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Some riders are lucky to have their own land; they enjoy keeping their horses close to home. But even people who own land often choose to board their horse at a boarding barn. Falcon is home to several quality boarding facilities, but how do you choose which one will be right for you?Iíve boarded my horse at seven different boarding barns (and taken lessons at two others) over eight years. Those barns ranged from a large hunter-jumper barn with around 40 horses to a small run-in and paddock at a friendís house with one other horse. Each barn had its own personality, its own good and bad points. But of those nine facilities, I would only go back to one, and Iím happy where I am now.Choosing the right barn for your horse depends on many things: your riding goals, your personality, your pocketbook, where you live and how far youíre willing to travel. You may be looking for an indoor arena, a trainer specializing in a certain discipline, 24-hour turn-out for your horse or a community atmosphere among the boarders. The list of things to consider can get long.During my last search for a barn, I wrote all my questions down and interviewed the barn owner. My main concern was finding a supportive training atmosphere for my young horse. The list I created might be helpful to others who are looking for the perfect home for their horse.ï How many arenas are there, what kind (roping, dressage, etc.), what is the footing and how often are they dragged? If the barn has an indoor arena, how big is it? Is it well-lighted and well-ventilated? Indoor arenas can get very dusty!ï Who are the trainers at the barn and what are their qualifications? If the barn owner is not the trainer, ask to meet the trainers and observe a lesson.ï How many hours per day are horses turned out? Is the pasture fencing sturdy and safe? Does the barn charge extra for turnout? How many horses are turned out together? Are mares and geldings separated? They can coexist, but itís safer (especially for the mares) to have them separated.ï Are stalls large and well-ventilated? Do the stalls have mats and proper amounts of bedding?ï How many other boarders are there? Do they ride regularly? Do the boarders socialize, go on trail rides together, have potlucks? If you want to be part of a rider community, you probably wonít be happy at a barn that has only one or two other boarders, especially if they ride infrequently.ï Is the barn show-oriented? If you donít intend to show, you may end up feeling like the odd man out.ï Does the owner/barn manager live on the property? I wouldnít board my horse at a barn that didnít have a live-in manager or someone who keeps an eye on the horses 24/7. A horse can colic and die in a matter of hours.ï How often are the horses fed hay? Will the barn manager feed grain and supplements? Will the barn manager deworm your horse? Most professional barns will want all the horses on a regular deworming schedule. Will the barn manager hold your horse for the vet or farrier if you canít be there?ï How often are the stalls cleaned? Where is the manure pile? It shouldnít be too close to the barn or pasture. Is a barn-wide method of fly control used (fly predators, sprayers)?ï Is the water in buckets and tanks heated? Your horse wonít drink enough water if itís frozen in the winter.ï The big question on everyoneís mind is always price. Prices for full-care boarding in the Falcon area generally run between $275 to $400 a month. Some barns require boarders to take lessons, but most do not. Some barns offer different levels of care. To reduce the cost, you can do the feeding, or your horse can live in a pasture and have no stall.ï My personal favorite: Are all riders required to wear helmets? I have a theory that if a barn cares about the safety of its riders, it will care about everything else, too.When you visit a boarding barn, you should ask all these questions. But an excellent boarding barn has another quality thatís harder to pin down: You should get the feeling that itís the home of quiet, contented horses, cared for by people who really love them!

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