After years of owning a horse in a riding stable, you decide to keep your horses at home. Space, shelter, equipment, food, water, are available ... However, have you really thought of everything? Equirodi tries to show you the whole picture to help you understand what it entails.r.
Horse kept in the field
Ideally, a horse that lives outdoors needs companionship. Which means you need to consider a companion. For lack of another horse, maybe a pony, a sheep or a goat, even a donkey could share the space.
Are your fences properly designed? We must think "horse" in this perspective. This means that the priority is to secure the area dedicated to your animals. By anticipating in advance, you will limit the possibility of injury (ban barbed wire, tape that is too thin). It is necessary that the fences be visible to the horse: wide, and designed so that it does not leave room for evasion. Using electric fences is hardly an option. If your field is near a road, you must be extra vigilant. If no natural water point is available in the field, do you already have in mind how you will supply the horse with water? The water must be clean and always accessible.
Outside, the horse does not sleep under a shelter at night, it remains on the lookout for any possible predators (this is a survival instinct), however this does not prevent the need of a shelter. It can be used to put hay in during the winter, and will provide a refuge in case of harsh weather conditions. Be careful to secure the shelter and ensure that the soil is relatively clean and drained. If you are in a wet zone, it may be necessary to consider placing stones at the entrance / exit of the field. This place is often trampled by horses (while waiting for their feed, also the water is often located here). This can be done in order to limit excess mud, which could lead to possible mud rash and foot damage ... This alternative may be essential to save time and comfort.
Have you planned where you intend to store the roughage? In winter, the grass is not very nutritious, it is recommended to provide hay which is a natural supplement. If your horse is ridden while being kept in the field, it is important that the food in the form of grains, is stored in a dry place which is safe from rodents... Another crucial point: surveillance. Can you regularly watch (at least morning and evening) how your horse is getting on in the field?
You own one or more stables, the idea of maintaining the bedding of your horse yourself does not scare you. Do you however remember that when you have a stable you need a dung heap? Even in a very small yard, the manure storage area must be properly designated, and far enough away from the horses' living area. The rules associated with manure are very strict; out of respect for the environment. If you have a small place, it may be wise to find make an arrangement with a farmer or a gardener nearby. They will be able to reuse your manure and the arrangement can be very convenient.
If you are stabling your horse at home, you must think of having of one or more paddocks. Your horse will not stay 24/7 in his stable. The safety rules and qualities related to the paddock, will be the same as those mentioned for a field. Also note that you must have enough space to store your bedding and forage. If you house your horses at home, it is because you want to offer them a living environment and comfort that is unbeatable. Ideally a stable should not be less than 3mx3.5m. Do you have automatic drinking troughs? If this is not the case, like in a field, it will be necessary to ensure that the water is always accessible and clean. In any case, be prepared to maintain your horses stable daily, and feed him several times a day ... A stable must be naturally ventilated, to avoid your horse getting too overwhelmed by dust. Nevertheless, the stable should not have any drafts.
In theory, having a horse at home is less expensive than keeping it in a livery yard. Sometimes, when it comes to installing or reinstalling good fences, considering a soil drainage, investing in sufficient stocks of bedding, forage and food, renovating a stable, installing a shelter, etc ....: the price to pay can be quite high. It is, however, for the medium and long term. Then, any practical aspect will depend on how good you are at management ...
On the other hand
Have you thought about who will mind your horses the day you decide to go on a weekend or on holidays? Often in a stable / equestrian center, supervision and vigilance are included in the price of the board. You leave with a peace of mind and your horse stays in good hands. The visit of the farrier is also often organised in equestrian centers, do you know a farrier who can regularly come to pare and / or shoe your horse at home? Same goes for deworming and vaccines: keep in mind that this will be in your hands now. You should also remember to always have the veterinarians contact information who usually does the checkups on your horse, or a trusted practitioner willing to come to your home if you need them.
In other words
Independence and free will in decisions and organization are the key words when you welcome your horse home. It is often very pleasant, but it can happen that the liveliness of sharing with other owners and riders is missed... Make sure to weigh the ins and outs of this decision. The main thing is the well-being of your horse, the practical aspect and the desire to be even closer to your animal, while providing the best possible care! Be careful ... Even if you think that everything is ready, and that your horse will be able to arrive in his new home, the maintenance of the fences, the water troughs, the checking of the grounds, and the meticulous observation of your companion will be in your hands! Anticipation and scrupulous care will guide you.
We invite you to share your experience with us, many owners have reached their goal and ended up housing their horses at home ... Advice and suggestions are always welcome!