If you were rough boarding, what would you be looking for? What would you NOT want to see?
We have space in our family barn and are thinking of taking in a few rough boarders. There will need to be no drama, and all horses must be friendly. Other than that, from an HO perspective, what should be provided?
Having been in a rough board situation while my mare was growing up, all I expected was that there was always enough water for all of the horses on the pasture, room to store hay under a roof (hay molds here if you just tarp it), windbreak/shelter for the horses and safe fencing. A good feeding strategy helps too, if there's nowhere to separate the horses during meal times.
In my particular situation there were two adult mares and two yearling fillies on a 10 acre pasture. There was a huge stock tank up near the "barn", plus a small creek that ran through the pasture. The "barn" was basically a run in on the pasture side and hay storage on the driveway side. There was also a good windbreak of trees on the west side of the pasture. It helped that all of the horses were eating the same hay, so whoever happened to be feeding would just put out 6-7 big piles of hay to prevent fighting. Usually I fed and checked on horses in the evening, and the owner of the other 3 fed in the morning.
It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
What I'd like to see:
Most important - safe fencing, reliable water (never dry, dirty or frozen) and uncrowded pastures. Also required worming and vaccinations.
What I'd strongly like - Some oversight to keep a watch for injuries, illness, accidents
Secure storage for food and tack, etc.
Compatible horses (no overly aggressive horses to one another or people)
Riding area separate from horses - just grass footing, trails, any arenas would be a plus but not necessity
Windbreak and/or shelter, plus some sort of emergency stall availability for sick or injured horse or extreme, extreme weather
when I was fresh out of college I was fortunate to find a rough-board situation that worked out really well. I had a stall if the weather got really bad, but generally my mare was out all the time. Hay and 1 grain feeding was included in the board, and the owner fed that when she fed her horses. Separate feeding was automatic because she had the horses out in separate paddocks (like I said, it was a really sweet deal, only a few of her own personal horses shared the larger pastures).
What I liked
- owner on property, oversight of what was going on.
- owner let me know when her vet/farrier was coming if I wanted to get in on the party. If not, I was not pressured to use the same people.
- If I went out of town, she gladly picked up my afternoon feedings. She charged me modestly for them, hence the 'gladly' but never made me feel like I was making her life miserable.
- trails. not like I have now, but for central NJ it was not bad
- turnout. for the area it was hard to find affordable boarding with turnout, with grass nonetheless.
- safety as far as fencing, places to ride, turn out, etc
- they even had a grooming stall!
- she provided quality hay/straw bedding/grain at bulk prices so I didn't have to pay retail prices and try to haul it in my Nissan Sentra. And, never once did she come close to running out of any of these.
- NO (regular) DRAMA. Everyone that boarded there was low key. It was quiet. We just had the owner's daughter's boyfriend who was a drug addict/drunk but you have to have a little excitment, right? And he wasn't there very much because daughter didn't live there.
Unless I put my mare in, she stayed out. The owner didn't try to read my mind, like at other places, where they usually read it wrong. There was no afternoon feeding so I did that myself (except hay, only in the winter) and water buckets would freeze but I doubt that she went longer than a few hours before they would get dumped and filled. Any stalling/cleaning was my deal of course.
Someone mentioned a bathroom... lordy, that was the end stall that no one was using! Yes, I suppose a bathroom would have been icing on the cake!
Also, locking tack storage would have been amazing but I hauled everything except my grooming kit in my car because of previously mentioned shady boyfriend character. But, we're talking rough board here so I never expected anything so lavish.
Safe fencing, non-trappy run-in sheds, no rusty nails/shaggy T-posts, other horses in GREAT condition and appropriate weight, all of them demonstrably friendly but not pushy (shows good manners/handling). Free-choice access to unlimited clean water a MUST! Ask to see the hay and feed, too.
The price should also reflect the level of care and the type of facility, as well as the specific clientele being sought. IOW, if you want retirees you'll charge more affordably, but don't have to provide as much of a riding facility. But the level of care, especially for oldsters, may well be higher!
I think some of the details depend on what kind of clientele you'll want, e.g., if you have trail access you'd probably attract trail riders so they'll need some facilities that retired horses will not. Here's what I looked for when I retired my horse:
No junk stored in the paddocks
Clean and plentiful water
No deep mud
Deworming plan for the group!
Safe companions/nobody super aggressive
Someplace sheltered to groom and tack up
Not run by a crazy person