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Boarding vs. Owning Property

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  • Boarding vs. Owning Property

    We are house hunting at the moment.... we would both LOVE a small farm, 2-3 horses max and 5-15 acres... though not sure the timing is right.

    Those of you who have taken the plunge, any words of wisdom? Do any of you regret making the switch from boarding to having your own place?

    Also, I'd love taking on a single boarder (a friend for company, mainly) what sort of things do I need to take into consideration there...

    At this point it may be more feasible for us to buy a house + land and add a small barn/pasture later. Not sure. We are still researching options and ideas.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  • #2
    I have never regretted owning our own place! Sure it is all the responsiblity but you have all the control. But you have to be ready to do it as every morning they need to be fed and every night they need to be fed. It is never oh, I don't feel like going to the barn today--because unlike boarding, no one else is going to care for them. You have to do it. And if you are like me, it is the greatest! I don't have a boarder because I don't get lonely. I love the solitude and not worrying about someone else's horse. I see others when I foxhunt or get together to go on a trail ride. That is plenty for me.


    • #3
      I purchased my farm 5 years ago and have never looked back.
      I had worked in barns but never fulltime, still I had an inkling of what I was getting into.

      Things you want to keep in mind are:
      1-If you have never cared for horses fulltime remember it is a 24/7/365 job. Even when you aren't feeling 100% horses still need to have - at the bare minimum - food, water & shelter. Twice a day. Every day.

      "Neither snow nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night"
      Honestly, I think mailmen stole this from horsepeople!

      2-If it breaks, YOU have to fix it...or pay to have it fixed. And a lot of repairs - fencing, waterers - cannot wait. Some not even for one second.

      3-At least a minimal knowledge of First Aid is mandatory. Even if your vet lives next door, he may not be available immediately. You should be able to know the symptoms and treatments for a variety of minor-to-major horse ills. Colic, founder, tying-up, minor or major injuries - all of these can be treated proactively until you can get the vet out.

      Could become a thing of the past unless you can find a reliable horsesitter. I've been fortunate and have managed to get away often and far (China & Japan) so it can be done.
      I "interview" horsesitters by having them shadow me at the barn so they can see how I like things done and I can see how they interact with my horses. I also make their job as easy as possible:
      - no stallcleaning required (for longer trips I just ask that they pick and toss manure outside the stalls. I do the Major cleanup when I get back)
      -feed is pre-bagged for short trips/weekends. If I'm away longer I show how to mix my feed - it's not Rocket Science.
      -horses are turned out 24/7 with free access to stalls
      I also call my vet before I leave town to let them know who may call and has permission to authorize treatment.

      I can't tell you anything about boarding except I'm pretty sure a friendship can be tested by differing ideas of correct horsekeeping. Not to forget the tardy board payment...

      The pluses for me are many:
      +I know my horses better than I ever did when they were boarded. I can tell immediately if one is NQR.
      +The horses that used to make me fetch them from pasture, now come to me willingly...well 95% of the time - sometimes the sight of the halter = work makes them play with me a bit first
      +I can make an informed decision as to whether a condition is treatable by me or needs the vet.
      +I can (and have) administer first aid until the vet can get there.
      +I can feed that extra flake if I feel it's needed, in my PJs, at midnight
      +I know what they're doing, what they're eating & how they're feeling 7 days a week instead of just on my "barn days"

      Best of Luck to you - hope you find what you want.
      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      • #4
        OP - I would reccommend investigating the boarder route. There are horse owners out there that are would be boarders that would be glad to help out when you want to go on vacation.

        I am looking for a place to board in Florida, and I would be more than happy to help out with the chores and covering for vacations, etc.

        I figured there has to be people like me in NY too!!
        FREE TACK/APPAREL ADS: BITS AND BARTER BOARD: http://bitsandbarter.proboards.com/i...ay&thread=5450


        • #5
          After 20 years of boarding (everything from self-care to the top of the line Horsey Hilton), my husband bought a 10 acre farm for me and my horses. I don't regret it. But, it is a huge commitment as far as time, money and energy. I wrote a 3 page article about the pros and cons of Boarding vs Backyard, too long to fit the whole thing here.

          But here are the things to consider:

          Financial - be sure to think about EVERYTHING it will cost to have the horses at home, insurance, equipment, utilities, fence repair, equipment repair, pasture maintenance, seeding, fertilizing etc, when comparing to your board bill.

