Stabling Your Horse

Horse grazing in front of a red barn
Where your horse lives is a highly personal decision, here are some general areas to consider when looking for a horse stable.

Tidy Barn

Overall Organization

Your overall impression of the establishment is a good place to start. A stable will never be clean but it can be tidy.

Stalls should be (reasonably) clean, horses should look well-fed, equipment should have a designated place and the grounds should be relatively free of obstacles.

There should be someone on or adjacent to the property for most of the day and access to a public telephone.

Horse Stall


This is where your animal will spend a large percentage of time so it is the most important area to inspect.

Obviously bigger is better, but expect around 12×12 which is a fairly standard size for most animals. Anything smaller should be avoided unless you own ponies.

Look for exposed nails, adequate water supply, chest height feeding trough, level floor, adequate ventilation and cranky neighbors.

Horse Paddock

Run/ Paddock

Outside space will be important to your animal, it should be well-fenced and clear of debris and clutter.

Find out if your horse will have an adjoined run or if they will be turned out in a pasture – if so will there be other horses involved? And how often will your animal get outside?

Outside paddocks should have a constant water supply, shelter from the elements, some even ground and shouldn’t be overgrazed.

Horse Feeding

Feeding Schedule

Be sure to check out the feed room, it should be covered and dry, well-lit and things should be labeled.

Horses need a consistent daily feeding schedule for proper digestion and health. Ideally they receive several meals during the day. How often will your animal be fed and what?

This is an important area to be firm about. Check other animals at the location to ensure they all look round, content and well-fed.

Horse Drinking

Water Supply

Regardless of your local weather conditions, all horses need a constant supply of fresh, clean water.

Water supplies should be in good working order & free of mold and dirt. In cold climates water buckets should have heaters and in warm climates buckets should be located in the shade.

Ultimately this is the one factor your horse can’t survive without, so ensuring they are properly watered is of the utmost importance.

Horse Exercising


Horses need to be outside to stretch their legs daily and it is your responsibility to make that happen.

Some facilities offer outdoor pens for lone turn-outs and others provide fenced paddocks for outdoor time. Be sure you know how much time you animal will have outside and if they will have company.

Often boarders will pay the stable trainer to work with their animal. This should go hand in hand with riding lessons and regular riding.

Burning Barn


Learn about the staff situation and who is in charge should there be an emergency on the premises.

There should be clear, posted emergency instructions, phone numbers & vet information. What is their policy for calling the vet if they can’t reach you? Is there anyone with medical training on staff?

Ask questions about potential accidents & emergencies. Learn if they have evacuation plans and that the staff understands the signs of colic.

Horse Access

Access to Your Animal

Be sure you are clear about stable business hours and how they may affect access to your animal.

Can you visit after hours or will there be locked doors/ gates in your way. On the flip side, who will have access to your animal when you aren’t there? Who will be in charge of feeding and watering?

Discuss with the staff your expected schedule and whether or not (and how often) you want others to have access to your animal.

Other Factors

Lets face it, the list could go on forever. Like picking your own home, choosing a stable is a long and arduous process.

Obviously the stable you choose will depend upon the needs of your animal. However, essential factors vary based on you in many ways too. Your choice should also be based on your riding discipline, availability and level of skill.

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