Oh how I hate barn shopping. I spent a day driving around looking at barns. Here's the four I looked at:
Barn 1: 35 minutes away from school. But that was the only downside to this barn. The owner was super nice and is actually an eventer herself. The arena is nice and big with dirt footing. It sounds like she keeps it up pretty nicely and rakes about once a week. The stalls are big, I didn't ask how big exactly but more than 12x12 I would think and have an open front so the horses can stick their heads out. A wash rack with hot water. A big empty tack room for boarders that locks. She has room for 5 boarders and has three right now, then four of her own horses. Limited room for trailer parking, but I don't think that'll be a problem. Several small paddocks and 2 fairly large pastures. They're going to add bark mulch around all the entrances to help manage the mud. It sounds like they have a lot of ongoing projects - they want to put in a round pen, fix up the fencing on one pasture, add a outdoor natural trail course and put footing in the outdoor arena which is just basically an empty pasture right now. On a quiet road, 20 minutes from some really nice trails and the barn often hauls out together. Feeds a timothy/orchard grass mix three times a day, even in the pasture to keep hay always in front of them. Club room with TV and fridge and food. The owner is super nice and I really liked her. Pretty cheap for full care at $250, stalls were well kept and horses had individual water buckets, not giant tubs which I prefer.
Barn 2: Also really nice, just over 15 minutes from school. Very clean and well kept barn. Medium sized arena. Turn out isn't that optimum since it's on a hill but at least there is some. Horses are meticulously cared for but board is overpriced and I could only afford partial care. I really don't want to have to clean her stall every day. Local grass hay is included and is weighed out for each horse. Hot water wash rack. Not a huge barn, maybe 15 stalls? Nice turnaround driveway with a small area for the trailer. Small summer outdoor arena with jumps set up 24/7. Not useable in the winter. Both of my barn buddies want to board there but I really don't because of the cost and because it's only partial care - $360 for that or $480 for full care. It's just not that fancy to justify the cost.
Barn 3: A QH racing barn, the owners are getting out of racing so they have a lot of open stalls of varying sizes. A large all-weather outdoor arena, no indoor. 27 minutes from school. They have three hot walkers and they'd train Jetta to walk on them. Some turnout in the winter. And they have a race track! They have jumps that you can set up on the track or in the arena and it'd be a great place to practice galloping. Downside is the distance from school and no covered arena. Sounds nice and low-key. You can get as much care as you want with of course varying prices though it's comparable to most places in the area. I kind of liked it, though I'm sure I'd hate the lack of covered arena...
Barn 4: Close to school, about 18 minutes. Lots of stalls scattered over the property, they run a lesson program as well so there's quite a few horses. One small pasture that they are going to divide in two. Really interesting parking, it'd be hard to get my trailer in and out. Stalls have runs for the most part. All the stalls I saw were very dirty and they use big water tubs, all of which looked gross. Very large arena but ground looks rock hard and I don't think they ever rake it. Immediately down the road is a huge trail system that I've ridden before and like. Full care with a run on the stall is $325. Feed orchard grass 2x daily. Heated tack room but pretty crowded. I really didn't like it.
So, I picked barn number 1. I might end up finding another barn, but I really liked this barn. It had a quiet and friendly atmosphere, the owner was so nice. The arena is nice and there's turnout. Horses seemed to be well cared for and the price was exactly right. I liked the hay they fed, it was nice quality. I liked the small size and the huge tack room. The only thing I didn't like was the drive so we'll see how long it lasts - either I'll get used to the drive or get sick of it. There are 2 more stalls available so I was hoping ML and ZS would come with but they sound pretty set on Barn 2, it's just not for me unfortunately. Move in set for the 20th!