What a wonderful situation to be in where you can get up each morning and venture down to the barn and greet your friends that greet you with a winney, or body language that says please hurry up because we are really, really hungry. Having your horses on the same property that you reside is a blessing. Not only is it convenient, but you won’t miss the endless moments of fun and humor horses bring to us.
So, if you feed them at eight o’clock, try not to make it any later than eight thirty. Afternoon feeding should be the same, and if you can even split the daily rations into a third feeding, even better yet. I understand that having at least one to three acres of land per horse is not always possible, but this is a recommendation for the better health of your horse.
If you have stalls to clean, clean them every day. This means not only taking out the manure but the urine. Horses like to lay down, some several times a day or several times in the evening. That is why it is important to keep sufficient bedding underneath of them. Also, the more bedding you use as a general rule, the cleaner your horse will stay. Barely covering the bottom of the stall really is not sufficient. Some horses urinate a lot so you need enough bedding to absorb this and make it comfortable for your animal.
As far as fencing goes, there is nothing wrong with good old fashion three or four board fencing. Many farms now use the No Climb fencing which is an interwoven mesh wire pattern that horses cannot put their feet through or under. Of course you need a top board to hold everything in place. When building paddocks, there should be at least six to eight feet in between each paddock. This way the horses cannot fuss at each other over the fence. Not only do they tear the fences down but risk injury that not only can be costly but can put them out of commission for riding, for long periods of time.
Make sure the distance in between paddocks is large enough to get grass cutting equipment into that area easily. Try to set up your paddocks in a logical way that makes easy access and easy to keep a watchful eye on them. If your property does not have a sufficient amount of trees for shade, remember to limit the amount of time horses must spend in the harsh sun, rain or severe cold. For example, horses in hot weather should be brought inside during the day out of the sun and turned out at night when it is cooler unless you have a severe bug problem. Cold weather horses should be out during the day where the sun can warm them and in at night.
As far as water, good old bath tubs with the fixings removed, large stainless steel fifty or one hundred gallon tubs are available or automatic waterers are available in many varieties. Remember having a constant amount of fresh clean water available for your horse is imperative. Water is a nutrient that they must replenish as needed. Dehydration can be deadly.
Next, it is a good thing to have a designated riding area where you can have a one on one session without interruption, unless you are just interested in trail riding. Also you may want to have a round pen for lunging your horse before schooling them as this can take the edge off of horses that have a high energy level.
Next, keeping your grass cut often is important as horses prefer shorter, more tender grass. Allowing the weeds to grow, and seed to spread, will only cause more weeds. Keeping them cut often will help eliminate most of them. At the same time, make sure not to cut the grass too short as it will burn and rob your horses of not only taste, but nutrients, not to mention that some horses will start picking over the burnt grass or not eat it at all. Taking soil samples and fertilizing each year will help keep your grass enriched with all the nutrients it can offer to your horse and may reduce your feed bill depending on how often and how hard you are riding your horse.
Remember, horses are herding animals that were born to be with other horses and their system was meant to consume food often. If it is possible, try not to keep just one horse on your property. This is a lonely life for them. Even if they do not seem to get along with the only other companion that they have, they would prefer that over being alone. You will understand this when you try to take one or the other horse out of the paddock which can sometimes be a problem, but we will talk about this at a later date.