View Full Version : As a boarder, how did you learn enough to bring your horses home?

Nov. 18, 2009, 10:01 PM
I have been a boarder/horse owner for almost 4 years now. I read a lot, read this forum A LOT:D and tend to be very hands on with my horses.
My dream is to own a farmette and do it my way and not have to constantly wish the boarding conditions were better. I feel that I KNOW the ways to make it better.

For those of you who graduated from boarding to having them at home, did you feel confident enough to handle emergencies/illnesses/injuries without the presence of a BO or fellow boarders? Did this aspect of the transition make you nervous? If so, what did you do to improve your confidence?

Nov. 18, 2009, 10:10 PM
The school of hard knocks.. Call on my good friends and vet a lot in the begining.


Nov. 18, 2009, 10:51 PM
I was fortunate that my foray into bringing horses home went easily simply due to the fact that I had 2 very easy keepers to start with. I'd actually had horses here for over 7 years before I ever had my first 'emergency' vet call.

We've had our place 11 years now, and so far, I've only made one really stupid, dangerous mistake. Dumb luck and a very sturdy, sensible horse kept it from being a total disaster. It was posted here on COTH, and the troops came through to make me feel better.

If you're very hands on, have good friends to talk to and reassure you, and read up on horse care, training, and also some good books on managing a small horse property, you'll be fine. Make sure you have suppliers for hay and bedding lined up, as well as a good vet, farrier, and dentist that you have confidence in and you'll be no worse than the rest of us who've jumped in with both feet!

They're fragile creatures, but they're no more fragile in your back yard than they are in the boarding facility.

Nov. 19, 2009, 01:38 AM
I'd had horses for 20 years before I finally got horse property of my own. I saw my horses every day when I boarded them, always held them for the farrier, made my own vet appointments and was there when the vet came, always made sure I knew what my horses ate and how much.

I knew how to muck a stall, how to put on a twitch, how to wrap a leg and how to give oral meds and IM injections. At the barn where I boarded virtually no one did those things for their own horses. Sometime I'm sure my BO thought I was a pain, but I told her my goal was to have them home, so I needed to know these things.

Learning about hay was a challenge! What kind to feed, how much, how to tell the quality, how to talk to hay dealers, how to manage your hay. That was hard for me at first.

I had a great support system, too, from years of working with my vets and farrier. It made me a lot more confident knowing that they would bend over backward to help me if I was in trouble because I'd been a good client, for years.

I've had my three geldings home for three years with no problems, knock wood.

But the first few nights I got up in the middle of the night to go out and make sure everyone was okay. It was a little stressful, which surprised me because I felt pretty confident.

Nov. 19, 2009, 04:03 AM
I have to fess up that I was a true backyard type and knew very little when I was young and had the horse at home. I did have friends and a membership in a local horseman's association and got the farrier and the vet through them. Bought feed at two local feed stores. Read the books that were available at the time. I too was very lucky and had no serious health problems in any of the horses under my care. The most serious issue was a friend whose horse bowed a tendon.

When I got back to reriding I intentionally hung around and volunteered to perform tasks. Worming was now hugely different than it had been, and some vaccines also. I still never actually administered an injection or wormed a horse but I held a lot. It can be difficult to get a pro to let you actually do the deed.

A Cother was trying to re-home a horse quickly and that got me to thinking about what I knew, or didn't know, and I checked out the adoption form from Saddlebred rescue. It's a pretty tough form BUT it might give you a checklist and frame of reference. I do think you need to develop a relationship with your vet and farrier and be able to recognize symptoms of some common problems.
I found that the vet I really really liked from the lesson barn did not serve the area of my farmette - so I plan to make a call to a vet recommended, just to establish a relationship. Same with the farrier.

If you are worried that something horrible could happen while you are at work, well it could. I'd have to say that it could also happen overnight or even while your back was turned. There are far better books available nowadays, and if you take a people first aid class and just think larger scale for horses you will be well served.

Good luck.

Nov. 19, 2009, 07:53 AM
From my standpoint of having horses at home for the last 5+ years:

Rule #1:
There are no dumb questions

I boarded for the 1st 15 years of owning horses.
Prior to that I worked as a barn rat when I was a kid, then "graduated" to working student as an adult re-rider.
I was never afraid to ask why someone was doing something, if there was another way & why one was "better" than the other.

