Boarding a horse may appear to be an expensive way to keep a horse, but it may be less expensive than purchasing and maintaining a horse-friendly property. The only way some people can keep a horse is to board it at a stable. Boarding your horse can be very expensive. Numerous factors influence the cost of boarding at a stable, and many stables offer multiple levels of board. The following factors can influence the cost of boarding your horse at a stable:
1. The Location
If the stable is close to or in a city, expect to pay more. In a rural area, where fodder is easier to come by and space is less limited, the board may be less expensive. Because taxes and land costs are higher in cities, expect this to be reflected in the board’s price. There may also be more competition for boarding closer to urban areas, causing prices to rise due to supply and demand. Compare the cost of driving and the time spent driving to a stable further away with the cost of driving to a stable closer to you. Stables near horse shows and other equine events will almost certainly be more expensive than those further away.
2. The Facilities and Amenities Available
If the stable offers more, expect to pay more. Indoor arenas, groomed riding rings, wash racks, trails, jumps, larger stalls, new barns, automatic waters, and feeders are all included in boarding fees. The cost of building and maintaining well-equipped boarding facilities will be reflected in the board’s price.
3. The Services Provided
From complete self-care to full board, there are many different levels of care available. The more services offered, the more expensive the board can become. You may be required to pay for additional services in addition to your regular board bill. Your contract should spell out exactly what is and isn’t included in the cost of your board. Blanketing, handling the horse for veterinarian and farrier visits, extra feeds and supplements, lessons and coaching, in-stable shows, and grooming are examples of extra services.
4. Self-Care Board
Expect a self-care board to provide everything your horse requires except shelter and fencing. Water should be available, but a trough or buckets may be required. You will have to buy and bring your feed, as well as hay and stall bedding. Depending on the agreement you sign, horses may or may not be checked every day. Expect to travel at least once a day to clean stalls and care for your horse. You’ll need to make plans to be available for veterinarian and farrier visits. Self-care board situations provide only the facility, but not the actual care of your horse, so that means work for you. Consider your schedule and how you will manage things like icy roads and bad weather when deciding to take your horse to a self-care boarding stable. More about self-care, there are self-care tips for the avid equestrian.
5. The Full Board
Everything will be provided with a full board. The stalls will be cleaned, the horse fed and watered, and basic feeds will be provided. Supplements may or may not be provided and included in the price, but if you provide them, they will be fed. Horses will be turned out for exercise and blanketed daily, usually at an additional cost depending on the weather. The owner/manager will arrange for veterinarians and farriers. You will almost certainly have to attend farrier or veterinarian visits, or you’ll have to pay someone else to do so if you can’t. Lessons may be included in the price or may be charged separately. You will probably want to see your horse frequently, but you’ll find that some horse owners don’t see their horses for weeks or even months at these barns.
6. Things to Consider
Stables offer a variety of services and amenities, ranging from a self-care board to a full board. Read the boarding contract carefully before moving in to ensure that you understand what is and is not included in the price, what you will be expected to do, and what additional fees you may be charged. Some stables charge a daily fee to blanket horses or provide feed supplements. When the farrier comes, some will look after your horse, but you may be charged for the time. So make sure you know what is included in your board bill to avoid any surprises.
7. The Food Cost
A healthy 1,100-pound horse will consume $100 to more than $250 in feed and hay per month on average, though horses allowed to graze on grass will consume less hay. The cost of hay is determined by the type, quantity purchased, and time of year. Furthermore, to cost you less, there are treats you can make at home for your horse. A 50- to a 130-pound bale of alfalfa or timothy hay, or hay mixed with grass or clover, could cost anywhere from $4 to $18. Hay is cheaper in rural areas because it is plentiful. Supplemental, prepackaged feeds for horses can cost anywhere from $10 to $30 per month.
8. The Housing Cost
If you do not have enough land to support a horse, the next best option is to board at a barn or stable. A stall is assigned to a horse, and you have access to trails, pastures, and arenas. Boarding costs range from $400 to $500 per month on average but can reach $1,200 to $2,500 in major cities. Mucking out stalls, feeding, and turning your horse out to pasture may or may not be included in the price. There are still costs to consider for those who are fortunate enough to own enough land. It will cost around $300 per month to provide bedding, maintain pasture fences, and pay for utilities. A trailer is required to transport your horse, which can cost anywhere from $1,500 for a used trailer to $50,000 for a top-of-the-line model.
9. The Training Fees
Though training is not required, it is particularly beneficial if you are a novice rider or want to learn a new riding style. Lessons can range in price from $20 to $50 for an hour of private instruction to $650 to $850 per month. Specialized training, such as barrel racing clinics, can cost between $300 and $500 for a weekend.
10. The Horse Boarding Prices
You might be able to find a board for as little as a dollar per day or as part of a sweat equity payment. You can expect to pay over $700 per month for the board at a very well-equipped stable with lessons included and close to a major city or event grounds. Look for bargains. Consult with other horse owners in your area to find a stable that you can afford and trust to care for your horse.