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Pasture board checklist - things to ask/check?

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  • Pasture board checklist - things to ask/check?

    So, as an update with my TB mare (http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...joint-swelling) the xrays and latest vet check showed nothing amiss. D, her free leaser, has decided she can't put anything more into Lucy so it looks like I will be getting her for her retirement - she is sound for pasture and light/trail riding, so she can be my SC trail pony

    Ideally I'd like to try her on 24/7 pasture board (if she doesn't adjust, I will find a stall situation), but I've never had a horse on pasture board or in a retirement situation. So far my list that I will be asking each facility is:

    -Board rate
    -Turnout situation (groups, size, gender)
    -Suitable shelter in bad weather
    -Hay amount per day/type of hay
    -Water source
    -Halters on/off
    -Storage/tack room
    -Farrier/vet services
    -Blanketing options
    -Daily look-overs (injuries, body conditions, etc)

    What else should be added to this? Thanks!
    Lucy (Precious Star) - 1994 TB mare; happily reunited with her colt Touch the Stars

  • #2
    Ask, point blank, whether pasture boarders get the same amenities as stall boarders - access to indoor arenas, grooming areas, tack lockers. Ask to see the tack locker, grooming/tying/parking area you would use. Some places have a "tiered" system for the stable amenities, and that's fine if you know up front. It stinks to arrive as the new pasture boarder and discover you're expected to keep your tack in your trailer and tie up outside in the rain! It's also nice to know if there's a place you can "park" your horse to eat her grain and supplements (commonly, you would provide that and feed it yourself) that's not in people's way, and if there's a place you can "park" her while you run to the bathroom or something like that. Are you allowed to store feed or supplements (and where)? Ask another pasture boarder how often most people come out; some places encourage/require more involvement than others. Take a good hard look at the pasture your horse would be in, and imagine it in the worst possible weather. Look not only at where the hay and water is located, but HOW it's provided - how do they get the round bale to the top of the hill when there's two feet of snow and ice? While you're there, follow the person who does the daily check (if there is one) and feeding, and decide if you feel comfortable with their level of attention.


    • #3
      In the link in my signature there's a boarder questionnaire on the links page. Feel free to use it
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • #4
        Ask if a stall can be made available if she needs it short-term (injury, illness, or just really, really nasty weather)
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          I would ask about the following:
          water source (you would be surprised what some places use) and if it a trough how often is it cleaned
          shelter and how man horses share it
          herd dynamics, is there a top dog etc.
          how often are the horses Fed and feeding situation (buckets, feed bags, stalls)
          hay, how often, type, how much, etc
          blanketing, will they do it?
          what happens if the horse needs lay up?
          I'm sure there is more but this is where I would start
          "If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man." Mark Twain


          • #6
            Probably a given, but don't just ask: look. walk out and check if water is clean, walk the fence, etc.

            Of course, one can ask about mud/drainage, but not sure if response would be: hell, yes, it is a sucking mud pit here in April.

            Where is manure pile? is it close to barn/covered/spread (when/where)? etc This will tell you a bit about what flies will be like in the summer, as well as other possible parasite concerns (is it spread in pasture before composting, bla bla)

            How often do they pick out paddocks (sadlly, I now realize that this may be DO they pick paddocks?)

            What worming program are horses in your pasture following?


            • #7
              Ask for references from current and former boarders (especially the latter!). Plus vet and maybe farrier.

              Ask if they give medication/supplements w/o charge. I'd also figure out who does the horse care (owner or staff; how long has staff been there etc -- low turnover is a good sign).

              Not only ask how they decide who is turned out with whom, but how do they integrate the new horse into the herd. How do they feed grain? (People hear I feed in the fields and freak out, until they learn I use nosebags so there is no grain free-for-all).

              There is no one right way to do things, just ask lots of questions and listen to the answers.
              Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/


              • Original Poster

                Thanks everyone, I knew that there were things I was missing

                I think my biggest worry is that I will likely find a nice 24/7 situation, but it will be too far away (~1hr or more) for my to check on her daily or do blanketing by myself if it's not an option. Granted, IIRC she did grow yak-like winter coat when she was younger, so blanketing may not be necessary for her in the milder SC weather.

