In our January 2002 editorial, we discussed the advantages that boarding stables can have over keeping horses on your own property, and readers were quick to respond with the advantages of keeping horses at home.
Of course, we see the plusses on both sides, but there’s one situation where having your own horse property is a clear positive, and that’s when you have a horse that you can’t really ride, whether it’s a broodmare, young horse, retiree or injured horse.
If you’re already keeping a couple of horses in your own barn, the cost of hay and bedding for another one — or just the cost of maintaining good pasture and a run-in shed — is negligible.
This flexibility can be of desperate importance when you have an injured horse. “Tincture of time” is often the best medicine, but the cost of that time at a boarding stable can be prohibitive if that price includes an indoor arena and other schooling/training amenities.
The dilemma becomes even greater if you board and your young horse has a career-ending injury or illness. The horse isn’t sound enough to sell, and you’re looking at a possible couple decades of boarding. Even pasture boarding can seem like a huge expense at this point.
If you have your own pasture with water and shelter available, you’ve got the problem solved. But, if you don’t, what is the solution for a long-term retirement or long layup if you don’t have your own property'
Giving the horse away, possibly as a pasture pal for other horses, is one option but has its own set of perils. You can check for ads in the local papers for pasture boarding, but it may be difficult to gauge what the level of care will be.
There are few easy answers. If you know someone outside your area who has pasture space and you can ship your horse there, it may be the best solution.
You can also try the word-of-mouth network in your area: farriers, vets, feed stores and tack shops, where they know all the horsemen in the area — private and public — and can come up with some ideas or pass the word.
While boarding does have its particular attractions, there is always this underlying element of insecurity unless you have an unlimited budget. Having a pasture in your backyard with a run-in shed can give you a reassuring sense of well-being, the same as when you have a loft full of high-quality hay and a stack of clean stable blankets going into the winter.
’Til Next Month,