5 Tips to Prepare Your Property for a Horse
Horses are beautiful mammals and have been domesticated for at least 5,000 years. Many people love them for several reasons. They are great therapy and are used for work and travel as well as pleasure and show. Some of the sports that horses are used for include:
- Show Jumping
- Horse polo
There are 5 types of horses, including Draft horses, which are tall, strong, and heavy. Then we have Light types, which are more diverse in weight, build, and color. They were bred for speed, agility, and endurance, as well as riding.
Gaited types are similar to light types in being bred for riding. They are meant for a smoother ride compared to a light-type horse. Warmblood horses are tall, strong, and athletic horses and are a combination of warm and cold blood. A pony is a type of horse that is quite a bit smaller and measures less than 5 feet in height.
Horse lovers often dream of owning their horse property, so whether you are looking at a property for just one horse or several, here are five tips to prepare your property for a horse.
The Right Space
The horses/horses need to have enough space on their new land that is called home. To determine the amount of space required for a Denver horse property will depend on the number of horses that are planned to be living there.
A barn that houses 6 horses with no arena will be roughly 50’ x 30’. This property would require at least three parking spots and a driveway with a good turnaround, as well as a spot to store manure. A barn to house 6 horses would want to be at least 1,500 with 4,500 square feet in size for the driveways and parking area.
The manure storage and turnaround would be roughly about 3,500 square feet in size. A barn will also require paddocks, and for 6 horses, you will want at least 2 of these, and they will be 261,360 square feet.
The property may be the home of 20 beautiful horses, and including an arena will require more space. This will require 30 acres of land. A property equipped with this many horses will need extra space for parking, a driveway, hay and manure storage, and more.
When thinking about the perfect location, the following criteria should be considered:
Have high ground:
It is essential to keep the land dry during rainy seasons to avoid excessive amounts of water getting inside the barn. Ensuring the ground is firm and solid for the building, as well as the driveway and paddocks.
Have a central location:
Owners of a horse property will want their barn located conveniently on the land. A centrally located barn will reduce unnecessary travel time between one area and the next. Whether moving hay, relocating equipment, or taking the horses out, having everything within a distance of the paddocks, sand wings, fire access, and more is essential.
Flat and level ground:
If a new horse property owner is building, having a flat and level ground is vital to a successful build. Having a flat ground means less prep work and more money saved. If mistakes are made, such as building on uneven ground, you will be looking at spending quite a bit of time and money moving soil to create an area that is level and well enough to build on.
When housing a fair number of horses, investing in one or more “sacrifice” paddocks should be considered. These will be the ones to take the damage to the horses' hooves when the ground is wet. When the horses only use the sacrifice paddocks when the ground is wet, it will keep the main paddocks in great shape all year round.
Having a good fence in the pasture is the first step in fencing. They should be about 54 to 60 inches above ground level. They ensure a proper height so the horses aren’t flipping over the fences in the pasture. A large horse or one entirely adapted to jumping may require a taller fence to prevent flipping and jumping.
Aside from having an excellent pasture room for the horses on the property, ensuring the field is fully fenced is crucial to keeping the horses safe and secure. This will not only help keep the horses in, but it will keep any predators from getting in.
When choosing the horse fencing for your property, it should be a solid barrier. This would prevent them from running into it or challenging it, having a fence that is constructed to avoid injuries if an accident were to ever happen to a horse.
More qualities property owners should look for when choosing a fence:
- Strong enough to withstand any impact from a horse that has collided with it or kicking
- A sturdy and durable fence that won’t get damaged by natural elements
- Free from hazards that would include sharp corners or barbed wire.
The most common forms of fencing for a field include posts and rail. This is a traditional fence material that has been used for hundreds of years and is a favorite for many horse owners. Post and rail provide an attractive and sturdy material with a solid barrier and are a safe choice along the field of any horse property.
Using two-by-six-inch wooden planks when constructing a post and rail is ideal. However, four-inch round rails that can be nailed or screwed into wooden parts are acceptable too. I think planks and rails shouldn’t be used because they won’t hold up and get weak over time. This type of fencing makes for a great and safe, robust perimeter fencing that is adjacent to roadways.
The cost to build and construct a post and rail is average; however, maintaining such fencing tends to be quite costly. Since this type of fencing has planks, posts can rot, requiring replacing to ensure the horses’ safety and keep them secure.
