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Horses at home vs boarding

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  • Horses at home vs boarding

    My husband and I sold our house last spring and have been renting with the plan of buying land and building a house, barn and arena this summer. Lately, I've been second guessing whether or not it's worth it to buy land.

    Growing up my parents had land and a barn and we always had the horses at home, so I am fully aware of the work that goes into it, but I loved having them in my back yard. Hence the reason I want to build.

    However, I'm at a wonderful barn with a wonderful trainer and would also be perfectly happy boarding there forever (and I enjoy the social aspect). The problem is, at nearly $1k a month for board and training, I can't imagine ever having more than one or two horses, whereas if we build I can haul in for lessons and would be able to afford to have a few horses at a time.

    But, land costs where I live are high ($25-$30,000 an acre. Yikes) and the cost of building is going to be EXPENSIVE. For the cost to get everything we want (house-wise, barn-wise, and an indoor - maybe not right away, but eventually) we could get get an AMAZING house, with money in our budget left over.

    So, for those of you who have built, is it worth it? Does the initial expense eventually pay itself off versus boarding? I've always dreamed about having horses at home again, but there are some definite perks to boarding too. What do ya think?

  • #2
    it sounds like you are in an urban area

    We are in the middle of the city (about seven million people) where land costs are between 50K to 100K per acre.

    We built our buildings with the expectation that some day we would sell so we built the buildings with the ability that they could be easily convert to other uses.

    Our buildings appraised for two to three the value of "barns" because they could be converted as not every one wants a horse.


    • Original Poster

      Interesting clanter. What are the differences between a barn and something that can be converted? That's a great idea, as resale value is important to me. And 50-100K an acre?! Woah, I won't complain anymore


      • #4
        $1,000 a month for boarding 'and training'...ok, I think? you'll have to zone your responses in to your life style and expenses to 'compare' ....I pay $370 a month for board, and because OF that could never afford horse number two. Also...Learn as MUCH as we can (daughter and myself) from clinics and occasional lessons, but could NEVER afford a 'trainer', so never have had one. I am ONLY now buying our second horse (got our first as a 3 yr old, he's 17 this year!), and only (!) because we're now 'retireing' and I won't have board to pay to someone else. SO, for me? yes, 'at home' is making the difference of one or two...for you? maybe not! Its all relative! best wishes no matter what you do!
        "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
        --Jimmy Buffett


        • #5
          I love having my own place but I find that I ride much less because something is always on the list of things to be done and if you do everything yourself it's often hard to take a vacation for more than a couple of days because you have to find someone you trust to feed the horses. Now when I only had a few I would take them and temporary board when I left town but now that there's a barn full that's not an option. I still love having my own place but there are many drawbacks. I've had my place for 10 years.


          • #6
            If I had a boarding barn that I loved and my horses got great care, I definitely would not board at home. The only reasons I bought a place with land was because I moved to an area with a very very very poor boarding atmosphere and I have two old (21 & 28) retirees that need special care. Given the aforementioned poor boarding situation in the area, it was going to be impossible for me to find a place for them. If my DH & I make it back to our "homeland" and I can board at my old boarding barn that I adored, I'm totally giving up keeping them at home. I have to trailer in for lessons, it's a PITA to schedule farrier & vet because I don't have several other boarders who share the same people, and I really really really miss the social aspect. I've lived here 1.5 years and the only people I know are from work. I have no "friends" to speak of that I can go and get a drink with.


            • #7
              I love having the beasties at home, but I don't ride as much as I'd like and I don't feel comfortable leaving them with someone else in charge when I go out of town. I love taking care of the farm, but it sure does take a lot of time and money.
              Lately I've been thinking about thinning the herd and boarding one horse and keeping it in training so I can just show up and ride.... Maybe it's the weather ;-)
              Y'all ain't right!


              • #8
                You have a very good, excellent boarding situation.
                That trumps having horses at home, unless you really like being horse caretaker first, rider second.

                Most underestimate what it cost to live and care for horses in acreage.
                Worth it if that is what floats your boat, not if you or your family will consider all that maintenance as chores and you resent now having less time and energy for your riding and that will be alone, or needing hauling to a barn anyway.


                • #9
                  We built the barns clear spanned with pavestone flooring, the stalls are free standing stall kits unattached to the building thus furniture with mats and could be taken with us if we were move.

                  The places on either side of have been purchased for cash then cleared of structures for the new houses


                  • #10
                    I love having the horses at home and am able to spend MORE time with them.

                    Feel like sneaking out before bed to take them an apple? Sure! Say hi in the morning before work with some carrots, no prob.

                    Only have 20-30 mins? Still enough time to just groom and/or lunge.

                    I don't have the money right now but when we take lessons again my instructor will come here OR I will trailer out. Really the same amount of time as if I drove by myself to a boarding barn. Maybe 10 more minutes to hitch up.

                    They are outside my window, the girls get to see them. I can ride with my dogs.

                    <3 it.

                    *As a note, my horses are rarely stalled. My chores are water tanks, cleaning shelters/paddocks, and sweeping/cleaning the barn. We fill up the hay hut once a week with hay. Fixing fencing and projects do happen, but ride first. Makes the rest of the day go just fine.
                    My herd for life:
                    King: 21 year old Foxtrotter gelding
                    Ruais: 8 year old Friesian/Arabian mare


                    • #11
                      After this winter, I am so so glad I board.
                      You are what you dare.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GotGait View Post
                        After this winter, I am so so glad I board.
                        ME TOO!!!! we moved our remaining horse into a boarding situation in the fall, and while I really miss being able to look out the window and see horses right outside, I do not regret it. sooooo much easier. admittedly, it's almost twice the cost of having him here, but I no longer have the worry of getting hay, getting grain, sawdust or shavings, keeping the hose and hydrant from freezing, cleaning frozen pee and poop out of the stalls. blankets on and off, on and off, on and off. I just pay my board, go out every day that I can make it, groom, love on him, maybe ride, then come home.


