Thinking of Taking on a Boarder at My Private Farm

My main reason is to get help when we go out of town. We have an indoor and lots of trails. The boarder would have a private field for turn out and a stall. They would pay for shavings, feed and their other associated personal horse expenses. Still trying to figure out what to charge to offset my expenses and how to make sure I get the right person.

I know I’ll need more insurance but what are some of the other things to thing about. I’m on the fence but would like a little more freedom to travel.

How many horses do you have? How often are you thinking you’d like to travel?

BTDT and in the end found it’s better to just pay for horse sitting. If you just have the one or two sometimes it’s cheaper to send them off for training for a month than weeks of house sitting.

If this is in your own home there are a few big considerations that are not typical of boarding barns. The biggest is your loss of privacy. How often do you want this boarder around? And how much privacy invasion can you tolerate?

Will you be able to freely come and go while this boarder is on your property? Is there parking for the boarder, is there a potential trailer space?

Will this be a riding boarder and what is your comfort level with them bringing other people to your home to see their horse? Do you care if they ride when no one is around in case of emergencies?

As much as I liked the idea in theory I found that personally it didn’t jive with my lifestyle. We had leasers and boarders over the years and one thing was consistent: even when they were people I genuinely liked, sometimes I just wanted to do chores in peace without interruption or having to stop to talk to someone about their ride, day, or new complaint.

If you do decide to go this route make sure to spell out in the contract your expectations about help while you’re gone. It’s very likely you need to set dates in the contract well in advance so your boarder can’t say “sorry I’m busy that week”. Keep in mind people travel and often go visit family for holidays and it may be harder to get your boarder to cover chores than you think. What happens if they are gone or don’t want to do it? And how would horsesitting offset their board?

Go in with clear expectations and a very thorough contract.

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There have been many posts on this same question, and overwhelmingly the responses have been that it’s not a good idea for most people. I did, for about a year, for my best horse riding friend, and it still ended with hurt feelings.

As the above poster said, there’s a loss of privacy that I hadn’t thought about until it happened. She brought her grandkids out to see her horse, a lot, and I’m a private person and it was uncomfortable. And her horse was destructive, which annoyed me, and when I asked her to chip in to repair the damage he’d done she was miffed. I finally hurt my elbow and had to hire a stall cleaner, thereby raising her board to cover 1/4 the cost (I was only charging her exactly what hay and shavings cost me for her one horse) and she moved out the same day.

I was so relieved. And we’re still friends, but she ended up moving to her own horse property and boards one horse there, and she complains about that boarder all the time. I just smile and agree with her that it’s inconvenient and sometime annoying to have someone have access to her property.

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Find a good sitter. I don’t think it’s worth it for boarders.

I deal with people all day at work and don’t want to deal with more at my place of relaxation.

Plus I’m a bit OCD about my stuff.

I do miss having someone to ride with though.

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In your situation, I would go for a farm sitter rather than a boarder. There is no way to guarantee this boarder will be available on the dates you need him/her. Even with a contract and dates set ahead of time, people get hurt, have emergencies, move out, etc. Then you have the same issue, plus possibly an extra horse to care for.

The loss of privacy is one I experienced from the other side, as a boarder who was offered a spot on a private farm. I didn’t solicit this offer and was very upfront about how often I ride/visit (nearly daily, but in and out, not a lingerer or a talker) and I believe the owner THOUGHT she would be okay with it, but about a month and a half in, she started to get annoyed that I was there. It was incredibly uncomfortable for me and I vowed to never again be someone’s first boarder, or to board somewhere where I would be the most frequent visitor.

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@Equisis I had a similar experience at a boarding barn as a half-leaser. Most people (including owners) didn’t come on their ride days. I did, and it upset the owner who wanted extra income but no disruption in her life. Which is totally fair, but it’s also fair when someone is leasing or boarding, they want to come!

I agree with the farm sitter. Perhaps a college student looking for extra income?

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Would you consider having someone work off board , so no payment other than covering feed/bedding, but they do chores somewhat regularly, so they have practice doing the chores and you know they are reliable, and then do extra work for payment when you go away.

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Are you happy to have a complete stranger wander through the house to your bathroom ?

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Adding another resounding NO.
I have my 5ac, 3 horses and 3 stalls & My Way of doing things.
To add another horse who may or may not meld with my very cordial Herd of 3 is reason enough.
Add another human personality & my Inner Curmudgeon bristles at the very idea.

I have a farmsitter who is part owner of my local feedstore & I had to insist he accept pay for feeding my horses (& chickens) when I’m away.
Another friend takes care of the 2 housecats.
That way I know they’ll be fed 2X daily & any NQR caught.
My vets (equine & small animal) are notified of who may call them when I’m gone.
These arrangments have allowed me to take annual vacations for the past 18yrs.
Anywhere from long weekends to a 10-day trip out of the country.

If my backup was a boarder I know it would worry me for the whole time away.
No matter how reliable normally, S**T Happens & that person may not have any backup of their own to call in.
Just.Don’t.

