Before you go and purchase your first horse, it is important to sit down and write down your long term riding goals and what a boarding facility will need to offer in order for you to attain those goals. Then start looking for a facility that best matches up with your list. If you find one, either go ahead and sign up for boarding or get on their waiting list. It is important to do these things PRIOR to that horse purchase in order to avoid the most common problem faced by non-farm owners - a lack of a place to keep your horse.
Some important things to consider as the boarder:
1. Pasture board will ALWAYS be the cheapest, however, do NOT expect ANY extra care beside a daily check from most facilities. You as the 'low end client' will be expected to do everything for your horse.
2. Full care is generally the most expensive and can range from stall and turnout, to just stall. Make sure that EVERY detail of what the facility is expected to do for your horse is written in the contract before you sign it.
3. The more amenities - the more you'll pay. Want those perfectly manicured indoor and outdoor arenas, jump courses, onsite lessons? Yes, you will pay higher rates for a facility with those. If you want a cheap place - don't expect much more than an old corral.
You've seen those big facilities. They look like they make big bucks, and you think your farm would benefit from getting into the business. But where to start? and honestly, what are the costs and issues that you can expect?
1. Consider your acreage. In high precipitation areas, it is generally accepted that the land can handle 1-2 horses per acre. In dry regions, the general recommendations are up to 5 acres per horse. Sure, many facilities board far more than that, but then you have to have a waste management plan as well as the tractors, personnel, and equipment to deal with it. Also, look into your county's regulations. Some counties specify no more than 1 horse per acre.
2. Fencing. If you have wood plank - be prepared for boarders to bring in cribbers. If you have barbed wire - expect some boarding horse to shred itself on it. If you have electric - you will end up with at least one boarded horse who will not respect it. If you have mesh fencing - some boarding horse will lean over it. Every fence has a weakness, and the more horses you board, the more likely it is that one of them will exploit that weakness.
3. Boarder tack room. NEVER let boarders share the tack room that you keep your own tack in. Your supplies and tack will steadily disappear if you do. Boarders seem to think that they are paying to use ALL of your stuff, even if they are pasture boarders. To avoid a rather nasty situation, put a lock on YOUR tack room, and provide them a separate boarding tack room.
4. Arenas, corrals and other amenities. Yes, you will generally be able to attract more clients and charge more, the more amenities that you build. Decide what type of clients you want to attract, and research what they need for their sport. Build for those riders. After all, Dressage riders need an entirely different setup than Eventers, who need an entirely different setup from Reiners, etc.
5. Vacations. Unless you plan to hire a farm manager or onsite groom/trainer/instructor, don't plan on many long vacations once you board other people's horses.
6. Privacy. Unless you live off site or several acres away from your barn, don't expect any privacy either.
7. Profit. It all really comes down to this. Generally, there will be far more profit and less work with pasture boarders than with full care boarders. Though how much acreage you own will often dictate which type of boarders you get more of.
Currently, as we are primarily focused on building up our horse riding in Nashville business on the local trails, we have decided not to offer horse boarding in nashville at our new location.