Rule #2:
Like someone on here says:
(I paraphrase)
The Horse World: 1 question, 3 answers - that's the way it is

Gather all the information, even if it conflicts. Then decide for yourself what works for you.
There is no One Right Way to keep horses.

Rule #3:

Once you have things setup to your satisfaction at home, sit back and see how they play out.
You will need to tweak some things, others will be perfect from the get-go.

Yes, you will worry when you are the sole caretaker....at first.
Then you will figure out things and be able to have a Life away from the farm.

Horses do not require micro-management most of the time.

Yes, there will be emergencies, but mostly sufficient food, fresh water and a place to stretch their legs keeps most horses healthy & happy.

To answer your last question about emergencies:;
Your vet should be a great source of information (see Rule #1) along with books like Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping on Small Acreage & (author?) First Aid for Horseowners.
And, of course, COTH has to be the World's Greatest Resource & source of support :D

Nov. 19, 2009, 07:54 AM
The worst horse experience I had personally with one of my own horses was at a big name show barn - where I paid a lot of money to board and they failed to give meds to my sick horse over one weekend when I was out of town. Lucky for everyone, it did not turn into a total disaster, as it easily could have.

If you have been a "hands on" owner as I have for most of my horse owning years, you just learn the ropes. Need a good vet, farrier, good hay supplier, and "help" to fill in when you can't do your own horses.

Ask lots of questions. Learn by what others do and don't do.

Nov. 19, 2009, 09:13 AM
I had horses at home from the time I was 7-21 years old. Then I boarded for eight years while establishing a career, relationship and buying a house.

The horses came home almost a year ago after we built our own barn on our little farm.

I almost had a heart attck the first few weeks they were home. I felt like I had forgotten half of what I knew when the horses lived at home growing up. And I had remained hands on when they were boarded! Late night wake up checks, micro-managing, and little panic attacks (my poor vet) eventually stopped. There have been no major snags and I can handle most emergency situations until the vet can get there. I can also give IM injections, wrap legs, treat wounds, and handle scared horses. We built a barn that is very conducive to 24/7 turnout with stall access due to my shift work schedule and we invested in good fencing.

I agree... finding hay was a bigger PITA than knowing what or how to feed it out. Years ago, the local farmer used to bring us a hay wagon for $2 a bale. Now, you either have to find a supplier or use a feed store and hay is at least $5 a bale around here. I did find a good supplier.... thank god. I also have two great feed stores, a vet I have used since I was a kid, and a FANTASTIC farrier. These little things make all the difference!

There are some things I wish I could change. For instance, I would love another acre or two. I would like a companion donkey so I don't have to worry about the two boys having to be alone when we take one out to ride, etc. Other than that... best decision I ever made to bring them home and for the most part everyone is happy, healthy and unaware of my nuerosis! :lol::lol::lol:

Nov. 19, 2009, 11:07 AM
I worked off some lesson time working around the barn. That put me in the barn when stuff happened and I could watch, ask questions and learn. At another barn, I did like another poster, the BO knew eventually I wanted to have them home, so she put up with my questions. Regardless, its a learning curve when they are home and you realize there is nobody walking down the aisle for a second opinion. Go in to it willing to cut yourself some breaks - there will be mistakes (some people are even brave enough to post about them as a PSA for others)

Nov. 19, 2009, 11:23 AM
Stepping from full board to self-care in a barn filled with other experienced horse owners/caretakers can be a great intermediate step, if possible.

Develop a list of nearby (or at least nearby via phone) contacts to call on with questions or to bounce ideas off. Vets, farriers, trainers, nearby farm owners, etc., are all good to have on the list.

Drive NJ
Nov. 19, 2009, 12:52 PM
Look for Horsemen's Association, Adult Pony Club or other educational opportunities.

Cooperative Extension often has handouts that give you ideas about what you need to learn more about


They have educational podcasts as well as a horse care short course most years.

Nov. 19, 2009, 01:32 PM
All of the above. Working student? Offer to help out at current barn for free, just to learn? Ride along with vet?

