BoardMoving on to the next chapter of our Thrifty Horsekeeping project: Housing. Over the next four weeks I'll be discussing ways to save on board, how to cut costs around the barn, and economical choices for barn essentials such as stall bedding. This first segment will cover boarding costs. Ultimately, keeping and caring for your horse on your own property is the most cost-efficient way to house a horse, but for many of us, myself included, it's just not an option.

I know boarding arrangements can run the gamut from $100 a month for simple pasture board to thousands of dollars for a top show facility with all the services and frills you can imagine. You’ve probably all heard that to save money you should switch from full to partial board or pasture board – and it works, I’ve done it. But what I want to know is what you value most in a boarding facility.
Are you willing to spend the time and mileage for cheaper board at a barn 45 miles away or does proximity to your home, vet clinic, trails, etc. make a higher-priced barn worth the cost? In some regions of the country, or areas close to large cities, you're going to have to pay a large premium for convenient boarding arrangements. Do you need to rely on someone to feed your horse and clean his stall? For those of us that can't get to the barn once or twice a day, this is a must-have. And do you actually need a boarding facility with an indoor arena or other amenities? This becomes a more important question if you've had to cut back on lessons and horse showing. When it comes down to it, you really are getting what you pay for – so how much is need and how much is luxury?

For more on cutting boarding costs and finding affordable arrangements, check out this week’s Housing excerpt here.