          Lifestyle - do you like to sleep in, take vactions, travel for business? Keeping horses at home makes all of the above very difficult to do. Not impossible, but will add to your bottom line to pay the horse sitter, or board them back out while you travel.

          Quality time with the horses - when boarding, you can spend time grooming and riding, when home, you spend more time mucking, feeding and watering.

          Companionship - when your horses are home, no more human barn buddies, unless you have a boarder or two, and that is a whole seperate topic. No one to turn to and ask "does he look off to you" - or to help hold a horse while you are trying to medicate an eye.

          Turnout - horses at home can have more turnout than some boarding facilities, so this can be a plus, but it will be up to you to keep the pastures in tip top shape.

          Facilities - the barn itself - will take some planning to get what you want, or learn to do with less than what you might have at the current boarding barn.

          Manure Mangement - enough said.

          Services - vet, farrier, etc. Some areas of the country it is hard to get a vet or farrier to come out for one or two horses. And you need to be on hand when they do come out.

          Attractive Nuisance - where you have to keep your horses safe from the neighbors and your neighbors safe from your horses (particularly children). This is where safe fencing and good liability insurance come to play.
          There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


          • #6
            I'm another who is happy with our decision. I love having them here. I've been amazed at what I learned about my horse once I had full control of him even after owning him for many years at boarding farms.

            Down side is finding good help if you want to go on vacation. Theres no saying too cold, too hot ... Theres also nobody to split vet farm calls with. You can no longer go to someone else and say the fence has a broken board, its all up to you to fix or get it fixed. Riding time can be lost depending on your other responsibilities. Also, nobody to ride with most of the time - does sometimes get lonely.

            Nothing beats sitting out on the porch (with a cool beverage of course )and watching them play.

            I have somebody who may board a horse here next winter. She is a friend, but we also have a business relationship so we already know we can split the two. Bringing in either a friend or a stranger both carry risks, just be sure to get everything in writing. Also look into insurance when you change from personal to boarding - IMHO not worth the risk to trust that a friend will not sue.

            Warning: 10-15 acres accomodates more than 1-3 horses and they do tend to multiply if you have extra land or stalls
            Epona Farm
            Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

            Join us on Facebook


            • #7
              I have had ours at home for years, an for the first time ina long time it was cheaper for me to board one out htan keep him at home. I do still have the mini at home, but he is so much less work- I will be bringign my big guy home for the summer, but will probably board him out again for the winter next year. It is so much easier to just go ride and enjoy him than it is to always have to o a bunch of barn work in the winter-0 and rarely get the time to ride- I don't have an arena at home.....


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by naters View Post
                OP - I would reccommend investigating the boarder route. There are horse owners out there that are would be boarders that would be glad to help out when you want to go on vacation.

                I am looking for a place to board in Florida, and I would be more than happy to help out with the chores and covering for vacations, etc.

                I figured there has to be people like me in NY too!!
                Yeah naters that was my thought! I hope things work out for you.

                And I'm hoping if we stuck to a smallish land plot it will force me to stay at a 2-3 horse quota!! I figure at that size it is manageable for us without getting out of hand...

                Great input so far, thank you!
                We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                • #9
                  I would give anything, ANYTHING to have my own place. I HATE boarding, I am incredibly anal about my horse and I also hate confrontation so when I'm not happy with things I never say anything. It sucks, I hope you decide on a little farm.
                  Boss Mare Eventing Blog


                  • #10
                    It would depend on what you enjoy doing with your horses, along with the question of expenses.

                    If you like just puttering around, getting things neat, cleaning, watching your horses, at home is where you want them to be.
                    Riding generally becomes a distant second to many that have horses at home.

                    If you want to ride/train/compete/socialize more than be a caretaker of property and horses in the larger manner than horse keeping demands over just a house and lawn, boarding may be your thing.

                    There is no right answer, because only you can decide what you want and where it will happen best.


                    • #11
                      I will come at it from a different perspective. My husband and I have put our farm search on hold for about 5 years for the following reasons:

                      1)With just one horse, boarding is just as cheap, and I have access to better facilities. I'd never be able to afford an indoor, and maybe not even an outdoor w/nice footing at this time.

                      2)With only one horse, I would actually need to get at least one more of some type of companion animal if my horse couldn't handle being alone.

                      3)At this time in our lives, committing to the 24/7/365 schedule would be very difficult, and the areas that we would have to live would add a lot of driving.

                      4)It would require quite a bit of additional equipment/time to maintain a larger property.

