Boarding: You Get What You Pay For

For many horse owners, deciding where to board requires the same careful thought and research as buying a new car, or even a house. Factors such as cost, location, and level of care all figure into the choice. So, too, does the type of horse and
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For many horse owners, deciding where to board requires the same careful thought and research as buying a new car, or even a house. Factors such as cost, location, and level of care all figure into the choice. So, too, does the type of horse and his use. A weekend trail horse obviously does not have the same needs as a horse who competes at "A" level shows every weekend. Yet a weekend-only rider will have different requirements from someone out there every day.

What an owner is willing and able to pay usually is the overriding consideration. Horses are expensive, and monthly board bills consume the largest chunk of an owner’s equine expenses. Board bills can equal or surpass a monthly car payment or approach a mortgage payment. Throw in shoeing, routine veterinary care, and supplies, and even the most unflinching horse owner might wince. Lessons and transportation to and from shows can swell an already hefty bill.

Location also will determine the cost of boarding. Owners with horses in parts of the country where the cost of living is high and open land scarce–the Northeast and Southern California, for example–can expect to pay more than their counterparts in less-developed areas.

Convenience also factors into cost, as well as cachet. Owners who live in or near large cities will pay the price of boarding at a barn within reasonable driving distance. They will pay to keep their horse in "horse country"–the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, the Middleburg-Warrenton corridor of Virginia, or Greenwich, Conn

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Written by:

Jacqueline Duke is special projects editor for Blood-Horse Publications and editor of its book division, Eclipse Press. Additionally, she is editor of Keeneland magazine. She enjoys competing her horse Winston in dressage competitions.

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