Hypothetically Speaking

Hypothetically if you were searching for a new barn what would you look for?

What are some of the questions you’d ask?

I’m not looking. At least not yet. But I am starting to feel like things at my barn are changing. And I can’t see how board won’t go way up once the new indoor arena is built. I can see that it may also attract a different caliber of clientele. Assuming that’s the way things are headed I am 100% sure that Tucker and I do not fit into the A circuit mold.

I love my barn. I love my coach. I think that Tucker is well cared for. So I don’t actually want to move.IMG_5247

I do like to be prepared though. So I’ve started to think about it. Where would we go if the cost of board got too high or we stopped fitting in?

What’s turnout like? Group? Individual? Do the paddocks have grass? Is there water in the paddocks? Does they put out hay? Is turn out all day or just for a few hours? Is the fencing safe? How are they brought in and out? Are they allowed to run in or are they led?



What are the stalls like? How much bedding do they use? Is there any kind of rubber mat? Is it automatic or bucket water?
What’s the tack room like? Is there a locker for every boarder? Is there somewhere to hang blankets?
Is the barn neat and tidy and in good repair?

How often are the horses fed? Do they feed hay or hay cubes?
I’m a little bit lacking in my knowledge of feeds but do they feed a good quality one?

Are there staff on site 24/7? How knowledgeable are the staff? Are there other adult amateurs (something that’s lacking from our current barn)? Is it low drama? I know there will always be at least some drama. What are the levels and goals of the riders at the barn? This is not a huge thing but it’s always nice to have others around that are working towards a similar goal and to help each other along. Is there a coach on site or can I bring my own?


Stolen from A Work in Progress because I think it’s hilarious.

Are there multiple rings? Indoor? Outdoor? What’s the size of the rings? Can I ride at any time or is the ring booked up with lessons at certain times? What’s the footing like? Are there jumps and fill?

Cost, etc.:
What does the cost of board include and how much? Are there extra fees for things like blanketing, feeding supplements or taking care of minor first aid stuff?
How far is it from where I live? How much more time will it take me to get there?
Can I bring my own farrier and vet? What’s the lighting like in the barn and arena?
How big is the property? Are there trails or access to trails? Do they have a trailer and do they trailer out to shows? Is there a lesson program?

I hope to never need to use this list. I just can’t help feeling the winds of change blowing.

Did I forget anything? Is there anything else that you’d look for or ask?

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17 Responses to Hypothetically Speaking

  1. I had to switch barns last February and am so happy at my new one! I’ve made some great friends that motivate me to show more, so that’s been fun. When I was leaving, I was looking for 3 things 1) an indoor ring. I live in VA and the winters here are wet and cold and gross, and I was tired of not being able to jump for 8 months out of the year and having to hurry up once show season really hit. 2) an instructor that wasn’t coo-coo. I’ve had plenty of instructors with their own “theories” on things and I’m done w/ the nutzoids and their backyard barns. I wanted an instructor with a track record, credentials, and who jumped A LOT and could help me move that bar up and up (and wasn’t afraid to). 3) overall a well-maintained barn with happy horses. This seems the most obvious but I was really tired of “band-aid” barns. You know the ones who see a problem and patch it instead of spending a bit more to fix it properly? Yeah I’m over that. I wanted to see a barn that took pride in caring for it’s facilities, and thus, their horses were happy and healthy. What really turned me on to my barn was seeing a 26 y/o schooling horse jumping around perfectly happily at 2’6″ in a lesson. He looked fantastic, you wouldn’t even know he was old. I asked the instructor about it, and she simply said, “Shadow lets us know when he’s having a good day and when he’s having a bad day. When he’s having a good day, we let him play around with the beginner/intermediate riders. When he’s not, we let him rest. It seems to work for both of us.” Best answer ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. emma says:

    ugh i’ve never had to make boarding decisions – only had to decide where to take lessons, and even that’s hard enough. i definitely don’t envy your position and hope that things don’t change as drastically as you fear they might!

    in any case, so many decisions about board seem very personal, ya know? maybe make a list of things you absolutely *want*, and those you absolutely do NOT want. a maybe there’s a list of things you’d like but don’t need, and another of things you’d rather not have but can live with. then start kinda shopping around and see how all the other comparable barns stack up against your current situation, your list, and your budget. i bet things will start to become pretty clear soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      I went through this 3 times with my old horse. It’s awful and so much work it can feel like a full time job. I want a big loud bright sign that tells me what the right thing to and where right place to be is.


  3. Kristen says:

    I decided to move my horse for various reasons before we made an even bigger move to another province. I was only going to be at said barn for 3 or 4 months, so what I looked for was cost, care, show opportunities, how well I connected with the trainer, and general maintenance of the property. I knew the trainer from the circuit, but when I talked to her I was sure it would be a good fit. I ended up moving for 4 months, and it went OK. I had a horrible show experience, but that was not due to the trainer or any other riders.

    After that experience, I moved my horse from NS to ON. Picking the barn here was much harder. I looked up a lot of places online, and asked anyone I knew who was good and who to stay away from. I ended up picking an amazing place, and I have never once been unhappy at my barn. I made a huge change, ending up at a dressage barn when I was then a jumper/eventer. What sold me on this barn was the owner. I got along with her from the get go, and I knew in my gut she would be a great coach to help me develop my horse. I was also very happy to know they were building a new barn. In terms of facility, the barns were new, heated, and equipped with all the necessities I could need. My horse isn’t always easy to care for, so having someone who is knowledgable was very important to me. I think I got lucky, but sometimes you just have to trust your gut. I met owners and toured at least 5 barns in 4 different cities before making my final decision. I partially choose my university based on my barn!

    If you do end up moving, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Be very open about what you’re looking for and what you expect from the staff and facility. I would recommend talking to friends, and touring as many barns as you think necessary before making a final decision. At the end of the day, your happiness and your horses happiness and health are what matters most!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shannon says:

    Turnover rate: Do people leave there a lot? Do there always seem to be new boarders and clients every year? That can be a sign that there’s a problem. Ask around and find out. Usually everybody knows the “revolving door” type barns, they have a reputation.

    Will the barn owner let you bring in your own coach, or do you need to use theirs? Are they cool with allowing you some autonomy over the decisions you make for your horse, or does everybody have to conform. There are barns out there that require everyone to drink the kool-aid, and that’s no good!

    Hopefully nothing will change with the addition of the new indoor and you’ll be able to stay. Barn shopping is terrible, which is why I finally got fed up and built my own barn!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Karley says:

    Yes I was going to say turn over rate too… I only stay at my current barn bc of my trainer.

    I won’t get started on the barn ugh… I am there every day to pretty much make sure everything is ok- it’s not the workers it the BO, she’s awful 😦

    I should make a list tho, it’s a good idea!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A couple things I really like about my barn is how accessible the barn managers are — they text, email, take phone calls ALL THE TIME, which is super nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Story So Far ~ One Year of Blogging! | The Story So Far

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