Full care board

Hi there,

Being a horse person for all my life I’ve had one understanding of full-care board. I’ve recently encountered someone whose definition is clearly different than mine. So, I’m here to see what definition of full-care board a lot of different horse people have!
I should clarify In my mind full care board is: stall cleaning, blanket changes, turn in+turn out, and grain+hay included.
Thanks so much in advance :slight_smile:

Totally depends!

In one market, it means the horse gets fed twice a day, turned out, brought in, and stall cleaned once a day. The owner isn’t responsible for any mandatory daily care.

In another market, it means all of that, plus the horse is groomed daily, tacked up and untacked before/after every ride, all appointments are scheduled for you, blankets/wraps put on/off, etc.


In New England/NY, where I’ve been around:

Hay 3x/day, grain 2-3x/day, water buckets. Hay/grain provided and if you want something different you bring your own. Turn in and out with appropriate blankie changes, stall cleaning. Night check. If you ask nicely for them to do something quick for you (like UlcerGard the one night you can’t get to the barn) they’ll make accommodations. Maybe hold for vet and farrier, but I prefer to be there so not sure on that.

I’ve never been at a place where a groom would groom, tack up my horse, or exercise.


When I worked at a full care barn we did everything. Like the owner could never show up to do anything and it wouldn’t make any difference. All feed, meds, stall cleaning multiple x/day, turnout, boots, blankets, schedule and hold for care providers, basic med treatments, groom/tack, mane pulling and clipping, laundry, tack cleaning.


This is what full care means to me—I could go on vacation for a month and while my horse might not be ridden, I would come back to a trimmed/clipped show-ready horse. I am in this type of barn now, with a few small variations—no tack cleaning and horses are only tacked for lessons, not hacking. No extra charge for clipping, basic meds (SMZs, the occasional robaxin or whatever), laundry, mane pulls and show trims, and so on.


In general full board means the horses get hay and water, they get their stalls cleaned, and if the barn has turnout, they get turned in and out on a schedule. Usually they get some kind of feed or grain, but not always.

Beyond that, you need to look at your contract. The barn may have separate charges for blankets or holding for farrier, or just refuse to do so.

Obviously the more expensive and more prestigious the barn, the more you would expect. If you have your horse with a trainer then that Trainer might well take on some of these things.

I have never encountered full care board, but I would assume it should include everything you’d do as the owner including vaccination and farrier etc. It may be more common in some disciplines than in others.

Whatever my contract says it is!

At most of the farms where I’ve boarded, full care is daily wellness care: turn in and out, stall cleaning, grain twice daily, hay as agreed upon, rug changes. Grooming has been an add-on. Full training may include rides, tack up services, tack cleaning, etc.



I assume it varies based on discipline, as well as region. Grooming/tacking service as part of full care seems much more standard in hunter and barns than eventing barns, for example.

I would say the minimum to be considered full care would be stalls cleaned once per day, horse turned out and brought in, water cleaned and filled, hay and grain fed twice per day. Beyond that, there can be any number of other services also included, so it really does vary widely.


Any care = what is agreed in the contract both sides sign.

Full care to me is the complete horse care that I would do, to the standard I would do it, even if I’m not there. In fact, as I’m not a pro, to a higher standard because I would expect high professional standards at all times.

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Most barns I have been at differentiate between “full care” and “full service.”

Generally full care involved feeding, stall cleaning, turn-in/out (including boots, fly gear, etc.), blanket changes, medication administration, and holding for vet/farrier as needed.

Full service was generally the above with a tack-up/grooming service as well. Sometimes it also included clipping, mane pulling, etc. but many places also charge extra for that (especially clipping).


At my barn it is feed twice per day, deworming on our schedule and or as needed, turn out, stall cleaning wellness checks, and will hold for vet and farrier if on using my people. If using different vet or farrier I charge. We do not blanket. Meds at not charge if short term. Long term I would have to charge extra as that would be more time and work.

Full care is whatever the barn owner decides is full care. Full care is not what the boarder wishes was full care. If people understood this, it would eliminate 90% of boarding barn drama.