                      That said, if I was already househunting, I would absolutely be looking for something with land, with a layout that I liked for building a barn (or a preexisting barn. You could always wait to bring the horse home, and only issue 4 would apply. If you just have land, you could start small with a pasture and shelter, and live there for a few years while you get to know the property and where you want to put things (I think this is what I want to do.) Or, just take the plunge, find a place with a barn, and start pony shopping for the little one


                      • #12
                        I love having my own place, I have boarders and the ones I have now are absolutely great!! Advice:
                        1. If you've never worked at a farm, do it for a few weeks or months to be sure you can commit to that type of work-because your lifestyle surely changes.
                        2. Find out how you like to do things and then find boarders who are happy with that-i.e if you really love turnout, don't take in boarders that love the idea of their horse being in 24/7. These are the kind of things that do in a boarding arrangement. I take good care of my horses, but I don't spoil them. I believe in at least 8 hours of turnout per day. I think horses can urinate outside without it causing them undo stress-I've had boarders that felt otherwise and wanted to stalls open 24/7 so their horses can urinate inside.I now have a contract that spells out pretty much everything I do so neither party is surprised or disappointed. I think,for me, it's been better to be up front and lose a potential boarderthan change a system that works for me in order to please someone else.
                        3.Find out exactly what it costs in feed, hay, bedding, etc and how much time it takes you to do barnwork before setting a price. Even for a friend, be sure you make at least what it would cost you if you had to hire your services. You won't resent the relationship and if the boarder helps out a lot, pay them what you would have paid yourself.
                        4. Be sure your SO is ok with it-it can cause a big strain if he/she really resents all that a farm entails. That being said, some do eventually come around and enjoy the lifestyle.
                        I wouldn't trade what I have for the world-I never have to go to the gym, I'm outside all the time, and I can look out my window and enjoy the scenery.
                        Best of luck!!


                        • #13
                          If you are okay with the fact that your work is never ever done, it is totally worth it!

                          We have 6 horses right now, and have 10 acres that we are building up as economically as possible. We have had trees fall on our fence, a drunk neighbor drive through our fence and crash into our horse pasture, and annoying things like not enough electricity in the barns to run the trough heaters all at the same time. But, you adjust to those things, and being able to see my horses out my window, give them a scritch whenever I want, and be 100% confident in their care is 150% worth it to me.

                          We board one horse, he is 20+ year old retiree and babysits our now yearlings so that works out really good for us.

                          I personally HATE boarding. We lived in an area where all the affordable places were a good 40 minute drive one way, and we have long work commutes so it boiled down to us not seeing the horses often, and going out and being unhappy with the care. We have been here since July and the horses since August and I'm still trying to undo the damage the last BO did.
                          Celtic Pride Farm
                          Become a fan on Facebook!


                          • #14
                            A few things to think about.

                            First and foremost, the minute you buy the property, you will develop an intense desire to purchase more horses. Good news is, you can now afford it because you're not paying board. Seems like 3 is a good number to have. That way if you take one to a show, nobody is left home alone and freaking out.

                            Things break, you will need to be handy enough to fix it yourself or be able to pay someone.

                            Someone you trust to fill-in, horse-sit, house-sit, etc is worth their weight in gold. Otherwise, you are stuck feeding twice a day, every day, plus other chores.

                            I wouldn't trade it for boading again.


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks guys for all the great feedback!

                              Living with us would be my aged TB gelding, and probably a kid-safe pony. And then maybe a friend/boarder, but that is all! I swear. LOL. Any horse living with us would have to be well mannered and laid back.

                              I'm anal about my horse's care and am at the boarding barn every day. When I can't get there, hubby goes out. It'd be nice if the barn was just a few steps from the house, instead of a 20 minute drive!

                              We're just toying with the idea now, so who knows where things will lead...

                              I found a great piece of land, with 3 stall barn, close to the 'burbs and good schools.... but... no house on it!! Mr. FG nixed that one...!
                              We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                              • #16
                                I like having horses at home, but:

                                - A good arena is expensive. Either set aside $10-20k to put one in, or make sure your property backs on to an area where you can trail ride - quiet streets or national forest.

                                - it is harder to make time to ride, somehow, because you're spending time feeding and on property maintenance.

                                - You'll end up with more horses. This is the good and the bad news. The bad news, seriously, is what happens if you can't keep your place? Also, it is harder to find the time to handle them all.

