While there are many differences in opinion when it comes to naming anyone's top criteria for a boarding stable, the following items seem to regularly appear on the lists of many Wasatch front horse owners.
Contact information for a number of our area's boarding stables is included at the end of the article.
1. A reliable feed schedule.
Horses are creatures of habit and their well-being (physical, emotional and psychological) may be at risk if your barn doesn't feed on a close-to-routine schedule. Make sure the barns you talk with feed at least 2 times each day. Breakfast near 8 a.m. with dinner around 6 p.m. is routine at most stables. Some barns (Bella, on the east bench of Sandy, for example) give a mid-day meal as well.
2. Quality feed
That on-time feeding plan is only as attractive as the quality of the hay. Don't be too shy to look at the bales and make sure they're not brown, moldy or stemmy. You may also want to inquire if the barn offers a choice of alfalfa and grass.
3. Clean, cool water
Many horses will refuse to drink if water is unclean. Does the stable regularly clean its water containers? Take a look at the containers and the water itself. Not only is filthy water unattractive to most horses, it often also poses a health risk.
4. Ample water resources and boarder access
Forget the little sippy-cup size "automatic" waterers. Horses cannot obtain a reasonable drink from them and this can lead to colic and/or dehydration. A larger water bucket or small trough is strongly preferred. Also, verify that you will be allowed to fill and (if desired) clean your own water container.
5. Friendly, professional, knowledgable on-site management
If boarding your horse, it's not possible that you be there 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. It's important that someone is. The approachability, and hands-on horsemanship expertise of that person is vital.
6. Proximity to your residence
Most boarders don't want to drive over 10 (maybe 15) miles to their barn. Seeing as the majority of horse owners work full-time, that leaves evening and weekend hours for riding and time with our equine friends. You may also need to run out in the middle of the night, during any weather at any time of the year, if your horse becomes ill or injured. Having easy access to your chosen barn can reduce stress and fatigue, and enable you to enjoy more time with your horses.
The definition of what exactly affordability is obviously varies a great deal from one person to the next. The important factor here is to make sure you find a facilty that works comfortably within your personal budget, that you can pay on time without undue durress.
8. A suitable environment
What kind of riding do you like to do? What type of horse do you own? Finding a stable whose social circle encompasses your personal passions and practices can allow for significantly more fun than subjecting yourself to oft-opposing views.
9. A happy home for your horse
Most of us would rank this factor much higher than #9, but the list isn't necessarily in order. Make sure the stall/paddock offers ample room for your horse to move, adequate shelter from summer heat or unpleasant winter weather (rain, snow, wind) and a view of other horses. Few animals can be content if locked away in a small cell with limited action or inadequate daylight.
10. A place to ride
Does the facility have a covered riding area? Are there outdoor riding areas that feature quality footing and safe, well-maintained fencing? Is there a round pen for those days when you may need an extra measure of control? A stable that offers reasonable riding amenities is essential if you're to enjoy easy, on-site saddle time with your horses.
Fortunately, our area has several nice facilities for Salt Lake vicinity horse owners!
D & M, located on Rose Park Lane (just off I-215 near 2100 N) is a relaxed, fun and casual barn. Owner Dick Bowden lives on site and cares for each animal as if it were his own. Stall options include a spacious mare motel and other more enclosed stalls with a few stall/corral options available on occassion. Phone: 801-550-5247
Universal Equestrian, West Bountiful. The stalls in the outdoor mare motel are ideal, offering ample space and dirt floors. They're cleaned 6 days a week. Facility owner Jed can be reached at The American Cowboy tack and feed store (located on-site). Phone: 801-295-7433
Sunset Equestrian, West Kaysville. Owners Suzie and Jeff Hansen have created a playful, welcoming atmosphere that is especially kid-friendly. The stables feature regular events on-site as well as experienced instructors that work well with riders of all ages. Phone: 801-573-6960
Vista Farms, West Jordan. Located just east of Bangerter near 9400 South, this is a nice barn that does an exceptional job of blending a show environment (Arabian horses are the speciality) with the needs of the casual rider. Boarders range in age from 5 to 50(+). Regular on-site shows are a big draw and offer fun for all. Owner Steve Alred is the man to talk to if you're interested in boarding. Phone: 801-633-8981
Other local options include Hunter Stables (located next door to D&M on Rose Park Lane).
Corner Canyon is a nice facility in east Draper.
Rose Park Riding Stables, on Redwood Road, is very close to the active Salt Lake Equestrian Park (South Jordan) and caters to the hunter/jumper crowd.
Lynnleigh Farm, on State Street and 10700 S. in Sandy is one of the Wasatch front's premier hunter/jumper barns and sports an especially pastoral setting. Dressage riders are also welcome.
Pegasus Event Center is an unsually large facility for riders in the Grantsville/Tooele area. Amenities include a large covered arena along with outdoor riding space.
Assess your personal priorities and decide which factors top your list. Then set out to find the environment that will best suit the needs of you and your horses.