Are you looking for a competition barn? With lessons, coaching, trailering and support at shows?
Look at the overall picture. Do you feel comfortable leaving your horse in their care? Are you able to not be at the barn for periods of time and not worry? Does the barn feel like a "good fit". These are all very important questions you must ask yourself before you start to look for a place for your horse.
Once you have a few places in mind, start making appointments to view them. Always bring someone with you for a second opinion. Once you are at the locations, there are a few things you must check out before making a decision.
What is the feeding schedule? How many feedings do they do a day? What feed do they use? Ask to see their hay to check the quality. Are boarders free to feed extra hay if they feel their horse needs a bit extra from time to time? Or, do they keep hay locked up in a mysterious place only employees know about. That is not a good sign!
How is the water supplied in the barn and in the paddocks? Is it fresh, it is always available? What do they do to prevent freezing?
Where is the turnout, and how long do they get turned out. What hours are they turned out? Do they offer booting, fly masks and blanketing if neccessary?
What type of fencing do they use? Is it properly maintained?
Find out about arena time (if they have one). What happens when there are lessons? How often do they drag the ring (indoor/outdoor)? Check the footing, how does it look? Is it dusty, or lumpy? Is there a noticible track around the edge?
Look around the barn, how clean and tidy is it? Are there enough cross ties for a few people, or will you be forced to tack up in your stall? Is there room in the tack room for all your tack and trunks?
Ask what the barn hours are. Are there times when they do not allow boarders on the property like holidays or Sundays? When the quietest and busiest times? What type of people board/ride there?
It is a lot to ask, and think about, but these are all things to take into consideration. Some of these things might not be important to your situation, so weigh them accordingly. If you make sure you do a good check you can ensure your horses - and your own happiness.
I'm in the process of finding a new place for my guy, so I am doing this myself right now. Wish me luck!