I think these barns are both good. I have boarded at both. The distance to both is nearly the same. I have been thinking perhaps it is worth moving. Is one better?
Good: It is beautiful. The hands on owners live right there. They maintain barn/fields/trails. The BM is known for getting almost any horse a good weight. The pastures are about 1 acre per horse, in groups of 3 to 5. The grass is beautiful. There is NO mud. In the summer, horses can be out all day and night. There are indoor and outdoor rings. Both are good sized. The hay and grain if wanted are perfect. Bedding is always provided. The trails are wide roads. There are lots of boarders but rarely is the ring used. A trainer is not encouraged but is allowed if desired. Trailer parking is available. I do not know the cost. Trailering to a local show is I believe free.
Not good: The fields are closed when winter begins. They are open when it gets dry in the spring. If your horse needs to be turned out alone, getting a field is hard. The horses when inside get hay twice per day (at 10 and 3). No extra is allowed if your horse is fat enough. I rarely find any hay in his stall. The indoor footing is tricky. Stalls are not cleaned every day. The landowner next door allows trail riders with conditions. Hunting is allowed on both properties. The BO does not ride.
Good: The barn is private. There may be one or two other boarders. The BO lives next door and is there several times per day. The stalls are cleaned well every day. Good feed is provided. The land is against a large tract (a thousand acres or more) that does not allow hunting. The barn is fairly new. The stalls are matted. Turnout is done weather permitting all year. The BO rides, owns horses, and gives lessons.
Not good: The pastures are leased. The BO does not fertilize or care about mud in the fields. One pasture is on a hillside. Another is around a hill and across a creek. There is a small bullpen inside the barn. The outdoor ring footing is mud and is not level. BO feeds a certain amount only of feed. You must provide extra. The trail from the barn is tricky and uphill.
One barn is much cheaper than the other. I will not say which one.
Each is almost perfect, but each have large flaws.
The biggest issues I see:
Hunting is allowed (yikes!)
Stalls not being cleaned each day (ew)
Lack of turnout
Outdoor footing..may as well not have an outdoor arena.
I actually think the pastures sound amazing..hilly pastures do wonders for horse muscle-tones, how sure of foot they are, and they pay more attention to their feet.
I think the decision comes down to your horse, and the cost question. (Question though: Are the stalls indoor outdoor? What size?) Is your horse a picky eater? Does he make friends easily with other horses?
I could not answer this question without knowing the prices of the barns, or your horse.
Does the Barn No1 turn horses out in winter at all? I'm not sure from your original post if that's the case or they just close pastures and turn the horses out in paddocks instead.
If they turn horses out in paddocks in winter, I'd probably choose No1. Hunting season isn't that long, just stay inside for those few weeks and good footing and good feed are worth a lot. If, however, No1 doesn't turn horses out in the winter at all, I wouldn't even consider No1 no matter the amenities.
Does Barn 2 have an indoor? That could be important depending on where you are.
I really lean toward the second one because turnout is VERY important to me....I also like the fact that it sounds like there is some hill to the land, which means that there are drier spots in the turnout; also good for riding on to develop a horse's hind end.
Above all, daily cleaning for a stall is REALLY important for me - especially if the horse isn't getting adequate turnout.
Having a say in what your horse eats is also a nice thing
Hunting is not allowed near pastures. The hunting is done on the hills away from the pasture.
I do not like either turnout. My horse does NOT like feet in deep mud. In winter that is what we have. Both barns have hills. Barn #2 has a pasture that is all hill. I have never seen a barn with attached paddocks here. Horses in the winter get out when stalls are cleaned. The dry lot is down hill from the barn. In bad weather the horses are in the indoor.
Eating is not a problem for my horse. He is ready to foal any day now. I have seen 10 and 3 feeding. That is by a worker who does weekend duty. Perhaps this is not every day. I am not usually there in the morning. By evening after work, there is no hay left.
He can get along with almost any horse. At Barn #2, he is turned out by himself. At Barn #1, he has a few turnout buddies.
These are easily the best barns here. I do not want price to decide for you. I think you can figure out the higher one.
I do not like either option, really, for different reasons. The only reason I don't like barn 2 is that the outdoor sounds completely terrible (I would not ride there!). If having an outdoor isn't important to you, I think I would prefer barn 2.
Barn 1 is disturbing to me in that the stalls are not cleaned every day and in that it sounds like the horses sometimes would be in for long stretches of time with no turnout at all. IF the horses ARE turned out for at least a few hours a day, even in winter, then I might be swayed to barn 1. I still think it is terrible that the stalls are not cleaned every day, but I suppose you could clean yours yourself on the days they are not cleaned if you are so inclined.
I feel like there have GOT to be better options than these two in your area.
Personally neither would be okay with me but if I had to choose I would go with Barn 2, I'm sorry but if the stalls aren't cleaned every day AND you factor in they don't get to go out in the winter except when the weather is nice or the stalls are being cleaned, that's just disgusting. Even though you say hunting is not allowed near the pastures, I used to ride at a large show barn that had hunting not too far off. They would say there was no hunting near the horses but it never failed every flipping time hunting season was open bullets would hit the barn. I don't care what they say, any hunting nearby is not safe, accidents happen.
Sempi, the horse is a gelding, she was just making fun of him being chunky. Which in this case may not be a big deal with the feed at barn 2 being a set amount as long as it's adequate for his size and work load.
I would not be concerned at all with hills, they are great as long as your boy isn't arthritic or has issues that it would be a problem.
The one good thing about repeating your mistakes is that you know when to cringe.
I'd choose #2 purely because the idea of allowing hunting on any property where horses are kept terrifies me. And lack of turnout in winter is a major issue for me. I'd pay higher board costs for maintenance of fields over the winter before not having turnout at all.
"Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
"With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
These places are better than where you are at now??? I can't stand mud. Mud , hills and turnout sound like injury waiting to happen. If barn #1 has an indoor or outdoor where you can put your horse out every day for some exercise that should be fine in winter. If your horse is that fat then he shouldn't have hay in front of him all the time anyways. If they stop turnout in the winter/ spring to save damage to the fields you will appreciate the grass when it comes in.
I would clean my own stall on the days they didn't. I usually re-cleaned it anyways when I boarded.
Mud is a problem for me. Easy to get a horse hurt in mud, more issues with thrush and other crud in mud.
If I was able to be out there regularly, I'd go with #1 because I can clean a damned stall in 10 min. And if I were riding daily, the lack of turnout on bad days wouldn't be the end of the world.
That said, neither sound ideal. If there were a significant price difference between #1 and #2, I'd probably go with #2 if I were trying to save some money. I'd rather have more turnout. I don't worry about grain as i too have an air fern.
I know that mud season happens nearly everywhere. But I really do hate mud. And ice. Both are just plain dangerous.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.