                Of course, I may be getting ahead of myself with my plans
                Lucy (Precious Star) - 1994 TB mare; happily reunited with her colt Touch the Stars


                • #9
                  I do retirement boarding -- there are so many variations of it. Pasture board does not have to equal "toss in a field with no special care" (although it can). I offer pasture board, but I also offer a lot of hands on care (blanketing, fly spray, medication etc w/o extra charge). I also am expensive for pasture board, which puts some people off, but I offer a lot of services for the price. So, if you want blanketing (or whatever) keep that in mind -- you may have to pay more to get the level of service you want.
                  Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/


                  • #10
                    Other people gave great suggestions so I'll only add what hasn't been mentioned:

                    - Definitely ask about pasture upkeep (whether or not they pick rocks, how often, and what their fence maintenance/repair routine is).
                    - Inquire into their barn rules so you know what they expect of you. Sometimes getting an idea of what they think a bad boarder is can prevent disagreement in the long run.
                    - Ask how often they check the pastures for problems. This is important. Some places have someone check the horses every morning and some wouldn't have a clue if your horse was bleeding to death in the field until it was too late. Unless I'm renting a field I usually expect someone to keep an eye on things while I'm away.

                    This last one may be too much but one of my friends had the soil tested when she was looking at pasture board to see what was fueling the grass her horses were eating.


                    • #11
                      Two of my horses have only ever been pasture boarded and here are some things I would recommend asking and looking into:

                      -How often do you check on the pasture boarded horses and how thorough is that check? Do you check for missing shoes? Do you check body condition if the horse is blanketed and how often?
                      -If my horse has a wardrobe malfunction (ie, shreds blanket or has it hanging around her neck) will you rectify the situation or call me as soon as you are aware of it? (Had my horse pasture boarded and clipped and the owner was aware of this and agreed to help with blanketing and lived on the property and looked out their front window at my horse every day. I came out one day and BO was out at the barn and my clipped horse was standing in the middle of the pasture with no blanket in 35 degree rain, extremely cold and shivering, I was NOT happy.)
                      -Will you contact me if my horse is noticeably lame?
                      -If they say they do blanketing, make sure to ask how often they will change them.
                      -Check the quality of the hay and ask if that is what they usually feed.

                      Apologies if someone else has mentioned these. Also keep in mind that some BO's/BM's will say that they do something but when it actually comes down to it, they won't (this has unfortunately been my experience more than once). To cut down on this, I would recommend a boarding contract and that you read it thoroughly. Also, it helps if you can sit down with the BO/BM before boarding there and discuss your expectations to make sure it will work out for both parties. And again, anything they agree to do, make SURE it is written down. Some of this stuff may sound ridiculous and overprotective but I have horror stories from boarding situations that are pretty bad.
                      "Be the change you want to see in the world."
                      ~Mahatma Gandhi


                      • #12
                        I agree with what everyone else said.. but don't forget fly control! Is anyone around to fly spray?


                        • #13
                          My horses are on field board and this is all good advice. One that has not been mentioned is the other boarders. In our case we have a group of boarders who are out on a regular basis. This is a HUGE additional help in terms of feed/medication/blankets/eyeballing pony if you can't go out all the time.
                          I'll put a rainsheet on someone's horse one day, and then someone else will feed mine another day.
                          May not be necessary depending on other amenities, but the more "self care" it is, the more having a community of boarders is helpful.
                          The big man -- my lost prince

                          The little brother, now my main man


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by asterix View Post
                            My horses are on field board and this is all good advice. One that has not been mentioned is the other boarders. In our case we have a group of boarders who are out on a regular basis. This is a HUGE additional help in terms of feed/medication/blankets/eyeballing pony if you can't go out all the time.
                            I'll put a rainsheet on someone's horse one day, and then someone else will feed mine another day.
                            May not be necessary depending on other amenities, but the more "self care" it is, the more having a community of boarders is helpful.
                            This is definitely true! The boarders at my barn are all very helpful, regardless of whether they are on indoor or not. It's important to build those relationships, so when you can't make it out and there is a sudden temperature drop, you can text "Hey, can you throw on dobbin's blankie?" and have it done.

                            If possible, go visit the barn on the crappiest day you can imagine. I went at night when it was pouring - it gave me a chance to see how the barn was in bad conditions.
                            Fit Dog Blog
                            Twitter: https://twitter.com/FitDogBlog
                            Blogger: http://fitdogblog.blogspot.ca/
                            Blog Post: How I Became a Werehorse and a Bit About Bites


                            • #15
                              Because "some" pasture boarders are looking for "cheap" board, you also want to insure that all horses MUST be vaccinated regularly (not all BO require this), also ask who worms the pasture boarded horses and when and with what. Again some pastured horses receive minimal care and if left up to owners some horses would never be wormed or vaccinated. .