Daughter played polo in high school. Learned all about injuries and treatment, farm sat for coach and husband (equine vet) on their breeding farm. She pretty much knew her stuff by the time we bought a farm. Always learning, though.

Just keep asking questions, subscribe to some magazines and keep reading on the internet.

Some really good books out there too...How to deal with horse injuries and illness, etc. Biggest thing to learn is when to call the vet. Better too often than not often enough.

Nov. 19, 2009, 01:47 PM
If you are happy with the knowledge of your current barn owner or trainer, and you have a good relationship with them they can be great resources when you go out on your own. In addition to this you want a great vet and farrier.

Nov. 19, 2009, 01:50 PM
Horsemanship was part of my early lessons...so things like basic hoof care, listening for gut sounds, signs of colic, grooming, basic blanketing...things like that I felt fairly confident about. If you haven't had much horsemanship maybe the Pony Club manual is a good start. If you are feeling confident about the basics, move to the next paragraph.

I started to collect books like "The Home Veterinary Manual for Horses" and such. I took a weekend course on Hoof Trimming and Hoof Care. I asked my vet for her recommendations on worming, vaccinations, etc. I looked at what my horses ate at the boarding stable and figured out how to replicate it at home (finding Hay suppliers, looking at available feeds...sometimes what barns buy in bulk, you can't buy in smaller quantities...substitutes were available.) I asked some friends and family what they thought were the top ten things to do in preparation.

I made friends with my new "emergency vet" as my horses' regular vet was now far away. Got him to start a file on my horses so he'd be ready in an emergency.

Really, keeping horses isn't rocket science if you have pretty average horses and have some basic horsemanship skills. If you've always just been handed the reins, your horse has 'issues' or you are planning to keep them in a competition program, you need to collect signficantly more knowledge.

For me, as a fairly recreational rider with pretty easy horses...I've had no problems whatsoever. I ask my trainer for advice on conditioning and my training program, which I do between lessons, and ask either a trusted friend or my vet on questions.

One thing I will say...and I will yell...DON'T LISTEN TO EVERYBODY. Horsepeople have way more opinions and penchant to share them than most. Some people will sound confident as all heck and suggest things that are flat-out dangerous/wrong (I've done that, with the best of intentions)...or even things that might work, but that won't work FOR YOU. I can't tell you the number of suggestions I get...and about 10% are things I use. I usually just smile and nod and say "sure, that's something I should think about." I can tell you that trusted friends' and vets' advice gets followed nearly 100% of the time ;)

Nov. 19, 2009, 01:53 PM
Even as a boarder I was pretty "hands on", and took an interest in things from way back with the intention, always, of having my own place someday. Caring for horses isn't rocket science, although it can be made to seem like it if you listen to the worry-worts and the micro-managers. :) Most of what I needed to know I learned by taking care of my own horses, working on the track, picking the brains of vets and trainers I respected and trusted, even 4H when I was a kid. And yes, BOOKS. Piles of them. ;) But there are certain things (like body clipping) that one simply learns by DOING, and I've learned a lot that way, too. :)

Nov. 19, 2009, 02:11 PM
But there are certain things (like body clipping) that one simply learns by DOING


Firmly believe that you have to do two or three body clips before you get good first-try results :lol:

Also to be learned by doing:
-deworming the crafty Arabian
-which of your horses need a flymask and which ones prefer to suffer
-how to best shovel manure so that you get a balanced workout
-just how deeply into the ground the "prefer to suffer" types can grind a fly mask
-de-porcupine-quilling the curious/stupid Arabian's nose and mouth
-applying disinfectent to sensitive areas

Nov. 19, 2009, 02:26 PM
I had owned horses, and boarded them at a superb competition barn, for 15 years before buying the first farm about 20 years ago.

I worked for an equine vet for a number of years and assisted with many surgical procedures, emergencies as well as the mundane stuff. When I bought my farm, this equine vet sent his horses to board at my farm when he travelled overseas numerous times a year.

I managed a stud farm for some time so that was where I learned stud duties and mare/foal care.

I was a serious competition rider for many years, both prior to and during owning the first, and subsequent farms. I only gave that up fairly recently after my mega-move to the farm we have now.

Nov. 19, 2009, 03:27 PM
You are supposed to board BEFORE you keep horses at home?

