barn rule guidelines

Barn rules!


  • Rules are necessary to bring order to chaos and to ensure a smooth-running operation. It’s necessary to avoid anarchy and revolution, and having a set of barn rules helps you do that. I’m not saying that having a barn is the small-scale equivalent of being the ultimate queen of the universe, although that would be my favorite official title (maybe).


  • Rules protect Barn Owners, Trainers, and Boarders from all sorts of ridiculous things. Ridiculous things like what happens if you need extra hay, is it OK to help yourself?


barn rules paperwork

Put barn rules on paper – so there’s no confusion.


Start here for making formal barn rules:


  • Hours of operation. Many barns are located on private property, with the trainer/barn owner/grooms/groundskeepers living on site. Do you want your home and land open to your clients every single day at all hours of the day? For hardworking Grooms, owners, and stable staff, the few hours of awake time between work and sleep is precious! Other public facilities have hours posted so that clients can be supervised while the staff is working, as no one lives on the property.


  • Parking. Sort of a similar reason as the one above, barns are often someone’s home and private land!


  • Helmet and clothing rules. Specify a helmet policy to include riding and lungeing, and age requirements (if applicable). Some barns leave it up to the rider if he/she is over the age of 18, other barns have a “no helmet, no riding” rule. I have seen rules regarding footwear and riding attire also to assure a safe and professional barn.


profile of grey horse wearing a halter


  • What paperwork needs to be signed before you can step foot onto the property? Waivers, boarding agreements, the rules list, medical instructions, etc. These rules are meant to protect the farm owners as much as they are meant to protect the boarders, too.


  • Dogs. Yes, no, maybe so? Leash or not? The same goes for children. While it’s great to have dogs, and kids, sometimes they can be very dangerous to have at the barn!


  • Emergency plans. These may be detailed on another addendum due to their length, but most barns have some sort of basic emergency plan in place. Do you have one for fire, tornado, hurricane, evacuation, colic, other Vet emergencies, Farrier emergencies, human medical emergencies?


  • Cleaning up!! You know the old saying about if you open it, close it, if you borrow it, return it, etc. Believe it or not, you may need to actually detail out cleaning up after yourself and your horse and his manure.


  • Interacting with other clients. This extends from borrowing other people’s things, to feeding other people’s horses (a big no-no), to rules on gossip.


  • Where you can and can’t ride, jump, lunge, graze, tack up, store your stuff, bathe, and groom. I’m always amazed that it’s necessary to write this stuff down. Until I see someone grazing their horse on the owner’s pristine lawn and allowing their horse to trim the rose bushes. Or trying to lunge in the arena during a lesson.


side reins and lunge line next to arena

Lungeing during a lesson? Better write down a rule for that!


  • Inhumane treatment of horses. I, unfortunately, have heard of barns that don’t regulate this. I have also known property owners and trainers that have needed to interfere with horses due to lack of proper exercise, Veterinary care, or Farrier work. Be clear of your expectations and outline the consequences.


  • Guidelines about who is responsible if someone’s horse, or dog, or child, damages itself or property. Statement of who is responsible for the horse’s items. Tack, equipment, etc. are typically covered by the horse owner and stored on the property at the horse owner’s own risk and responsibility.


  • Protocols about communication in the barn. How to notify the staff about changes in feeding, medications, Veterinary instructions, etc.


What other things have you seen regarding Barn Rules?