                        • #13
                          I have ALWAYS told my barn manager over and over how much I KNOW I will miss boarding...and yes, this winter is one for the books. I wish I could afford: horses at home most of the time and the BAD winter months: boarded!
                          "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                          --Jimmy Buffett


                          • #14
                            I have done boarded, home, and a combination of both. They all have their pros and cons.

                            I do not factor land costs into my home bills, as the land is 1) paid off and 2) used for actual farming, apart from the ~5 acres I took over.

                            I am happiest boarding. I love the social atmosphere, I love the facilities, I love not having to worry about getting the horses out before work or worrying about getting them in if a sudden storm brews up midday. It is MISERABLE here right now, has been for weeks with the freakin' cold, and I would LOVE if someone else was worrying about buckets and frozen bedding.

                            I started out boarding despite having the facilities at home. However, board in my area is very expensive. $600/mo for the good places.

                            So when I wanted multiple horses, everyone had to come home. I have three now (+1 boarder). It is about $100/mo per horse to keep them here, vs $600.

                            I moved my young horse to a boarding barn, after years of just having them home, and realized how much I missed the social atmosphere. My plan is now to keep her boarded out, with my other two at home.

                            If I had the money, I would love to keep everyone boarded. But $1200 a month or $1800 a month is not in the budget right now, so until I move somewhere cheaper or start making more money, it will have to be just one boarded with the rest at home.


                            • #15
                              We have 25 acres, 5 stall barn, and an outdoor arena. We built our 2000 sq foot house 7 years ago - small but custom built.

                              My husband and I think that you would be able to keep 2 horses boarded if you opted to not take on the whole farm, assuming you factored that in to your budget when house hunting or building. Considering the equipment needed, maintenance expenses, etc., we figure we would easily have an extra $2-3 thousand per month if we only had a house.

                              That being said, we love having our little farm. There are pros and cons both ways, but I think it ultimately comes down to the kind of lifestyle you want.

                              We have 4 horses and board 1. Our boarder is a student and she helps us out a lot. We have several trainers in the area that will come here to teach. There are other ways to have a horse related social life than boarding.

                              It's snowing and we now have to get up, layer up and go take care of the horses. We love it though!


                              • #16
                                one word of caution... we have one the last un-subdivided large acreage lots remaining so the city changed the zoning requirements to restrict our possible subdivision because the surrounding home owners enjoy the view of having horses in the city

                                their move surprised us as we had to threaten the possible donation of a strip of land to the Audubon Society for an urban bird sanctuary to stop an expansion of a road that would have opened up land for forty lots


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by clanter View Post
                                  one word of caution... we have one the last un-subdivided large acreage lots remaining so the city changed the zoning requirements to restrict our possible subdivision because the surrounding home owners enjoy the view of having horses in the city

                                  their move surprised us as we had to threaten the possible donation of a strip of land to the Audubon Society for an urban bird sanctuary to stop an expansion of a road that would have opened up land for forty lots
                                  Probably payback for confronting those that wanted the lots.
                                  You cross city hall at your own peril.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Wow, lots of good advice. Thank you!! This is exactly what I was looking for. As a lot of you mentioned, since I am in an ideal boarding situation, why change things? I am very meticulous about horse keeping and I know I wouldn't resent having to take care of horses at home because I love doing it. However, I do remember when I was younger and had them at home I didn't ride very often, because as many of you mentioned, by the time chores are done, you just don't have the energy!

                                    After discussing w/ husband, we could spend way less money on a much bigger and nicer house and without the extra land/barn costs could afford to have another horse in full training. So I'm kind of leaning toward that option. Not to mention, we are fairly young so maybe in 15 years we will decide to buy land. And good points about horse keeping in this awful weather! I know come Monday when our temps drop below 0 again I'll be happy to be able to stay in my warm toasty bed instead of going outside to feed the horses LOL!

                                    Thanks again for all of the great advice


                                    • #19
                                      From what you've written, I'd opt for boarding, as you are per your last post. I'd just add that you might think of what to do when your horse gets old and needs to be retired. If you have a couple of acres, you could throw up a run-in and fence a paddock or two and have an inexpensive place to keep him/her. Or you could decide that didn't make sense and budget for retirement board. Or decide to sell before the horse gets too old. But I just raise this issue because having a place to stash an old guy can potentially make it more affordable to support the retiree AND a riding horse (or horses).
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                                      • #20
                                        If possible,I think you would be much better off buying land with an existing house and preferably horse facilities. The future Mr. Mukluk and I recently purchased this. The horse facility is really nice, big stalls with attached paddocks, and access to a larger turn out area. Will likely let them have the run of the place during the day and put in stall/paddock at night. Fortunately for me, Mr. Mukluk also rides and willingly does horse chores (cleans up poop without being asked!). For me I think keeping them at home will be great as right now they are a pain to get to on days I work (it's a 60 mile round trip to go to work and then see the horses). Plus I am already doing self care where I board so I clean the poop, feed, and water. Feeding is easy though because I have two giant bale nets and I just fill them every few days. My mare has 24/7 hay (and the metabolism most of us dream of). Another great thing we have going for us is we will be in an equestrian community with miles of trails and equestrian center and plenty of horse activities (schooling shows, organized trail rides etc.). I think we will have the best of both worlds with keeping them at home and meeting other horse folks. At any rate I do hope you end up in a great situation for you and your horses.