cost. I'm willing to do the PM cleaning on the days that I'm there, and I don't waste shavings. My point is that if any of this rubs you the wrong way, know that I might not be your favorite kind of high maintenance/high paying client.
Trust me when I say that high maintinence owners are my worst nightmare! I already cringe when I see certain cars coming up the driveway! I do not want them if I can help it, but I think that is who I will attract due to the new facility being much nicer than my current place. I will only be charging $25 more per month than my current barns board in order to get it filled up, then probably eek it up $25 to $35 a year. So I am just trying to het a heads up on what I may be in for. Good and bad.
Thanks for the input everyone!! Its great!
Having one at home and one off at training I can honestly say right now with the heat is - I love having grooms!!!!!!
Not only grooms, but grooms I can *trust* and that are good with my horse. My horse had a little cut and they put medicine on it. They ice his legs after a ride, turn him out, wash him, spray him and put him away in a beautifuly bedded "clean" box.
Great trainers, great footing (groomed and watered throughout the day).... very organized..... with charts and everything.....
The only negatives I can say is the older wooden barns. I am spoilt at home with my new MD barn..... and having a fly spray system would be super cool.
I'm with you MPV on the chinsy shavings... bugs me!! I want my horse to go "poof" when he lays down... all the hard work my horses do for me it's the least I can do for them....
Don't saw on your horses mouth it's not a piece of wood!
IF I HAD ONLY ONE WISH I WOULD WISH MY BEST FRIEND COULD LIVE FOREVER!
* Tack rooms AND private tack lockers. Whether you board four horses or just part board, you get a tack locker. (Of course, the more you board/pay, the bigger the locker you get!) Tack rooms are strictly for saddles, pads, girths, martingales, and bridles. All extra equipment is stored in your locker, which is nice and helps to ensure that things won't go walking off on their own.
* Security cameras
* No skimping on bedding and stall cleaning; stalls are cleaned thoroughly in the morning and picked later in the evening as well. Bedding always more than adequate.
* Thrice-daily feedings and loads of hay ; I like that they always have something to munch on. Cuts WAY down on cribbing, stall walking, etc etc.
* Adequate turnout - they go out minimally for half the day, and more in other cases. If it is hot the barn staff works around the heat and they go out quite early and in the evening instead of during the heat of the day.
* SUPER-attentive staff. Seriously, if your horse has one teeny, tiny speck wrong with him, they know and tell you (immediately) and fix it. Whether that involves a wrap, just slathering on some Swat or trailering the horse for colic surgery, you know your horse is really in the best hands.
* Hooves picked daily after coming in from turnout - might not sound like much but cuts way down on thrush, etc.
* Backup turnout situations when the weather gets too bad or icy (this is Canada after all). Barn has an indoor walker and a large indoor arena that can be used for turnout during the day - at least they aren't sitting in their stalls 24/7 during inclement weather.
* PATIENT and understanding staff... can't emphasize that enough. From the trainers/coaches to the grooming/feeding/cleaning staff they are all super nice, very patient and willing to help you out with anything, and if you are having an issue or are confused about something they will help you til the cows come home. They will also go out of their way to show you "proper" horse care if you are new and don't do it the barn way - which is a bit odd but makes everything uniform, at least, and you certainly cannot fault the care or condition of the horses.
* Flexible staff... if you can't stay until your horse is bone-dry after being hosed off to wrap him, they will do it for you, and wraps come off before turnout and you don't have to be there to do it.
* Honesty. Costs, etc. are very up front and there appears to be no shadiness that I've ever seen. There is also zero malicious barn gossip and a serious lack of barn drama, which is FABULOUS and makes going to the barn a pleasant experience nearly every time (minus those bad riding days!)
This is on top of things like fabulous footing, multiple arenas, excellent jumps, miles and miles of hacking trails, a sincerely gorgeous facility that is well kept and absolutely beautiful, a heated viewing room and restroom, knowledgeable, kind, and experienced training, coaching and barn staff, big stalls, good ventilation, and absolutely top notch horse care. I genuinely have nothing bad to say about my barn other than wishing the cost were just a bit less - but you get what you pay for!
If BM and BO are two separate people--a good, healthy, PROFESSIONAL relationship between them. Makes life much more pleasant.
