Anywho, the real point of this post is to give a brief write-up on my top barn picks, so here goes:
The barn and arena as viewed from one of the individual turnout paddocks.Barn 1-
Board: Moderate ($15 less than our current barn)
Distance: 14 minutes
Facility: Indoor, outdoor, lots of hacking via neighbor's hay field & forests, option of oak board or electric fencing
Pros: I went to visit this barn today, and I absolutely loved it. The owners, a husband and wife duo, seemed exceedingly particular about their horse's care, but not in that 'over the top coddle them to death' type way. They do turnout in pairs or groups of 3 (or individually upon request), have more paddocks than herds so they can rotate them, have 4 different types of feed (plus beetpulp) that they customize the rations of for each horse, the facility is fully fenced, they get their hay from the neighbor's hay field (after the hay's all tested, that is) which their property backs on to, and which we're allowed to hack through, the stalls are all light, bright, airy, and well ventilated, and they all come equipped with bowl-type automatic waterers (versus the ones the horses have to push to get water). The owners do everything themselves, aside from mucking out, so they are the ones interacting with the horses on a daily basis. I love the fact that I know exactly who is feeding, turning out, and monitoring my horse, rather than having "staff" caring for her.
Cons: This facility does have one flaw- the indoor is tiny. To be honest, I think I'd move in today if it weren't for the size of the indoor. I don't mind a small arena, if it means quality care. I put my horse's needs above mine, in that respect. But there's small, and then there's too small... and its hard to tell what too small is until you've ridden in it. So I'm a bit stuck with that one. The arena has to be large enough that its functional for us to train in, and to be honest I'm not sure it is. My only other issue is that their barn hours are 11am to 9pm. The 9pm doesn't bother me, but I like to ride in the morning and used to ride every morning before school, so the 11am part is a bit of a nuisance. Obviously this doesn't apply for shows, but I'd have to see if they'd be comfortable with me having one set day a week where I came in earlier, if my schedule necessitated it.
Interior of the 'small' barn where we'd be boardingBarn 2-
Distance: 17 minutes
Facility: Massive dust free indoor, large outdoor, groomed track, miles of hacking on property
Pros: This barn has a gorgeous facility. Massive dust free indoor with ridiculously nice footing- the type with the felt strips- huge outdoor, a track (!!!) that's groomed regularly, and miles of groomed trails right on the property. The small barn (where we'd be boarding) looks lovely and airy, with large well kept stalls. Their feed program is good, and the hay is good quality. The property is massive, so they should have ample turnout, but I haven't been able to ask about their specific turnout program yet. It also has the advantage of being the same barn my coach has one of her horses at, which is handy.
Cons: The board is expensive. Plus, they charge extra on top of that for booting and blanketing, and to be honest, I'm not 100% sure the service is quite worth the cash... it's almost $100/month more than where I currently board when you factor in boots and blankets, and aside from the dust free indoor, I'm not sure I'm really getting much of an upgrade. The owner of the horse my coach has at this place (who boards in the ultra expensive main barn) also expressed some concerns with staffing and care, which in my opinion should NOT be happening when she's shelling out $800 a month for board. If you're billing your facility as a 'premium' facility, and charging the cash for it, you should be providing 'premium' care. However, the facility is still new, so the issue could be chalked up to them just ironing out the kinks, and I haven't had the chance to go on an official tour and chat with the stable manager yet & ask her questions myself, so I'm reserving judgement for the time being. All the horses looked well cared for and everything, so I don't think there are any major concerns... I just get nervous when there are multiple people looking after my horse.
This picture isn't great, but that's the indoor arena of barn 3Barn 3-
Distance: 16 minutes
Facility: large indoor, outdoor, hacking on property, oak board fencing
Pros: I haven't had the chance to tour this facility yet, and I also don't know if they allow outside coaches, but they're a H/J barn with a good reputation that's nice and close and apparently has a stall open so I figured it was worth a shot. They (from what I understand) have lovely large paddocks, but I don't think any are fenced with electric, a large indoor, a large outdoor, and hacking on property. I haven't been able to find any pictures of the interior of the barn (aside from a few newborn foal pics that show the bottom 3 feet of a stall...) so I can't say much about it, but overall it looks nice and has a decent reputation.
Cons: they have a lesson program. Which means having to work around lesson times. D: Although this definitely wouldn't be the end of the world, it isn't exactly ideal either, but other than that I can't really state the pros and cons until I've seen the place.