6 Reasons Why Boarding Barns Hinder Horses

By:  Amy L Gouger

     Horse lovers board their horses at boarding barns for a variety of reasons.  Majority of them sit in the convenience category. A boarding barn feeds, supplies stall and pasture, and all labor.  A single cost and everything gets done for the horse owner.  The boarding barn provides an arena of some sort, possibly an indoor arena and various other amenities, which affects price. All he or she must do is supply the money and ride.  In the end, boarding barns aren’t a perfect establishment.  Actually, they can hinder or harm horses.

1.  Most boarding barns prefer to use one type of feed.  Despite the fact, these barns care for a variety of horses, and ponies of many age groups, boarding barns rarely take variety into account as they dish out supper.  Simplicity plays a part in this one feed to all horses.  With so many needs, a genetic feed to handle all the horses is almost a necessity.

2.  They do not take in consideration for work, size, and temperament.  A boarding barn takes one look at a horse and chooses how much of the feed each horse needs.  And without a diligent owner that horse could lose weight or gain it unnecessarily. 

3.  Boarding barns mass pasture horses.  With several heads of horses, most boarding barns do not have the number of pastures needed to keep the horses in groups of two or three. Often,  they are separated by sex.  The whole process of mass pasturing horses harms the participants, because controlling a large group of horses is harder.  They will follow one horse’s lead and tear around the pasture inciting a full out herd response.  Serious injuries occur this way.  Bringing them in has higher risk of injury to the stable hand and horses.  Plus mass pasturing uses pastures that have little or no grass, because the sheer number of trampling hoofs.

4.  Stable hands may be lacking experience.  Depending on a lot of factors, stable hands come in two groups.  The first are the novices, who many not know a hoof from a fetlock, or even the signs of colic.  The second group is the veterans.  They may have a view of feeding horses that does not coincide with the stable owner or the horse owner.  Novices or Veterans might also be pressured by the stable owner to feed and take care of the barn in a certain way.  Depending on the stable owner’s goal, this may be cause severe repercussions to the horse.  These stable owners prefer novices, which hinders a horse’s welfare.  Novices cannot notify the appropriate entity if they do not know the horse is ill.

5.   Stable owners are out to make a profit.  Or at least break even.  The cuts often come in quality or quantity. 

6.   No or little individual care for the horses.  Why?  Boarding barn often has fifteen to thirty horses.  Larger barns may have even more.  Difficulty to provide each horse with more than the minimum is a given. 

     Smaller barns provide better care and choosing a boarding barn with similar horses and discipline lessens the severity.  Not all large boarding barns fit the above descriptions or guilty of all the errors.  The best thing any horse owner can do is check out the stable thoroughly.  Ask questions of other horse owners.  Ask questions of the stable owner.  Boarding barns appear to be a blessing, but they can hinder horse’s health and performance.


 Please note Amy retains copyright and this work may not be reproduced without her permission.

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