How to Decide Whether to Board Your Horse or Keep Him at HomeAugust 30, 2020
Most horse lovers imagine looking out the window on a beautiful sunny day to see their happy horse grazing luxuriously in his pasture. There are some really big advantages to having your horse at home, but the reality involves a lot of work and expense.
Stabling Your horse at Home
When making the decision to board or stable your horse at home, you must first consider your lifestyle and how much time you have to dedicate to your horse and his care. Having a horse at home is a huge commitment. Beyond maintaining a feeding schedule, there is cleaning, maintenance, ordering and receiving feed and supplies, and scheduling and holding your horse for the vet and shoer. Horses are herd animals. They do not do well stabled alone.
In order to ride at home there must be an area that is safe and has suitable footing. In many climates a covered or indoor ring is necessary for protection from the weather. Unless you live next to places to ride, you will want to travel with your horse, which means buying a truck and trailer.
The benefits to keeping your horse at home (besides the obvious romantic ones) are that the work involved feels very rewarding, and you can monitor precisely what your horse is eating and the status of his health. This requires some education and if you don’t have much experience, be prepared to do some reading and enlist the help of people with more knowledge. Another advantage is that you can become more familiar with your horse’s daily and seasonal behavior, and learn about horse culture through direct observation and interaction.
Myth: It’s Cheaper to Have My Horse at Home
While it is true that you have some flexibility in how and when to spend money on your horses’ care when he is at home, it not cheap. By the time land is purchased, and fences, shelter, and storage areas are built, your initial investment is considerable. Other costs to consider are: on-going maintenance from notoriously destructive animals, dealing with mud and other climate related issues, pasture management, and horse care when you are away from home.
Myth: More Time With My Horse
Having your horse at home means more time spent caring for your horse and his environment, but most often less time in the saddle. Unless you are fortunate enough to be able to hire help and build a suitable riding area, people who board their horses spend more time actually riding. Boarders also have a ready supply of riding buddies, which makes recreational riding more fun and can provide horse owners with more opportunities to participate in different activities. They often have on-site access to lessons and training which can really improve your relationship and success with your horse.
The Bottom Line
If you have access to a professional and reasonably priced stable and you have one or two horses, it is probably the best choice. But if your interest is in having an occasional ride and you most enjoy caring for your horse and his home, build a big window so you can really enjoy the view!