Saturday, April 18, 2020


With my current decision to move I didn't have to think that long to decide which barn I would move to if I could. The barn I'm moving to is one that I've been at before and as soon as I saw their response to COVID I started thinking about what moving might look like. That was back at the very beginning of April and while it still took me about three weeks to get to this point, I didn't shop around for other barns.

However, seeing Viva Carlos' post about barns and barn prices actually surprised me a bit as far as how similar our prices are in MN to those in CA. My budget is around $600 max per month and I've been paying between $375-$570 for the past few years. With lessons I was paying as high as $760 per month at one point. With that being said, we have multiple places over $1000 and at least a couple of places around $2000

For that my list of must haves is:

  • No pasture - laminitis stuff with Katai and our pastures around here are SUPER rich. Plus, most barns won't deal with grazing muzzles unfortunately.
  • Heated barn
  • Trailer parking - because this IS happening sooner or later and I'd rather not need to move in order to park a trailer
  • Daily supplement feeding - your girl seriously needs her magnesium
  • Within budget
  • Daily turnout of at least 8 hours
  • Indoor arena
  • Outdoor arena - no longer a nice to have since I need to get Katai acclimated to riding outside
  • access to other outdoor riding space - even if it's a small trail around the pastures
  • Good footing in the arenas
  • No road riding to get to trails - it's just too easy for something to go wrong and my anxiety won't deal with it. If it's a quiet gravel road I'd consider but nothing fast and paved
  • Ample barn hours
  • Within a 40 minute drive
  • Uses my favorite vet
Nice to haves:
  • Access to some sort of lessons on site
  • Great barn community, even better if I could show with a group of other riders
  • Heated arena
  • Have regular visits by someone that does body work, a saddle fitter, etc.
  • Ability to use my tack locker
  • Horses are led in and out - this wouldn't be optional except Katai is sensible and slowly walks in like a lady
  • More than 8 hours of turnout
  • Indoor wash stall, solarium, other nice grooming amenities
With that, let's get into the list! This is a random list of barns that I'm aware of and have considered. These are either primarily dressage or eventing for the most part although at least one or two of these have more western riders than english. 

Barn #1

  • Pros: 
    • Dressage focused barn
    • On site trainer
    • Nicely heated grooming space with easy access to a wash stall
    • Fantastic footing
    • Nicely priced
    • Active, showing, dressage barn community
  • Cons
    • I wouldn't ever ride with this trainer again
    • Only pasture turn out and no supplement feeding
    • Outside of my ideal drive distance
Price: $500

Barn #2 (wait list barn)

  • Pros:
    • Onsite gold medalist dressage instructor
    • Huge indoor arena with fantastic footing
    • Fantastic barn community
    • Tons of outdoor riding spaces including a pond
    • Active, showing, dressage community
  • Cons:
    • Right at the top of my current budget for stall board
    • I've been on the waitlist for over a year with no movement (both a pro and a con really since no one wants to leave)
Price: $610-$750

Barn #3

  • Pros:
    • Nice indoor footing
    • Everything is under one roof and is well heated
    • Great, active boarders, mainly dressage
    • Lots of access to onsite trainers
  • Cons:
    • The outdoor arena footing is terrifying and is plagued with horse flies during the summer
    • No trainer I'd want to work with
    • It's in the process of changing hands barn manager wise
    • No real outdoor riding spaces
Price: $600

Barn #4

It doesn't really show the facility, but how could I not post this arena picture
  • Pros:
    • Dressage focused facility with onsite trainer
    • Fantastic footing
    • Gorgeous facilities
    • Active, showing, dressage community
    • They even do stuff like yoga at the barn
    • Top trainers in for clinics
  • Cons:
    • Out of my budget, clearly
    • Requires full training
    • Not sure we'd fit in
Price: $1200+ with full training

Barn #5

Yes, those are Moshy ears. This place also holds a summer
show series including the show that I took Moshy to a couple of years ago.
  • Pros:
    • Clearly this place is gorgeous
    • Great footing
    • The, or one of the, largest indoor arenas in our area
    • I think this is the closest barn to our house at just over 20 minutes away
    • Access to onsite dressage instruction
  • Cons:
    • Clearly out of my budget
    • I'm not sure if I'd want to train with the resident dressage trainer
    • Not much turnout, maybe half day?
    • Not sure that we'd fit in
Price: $1200+ (a lot more) with full training. I'm not certain if they require full training or not. You also must purchase a very premium tack trunk so that they all match.

