I think I've narrowed my barn search down to two barns. I haven't visited barn #2 yet, but will visit it tomorrow. Here's the skinny on my top two picks.
Pick # 1
Close to my house. REALLY close to my house. Five minute drive maximum. The back of their property connects to a popular trail system that goes right by my house. I could (in another universe where I have balls and/or a quieter horse) ride my horse from my barn to my house and back. It's really only about 2 miles away.
I met some of the people there and they seem nice. You can bring in your own trainer.
They have great lighting on their outdoor arena and round pens.
Two round pens, one outdoor arena, one indoor arena. Trails around the property and easy access to more trails (though you have to go through traffic).
Horses live in outdoor shelter/pens next to each other and get turned out most days with a buddy or two in large pastures. I say most days because for the last two days we have had a DELUGE of rain and the pastures were flooded. It's been unusually damp though.
Both the arenas have very deep sand footing. The indoor is a converted dairy barn so it's very narrow.
No hot water wash rack.
The people who feed and clean stalls and do turnout do not have a clue about horses.
Final feeding is at 4pm and no night check on the horses.
Pick #2 (the one I haven't seen in person yet.)
All day pasture turnout in a group. Horses get fed their morning hay out in the pasture. Not sure yet if this is a pro or a con since I haven't seen how they do that.
Indoor, outdoor and trails on property.
Was told most folks there have a background in Natural Horsemanship but do multiple disciplines.
30 minutes away
Only two feedings and the final one is at 4pm. No night checkup.
The people with a background in NH could be the kind of people that are a bit wonky about it. The ladies who like to talk about their horses personality as a way of excusing their horses poor behavior.
So - Barn #1 is not awesome yet. BUT there's lots of room for improvement and they seem to be willing to do it. The owner is a hedge fund investor and this boarding barn project is just a side thing for fun. He plans on eventually ripping down the old dairy barn and building a full size dressage arena with wash racks, grooming stalls etc. But until then, it's pretty rustic.
Barn #2 sounds nice but 30 minutes farther away. I have a feeling they might be more horse savvy than barn #1 though. Which could be critical if something goes wrong....
Sorry I don't have pictures. Barn #1 can be found here, but keep in mind they are not showing the whole property and the wonky bits (like where you tack up and that sort of thing). You can, however, see the deep footing. Barn #2 only has a Facebook page here.