Depending on what the owner and horse's needs, there are different types of boarding arrangements available. Here's a quick overview of the types of board offered at many boarding stables.
The full board will include all the necessities for the horse, plus a stall with the full turn-out. Full board does not require owners to visit their horses every day. For those who have a busy schedule and can afford to have someone else care for their horse full time, this is the best arrangement. The exact services offered will be outlined in your boarding contract.
Full board may include lessons, arena, and equipment use. There may be extra fees for specialized feeds or supplements, farrier and veterinarian calls and treatments, blanketing, and other extras. The boarding contract should outline all services provided and what will require extra payment. It's easy for horses to become neglected by owners who think they are paying top dollar for the best care. Even though the horse should be well cared for, it is wise to check on it frequently to be sure it is in good condition.
For those who part-board their horses, they will not be the horse's owner but will be paying a portion of the board in exchange for its use. This is an option for those who can't afford to buy and keep their own horse. Perhaps, this will require paying the owner of the horse or the stable owner. They will have access to the horse for certain times or a specific number of hours per week. Depending on the agreement with the owner, users may or may not bring their own equipment. They also may or may not be responsible for care such as farrier and veterinarian services. All the details should be outlined in a contract. The horse may also be used for lessons or competing. That will be specified in the contract.
For those who wish to offer their horse for part-board, expect to pay less for board, but give up time spent with the horse. Find someone who's trustful and whose riding and handling skills are similar to your own.
Pasture board can be very economical. The horse will live outdoors all year round with feed, water, and a run-in shelter. If the horse needs blanketing in cold weather there may be an extra charge for the owner/manager to take the blanket on or off depending on the weather. Horses may not get individual daily attention, but the stable staff will be keeping an eye on them. This can be a good situation for someone who rides occasionally, a horse who dislikes being stabled, or for some reason, such as COPD, should not be stabled for long periods of time.
With self-care board, the facilities will be provided, and the rest is up to the owner. The owner will have to bring in their own feed and bedding. Feeding, turn-out, and mucking out will be their responsibility. They will have to arrange for and be there when vets or farriers are needed. This situation can work well if a group of people can work together or for someone who lives very close to the stable. The downside is that, like having horses in the backyard, owners will have to make sure the horses are cared for every day. Self-care boarding tends to go very well if everyone is cooperative, or it can turn complicated. Contracts with exact expectations of what is required are the best protection for everyone, as is good communication.
Some stables may offer a reduced rate for those who offer to work mucking out or providing other services to the stable. Perhaps the horse can be used for lessons or trail rides. For those who make any agreements like these, make sure they are outlined in the boarding contract. For those who can't hold up their end of the agreement, be prepared to pay the full price for the board. Keep track of what work you do and when so that the stable owner/manager can be assured that they are receiving fair value for the reduced board.
Whatever the boarding arrangement, the horse's welfare is still the owner's responsibility. Don't assume that the horse can be ignored for long periods of time or that it is the stable owner's problem if the horse becomes sick or needs special attention. And always, pay the board bill on time. In some places, the proceedings to claim horses in lieu of board can take place if the board is as little as two weeks late.