Horse Boarding Guide (Cost, Types, Common Questions)

Horse Boarding Cost, Types, and Common Questions

What You Should Know About Boarding a Horse

Horses aren’t your typical pet; unlike cats and dogs, they require a large amount of space to properly function. Horses also need access to 10 – 20 lbs of grass or hay a day. Lastly, horses need the companionship of other horses. If you thought owning one horse was expensive, wait until you have to financially provide for the needs of two! But there is good news; if you don’t have the space or resources to care for your horse on your own property, you can always keep them at a boarding stable.

What is a boarding stable? A boarding stable is a place you can keep your horse in an exchange for a monthly rate. Boarding stables provide you with the facilities you need to care for and ride your horse, from pastures and run-ins to stables and arenas. This option often provides your horse with other equine companions they can live with as well as a barn staff that can see to the basic needs of your horse.

Boarding stables are not usually hard find; in fact, there are many equestrians around the world who keep their horses at boarding stables rather than on their own property. In this article, I’m going to break down the different boarding options you can find for your horse, what’s included in each option, and the average price to board a horse. Keep reading!

Should You Board Your Horse? horse boarding 101

It’s no secret that horses are expensive. If you have adequate space, resources, and facilities, it can be cheaper to keep your horse on your own property rather than paying monthly to keep them at a boarding stable.

In fact, boarding will perhaps be your biggest expense when it comes to affording your horse. That being said, take time to answer the questions below to determine whether keeping your horse on your own property is a feasible option for you:

Do You Have Adequate Space for Your Horse?

Horses are big animals that are designed to eat a lot and move frequently. With all this in mind, horses need adequate space in order to be both physically and mentally healthy.

How Much Space Do Horses Need?

A horse that has a diet sustained mainly by grass requires at least one acre of pasture. Providing quality pasture can save you from having to purchase large amounts of hay, grain, or supplements.

Having an acre of space per horse can also give your horses a place to move about and play. Mobility plays a crucial role in the health of your horse; being able to move freely will increase your horse’s circulation and contribute to good mental health as well.

To learn more about how to provide your horse with adequate space, visit my article How Much Space Do Horses Need? Horse Care Guide.

Can a Horse Live on Less Than One Acre of Space?

 The answer is yes. Many horses are kept in a stall with access to a small private turnout. They are exercised frequently to stay in shape and improve circulation. If you have a horse on less than the recommended space of one acre, chances are the grass in the pasture will not be able to sustain their diet of 10 – 20 lbs of forage a day. If this is the case for you, be sure that you are willing and able to spend more money buying hay to supplement your horse’s diet.

horse boarding property example

Is Your Property Set up For Horses?

Maybe you do have a few available acres at home; if so, the next question to ask yourself is if your property is set up for horses?

Fencing and Shelter

Do you have adequate and safe fencing to keep your horses in? The best type of fencing for horses is wood fencing or welded wire. While you don’t necessarily need a barn, you will need to provide your horse with a safe shelter where it can escape the elements. Building a run-in shelter can cost at least $2,000. 

Type of Land

Is your land densely wooded? If so, are you able to afford to clear some space and purchase hay to feed your horses each day? Is your land on a steep slope? Steep hills can pose a threat to your horses where they can slip and fall and crash through the fences.

Land Restrictions

Do you live in an area that has restrictions on the animals you can keep on your property? Many HOA’s or city codes deny homeowners the right to raise horses.

These are all things to consider when determining whether your land will be good to keep a few horses on.

Do You Have the Facilities You Want for Your Horse?

Another question to ask yourself when it comes to determining whether you will keep your horse on your own land is do you have the facilities you want for your horse?

The Bare Necessities

As I mentioned earlier, the bare necessities you need would be adequate fencing and shelter. With these in place, you can have your horse on your property and save up to eventually build a barn, arena, or any facility you want.

What Are Your Goals?

But are you wanting to train and practice every day? If so, then having an arena or access to trails would help. Do you want a nice stable to keep your tack and supplies in? Do you want an indoor riding arena to ride in when the weather is bad? If these are all things you wish for, a boarding stable may be a more convenient option for you.

Other Things to Consider

Another option you can consider is getting a horse trailer. Maybe your property doesn’t have the facilities you want to be able to ride. With a trailer, you could still save money by keeping your horse on your own property but have the ability to rent out facilities or school at other stables.

How to Find Boarding Stables for Your Horse 

Horse boarding in a stallNot all of us have the luxury of owning property we could keep our horse on. The good news is that this shouldn’t dash your dream of owning a horse. As long as there are people owning horses, there will most definitely be boarding stables. To begin your search for a boarding stable, check out the tips below!

Where to Search for Boarding Stables in Your Area

You may be wondering how you even begin to look for a boarding stable.

Lesson Barns

If you’ve been riding at a lesson barn with an instructor, the first thing I would recommend you do is to look into boarding your horse there. Many lesson barns also offer boarding so that the riders can continue to work with the instructor.