Barn #6 (Current Barn)

  • Pros:
    • Easy drive from home
    • Major shopping center just across the road for easy errand runs
    • Nicely heated barn and connected arena
    • Wonderful barn community
    • Tons of turnout with almost no stall time other than feeding time during the summer
    • Indoor wash stall
    • Huge park with horse trails just across the road
  • Cons:
    • Pasture turnout
    • Deep and slippery arena footing
    • Very busy small arena
    • Not very peaceful since directly across the road is a shooting range
    • Lack of communication during COVID stuff
    • You have to cross a fast, busy road to get to the trails
    • Barn hours of 10am-9pm mean that some days it's tough to get to the barn unless I plan carefully
    • Can't use the indoor wash stall except for small things since it doesn't drain well
    • Outdoor wash washstall doesn't have heated water
Price: $500-$570

Barn #7 (Where I'm moving)

  • Pros:
    • Three outdoor riding arenas with an outdoor dressage arena going in this year
    • A sand gallop track that can be used for trail riding plus just lots of space to ride around the property
    • Access to additional trails
    • My favorite vet and massage person go here and they have a saddle fitter in regularly 
    • Active barn community with lots of eventers and at least some dressage focused riders
    • Access to onsite trainers
    • Two indoor arenas, one small heated and a larger unheated
    • Good footing. It was good when I was there before, recently they've began the process redoing all their footing and adding some fiber footing to all the arenas. It was in process when I toured but I'm guessing they will be finished with that process by the time I move in.
    • Barn has been in business since 1977 with the same owners/managers so lots of stability
    • Solarium and fancy grooming area
    • I can use my own tack locker
  • Cons:
    • With ala carte boarding options I'd be over budget if I chose everything I wanted
    • Very busy barn with lots of kids and group lessons
    • The paddocks are small
    • No indoor wash stall
    • No dressage focused trainers on site
Price: $475-$710 

Barn #8

No real facility photos so here is the arena
  • Pros:
    • Dressage focused facility
    • Great footing
    • Large stalls
    • Heated arena
    • Onsite dressage instruction
    • Fairly close to our house
  • Cons: 
    • Must be in full training
    • Over my budget
Price: $935-$1,150

Barn #9

Yes, this is an actual picture of the facility and not something I pulled off Pintrest lol
  • Pros:
    • Clearly a gorgeous facility
    • Dressage focused
    • Multiple dressage instructors
    • Premium horse care
    • FANTASTIC footing. I've actually been told to attend a schooling show there just to experience their footing lol
    • Massive indoor
    • Clearly it's fully heated
    • Onsite laundry
    • They feed three times per day and do night checks for all their horses every night 
    • They have packages that include up to a number of sessions (either trainer rides or lessons) that's flexible enough to be palatable to me.
    • Who wouldn't want to board someplace like this, I mean seriously?
    • Stalls are cleaned multiple times per day and are all 12x14
  • Cons:
    • Well, clearly it's out of my budget
    • Not sure if I can think of any other cons
Price: all of it, everything and your soul. 

Just kidding, it's actually a fairly reasonable $1600-$2000 per month. For $1,600 per month (and let's face it that's still exceptionally expensive and around 3x what I'm paying now) you get up to 10 training sessions per month plus access to all the boarding amenities. For the premium $2000 per month package it includes full grooming (not sure I'd want that) but also has things like braiding for shows, body clipping, up to 20 training sessions per month (that's 5 times per week 0-0) and hand walking. If I were ever to aspire to board someplace over my budget it would be this barn. 

Just because, a few more pictures of that facility.

and then, to close out the post, a few more pictures of the facility I'm moving into.
On site cross country course

From their trail class schooling day

One of the outdoor arenas

The smallest outdoor arena

Dom Schramm teaches at this facility a few times a year. This was from one of the recent clinics.



With my current decision to move I didn't have to think that long to decide which barn I would move to if I could. The barn I'm movi...