Nov. 19, 2009, 03:32 PM
I don't think that injuries and illnesses will necessarily be your biggest obstacle because you will call the vet to help in those instances. You can even ask your vet what to do before she or he arrives.

Your #1 hurdle is the physical layout and setup of your horsekeeping facility at home. Get an experienced horseperson to do a walk through of your facility before you bring the horses home. If you have safe, well designed stalls, fence and paddocks that will make your life so much easier.

Other day to day practical things may also be a challenge. Can you judge what is good hay & identify bad or moldy hay? Can you tell when a horse is just a little bit off or having a mild colic? If something happens to a horse, who will take the day off work to be there to take care of it? Who is going to take care of all the non-fun aspects of horse keeping--get up in the middle of the night to break ice in the water tanks in the middle of winter, do early morning fence repairs...? And as an aside, is the rest of your family ready for the limitations, inconveniences and expense of having horses at home?

Once you have the horses at home, periodically invite a more experienced horseperson over to look things over. They might notice things that you wouldn't, or make suggestions that you wouldn't have thought of.

Don't be proud. Ask lots of questions. Make your vet and farrier explain things. Stay involved in the horse community--i.e. keep taking lessons, going to other barns, talking to different people. FYI, I've lived on different horse farms since I was born and I am STILL learning new things all the time.

Nov. 19, 2009, 03:37 PM
I worked in a vet clinic and have a wonderful network of people to call in an emergency. They would call me too so it all works out.

You will be surprised how much knowledge you have. It comes into play when you least expect it. Horsemanship is a very common sense based gig.

Read, listen and practice. Nothing can be more valuable than knowing how to attend to an emergency BEFORE you need to do it for real.

Nov. 19, 2009, 04:05 PM
Most of it depends on how well you know your own horse(s) and first of all let me ask if you are taking a horse away from a barn (herd) and home (solitary)..because that alone can be a big problem. Horses do not like to be alone. They also are more likely to get into trouble in a new environment.

You need to know not only how to handle your horse but other things..like does he jump when you give him an injection... do you need help to worm him.. does he self load into a trailer..and on and on and on...

Nov. 19, 2009, 04:08 PM
10 years of Pony Club as a kid, all the way up to "A" level.

It's really a shame there's nothing like it in the US for adults.

Nov. 19, 2009, 09:21 PM
You are supposed to board BEFORE you keep horses at home?

:) Same experience here. I bought my first horse ever and kept it at home. But, in my defense, it was a "rescue" (that I paid for) and I figured I couldn't possibly do anything worse to her. (Heck, if I fed her, I was doing better already!)

My other thought was -- I have two human children, and somehow I haven't managed to kill them yet, either!

Seriously, though, if you start with the basics -- safe facilities, a good vet you trust; a good farrier, some good books on basic horse care (and obviously bookmarking COTH on your computer)....you will be fine. My vet's first advice to me was "well, it's a horse. Give it hay and water and you've met about 90% of its needs already."

Knock on wood, I haven't had any real emergencies, and everyone is healthy and happy.

Will you be

Nov. 20, 2009, 10:50 AM
If you are a 'hands on' owner now, rather than a 'show up and horse is fed, wormed, shod, groomed, and tacked and all you do is ride' owner. If you have an excellent sense of responsibility that simply won't let you rest until the beings (equine or whatever else) that rely on you are cared for. If you have enough humility to realize that you don't now, and never will, know everything there is to know, and not only who, but WHEN to call for information/help when you run into something that's too big for you to handle. If you're willing to continue to learn - not all at once, but as things come up (for instance - you'll probably never really know precisely 'how' to give a shot - UNTIL YOU NEED TO - then you'd better be able and willing to learn how!) If you can look at a place and see most (never all of course :D) of the ways a horse can find to injure him/her self (and be willing to dig in and fix them. If you don't feel you have (as opposed to prefering ;))to have help to do the basics, including handling your horse when he/she gets the "It's a lovely cool day and my brain has gone over the hill without me" 's. And if you can relax and realize that your horse is a horse - and as long as it's fed daily (and not necessarily at exactly X:XX am and X:XX pm - they're a tad more adaptable than that by the way), watered daily, gets exercise or turnout daily and to one degree or another, attention/affection daily, it will most likely be just fine 99.9 percent of the time. Then you should have very few difficulties making the transition from boarding to backyard.

