Depending on an owner's 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.
Full board will include all the necessities for the horse, plus a stall with full turn out to pasture. Full board does not require owners to visit their horses every day; instead, staff at the barn clean the stall, feed the horse, and bring him in/out of the pasture. For those who have a busy schedule and can afford to have someone else care for their horse full time, this can be an ideal arrangement.
Full board may also include lessons, access to special riding areas such as an arena, and equipment use. There may be extra fees for specialized feeds or supplements, farrier and veterinarian calls and treatments, blanketing, or others. The boarding contract should outline all services provided and what will require extra payment.
Partial boarding is another option. In this situation, you share the use of your horse with another person in exchange for cheaper boarding costs. For example, if full board is $600/month, part-board may be $300/month but someone else gets to ride the horse three times a week, or use him for lessons, etc. Depending on the contract agreements, another user may or may not bring his own equipment, etc. 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.
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 health reasons, such as recurrent airway disease (RAO), a chronic allergic condition commonly known as heaves.
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 the owner's 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.
Some stables may offer a reduced rate for those who offer to work mucking out or provide other services for 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.