I agree that it totally depends on market. I grew up in the Westchester NY area, where full care board included unlimited free choice hay, grain 2x a day, stalls cleaned 2x a day, holding for vet/farrier, blankets on and off, turned-in/out. Bathing, hooves picked, fly spray, etc. The works. However, we paid a premium for that service and to have the luxury of not needing to worry about a thing when we left the barn. The horses received immaculate care catered to their every little need (or reasonable owner preference).

I now live in rural upstate NY. The cost of living (and keeping horses) is much lower, but the facilities available and the amenities provided are also very different. Current barn is an absolutely lovely facility, but the standard of care is quite different. Full care here includes free choice hay, stalls cleaned once a day, turn-in and out. Blankets on and off are an additional monthly fee. Owner is responsible for providing all grain and supplements, arranging vet/farrier appointments and being there to hold for them. If you want night check, you do it yourself. If your horse needs meds, you either do it yourself, pay a daily fee, or set it up so it can just be added to feed. It’s not unusual for a boarder to be asked to clean their horse’s stall to save the BM time doing chores. That said, the board fee is literally a quarter of what we paid in Westchester. So different cost = different services provided.

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This! Totally this!

I do not think there is a wrong or right answer other than it is what the contract says.

My experience is that in my area it typically includes feed/hay 2x per day, stall cleaned 1x per day, turn out and bring in.
Blanket changes might or might not be offered.
Fancier places include vet/farrier scheduling but that is not most places.

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I’ve boarded at 3 different barns in my city. Full care where I have been has been: stall cleaning, turn-out and turn-in at the 2 that had turn-out, hay (different at all 3 places), and the standard grain.
One had blanketing included. At the other 2 you can choose to pay for that by month. Two of them held horses for vet visits for no extra charge (regular ones at least - I’m not sure what would happen if there was something that required extra visits). One barn would administer dewormer if you brought it. The other two would charge for that.
It’s different everywhere but I honestly haven’t heard of a barn around here that groomed boarded horses or tacked horses up for lessons. Even lesson horses are tacked up by the student, not the barn.
Definitely read the contract and ask questions to see what is and isn’t included. Personally I don’t mind a blanket charge because there are lots of people that I board with that have horses they don’t clip and don’t blanket.

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I struggled through this in the past year. I think where boarders get confused on the term “full care” is those who have been in a full care competition barn - the expectations are worlds apart. In my case, I boarded at a competition barn for 9 years. There was the basic board, plus the cafeteria list of extras which you were required to spend so much each month. My horse’s needs were fully taken care of. I even went on vacation for a month with no worries. After deciding to step down since I wasn’t showing as much, went to a regular full care boarding facility and saved 1/3 on expenses each month. At the new barn, horses are fed 3x a day with supplements. The grain is the same brands, but the hay is of lesser quality. Turnout in the summer is all night and in the winter it is the indoor or outdoor arenas only. Pastures are basically comparable, the fencing at the competition barn was perfectly maintained. You can bring in your own instructor and there is a whiteboard to write the day/time of lessons. No holding of horses for vet/farrier. Outside of an injury that requires immediate attention or you are sick, you were expected to care for your horse or call the vet. Although the barn owner set up spring & fall shots, there is not a worming schedule, every boarder does their own thing. Blanketing doesn’t really happen at the barn, very different from the competition barn. If you texted the BM she gladly does it, but you are expected to take care of it. I often text barn employees and they handle it for me. One perk of being at a competition barn is fabulous footing and rings being dragged every day. At my current barn, the footing is just “good” and rings dragged a couple of times a week.

I think the other main differences are cleanliness and number of employees, both really go hand-in-hand. The barn where I board now is definitely not as neat and tidy in appearance and with only 2 employees it’s hard to get everything done in a timely manner. What I really like are the boarders, everything is laid back and I know everyone. There’s a master text list and people text everyone about going for a trail ride, saddle fitter, dentist, etc. I like it, but it took 6 months for me to get there.


Everyone has a different idea on the subject. If you happen to find a barn where enough hay is fed that you don’t have to buy additional to what they will feed, you are very lucky…


That’s what I’m finding! :sweat_smile: