Times can be tough. And horse boarding can be costly. But you love your horse. How can you cover your beloved horse’s monthly board, if you cannot come up with the cash?
Actually, several possibilities exist. Not all of these options will apply or fit your particular situation, but here are some choices that may be worth considering. These tips may also be helpful to those with multiple horses or those who must step away from riding for any number of reasons. Personally, I have exercised more than half of these options during my horse-owning years.
10 options to consider, if you can't pay your horse's board
- Work off your horse’s board. This is one of the most commonly offered opportunities for boarders who need to cut monthly costs. Boarding barn owners frequently need additional help with daily stall cleaning, feeding, turnout, hay stacking, and other chores. Labor can be credited towards board.
- Barter for board. What professional skills do you have that might benefit your boarding barn? Can you offer to help market horses? Teach riding lessons? Build tack lockers, pasture shelters, or hay barns? Create and run the barn’s website? Handle social networking? Maybe the barn owner will consider an exchange for board.
- Offer the horse for professional riding lessons. Are there any equestrian trainers in your boarding barn? Do they have a riding academy or schooling program or summer camps? If you have a trusty and safe mount, you might be able to let them use your equine for lessons, in exchange for full or partial board.
- Shareboard / lease the horse. Can you find someone who’d love to own a horse, but is not currently in a position to purchase one outright? Perhaps someone would pick up part or all of the horse’s board, in exchange for an agreed-upon number of rides per week. Pick an on-site or off-site option. Trainers, barn owners, and online horse groups are good starting points for identifying possible people. Legal ramifications may vary by state, and it’s important to clear this option with barn owners first.
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- Choose a lesser board option. Plenty of boarding facilities have multi-leveled board fee structures, depending upon accommodations and services chosen. It may be possible to reduce your monthly board by moving to a smaller stall or a more remote barn on-site. Also, if your current board agreement includes full services (such as grooming, tack cleaning, or other valet-type services), those may be trimmed to cut costs.
- Consider pasture board for your horse. Depending upon your horse’s individual needs and the setup at your boarding barn, outdoor (or rough) board may be worth considering. This is generally significantly less expensive as stall board, as it requires less labor and materials (such as stall bedding).
- Find a cheaper barn. Often, you get what you pay for. But it is possible to find good horse care in an adequate facility at affordable prices. You may have to travel a bit farther, depending upon where you look.
- Retire the horse. Putting a horse out to pasture, particularly if that horse is no longer sound for work, can be a loving choice. Generally speaking, equine retirement facilities charge considerably less for monthly board than active barns. If you’re lucky, you might even find a spot for your horse to become a free- or cheap-boarded pasture pal for a friend who keeps horses at home.
- Sell the horse. This is perhaps the most difficult option. It’s hard to part with a horse you love. Maybe you raised him from birth. Perhaps you have poured years of care and effort and time and training into her. But sometimes a sale to a solid situation is the best option.
- Donate the horse. Selling a less-than-sound horse outright is a tall order. However, some equine therapy and horse education organizations will accept horse donations. If your horse is gentle, well-trained, and reasonably rideable, this might be an option. In most cases, you could receive a receipt for tax purposes.
All of these possibilities can lead to reduced horse boarding costs, if you are able to research and select suitable options. The primary goal, of course, is to construct a scenario that fosters the horse’s well-being without going beyond the boundaries of what you can sustain financially.
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