Either way professionalism and listening to clients needs, wants, desires and working with them to reach acceptable conditions in any matters be it training, feed, turnout, vet care, arena maintenance etc.
The very short answer for the one thing I can't stand about my barn are the other boarders who own horses but who have zero sense of what it means to be a good horseman. There are 6 other boarders there besides me...I'd say that includes at least 4 of them.
I board at a small private farm. Only 5 horses and here is what I love.
1. Owner lives on premises - LOVE this. Almost always someone there. When I first moved my horse there I got regular communication via email about how he was doing, playing, etc. Warmed my heart!
2. Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge. Owners KNOW horses and everything about them. They don't make comments like "oh horses don't really need hay...it's better for them to be on complete feed only" like my old barn! Seriously.
3. Abundance of good, quality hay in stall and beautiful grass in well maintaned pastures. Grass is maintained, planted when needed, and horses rotated between 3 pastures to "let one grow" or mature. There is actually a plan!
4. Big, airy stalls with dutch doors. LOVE arriving and seeing my horse with his head hanging out his dutch door.
5. Blanketing, masks, fly spray, swat and if necessary, things like Corona or Triple A creme applied, removed, etc. 2x per day included in price. If my horse has a cut, I almost always find it covered with Triple A or Corona when I arrive. They look, they check and they care!
6. FOOTING both in fields and ring when available. My barn doesn't have a ring but I am allowed to use ring down the road. That ring's footing is wonderful. The fields are not covered in rocks and I am allowed to ride in them too when footing is appropriate.
Finally - nothing beats caring owners with great horse knowledge. Nothing. I love my barn!!
OMG I lost it all. A slightly less passionate version:
- big pasture, but not so big I can't see my horse from the gate
- knowledgable people around to bounce ideas off in non-emergency situations
- having a tack box in front of my stall
- having a tack room where my saddle and bridle are in close proximity, and with labels
- having name plaques on the stalls
- having emergency contact/medical information easily accessible (but still private, like sealed in an envelope) on stall doors for horse and human.
- having a barn with both an evacuation plan in place
- having a barn where the owner/manager has been in contact with the local 911 center to request a "flag" note be added to pop up should a call come in for that address that alerts the EMTs that extreme caution should be taken (no lights/ sirens upon arrival, drive slow, keep a sharp eye for loose animals)
- BM schedules farrier and the routine vet calls for yearly shots, but lets the owner make changes as appropriate. Posts signups (with as much notice as possible) to sign up for other services (share a farm call, equine dentist, etc).
- Bathroom with hot and cold water, flushing toilet, mirror, good soap, fairly clean hand towels, and the creme de la creme would be a shower stall so I can go straight from the barn to work... or wherever. It would seriously maximize the number of days I could ride in a week.
- keeping turnout essentials on stall doors: fly spray, lead rope, fly mask, boots.
- keeping 1 spare seasonal blanket or cooler on the stall door for easy change during "changeable" weather patterns. Added bonus if all the stalls have a matching blanket cover in the barn colors (They're easy to make, too. They close by having velcro squares at each corner. Quick little pinch and bam they're closed... no monkeying around with zippers, and they can open up at the bottom to accomodate bulk.)
- An available diagram of the turnout situation so someone can find a horse in the pasture if needed.
- A posted feed list (grain, hay, and in the pastures) so someone can feed in an emergency.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Good or at least decent lighting, wired in sections so you can light parts of the barn as needed instead of flipping a switch and having the whole place light up.
- The option of using a stall guard to allow horses to hang heads in the aisle with supervision.
- Dutch doors or windows, and stall guards for use (when monitored)
- Natural light when possible/ventilation.
- Stable management equipment available for use by boarders if they want to clean out a stall or top off water.
- fold-down saddle racks in the aisle for tacking up
- consistantly enforce rules (no one is special)
- dress code (no clevage, no bra straps, no shorts, no sneaker while riding) for both safety and "family friendly" atmosphere
- "nice touches" like flower boxes, color-cordination (without being matchy matchy!), simple landscaping (trees, flowers, bushes)
- seating for watching lessons that can accomodate more than one person at a time, is reasonably comfortable, and has a decent view
- stalls with excellent drainage
- stable management techniques always being evaluated for efficiency, cost effectiveness, and also my horse's well being. For example, switching vendors to get bulk shavings in the winter when they're in more, but using pellets when they are out more.