                              also important, ask if grain meals are fed when horses are separated or do they all fight and bully the weakest horse.
                              Last edited by Marla 100; Jan. 4, 2013, 01:11 PM. Reason: spelling
                              "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


                              • #16
                                Have not read many of the longer posts so sorry if Im repeating others but to add to your list:
                                1) Along with water source, ask how they handle it in the winter ie. heated vs busting ice
                                2) How they feed the horses in a group. Do they just drop feed and let horses fend for themselves, do they stand there and make sure everyone gets their own, do they pull out the problem horses or do they tie them to the fence (i WISHED I had known one barn I have previously boarded at tied them to the fence. So stupid. Boss mare untied herself and went over to other buckets but those poor horses couldnt get away. Resulted in lots of injuries)

                                3)Who takes care of horses when they go on vacation

                                4)What are the vaccination/worming rules for boarders (hoping they have some-ive boarded at places that left that up to the owners before and some didnt bother)

                                5)Check out the fencing!


                                • #17
                                  I am curious about the concern as to the vaccination status
                                  of other horses at a retirement pasture boarding facility.
                                  Horses do not pass tetanus to other horses I believe. Can
                                  horses contract sleeping sickness from a horse suffering
                                  from that? Eastern? Western? West Nile? I can see a
                                  worry about rabies, but I would think the significant danger
                                  would be to humans rather than other horses. In a fairly
                                  stable herd such as a retired group of horses (who do not
                                  travel much presumably), after a reasonable quarantine, I
                                  would not expect to need to worry about flu, rhino or
                                  strangles. Am I missing something?
                                  Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                                  Elmwood, Wisconsin


                                  • #18
                                    Hmm good point. I guess I was thinking of a barn with at least a little bit of coming and going.

                                    I guess it would depend on how strict management is with quarantine and how often horses come and go, if at all so then it might just be a queston of rabies vaccination. Not sure about the others.


                                    • #19
                                      Integration into the herd is a key question and I've seen it handled differently in places I have pasture boarded. Where I am now, there is a small pen in the middle of the pasture where a new horse can meet its herd mates in a somewhat controlled environment. It's up to the owner to decide how long the "quarantine" lasts. I kept my mare in it for all of four hours until she made it quite clear she was ready to join the herd. Her integration took all of about 3 minutes. Another boarder tried to keep her mare in the pen overnight, and the mare jumped out which ended up creating a life-ending injury. If your pasture board has a similar situation, make sure you ask if anyone monitors it, or if you are responsible.

                                      Where I board my mule, he was turned out at feeding time, and had to fend for himself as the herd got to know him in an open space. Fortunately, the herd leader took him under his wing, so he had a buddy to help him adjust.

                                      If the pasture has seasonal grass, ask if they continue to feed hay when the grass comes in. Where I board, they will stop feeding hay when the grass is strong in the early spring, and start up again in the summer when the grass is gone. It's important to know this if you supplement based on hay nutrional value.

                                      As for herd dynamics, there will always be a "top dog", but you will want to know how dominant that horse is when a new horse is brought into a herd. For the first month, my mare had some good sized bites on her flank and shoulders as they sorted things out. I made sure to check on her daily in case a new injury needed my attention.

                                      Find out what their policy is regarding shoes. Some places will only allow front shoes on a horse, others are okay with a full set.

                                      Is the barn set up to include emergency contact information for the pasture horses in the event the BM is not around? One of the things I like about where my mule is boarded is that they have a board outside the pasture with a picture of each horse, and the owners contact info as well as vet and farrier infol

                                      Any pasture place I have boarded has always wanted proof of vaccinations, particularly strangles.
                                      Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


                                      • #20
                                        I say give it a try but found when I tried pasture boarding my semi retirees that I had grand plans of going on a trail ride on occasion; I quickly found out once they bonded with the herd it was a pain in the rear end to get them away from their friends. And if you cannot tolerate cuts and swellings, this probably isn't going to fly for you.

                                        To add to what others have said; the biggest pasture boarding issue I came across was the fact it was a boarding situation and they seemed to move horses in and out and that was a problem for the herd. It seemed once a group got established they would add new horses or take out horses and I didn't like that dynamic.

                                        As far as "top dog" horse that can change. I was assured XYZ horse in the pasture was top dog... I commented that my big horse is very dominate and I think he will take over the herd of 20 - they didn't think so... My 18 hand WB took over that herd asap. He was a very good leader but I ended up bringing him back home because he was working too hard telling everyone what to do and lost a lot of weight.

                                        It's worth a try but it's not as easy as I thought it would have been.
                                        Live in the sunshine.
                                        Swim in the sea.
                                        Drink the wild air.