                                - You may not be able to just leave for the weekend or even decide to stay over at a friend's for a late dinner. This is easier if your horses have grass and ample water that will handle both summer and winter conditions. Or, if you have a close neighbor that you trust and can call on short notice. It took me some time to adjust my setup so that my horses will be OK even if I am not home until very late.

                                - That 'can't leave for a weekend' also applies to horse shows once you have more than just the horses you want to show.

                                As far as bringing on a boarder, it is frequently the case that your zoning regulations might allow horses but not boarders. There is also the question of insurance. That is not to say that people don't do it, quietly. But all it takes is one nosy, irritating neighbor to scotch that plan unless you checked your zoning first.
                                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                                • #17
                                  I love having our horses at home now. I can have more horses and afford them than having to full board all 5 horses at 600.00 a horse. So I got my two retirees and my 3 for myself, husband, and daughter. We do have a friend that boards 2 horses with us and they are great and help with so much. The only thing you have to think about is if they are on a feeding schedule then someone has to be there to feed them. We feed ours at 5:00 usually sometimes if I'm not home my husband will do it at 6 oclock but thats rare. Also if you like to vacation then it will change alot. If you take in a friend boarder that you can trust with the horses and staying at your house it is great. That way you can leave and just have them stay like our friends do sometimes, if not, then you are pretty much tied down at home for good
                                  Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                                  • #18
                                    I would think hard what I want to do right now, as things seem to start to move very fast.
                                    If society begins to unravel, where will the kind of house you buy leave you if you and your better half have to move, lose their jobs, etc.?
                                    Do consider that we may not live in the same world we are living today in a few years, before going into debt and thinking where you will live and keep your horses.

                                    Here are some rather worrysome news, if they are true:

                                    ---"Bobby Rush one of Obama's friends from IL introduced HR45 which if passed will make it next to impossible for anyone to purchase or keep a firearm and make instant criminals of anyone that has a firearm now.
                                    Another friend of his from NY, Jose Serrano introduced HR res 5 which is a bill to repeal the 22nd amendment, setting term limits for the President.

                                    Links to bills.


                                    The new ban horse slaughter bill has also been re/introduced, but that should not have much bearing directly on what you intend to do with your horses.


                                    • #19
                                      We bought our place last year. We live in Northern VA where the price for land is very expensive, so five acres is all we could afford. I LOVE IT. It's a ton of work and on these cold, cold mornings I'd rather stay in bed. But there are horses out there counting on me and only me.

                                      It's a lifestyle that's more than just having horses in your backyard.
                                      -You worry.
                                      -You're up at 2am and again at 4am checking on a colic or blankets, or the rain, the wind, snow, sleet or whatever.
                                      -You stand for the vet and farrier EVERY time.
                                      -You learn to wrap, bandage, irrigate, inject and polstice. How to mix meds, give meds, pick up spit-up meds, mix again with something different until you find what he likes.
                                      -You learn about your horse; his good days, his off days.
                                      -You know when his poop, pee, walk, step, trot isn't right.
                                      -You know when he's not eating or not drinking normally.

                                      You know things you'll never find out if you only boarded. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
                                      If you cannot set a good example, at least serve as a terrible warning....


                                      • #20
                                        I am finally back to having horses at home after 8 years of boarding. Before that, horses were home for 15 years. BF and I bought four acres and I have two horses on a very well laid out property. One is my Appy gelding and the other is a retired TWH gelding that belongs to my friend. She pays me her expenses (incl. an offset for my electric bill and misc. expenses like small supplies we both use) and cleans stalls/paddock 3-4 days a week. This is very helpful with my schedule.

                                        * YOU WILL BE UP AT NIGHT WORRYING! But not every night
                                        * If you are the type who misses socialization with other boarders this could be tough (I am not)
                                        * No vacations without planning
                                        * Out there no matter what the weather or how you feel
                                        * Broken S&*T!!!!
                                        * Maintenance... for us it includes a ton of plowing this time of year
                                        * Having to take random days off from work for last minute issues/emergencies (like when the power goes out and you have to travel around to find water before going to work!!!)

                                        * I LOVE HAVING CONTROL OVER ALL DECISIONS
                                        * One on one contact every day... you will know your horses like you nvere have before
                                        * The pride of taking care of their every need
                                        * Knowing when they are NQR
                                        * Watching them when they are happy and playing
                                        * Hugs from your horse... especially when it is cold... they warm up noses well!
                                        * Designing your property to fit your needs... our barn was two years in the making.
                                        etc....etc... etc....

                                        Overall... I have NEVER looked back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                                        Gone gaited....