Local Social Media Groups

If this isn’t your situation, the next thing I would recommend is to find a local horse group on Facebook or other social media. In the local Facebook groups I’m in, I always see boarding stables advertising openings. Both large equestrian centers and small private farms advertise in these groups. 

Equine Classifieds Websites

There are also websites you can check to see if there are any boarding stables in your area. These websites include newhorse.com and equinenow.com

Visit the Boarding Stable Beforehand

If you need to keep your horse at a boarding stable, you’ll want to make sure that the one you choose provides the facilities you want and provides good care to the horses. Unfortunately, there are some horror stories out there of boarding stables neglecting horses. With this in mind, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to any boarding stable you are considering for your horse. Here are some things to look for when visiting a boarding stable?

Are the Horses Well Cared For?

When visiting a boarding stable, look at the horses that already live there. If you see horses that are thin and scraggly, don’t have any grass or hay in their pastures, and are standing in filthy stalls, this can be a good indicator that the boarding stable isn’t taking good care of the horses. 

Another thing you can do to get an idea of how well the horses are cared for is to read reviews. If the boarding stable has a Google Business page or a Facebook page, people can leave reviews. See what other horse owners are saying! 

Does the Stable Have the Facilities You Want?

Secondly, does the boarding stable you are visiting have the facilities you want? Some of you may not be picky; you’re just looking for a place to keep your horse. Others may have more requirements. If you are someone who trains and rides frequently, you may want a place with an arena or an indoor arena. If you like trail riding and conditioning your horse, you may want a boarding stable that has miles of trails.

Can You Afford This Boarding Stable?

Lastly, perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is can you afford this boarding stable? While it may have all the facilities you want, its monthly rate may be beyond your budget. It’s important to be realistic about what you can afford when it comes to boarding. While you may not be able to keep your horse at a top-notch riding facility, you may be able to afford to keep your horse at a small private stable.

Sign a Boarding Contract

Once you’ve found a boarding stable you wish to keep your horse at, you will usually have to sign a boarding contract. This contract will solidify the monthly rate you owe for boarding. Secondly, the contract will outline what will happen if you pay the monthly rate late or stop paying at all. Usually, these contracts also include a liability clause stating that the stable is not liable for any injury to you or your horse. 

Different Horse Boarding Options

When looking at boarding stable ads or openings, there are terms that will be used to describe the available living arrangements for your horse. They are as follows:

What is Stall Board? 

Stall board describes a living arrangement offered by a boarding stable where your horse will have their own personal stall.

Average Rate of Stall Board Including Care Package: $250 – $700+

Oftentimes, stall board means your horse will either have access to their stall and a private turnout 24/7, where they can choose whether they want to be in their stall or in their turnout, or your horse will be in their stall for the day and be turned out at night or vice versa.

What is Pasture Board?

Pasture board is where your horse will live out in a pasture 24/7.

Average Rate of Pasture Board Including Care Package: $150 – $500+

A good boarding stable will see to it that your horse has adequate shelter in their pasture and other horse friends to keep them company. 

Is Stall Board of Pasture Board More Expensive?

Stall board will usually be more expensive than pasture board since stall board will require staff to clean the stall each day, turn out your horse, and also buy and feed hay to your horse while they are in the stall. 

One aspect that is going to play a large role in determining how much you will pay for horse boarding is the amount of work barn staff will need to dedicate to your horse. This is determined through boarding care packages. 

Different Horse Boarding Care Packages 

When it comes to deciding your boarding budget, understanding the different care packages boarding stables may offer can help you determine the direction you need to take. All of these care packages can either be offered as stall board or pasture board; you will need to discuss with the specific boarding stable exactly what is included and covered in your boarding rate.

What is Full-Care Boarding?

Full-care board is when a boarding stable sees to every need of your horse. This will be the most expensive care level, as it requires more work and supplies from the barn staff. This care level will be offered both as stall board and pasture board. 

Average Monthly Rate: $400 – $700+

What’s Included?

What care will the boarding stable provide when you select a full-care boarding option? While every boarding stable is different and may provide specific things, there are certain aspects that you should expect to be included in full-care board. The boarding stable will provide:

  • Visually examining your horse on a daily basis
  • Feeding your horse on a set schedule
  • Making sure your horse has access to forage and water
  • Turning your horse out and bringing them in if they are kept in a stall
  • Cleaning your horse’s stall/managing pasture
  • Putting on/taking off winter blankets, fly masks, other seasonal items
  • Scheduling and holding your horse for vet and farrier visits

 

Other aspects that may be included in full-care board or at an extra fee may include:

  • Administering medicine/treatment to your horse
  • Fly spraying your horse in the warmer months
  • exercise rides/lunging to keep your horse fit
  • Providing a basic grain option for your horse

 

When you go through this list, you see that, for the most part, the boarding stable will take care of everything for your horse. There will be very little on your end that you need to dedicate yourself to.

Why You Should Consider Full-Care Board:

While full-care board will be the most expensive boarding option you find, this may be the right path for you if you have limited time to dedicate to your horse. Maybe you work a demanding job or you’re in school and can’t make it to the barn as much as you’d like. With full-care board, you can have peace of mind knowing that your horse’s needs are being met. 

