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From Backyard to Boarding

I’ve had horses ever since I was eight years old, and I was lucky enough to be able to look out the window when I woke up every morning and see them grazing in the pasture. I grew up in the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania on a 60-acre farm with a huge old dairy barn and plenty of pastures. My childhood mainly consisted of running around barefoot outside, climbing trees, and riding my horse around our land. One of my best friends, who also rode, lived about 2 miles away, and right in between our properties were tons of trails. We practically had our own secret Saddle Club! Where I’m from, surprisingly it’s very uncommon to not have your horse at your own house, so when I found out some of my friends boarded their horses, I was bewildered. My whole life, my horses and I had our barn all to ourselves. The thought of sharing a barn with other riders seemed crazy!


That is, until I moved away from home. Like any other horse lover, when it was time for me to fly from the nest, I knew that I had to bring Stiletto, my (paintless) Paint mare with me. I was going to become a boarder! It was decided, but the question of where I was going to board was still unanswered. While it took some work and research, I figured out a few great tips that helped me decide where to keep my beloved horse! If you are looking to move your horse from home to a boarding stable, have no fear!

1. Know what you want
Before researching any boarding stables in my new area, I needed to make sure that I had a clear idea of what I was looking for. There are a ton of different options that some barns offer for you and your horse, so it’s important to have an idea of what you want! Do you want your horse to have the most amount of pasture time? Do you want your horse to be stalled at night? Will you be paying for your own grain, or do you want that included in the board, too? Do you want options to work off your board by cleaning stalls or helping around the barn? How far away are you willing to drive? For me, I wanted to be at a barn where Stiletto could be out in the pasture for most the day, and where I could be involved with helping around the barn. These are the questions you should ask yourself. Write them down! Making a list helps you to figure out what is most important to you, and what’s best for your horse!

2. Research and network
A simple google search helped me to find any boarding stables near my new location that had websites, information, or reviews. That made it very easy to locate addresses to determine the distance of each barn to where I lived, as well as what type of barn (Hunter, Western, etc.) barn it was. It’s easy to make a list of possible choices with this information, which can then be narrowed down! For me, I was looking for a western barn, since Stiletto and I are focusing on Ranch Riding. Another great idea is looking on social media pages (like Facebook) to find an Equine group in your area. Joining groups like these can be helpful, as you might be able to find a barn through word of mouth!

3. Take your time
While it was not easy spending a couple of months without my horse nearby, I wanted to make sure that I was choosing the perfect barn for us to stay at. Don’t rush into choosing a barn, or you might end up rushing out of it to find a new one! When I visited the first barn on my list, I was sure that that was the one I wanted to choose. Even so, I still wanted to give the other options a fair shot, so I made a visit to them all. I’m glad I did, because I ended up finding a barn that suited our needs better than the first! Also, at some visits I felt a bit rushed as if I had to decide right then and there, or else I might lose out on my chance. Even so, don’t jump into it. Give yourself time to think about the pros and cons of each place before coming to a conclusion.


While these tips are simple, sometimes it can be easier said than done. If you happen to be between two barns, consider the little details of each place. Did the barn manager follow up with you? Did you make a connection to other boarders? Those little details make all the difference! By taking my time and doing my research, I was able to find the perfect barn to keep Stiletto. And you never would have guessed, but it’s a hunter barn! I never would have dreamed of keeping my mare in a dominantly English barn, but everyone is so friendly that it was worth it! While I was worried that Stiletto was going to have a hard time adjusting, she immediately settled in and is enjoying the boarding life (and the extra treats from other boarders that come with that). I myself have adjusted too, it’s wonderful to be in a great barn that is its own community of horse lovers.

Posted in Stories & Adventures

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3 comments on “From Backyard to Boarding
  1. Renee says:

    Very thoughtful article, Olivia. Hunter barn…we can mend you a saddle!

  2. Renee says:

    Very thoughtful article, Olivia. Hunter barn…we can lend you a saddle!

  3. christine novak says:

    great helpful article for a person soon to look for boarding for my two haflinger mares who have lived basically in my backyard forever. i am so nervous about having them away from me.

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