1. Read and Understand Your ContractWhen you are boarding the stable owner should have you sign a contract. This contract should outline things like:
- Where your horse will be kept.
- How your horse is fed.
- What expenses you are responsible for like extra charges for blanketing, exercise, medical care.
- How are emergencies to be handled.
- What facilities and amenities you may use.
- Vaccinations required.
- Hours of operation.
- Safety rules.
Avoid word-of-mouth contracts. Make sure that the barn owner has your up-to-date contact information including home and place of work (or wherever else you spend a lot of time) in case of emergency.
2. Pay Your Bills on TimeIt would be difficult for you to budget if you never knew when your paycheck was coming. Stable owners count on board being payed promptly so they can buy hay, bedding and other necessities for your (and other's) horses. Most stables I know of don't make huge amounts of money on boarders. Having to pay interest on overdue feed, veterinarian, or other bills cuts into an already small profit or important supplies might not be bought.
3. Address Problems Promptly and CourteouslyIf you feel there is a problem with how your horse is being looked after or with another boarder talk to the stable owner/manager. Don't let little resentments build up and don't resort to leaving nasty notes on the message board for all to see. A little communication can prevent unfortunate disagreements and misunderstandings.
4. Never a Borrower or Lender BeDon't use any equipment or feed without permission. Likewise, mark all your equipment with your name so if something does go astray there's no question as to whom it belongs.
5. Clean Up After YourselfSweep alleys after grooming, clean up manure from arena and rings, put away trotting poles, barrels or jumps. Stow your equipment neatly so that no one trips over dangling reins or lead ropes. Leave lights on or off as you found them unless you are told otherwise. Make sure doors are opened or closed as instructed. Be sure you turn the water taps off and put away hoses or buckets when you're done with them. Try to leave the stable in the same condition or better when you leave.
6. Be Courteous to AllEveryone I know owns a horse to have fun with and to relax. There's nothing worse than having to deal with a know-it-all, someone else's bad mood or manners when you've come to enjoy your horse. You may not agree with the way someone rides or handles their horse. But as long as there is not obvious cruelty it isn't your place to comment. Offer help or advice only if it is asked for. If you feel there's a real problem speak to the barn owner/manager. Treat any stable help with courtesy and be sure to thank them if they provide extra help. Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.
7. Be Prepared to Provide Extra Care or Be Willing to Pay for ItIf your horse needs the attentions of a farrier, veterinarian or other equine practitioner be there (on time) yourself to handle your horse or be willing to pay someone else to do it. Don't assume that the stable owner/manager will automatically look after these things. How any extra care will be handled should be outlined in your boarding contract.
8. Don't Handle Other People's Horses without PermissionHandling other's horses or ponies includes moving them to another stall or paddock, removing or putting on blankets, grooming, feeding, petting or giving treats. There may be a good reason why a horse can't have treats, extra feed or isn't wearing a blanket even though yours is. Get permission from the stable/manager or horse owner before making any changes.
9. Don't Be a PestMost stable owners I know are busy people and don't have a lot of time to spend on the phone assuring their boarders that their horses are okay. There may be an occasional time when you might have to call with a question, but don't call every day, several times a day to get updates on your horse.
If the barn owner needs to call you however, make sure that you've provided your correct contact information and return calls promptly. Chances are if a stable owner or manager is trying to contact you it is about something important.