Most horse owners can only dream that they will one day own land where they can keep their horses. Generally, when your own horse is under your care, you require a boarding facility.
In urban areas, there may be no horse boarding option other than a smaller stable yard. You will have to provide everything your horse requires including their exercise, feed, hay, and social needs. But, just how much does it cost to stable a horse?
Many horse owners opt for boarding stables or other boarding facilities such as pasture board, where the horse is kept in a pasture for a monthly fee.
Boarding Facilities and Services
Owners decide to board a horse for several reasons, from being able to get private lessons at a particular yard to not owning land to keep their horses. The cost to board your horse can range from affordable to excessive, depending on the facilities you choose.
Some facilities will reduce the cost to feed your horse. A facility with large pastures will offer grazing in addition to the stable. Other facilities will have limited turnout, increasing the cost of feeding your horse to more than the boarding costs.
Boarding facilities aren’t all the same. Some boarding stables have different boarding fee structures. These are based on whether you will be tending to your own horse’s needs or if the yard manager has to manage your horse. Either way, your horse’s daily needs have to be met.
The owner’s needs can be diverse, and stabling facilities cater to these at an extra cost. Extra services such as bathing the horse regularly, exercising the horse, and fitting your personal tack to your horse before you arrive at the yard for the day’s riding may be offered at full board facilities.
A boarding service can also offer unique opportunities that include group farrier appointments, which can reduce the farrier’s travel cost. A boarding yard may also have knowledgeable and experienced instructors who provide group riding lessons or private lessons.
At a yard with facilities such as indoor arenas and more services such as additional feed or hay in the winter months, you can expect to pay quite a bit more.
The Costs of Boarding Your Horse
A boarding stable is a facility that has limited turnout or pasture space. Your horse would spend most of the day and night in their stable with only a few hours outside. Often, this is a full boarding setup within an urban area.
Who Does This Suit?
This type of facility is usually suited to horses in heavy work that is schooled at least twice a day. A full care board may or may not have other perks such as a horse walker where the horses get some exercise daily.
The services provided at professional stable yards can make this kind of facility ideal for someone who has a busy lifestyle and the finances to afford extra perks and services. On offer may be an exercise rider, riding instructors, barn staff to clean the stable for you, and turnout services for competitions.
Keep in mind that this cost may only cover the stable and turnout pasture, which means you may still have to purchase feed, hay, and any medicines required.
The cost of feed for a stable boarded horse with minimal turn-out time will be a lot more than other facilities. At some stable boarding facilities, you get exactly what you pay for—a stable. Extra expenses may include the use of other facilities such as a dressage arena, lunging rings, and a jumping arena.
Some stable boarding places will have additional perks such as professional staff that can at least assist with partial care of your horse in your absence.
A more natural option is pasture boarding where the horse is kept in a pasture only. These kinds of services are usually offered in a rural area or on the urban fringe.
The average cost of pasture boarding is about $150-$300 per month or £20-£25 per week in the U.K for grass livery.
Natural grazing is always better, but your horse will be out in the elements as there may or may not be a run-in shelter or barn to use during bad weather.
This kind of boarding facility is usually cost-effective, though you will still need to provide your horse’s own feed. If your horse shares a larger pasture with other horses, both you and the other boarders may have to split the cost of sharing large hay bales in dry months.
Self Care Boarding
The cost of a self-care stable board can vary depending on the extent of the self-care. You can expect to pay between $200-$300 per month. In the U.K., DIY livery amounts to £30-£40 per week.
What Is Included?
A self-care facility will offer a stable, a grazing pasture, and perhaps a few minor facilities such as trails or a lunging ring.
At a self-care boarding facility, you will be responsible for every aspect of your horse’s care. This includes cleaning your horse’s stall, bringing them in during bad weather, being on hand during farrier visits, and taking your horse to and from the paddock for pasture turnout.
Often, the different owners at self-care boarding facilities will help each other out by taking turns caring for each other’s horses. This could make you responsible for other horses in addition to your own.
At a self-care boarding facility, you will have to roll up your sleeves and clean stalls (often not only your own horse’s stall), lead horses to and from a designated area or paddock, and fill up water buckets. Since there could be many stables at such a facility, it can become quite a lot of work.
Choosing The Best When Boarding A Horse
If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area with many places to board your horse, you can choose as there are many factors influencing the care board facilities to offer. The services offered by different board facilities vary greatly.
First-Time Horse Owners
Consider the many advantages and disadvantages of each place where you could potentially board your horse. If this is your first horse, it would be advantageous to board at a facility with trainers and where you can take riding lessons.
Keeping your first horse at a full boarding facility means there will be no hidden costs. For first-time horse owners, the horse cost includes more than just purchasing a horse. In the end, stabling and boarding can cost way more than your horse ever did.
Riding horses for fun by leasing a horse can cost a lot less than full horse ownership will. Boarding a horse will always cost more than buying a horse and keeping them at your own property.
Full Board vs Partial Care
Full boarding versus partial care means your horse can either have as much feed, hay and attention by professional staff as they need. Or your horse will have their basic needs met, with much of their care still resting on your shoulders.
When keeping your horse at a boarding barn, whether a full board or self-care board, you should ensure your horse’s needs are always met. Horse care needs include safety, space, social interaction with other horses, exercise, and injury management in the event your horse is injured.
Consider Your Boarding Needs
Do you ride professionally or aspire to compete? Then your cost to board your horse will include the use of horse equipment and the training. Just because you own horses doesn’t mean you know all the finer details of professional riding.
When you board a horse at a full board or professional boarding barn, you will enjoy the benefit of learning from the best. The pasture boarding option or grass livery in the U.K. is cost-effective, but it also means you are going to be on your own with managing your horse and caring for their needs. You may need to transport your horse to other facilities to train as there will be limited services provided.
Consider Your Horse’s Boarding Needs
Your horse may also have to be stabled at a particular type of facility to meet their needs. Pregnant mares may need to be stabled at a full-service facility that offers larger mare boxes for when the foal arrives.
Stallions may need to be stabled at yards where there are special electrified camps or to enable professional staff to help manage mares when you sell in-hand coverings.
Perhaps your horse is being bullied by their pasture mates at their current facility and you may need to move them for their own safety. Choosing a facility that offers private pastures and stables might help your horse recover and ensure their mental well-being.