If you have a pet horse or pony, the chances are that you will need to find somewhere for them to live, as most people don’t have access to their own suitable horse lodgings. There are two main ways of keeping your horses – through agistment or stabling.
What is Agistment and Stabling?
Agistment can be defined as the taking in and keeping of horses for an agreed amount of time for a fee. Stabling is also defined as the keeping of horses at specified premises with an undercover area (stall) where the horse is kept.
If you are using agistment or stabling there are some options available to you. For example, when it comes to agistment you may be able to have a private paddock for your horse or your horse may share a paddock. Agistment properties will always ensure that your horse has plenty of access to fresh water and shaded areas so that they can get out of the sun. Paddocks and other outdoor areas should always be well fenced with horse safe fencing. They should also ensure that your horse is regularly exercised, and that you or a vet is alerted if veterinary care is required. For you, as the person keeping the horse on the property, there should be a toilet and bathroom for you to use, as well as a place to keep your tack and horse feed. Agistment properties will generally have other services that you can use such as indoor arenas, training courses, round yards, outdoor ménages, tack rooms, jumping areas, undercover areas to saddle your horses, horse washes and more.
If you are stabling your horse, you can be assured that your horse is being kept safely undercover and that it has its own stable. Stable owners are aware that the horses that live there need to be regularly exercised as horses are not meant to remain in one area for long periods of time. Exercise will come in the form of staff leading or riding the horse, or allowing it access to a field or paddock for a period of time during the day. Stables will ensure that your horses are fed regularly and that they always have access to clean, fresh water. The stables will also be cleaned (“mucked out”) daily.
If you are opting to keep your horse on an agistment property, you will need to find out if your horse will have their own private paddock or stable, or if they will be sharing it with other horses. If sharing, it should only be with one other horse. As there is more than one horse at stabling or agistment facilities, it is vital that your horse is vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease and most places will insist that this is done before your horse reaches the premises.
Find out what facilities your agistment or stabling has. As well as accommodation for your horse, look for facilities that you will use. For example, if you are a general rider, look for a place that has good riding trails. If you use your horse for dressage, jumping or something else, look for a facility that has an all weather arena or indoor yards so you can ride the horse no matter what the weather. Also look at the standard of care. Ask how often your horses will be fed and if they will provide the food as part of the fee or if you have to supply the feed yourself. Also find out if worming is included or if this is extra. If your horse is stabled, the stable should be mucked out daily. They will also need extremely regular exercise so that they do not become bored. Stabled horses need to be exercised daily at a minimum, either by riding or by gaining access to a field or paddock.
You should be happy with the fees that the agistment or stables charge. These fees should cover all the costs of keeping the horses (food, water, a tack cupboard etc). If something is not included, this should be made clear to you upfront. Find out if the fees will be charged weekly, monthly or quarterly, and if they will provide a discount for paying your fees a significant amount in advance. Also find out what happens if you fall behind on the agistment fees. In some cases, the contract will allow the owner of the property to place a lien on your horse in order to recoup their money.