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If you are looking for a boarder to make is so you have to do less work, at least in my experience it is the opposite. I have a great sitter when I am out of town, I use the app Rover to find them and have had great luck. Everything at my ranch is set up to be pretty easy to maintain, you can turn the horses to and they have large feeders so, a weekend away means mostly watching the dogs and my sons Rabbits. and during the week I have a full time ranch worker that can maintain the ranch. That said never underestimate how much work adding a couple of horses that aren’t yours to your workload. I have full time help during the week and I am leaning towards adding a second person, just very cautious about adding extra expenses right now with all my costs skyrocketing.

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I’d turn back, Dorothy !

NO ! -

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It all depends on if you value your privacy? I don’t feel it is a bad idea at all if you can find the right kind of boarder.

One who won’t bring kids or dogs or loads of friends and family out to ride or see the horse, etc…

Just someone who comes out to ride and care for their horse regularly and does a good job and is dependable.

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View from the other side…
I did board with a friend for many years at a small private barn. Despite my diligent attention to the rules (she eventually got more boarders and the rules just kept coming). awareness of the need to observe her privacy, and strict responsibilness regarding daily cleaning of my own stall, all chores on the weekend and farm sitting as needed (in addition to my FT job), I ended up feeling unwelcome. IME, private barn owners aren’t professionals, nor do they want to be. They just want someone the pay the bills and stay away otherwise.

I’ve boarded in several places over the last 40-some years and worked in the industry for several years. I currently board at a full service barn and I would never go back to a private barn. Just too many problems. The full care isn’t perfect and there are some things I’d do differently. However, my horse is fat and happy and I don’t worry about him when I can’t be there.

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There are so many different views on this.
Most of the boarding barns I’ve boarded at have had the owner’s home on site, and I will echo one thought: it’s easy to get into a situation where you feel unwelcome even when you do try to respect the owner’s privacy. I boarded at a facility for many, many years and I don’t recall ever going into her lawn area or knocking on her door for any reason other than events I was invited to, however I did feel that my presence in the barn area was often an annoyance.
I would also say that the cost of horse sitting is difficult, as is finding people to do it. I most certainly am restricted in how often I can be away because the cost of having someone feed is so high. I can certainly understand the temptation to find the right person.

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I did this for years, but was VERY picky about the boarders I chose. Only one boarder at a time, most were retirees whose owners rarely/never came to see them, those were perfect. I did on a few occasions board a friend’s horse, but in each case the owners were adults, no kids, no pets brought to the barn, and nobody complained/interfered with my horse management. Sometimes they would ride with me - having a riding buddy was nice but I was used to riding alone so that wasn’t an issue. Some were helpful with barn chores, but I was doing it for the extra income, not barn help. If you’re mainly doing this to get barn help, i’d hire a horse sitter instead.

Oh and BTW if you do get a boarder use a WRITTEN CONTRACT. Even for friends - very important, to prevent future misunderstandings.

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I had a boarder at my place for several years and it worked out really well. It took us some time to find a balance and agree on how to do things, but then it was really nice to have someone to ride with on occasion and someone to brainstorm horse care challenges with. She eventually bought her own place. Sometimes I miss her but I also enjoy the privacy. I once did a board arrangement where I charged a base price and the boarder paid for her own grain and hay. Her horse was terribly underfed and I had to deal with having a starved horse on my farm. After that I switched to a board rate that allowed me to ensure the horses were cared for to my standard.

If I were to take on another boarder, I would make it clear to them that I am not here to cater to their preferences: I am giving them the opportunity to have their horse become part of my lifestyle - they don’t like the way I run the show, they can leave.

My advice is to try to find someone whose horse is low maintenance and whose personality is a good match with yours as this person will basically be hanging out in your backyard.

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I’ll go against the popular consensus and say in my case, it worked out beautifully.

I had a girl I knew (so not a total stranger) board with me for a couple of years. She had an easy going gelding, and I charged her only for feed and bedding, but she did all barn chores on the weekend too.

She stayed at our house and took care of all of our animals when we went out of town and I either paid for her feed/shavings those months, or if it was more than that I’d pay her on top of that.

It gave me someone to ride with and socialize with, gave me a much needed break from chores, and gave me the ability to travel more often.

I wouldn’t take in some random person, but if you choose carefully it can really be a good option. My barn is set up as a LLC and I have umbrella coverage, she signed liability wavers, and we made sure we had covered all bases necessary with my insurance agent…which is definitely important!

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While I lean towards no, I think that if you found the right fit, it could be okay or even more than okay. Be clear in your boundaries.

My MIL “boards” her two horses at my place and it is absolutely awful. I’ll be the first person to admit that I am ultra particular about things, but it’s my barn and I’m allowed to be. The woman displaces things, can’t wrap a hose to save her life, can’t put things back properly, leaves tack out, feeds her horses garbage, doesn’t address medical concerns, tries to tell me how much hay they can or cannot have. It’s terrible.

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i could never.

I can’t handle it if a gate is not chained EXACTLY the way i do it. Or if something is moved. I am also autistic, so there is that…lol. I pick up anything that is human-made off the ground, even if it’s the tiniest little bit of plastic. I’m ok with dirt, or manure or anything nature…but not human. I think that’s why my mustangs love me. lol.

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No. Nyet. Noopity poopity. Don’t do it.

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