Nov. 20, 2009, 12:00 PM
If you are happy with the knowledge of your current barn owner or trainer, and you have a good relationship with them they can be great resources when you go out on your own. In addition to this you want a great vet and farrier.

I agree with this and I have all of the above - Thankfully. I've had my horses at home for 5 years now, and I still rely on the above folks from time to time!

Having horses at home is not always my cup of tea - there are pros and cons just like everything in life - so I would suggest you also read through the threads from people who have moved their horses home and then realize they prefer boarding.

Nov. 20, 2009, 08:20 PM
move to a self care facility first

Bank of Dad
Nov. 20, 2009, 11:06 PM
Just brought them home, tips from vet who lived around the corner, books, tips from old farmers.

However, no one ever told me to place the paddock gates on the highest part of the ground, no matter how far away, and not in the closest but lowest, muddiest corner. Ask me how I know.

Nov. 21, 2009, 12:31 AM
If you like the way the barn that you currently board at cares for the horses ask if you can start shadowing them from time to time learing al the things that they do on a day to day basis.

When the vet comes out ask questions and even ask them if you can do some of the procedures with thier supervision/help (i.e. giving injections, wrapping a leg, worming, taking a temp, etc.). Learn how to give an IV injection from your vet. It really isn't that hard (you just have to make sure you are in a vien rather than an artery). Learn what your horse(s) normal vitals are and how to take them. Things that you take for granted boarding (like the IV shot, pulling a shoe, worming, etc.) need to become second nature.

Above all you need to know your horse(s). Know what is normal for them or you will loose a lot of sleep. They are not cookie cutter and all act the same. Your BO may know that horse A devours it's grain when given but horse B tends to take a bite of grain, then eat a little hay, then check out what everyone else is up to, then another bite of grain. They may also know that your horse like's to lay down and take a nap in the sun first thing in the a.m. whereas this would seem "not normal" to you.

Mine have been in the backyard for 6 years now (boarded prior) and I am still a little OCD. I do a "bed check" every night before I go to bed, if I don't I will not be able to fall asleep and will be up to do that bedcheck anyways.

pony grandma
Nov. 21, 2009, 02:14 AM
I really like BeeHoney's post. Touche.

If you build it so that you think that it will be strong enough to hold a horse, then make it 10X stronger. :winkgrin:

Convenience for working, safety, storage, good planning - all and everything that COTH here has to offer. I wish that I could have started out with so much information and help at my fingertips (to put that succinctly!).

And hugely what sacrifices that you and your others will have to make, there is a trade-off. But the beauty of knowing your horse 24/7 is priceless -- it will bring everything full circle. enjoy

Nov. 21, 2009, 05:24 AM
A lot of owners haven't got a clue that it's what you do each and every day with each and every activity that establishes you as the horses leader and keeps it and you content and safe and elminates the need to be paying out for vets and trainers etc in the future. To be frank even a lot of folks who are charging for diy livery are just recouping establishment overheads.... filling barns and fields to make some income .... and it's not those you want to learn from.

I've never known anything other than horses everywhere so I'll approach this from the other perspective.

So first of all you need to be discerning about who has knowledge and experience and who is full of fine words and bovine excrement. That means before you do anything at all you need to have a base level of knowledge to help you distinguish good from bad and to prioritise that as "good for the horse", not good for you. You have to think horse not person once you're responsible for keeping one.

I often have folks that I've taught to ride/drive or for whom I've gone on to purchase a horse for and had it here initially and then in turn gone on to help train them to manage their own horse at their own facility.

Of course I cram them with information. Including which vets and farriers to use for best support. What to veer away from. Where they'll find good general support from good owners and trainers where they might be going to. What to run away from..... fast! How to source and quality check and buy the likes of hay, general feed, bedding. All the daily important health and well being checks that horsemen tend to do daily without even realising they're doing it. Land management etc etc etc. What decent horse management and general veterinary reference books to have in the library.

Then what I do is get them to come here all day every day whenever they can. Often they supplement this by taking a week off work as well and just hanging out. The benefit of this is that they can shadow me and my staff and see what we do every single day. We've developed the discipline of talking through what we're actually doing when we are seemingly just strolling about, watching them run in to us to be casually brought in.

