Depending on what you and your horse need, 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 your horse plus a stall with the full turn-out. With the full board, you won't have to visit your horse every day. If you have a busy schedule and can afford to have someone else care for your 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. You may pay extra for specialized feeds or supplements, farrier and veterinarian calls and treatments, blanketing, and other extras. Your boarding contract should outline all services provided and what you will have to pay extra for. It's easy for horses to become neglected by owners who think they are paying top dollar for the best care. Even though your horse should be well cared for, it is wise to check on your horse frequently to be sure it is in good condition.
If you part-board a horse you will not own the horse but will be paying a portion of the board in exchange for its use. This is an option if you can't afford to buy and keep your own horse. You may be paying the owner of the horse or the stable owner. You'll probably have use of the horse for certain times or a specific number of hours per week. Depending on the agreement with the owner, you may or may not use your own equipment. You also may or may not be responsible for care such as farrier and veterinarian services. All the details should be outlined in a contract. You may also be able to use the horse for lessons or competing. That will be specified in your contract.
If you wish to offer your horse for part-board, expect to pay less for your board but give up time you will spend with your horse. You'll want to find someone you trust and whose riding and handling skills are similar to your own.
Pasture board can be very economical. Your horse will live outdoors all year round with feed, water, and a run-in shelter. If your horse needs blanketing in cold weather you may pay extra for the owner/manager to take the blanket on or off depending on the weather. Your horse may not get individual daily attention, but the stable staff will be keeping an eye on it. 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, you will be provided with the facilities and you will have to do the rest. You will have to bring in your own feed and bedding. Feeding, turn-out, and mucking out will be your responsibility. You 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 if you live very close to the stable. The downside is that, like having horses in your backyard, you will have to make sure they 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 you a reduced rate if you work mucking out or provide other services to the stable. Perhaps your horse can be used for lessons or trail rides. If you make any agreements like this, make sure they are outlined in the boarding contract. If you can't hold up your 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 your boarding arrangement, your horse's welfare is still your responsibility. Don't assume that you can ignore your horse 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 your 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.