Preparing Your Property For a Horse? Discover 4 Home Upgrades You Need
Some people board their horses. Others often leave them with their trainer. While there's nothing wrong with either preference, nothing beats keeping a horse on your property. It means seeing your equine friend whenever you peep out the window, creating more bonding opportunities, encouraging you to be physically active, and saving a ton of money in boarding costs. But just because you have a spacious horse property doesn't mean it's equine-ready. Keep reading to learn how to prepare a horse property for horses.
Construct a Stable or Run-in Shed
Like you, horses also need shelter from the rain, wind, and inclement weather. They also need round-the-clock access to a safe, dry, comfortable haven to rest. That is why every equine-lover looking to keep a horse on their property needs to set up shelter before buying a horse.
While there are plenty of options, most horse owners choose between run-in sheds and stables as the most popular. A run-in shed is typically a small, three-sided building with free-choice access, meaning the horse chooses when to stay in the shelter. As a result, it gets enough exercise since it's free to run around at all times. It also means minimal equine maintenance since a run-in shed doesn't need to be cleaned as often, plus there's a reduced risk of a fire.
Run-in-sheds are also relatively easy to construct, and horse-owners can even purchase ready kits that only require minimal assembling. If you choose to design a run-in shed from scratch, ensure it has a large front opening so all horses can easily access the lot. Use suitable materials, ensure proper ventilation, and, most importantly, make sure it has a comfortable, solid footing.
If your lot is short on space or a stable is simply a more attractive idea, a stable is an excellent alternative. Stables offer complete shelter from the weather elements, facilitate seamless horse grooming and care, and make it easy to track food consumption. A horse stable also enables owners to separate horses easily if they don't get along.
Prepare a Water Supply Area
An equine deprived of feed can technically survive up to 25 days, but one lacking water can only last six. This is because water is essential to all metabolic and even physiological processes in a horse, including digestion, joint lubrication, and muscle contractions, to mention just a few. Horses thrive on proper hydration, and lack thereof increases the risk of serious ailments such as colic.
So, before you excitedly bring your equine-friend home, ensure you have a reliable water supply source. It should have plenty of water, as an average horse takes about 5 to 10 water gallons daily, and this may increase up to 18 to 24 gallons depending on its work, size, feed type, type of training, or the air temperature of the area. When it's cold, for instance, a horse's water intake decreases, which may hurt its health. So, beyond providing a reliable water supply, owners looking to keep their horse on their property should find ways to keep the water warm, such as using heated water buckets, automatic watering units, and electric or propane stock tank heaters.
Choose the Right Fence for the Pasture
Like shelter and water, quality fencing is non-negotiable when keeping an equine on your property. Because they're strong, fast, and tend to fight if caught in a fence, horses require not just strong but also highly visible fencing to keep them safe and contained. If they can see the fence, the horse is less likely to run into it on accident.
Generally, fencing built to contain a horse should be at least five feet tall for light breeds and at least 6 feet for taller, stronger horses that can easily jump shorter fences. It should also have enough spacing between posts, and if possible, install a single electric wire to discourage horses from leaning on or scratching the fence.
As for the material, your options run wide and include wooden board fences, pipe, wire, PVC, electric, and more. Each has its unique perks and disadvantages. For instance, while highly visible, wooden fences are often susceptible to weather and horse teeth damage, while V-mesh wire fencing is incredibly safe but costly. Electric horse fences are easy to install and will physically deter the horse from coming close, but the majority feature parallel conducting wires which tend to break easily. Review available fencing options to determine if they fit your horse.
Evaluate Grazing Needs and Prepare Food Storage
If you plan on letting your horse forage through the pasture, quality grazing land is of the essence. Usually, how much land a horse needs varies depending on its breed and the condition of the forage. Large and hot-blooded breeds often require large and nutrient-rich feeds. That means if your equine friend falls in this category, you need more grazing land with nutritious ground cover to sustain it.
The amount of land required also depends on the number of horses one owns and the management and care they need. For instance, horses raised in a breeding program often require more extensive care than tamed wild mustangs that can generally fend for themselves. The location matters as well, but generally, an average horse needs at least two acres of well-maintained pasture to thrive. Also, note that while a horse grazing on quality pasture won't need much hay, it's a good idea to supplement pasture grazing with other feeds such as hay or legumes. They often contain roughage and other nutrients not available in the forage. Always store hay and other forms of horse feed in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated environment to preserve the nutrient content and prevent contamination.
Keeping a Horse on Your Property
Even though keeping a horse on your property comes with pretty excellent perks, that doesn't mean you can do it blindly. For the comfort and wellbeing of your equine friend, ensure you create proper shelter and properly fence your land to keep it safely contained and have a reliable water source, as horses can take quite a lot of water. Evaluate the pasture quality, and incorporate supplements in your horse's diet for the best results. When you have a good idea of what needs to be done to prepare a property for horses, finding the perfect home in a neighborhood with horse-friendly zoning becomes much more straightforward.