Guide: Choosing a Stable for Your Horse or Pony

This is ideal for those with a busy working week who want to visit and enjoy their horse at the weekend. Some owners like to keep their horses at a stable for the social setting and to meet and ride with other horse owners.

Although far more expensive than keeping horses on your own property, using a stable to board your horse can be very rewarding. As with most pet care services, a very important influence in making the choice of a stable is referrals from friends or colleagues. You may even contact your veterinarian or farrier for a referral. Stop by all stables in your shortlist and inspect the stalls, pasture and fences. Avoid stables that are not well maintained in those areas. If the stable owners take the time to give you a personal tour of the farm, this could indicate that they have enough paid help and are in good command and well organized.

What to Look for in a Stable

  • Check the Stalls – they should be clean, dry and should not smell. They should look recently cleaned (in the last 24 hours) and should have fresh bedding. Also check that the stall looks large enough to keep your horse comfortable. Are there any sharp edges or loose panels? Are there fresh and clean buckets of water in all the stalls (in particular look for algae and other signs of very stale water)? Ask if the stalls are cleaned daily – this is a necessity not a luxury. To avoid health problems, horses should be fed and watered at least twice a day.
  • Check the Barn – is it well ventilated but also warm? Does it smell damp, musty, or stale? Are there too many insects in the barn?
  • Check the other ‘residents’ – do they look happy and healthy? Are all horses on the property on the same schedule for worming and vaccination? Do all owners need to show a clean bill of health before moving their horse onto the property?
  • Check the pastures – Are they predominantly grassy or is there an excess of sand, mud or dust? Is the drainage adequate or are there large pools of water or water-soaked mud? Do the horses get turned-out daily and for how long? The longer the better. Do the pastures have enough shelter for the number of horses that use it at any given time?
  • Other facilities – Is there an indoor riding area and is it large enough to accommodate all the residents at some point during extreme weather? Are the stables open to you 24 hours a day or are there set visiting times?
  • Veterinary Care – If there is illness are you contacted before any treatment? Are you allowed to use your own vet or is there a specific vet for the property and all its horses in care? The same applies for your farrier.

Another aspect of course is the cost of the stable. As much as this should not influence your decision completely, it is natural that people have different means and cost is always important. Boarding your horse at a stable can cost anywhere between $80 to $1,500 per month or more. The price is mostly dependent on the quality of care your horse will get, location and type of board (pasture board, stall board, or stall board with daily turnout). The average cost of quality stall board with stall cleaning, feeding/watering and daily turnout is around $200-$500 per month in most areas.