Sit down with a notebook and write down all the features you consider desirable in a boarding facility--distance from your home, full- or partial-board, access to trails etc.
- Assign each feature a priority, from essential to "added bonus".
- Use a variety of sources to locate boarding stables in your area--Yellow Pages, local tack and feed store bulletin boards, local riding clubs, Internet search.
- Formulate a list of possibles, using your criteria to assign each facility an initial score based on your list of priorities.
- Call each facility to gather more information. Ask questions depending on your personal needs--what services do they offer, what riding facilities do they have, etc.
- Use the information gathered in your fact-finding calls to place the facilities in order of preference.
- Visit each facility, preferably unannounced, but if necessary make an appointment to visit.
- Tour the facility and talk to the barn manager, or owner.
- Inspect the stables. Are they in good repair? Are they clean? Do the horses appear well-cared for? Are the pastures adequate for the number of horses?
- Ask questions about the care of the horses. Ask about security. What is the turnout procedure? Can you choose the feed your horse will recieve? What will they do if your horse is ill or injured?
- Ask questions about the riding facilities. Can boarders use the arena (if there is one) at any time? Does the barn allow visiting trainers?
- Talk with other boarders and ask them about the facility. Are they happy with the care their horse receives? Do they enjoy being there?
- Either while you are at the facility, or as soon as you can, make notes of your initial impression and the answers you received to your questions.
- Write a list of the good and the not-so-good facts you found out about each facility.
- Use your list to determine the most appropriate choice for you and your horse. Contact the facility and make arrangements to move your horse in!