What is Partial-Care Boarding?

Partial-care board is when a boarding stable will see to the very basic needs of your horse, like feeding, watering, and turning out. You will be responsible for other specific or seasonal needs your horse has that are not included in the normal routine. This care level can be offered as stall board or pasture board.

Average Monthly Rate: $200 – $400

What’s Included?

While partial-care boarding may be a better choice for you if you are on a budget, there will be more responsibility placed on you to care for your horse. Here is a list of things the boarding stable will usually handle with partial-care board:

  • Visually examining your horse on a daily basis
  • Feeding your horse on a set schedule
  • Making sure your horse has access to forage and water
  • Turning your horse out and bringing them in if they are kept in a stall
  • Cleaning your horse’s stall/managing pasture

 

Now, let’s talk about the usual things you will be responsible for if you choose to partial-care board:

  • Putting on/taking off winter blankets, fly masks, other seasonal items
  • Scheduling and holding your horse for vet and farrier visits
  • Buying grain for your horse
  • Administering any medicine or treatment your horse needs.

 

With partial-care board, your specific horse and the current season will determine the demand on you to be at the barn caring for your horse. I know that I’m always at the barn more during the winter to put my horse’s blanket on or take it off!

Why You Should Consider Partial-Care Board:

With the basic needs of your horse being met by the barn staff, partial-care board still provides you with the flexibility you may need to deal with other things in life while also offering you a cheaper boarding option. When it comes to determining whether you can handle the responsibility of partial board, I would just make sure that you would have time to make it to the barn if you needed to on any given day, whether to take off your horse’s winter blanket or to call the vet over an injury.

What is Self-Care Boarding?

Self-care board is when a boarding stable is simply providing facilities for your horse and nothing more. This means that you will be responsible for all of your horse’s needs, and you will need to be willing to designate a lot of your time to care for your horse. That being said, self-care board is also the cheapest care level.

Average Monthly Rate: $100 – $250

What’s Included?

There is a reason self-care board is the most budget-friendly option. The only thing the boarding stable will provide you with when you choose self-care board is their facilities. You will have access to all of the stable’s facilities, but you will also be solely responsible for your horse.

Here is a list of what you will be responsible for at a self-care boarding stable:

  • Visually examining your horse on a daily basis
  • Feeding your horse on a set schedule
  • Making sure your horse has access to forage and water
  • Turning your horse out and bringing them in if they are kept in a stall
  • Cleaning your horse’s stall/managing pasture
  • Putting on/taking off winter blankets, fly masks, other seasonal items
  • Scheduling and holding your horse for vet and farrier visits
  • Putting on/taking off winter blankets, fly masks, other seasonal items
  • Scheduling and holding your horse for vet and farrier visits
  • Buying grain and hay for your horse
  • Administering any medicine or treatment your horse needs.

 

This can seem like a lot. If you have stall-board at a self-care boarding stable, you will need to make time to go to the barn at least twice a day; once to turn your horse out and once to bring them in. If your horse has 24/7 access to a private turnout or they live in a pasture, you can get by with going out once a day to, at the least, visually check on your horse.

Why You Should Consider Self-Care Board:

Self-care board has enabled many equestrians on a budget to be able to afford their equine friend. While self-care board does require much more work from you, I will say that you can oftentimes find other boarders who are willing to rotate checking and caring for the horses one day while you do another day. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to self-care board, I wouldn’t give up hope just yet. Look around and talk to some people to see if you can work something out!

Will Every Boarding Stable Offer These Options?

It’s important to note that not every boarding stable will offer all of these care packages as options. There are some boarding stables that will only offer full-care board so that they can guarantee the care of all the horses on the property. Unfortunately, I’ve been at self-care boarding stables where some horses end up being neglected since there was no care guaranteed.

All this said, it is still easy to find all of these boarding options when looking at stables. As long as there are horses in the world, there will be boarding stables, so no need to worry!

Supplies You Need for Your Horse, Even if You Are Boarding

supplies for horse boardingIf you’ve never owned or boarded a horse before, you may be wondering what supplies are provided by the stable and what supplies you personally need to care for your horse. I’m going to share a list of supplies that can benefit you as a horse owner regardless of the boarding option you choose and whether or not these supplies are provided by the stable:

  • Halter
  • Tack (saddle, bridle, girth, saddle pad)
  • Grooming Kit
  • Emergency Kit (for both you and your horse!)
  • 10-gal Water Bucket
  • Feed Pan
  • 5-gal Feed Bucket
  • Hay Net
  • Grain Storage Bin (with a lid)
  • Seasonal Supplies (winter blanket, fly mask, fly spray)

 

If you need to purchase any of these, I include links in the article I wrote here to some of my recommendations. By having these supplies, you’ll be ready to personally care for your horse if you need to. You also won’t have to ask to borrow or use someone else’s. 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re able to find the perfect boarding option for your horse! You can find all of my latest articles here if you’d like to learn more about owning and caring for horses. 

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My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

Thank you for reading, and happy trails!

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