- obviously safe fencing, etc
- storage space for extra boxes, etc, that aren't used much but would be handy from time to time
- consistant hours of operation every day so idiots like me don't forget that Tuesday the barn closes at 6, not 7, and arrives at 5:50 ready to ride only to find out it's not gonna happen.
- An attempt at fly management (fly tape hung high, sprays, introducing predators, whatever, eliminating ponds, etc)
- Horses in turnout groups where they are always coming in with wounds (without effort to change it).
- keeping my tack box away from my stall (I hate making trips, 'cause I always forget things)
- thick layers of dust and grime
- undragged rings
- acting like I'm intentionally trying to ruin your day by asking for an accomodation (take wraps off for a week while recovering from injury, etc), while also not being flexible in letting me come down at 6am when you do turnout (barn not open til 9), or not leaving my horse in until 9 when I can take them off myself.
- putting grain in buckets before horses are brought in (some develop a wicked bolt into the stall in the excitement of food)
- putting grain in buckets hours before horses come in, so flies can sit on it and mid-afternoon riders have to convince their horses to forget about the tantalizing grain they saw in their bucket... or in the aisle.
- kids climbing, yelling, running, and other such malarky
- being more worried about keeping the facility clean than letting people actually use it (like the wash stall)
- expecting me to help with trail maintence on my weekend off when I don't even trail ride.
Laundry laundry laundry laundry!!!! Did I mention laundry?
My current place doesn't have laundry for boarders - especially in the summer, I hate having to bring my sweaty saddle pads home and was them, and then try to get the horse hair out of my washer and dryer before doing the rest of my clothes. Some of my previous places had laundry, and it is a godsend.
Do you have a pet peeve or something you really love about your barn/bm/facility? I am getting ready to expand my boarding business to a nicer facility and am basically expecting to attract somewhat pickier/high maintinence people, so I am looking for likes/dislikes to be better preared, if that makes sense. Thanks!
I really like the place where I board my horse. Of course there are *always* going to be things that you would do differently when you are in "someone else's barn," but overall - I have no serious complaints.
Things I really like:
The stalls are large, airy and kept REALLY CLEAN with ADEQUATE BEDDING. (Skimping on bedding is a huge pet peeve of mine.)
The feed high quality feed (Nutrena, which my horse has done really well on) and offer excellent quality, free choice hay. They will feed supplements provided by the owner for no additional charge (we use Smartpaks.)
The horses *always* have access to water, provided in CLEAN buckets (it always amazes me how many BO's don't scrub buckets... ewwwwww.)
The staff is competent, reliable, and very pleasant. They take a genuine interest in the horses - you will often see a groom taking one of "his" horses out for an extra hand graze, or spending a minute patting them before they turn them out. And the BM formerly ran a large vet practice - she is terrific, notices every little thing and is really tuned into the horses' well being. She's the kind that will say, "think I might give your guy a bran mash tonight; the weather's changing and he's looking just a little peaked..." (I LOVE this woman.)
Overall, the facility is kept clean, neat and organized. The aisles are wide enough so that we can safely have trunks in front of our stalls (very convenient) without creating any safety issues in the aisles. There are plenty of cross ties, washracks, etc so everyone can groom, tack and take care of their horses without being on top of each other.
The facility also has great amenities from a riding perspective. There are multiple rings with excellent footing, and they are maintained daily. We have a huge variety of jumps both in the ring and out in our grand prix field. There is plenty of room to ride out of the ring, and a decent indoor for bad weather. And it's all just 20 minutes from my house.
What don't I like?
Well, I don't love their billing system. They are often very slow to post charges and then - I guess realizing they need the money! -you will get a HUGE bill with a frantic, "please pay this today if you can!" I pay my board and normal recurring charges via an automatic debit from my checking account, but the variable stuff, like lessons, training, etc can really add up, too. I wish they would bill them in the month that they occur.
The trainer works hard, but has to juggle a lot of other demands in her life along with the barn, so she is perhaps not as available as would be ideal for shows and lessons as I'd like - particularly for those of us that work full time and have to fit riding in around the workday. Her availability is generally determined by whether she can get a sitter for her kids, which sometimes makes scheduling a challenge.