Finding the Right Stable for Your Horse

Most horse owners use a boarding stable because they don't have the space to keep a horse at home or because they want the services offered at a stable.

One of the biggest advantages to stabling your horse is the convenience. According to Dr. Alan Dorton, an equine veterinarian in Versailles, Ky. "The boarding staff is responsible for feeding and watering your horse and cleaning his stall so you have a lot more freedom if you can't get to the barn every day."

Stabling also provides a good opportunity to meet other horse owners. You can learn a lot about horses just by being around the other boarders. If you run into a problem with your horse, chances are, someone else at the barn has had a similar experience and can give you some advice about what to do.

Of course, not all stables are created equally. Some barns are going to be better maintained and offer more services than others. Here's how to find the right stable for your horse.

Get Referrals

"Be wary of a place that has junk lying around or an unkempt look," says Carol Timmerman, owner of Timmerman's Ranch and Saddle Shop in Island Lake, Ill. "If they're careless in how they care for their own property, they probably won't take very good care of your horse, either." If they take the time out to show you around and answer all your questions, no matter how seemingly simple, they may be the right people for you.

What to Look For

Ask Good Questions

NOTE: Make sure your horse's stall will be cleaned at least once a day and that your horse will be fed and watered at least twice a day. The stable should require that all horses be dewormed, vaccinated and pass a veterinary exam before they're boarded.

"Don't board your horse at any facility where health certificates aren't required," says Lori Maier, a horse trainer with Happy Trails Stable in Wauconda, Ill. "If they're not requesting vaccination proof of your horse, then they're not requesting it of other horses either, and so you may be putting your animal at risk." Horses should all be required to pass a yearly Coggins test as well.

What It Costs

Expect to pay $150 or $200 a month for pasture boarding (where your horse is outside all the time) to anywhere from $300 to $800 or more a month for stall boarding.

"Obviously, the more services that are offered, the more you will have to pay each month," Maier says. "If you just want the basics – a stall, stall cleaning, feeding and turn-outs – you can probably find something for around $350 a month. But if you want your horse clipped and bathed, if you want him saddled when you arrive, you may have to pay anywhere from $800 to $1,000 a month." There are barns that itemize and charge for everything they do, and they are justified in that it takes time. Make sure you ask if there are additional costs.