Happy June everyone!
It's hard to believe that summer is almost here. As this is the first post of the month, this means that it is time for another Beginnings post. We have covered riding, competing, leasing and owning so far, so it just makes sense to talk about boarding next.
As with many aspects of this sport, you need to ask yourself what it is that you want. You also need to look at your lifestyle and your horse's needs. If you aren't able to ride as often as you'd like, your horse is better kept outside with other horses so he can roam around. If your horse needs to be on a strict diet and training schedule, he might be better kept in a stall so he can be monitored more closely.
The most basic decision you need to make is indoor or outdoor board. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to both options.
It's probably the most common type of boarding (in my area at least). What's nice about indoor boarding is that you can manage your horse's exercise and diet easily. You won't have to worry about chasing after him in a paddock or if he's okay during a storm. What's not so nice about indoor boarding is the psychological impacts it can have on your horse. Horses are social animals that are always on the move. Being kept in a stall is the opposite of that. This means that your horse is likely more vulnerable to behavioural issues and may have too much pent up energy. Also, their system is designed to be constantly eating and moving, so their health might become more sensitive.
When left out in a large open field with a few other horses, outdoor boarding allows the horse to be a horse. They can socialise, eat and play whenever they please and enjoy life in the paddock. Of course they'll always be happy to see you, but you might have to play a game of tag before you can head back to the barn. If we put the aspects of weather and trying to catch the horse aside, there are some other disadvantages to outdoor boarding. The paddock, if not properly managed, could be filled with poisonous plants which can become a big problem. Also, wild animals can become a threat to the horses depending on where you live.
Of course, barns usually will have additional options available for you to make life great for your horse for as much as you can afford. Such things involve daily turnouts for indoor boards and nightly turn-ins for outdoor boards.
The best thing is to do your research. Know your needs and your horse's needs. Visit the stables in your area and learn about their boarding options. Also, know what your budget is and what your riding goals are. If you're planning on training at an international level, you need look for a stable that has the facilities to allow you to do that, but you might not be able to afford the best possible care for your horse.
Boarding is a big expense for horse owners and it's something that should be given lots of thought. You should already know what your options are before you buy your horse so that you are well prepared to take him to his new home. Where you decide to board is where you will be spending a lot of your time. So make sure the drive isn't too long and that you enjoy the people who are also at the stable.
Until next time, happy riding!