Another type of fence common among horse properties is a drystone wall. These make for a significant barrier that is solid and cannot be knocked down by the wind. In addition to being stable, it is an obvious barrier to the horses. Drystone walls are costly and take up a lot of time to not only construct but also maintain.
Other types of fencing:
- Vinyl post and rail, which is a newer option and also expensive. If a horse kicks a vinyl post and rail, the fencing will need to be replaced, and if severe weather hits, it could potentially inflict damage.
- Flexible, tensioned vinyl is made from multiple wires encased in vinyl form. This is also one of the safest forms of fencing for horses.
- The vinyl-coated wire is safer than plain wire, quick and easy to install, and requires almost no maintenance.
- Electric fencing, but it is essential to note never to use this type of fencing around or bordering riding arenas. The electric fence works by shocking the horses and teaches them to stay away from the area.
For more fencing options, you can call your local wholesale supplier.
Have a Good Water Supply
Horses can drink up to 10 gallons of water daily, so having a good water supply is imperative to keep horses happy and healthy throughout the day. However, the amount of water a horse will need varies depending on the factors.
Things such as air temperature, workload, type of feed, pregnancy or nursing, the size of the horse, and the health of the horse will determine the water needs. Water needs to be available to a horse at all times of the day; dehydration can be very deadly and cause colic and weight loss, among other things.
It is essential to supply the horses with their water correctly. Using a bucket or trough can lead to bacteria growth and viruses that can and will make a horse sick, so if deciding on taking this route to supply water, ensure it is clean every day. Some automatic waterers can be used in the stables, which can be convenient for horse owners; however, it is hard to measure their water intake this way.
If there is ever a chance the water supply will freeze, extra care should be given to ensure an adequate water supply. Pastures can sometimes have spring-fed ponds or streams, making them a natural source of water the horses can rely on.
Not only is making sure the horses have a non-stop water supply important, but keeping it fresh is another crucial step in supplying water. Troughs and automatic waterers used outside must be cleaned by regularly cleaning and refilling. Other things to look for when cleaning are insects, leaves, and other debris so they can be cleared out; make sure this is done daily
Using a bristle brush and vinegar, clean out any container that is used for water, followed by a good rinse. Watch for algae; in the summer, when the weather is hot and humid, the growth can be rapid.
Here is a cheat sheet for the average water consumption by weight.
- 900 lbs=4.5 gallons/day
- 1200 lbs=6 gallons/day
- 1500 lbs=8 gallons a day
Again, this is average and can range within a few gallons of a difference.
Hay and Other Food
Like any living thing, a horse needs an adequate amount of food to thrive. Almost everyone knows hay is the most popular food choice amongst horses, so building hay storage is essential; however, knowing where to make it is necessary. Hay is flammable, and the tiniest sparks can set it ablaze, so create away from the barn. Grass hay is highly nutritious and the best option for any horse.
Grain and pellets are also a good option, and they also help horses gain weight and muscle. Incorporating them into a horse's diet would be ideal. Horses love treats that include watermelon, apples, strawberries as well as bananas.
Hay being the primary food source, it is essential to know how much a horse will need. A horse will consume 1.5-2.5% of its body weight in hay and forage daily. If a horse is out to pasture for most of the day, it is safe to say they will most likely consume about one-third of their daily intake, and the remaining will be had in their stall.
While a horse is in their stall offering hay and other forage as much as possible to ensure they get their recommended daily intake. Once enough hay has been had; it is up to the owner to decide if they should give grain and other pebbles. Reasons for this could include raising energy levels, maintaining a healthy weight, and more.
Horses are socially dependent and will be happiest if they are not spending their time alone. Horses are naturally a herd of animals, and when they are alone, behaviors can start to happen that include wood chewing or stall pacing. Horses will take turns watching over one another while they are sleeping.
They also do activities such as mutual grooming and playing. They will stand together in the shade during warmer weather and use their tails to keep flies off of one another. Even when a horse is domesticated, they have the instinct that there are predators around every corner and don’t feel as safe without a herd.
Making sure horses have company will allow them to have shared responsibilities of herd life and benefit from social interaction and social behavior. They will be happy and have less of a chance of suffering from stress.
If, for whatever reason, there is only one horse on the property, bringing another animal to bond with can be just as good. Other animals found in a barn, such as goats or sheep, can make perfect companions for a horse. It isn’t uncommon for horses to become bonded with barn cats or a chicken as well.
Whether you are getting a horse for a companion or to work, following these tips will ensure a happy and healthy life for your horse/horse.
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