I visited two more facilities today and I have a third lined up for tomorrow (unless they can squeeze me in this afternoon--maybe I should call and ask). My boarding list is starting to look quite impressive. I have a spreadsheet with about 40 different categories of things I must have, things I want, things I'm indifferent about, and things I will not have. There is also an 'other' section for logistical comparisons.
Today I visited boarding facility #s 3 and 4.
We'll talk about 3 first. I found out about it on the internet through a very out-of-date website. Also, I apparently have a friend who boards her western pleasure type horse there. All I knew was that they had an indoor. And stalls. I should probably put stalls in my 'indifferent' category.
I was pleasantly surprised when I first drove up. There is a massive indoor that is new and in good shape. There is also a house. There is not much else. I met the owner, who seemed very nice and talkative. She showed me around. It's in the desert (normal for this area). There is "pasture" but it's not irrigated. They have a mare pasture and a gelding pasture. The mares don't have a run-in yet, and honestly, I'm not wild about turning my girl out with a bunch of mares she doesn't know and saying, "go for it". I know it's standard practice in this area, but I don't like it. There are stalls lining the indoor arena (which is pretty huge). The stalls are 12 x 12 with attached 12 x 12 runs. They are in the process of building tack lockers in the runs so owner have direct access to their stuff.
They are in the process of doing a lot of things, which I find mildly unsettling. It is a newer facility--they've been there only two years after moving from a different location, and admittedly, building that entire indoor from the ground up is pretty impressive, but I'm leery of things that are always being worked on because that's where I'm at now. Maybe these people build a lot faster than what I'm used to (they could hardly be slower), but I don't know them well enough to say.
They don't really have jumps. I can bring my own, but the one set of standard they do have is pretty busted up because the barrel racers just throw the standards over the outdoor arena fence apparently. Throw. Like tossing. --> This is not my impressed face. <-- Feeding twice a day, cleaning once a day... not a busy place despite the 40 stalls. There are more people coming in since the barn is only half full, so I don't know how current conditions compare to what is coming.
Turnout is available. They charge $1.50 to turn out. It's in the outdoor arena or a dry lot about the size of a small dressage arena. They try to leave the horses out for as long as possible, but riders have precedence, so theoretically, I could be paying for turnout and Izzy would only be getting like 10 minutes a day. I'm not sure that's better than what I have now. It's basically the same setup, only I have to turn her out and I don't have to pay extra.
I'm not sure what to think. The indoor is nice and tempting for the fast-approaching winter, but I'm not thrilled with their current set up and I don't want to sign a boarding contract for proposed future changes. You know? I'll keep it in mind, but it's not the top of the list. (Board in a stall with a contract is $200/month. If I have Izzy turned out 4x a week, I'm looking at about $224. Very reasonable.)
Boarding facility #4
This is a much smaller place. It's also a more expensive place. They have covered pens, pens with three sided run-ins, and a 4 stall barn with runs. I believe the board rates run $225, $250, and $300, respectively. Frankly, the basic package at this place was all I'd want. I have little use for a stall. (Although they are kind of cool. Don't know why.)
The owner was very upfront and honest. She said she might have one opening starting in October (which makes me more comfortable than a half-empty barn. Obviously, clients stay here.) She showed me her hay, which she feeds twice a day in summer and three times in winter. It's fabulous. Feeding and once daily stall cleaning is included in the board. The horses all looked happy, well-fed, and friendly (and they're mostly Arabians!! I have a leftover girlhood permacrush on Arabians.)
There is a nice, large outdoor arena complete with a set up of well maintained jumps. Apparently, the onsite trainer sets a jump course once a week to use, but it looks like they're taken down after that (since I don't think the arabs jump a lot.) I know the trainer, and would enjoy taking some lessons from her. There is not trail access from the facility, but they are close to several trail heads and the boarders do get together and go fairly frequently.
As for turnout, THEY HAVE IT!! Just like I want, even. Most places around here offer "pasture board" which involves turning a bunch of horses out in a hopefully-large-enough field and hoping nothing goes too seriously wrong. I don't like that method. This place has individual runs and covers for each horse, then a big (irrigated) pasture that everyone gets turned out in (in groups that get along). I like it.
Cross your fingers for me on this one. It's promising.