Keeping a Horse: Stall Board vs. Field Board
Consider the Cost
If you purchase a horse, the next step will be the process of finding a place to keep him or her. If cost is a factor, field board is generally less expensive then full board with a stall.
The Pros and Cons of Field Board
There are a few things to consider when looking into field boarding options. You want there to be a run in or some way for the horse to get shelter from the weather.
You will also need to find out if the horses are fed on the fence or with feed bags. This is something to consider because fence feeding often won't work for a less dominant horse as he will let the others push him away from his feed pan.
Most importantly, during times of year when the grass is dormant, will there be forage available at all times? This is so essential to a horse's health. In the winter time and dead of summer during drought, if there is no grass for them to graze on, hay needs to be provided.
You should find out if in a field board situation you are you able to feed your horse supplements if you want to. What about blanketing? Is that a service you can pay for or are you completely on your own? Some farms will offer services to field boarders at an additional charge. Others do not. You just have to ask a lot of questions and make sure you understand what you are getting for your monthly board payment.
Another big question to ask is if field boarders are allowed to bring their horses into the main barn if there is one. Also, is there any sort of tack lockers or a shed to keep equipment or will you have to transport it back and forth each time you come to see your horse?
Field boarding can be an affordable option if you are on a budget. It can be ideal for old and arthritic horses that do better when their movement isn't restricted. Many people with young horses who aren't broke to ride yet or retired horses opt for field board.
The Pros and Cons of Stall Board
Your horse having a stall is a nice, but not a necessary amenity. If you decide you want your horse to have a stall, you can expect the cost to be higher.
You should find out what the turnout schedule is. How many hours a day will the horse be in the stall versus outdoors? How do they handle inclement weather? In other words, what constitutes a day that is too nasty for the horses to go outside? All farm owners and managers have different theories on these things, so you want to make sure that you find a place that has the same thought process as you on these types of issues.
Most stall boarded horses have access to some sort of tack storage area. Are there individual lockers or is it a shared community tack room? Are you allowed to bring in saddle racks and bridle hooks? Can you have a tack trunk in front of your stall? Just because you could at your old barn doesn't mean you will be allowed to at the new one. Make sure to start off on the right foot by asking all the right questions.
There Is No Right or Wrong Answer
This is not a black and white, right or wrong kind of thing. You need to decide what is best for you and your horse's needs as well as what you can most comfortably afford.
You may need to look around a bit, and it may feel like you are asking the same prices over and over again. It will all be worth it though when you find the right situation for you and your horse!