So the likes of:

How we walk the field to check fences, gates and troughs and land in general. (no ragwort or hogweed in our case)
Precisely how we observe their movement, listen for loose shoes or a shoe come off in the mud.
stand to keep ourselves safe
what we watch for in a herd when taking a single horse in
how we put the headcollar on precisely
what the difference is with single horse at home and a herd
How we use the herd dynamics to manage each and every horse
How we lead to be safe and what we watch about the horse to read what it's up to and paying attention to.
How you lead it into a stable and turn it to be safe.
Have it stand still before you take it's head collar off.
How we exit the yard.

And then we carry on through the day and with the owner doing check lists and notes as suits them. It's often not the obvious horse thing that becomes a problem it's the little things: so how and where to keep feed, manage rodents and other pest control. How a horse in a totally new environment is likely to behave. How you manage and deal with that in itself. What to watch out for in terms of horse behaviour.

Finally I always give my phone number and with a strong message "I'm ALWAYS at the other end of the phone. No matter what it is, I'm there and ask"

Nov. 21, 2009, 08:21 AM
You are supposed to board BEFORE you keep horses at home?

Yes I'm from this camp as well. I first took lessons at a lesson barn, then leased my lesson horse. It was a full care barn, but I was hands on from day one. I helped the grooms with the stalls, walked out my colicky horse and was gently admonished when I rolled a whole bunch of polos backwards. I never had the chance to be a barn rat because I rode my first horse at age 44.

My first barn closed after a year and a half when the owners relocated. I spent the rest of that year free leasing a horse in a backyard self care facility with an extremely knowledgeable (but a bit neurotic) older horsewoman. I learned everything from how to catch a horse in a herd, to how to trim a hoof to making your own hoof dressing.

At the end of those two years I bought a property and had a barn built. I didn't even own my own horse until the barn and paddocks were set up. I conferred with my former barn owner and a few other horsepeople who came to my property before the first shovel touched ground and over coffee discussed the pros and cons of different layouts. I am also pretty good at designing stuff for efficiency.

I met with the vet and the farrier who also gave me the benefit of their experience. In fact I adopted my first horse from my farrier, who had a horse that he knew well that he was trying to re-home.

Ten years later and I have 4 at home now, still have my first horse who is retired, and 2 youngish and one really young. Have been through many health issues over the years, including having to make "the" decision with an older mare whose time had come. I've treated injuries and illnesses, short and very long term. I'm not an expert but I take direction well (at least when it comes to horses). I take care of them all and compete at lower levels in Jumpers and Eventing. I consider my trainer, vet, farrier, dentist, myself, and even my hay supplier to be a team.

When I first brought Buddy home, I stayed home from work for 3 days to be with him. Then kept running home from work to check on him. Called the vet to report that he kept making facial contortions as if he were yawning. The vet said, "He's yawning". You get the picture.

My formula was gaining a little horse experience where I was actually responsible for a horse, not being afraid to ask questions, assembling a team I could rely on and NOT listening to the naysayers (no pun intended) who insisted I had to be a trainer, a vet, and a ranch hand before thinking about taking care of a horse on my own.

Incidentally, I guess I did end up becoming a little bit of all of those things.....

But it's like anything else in life...if you're a perfectionist you'll never be entirely ready. If you're clueless you were born ready. I'm hopeful that I fall somewhere in between.

Nov. 21, 2009, 09:35 AM
I think it's important to work out ahead of time, a couple things:

1. If you get sick or hurt, who will take care of the horses. Consider arranging ahead of time for someone to work the horses, feed them and clean the stalls. Consider too, though, the difficulty of engaging someone on short notice, and how reliable anyone needs to be. Don't assume you can rely on a spouse or partner.

2. Work out your budget ahead of time, and where you will buy everything (Feed, bedding, hay). It's often quite tough to buy small quanities of hay and bedding cheaply. Add to the budget for annual increases in costs of everything, and plan for what you'd do if prices rose 10% or 20% in a couple years. Be sure you can handle price increases.

3. Prepare for the 'dailiness' of caring for horses at home. Many people cheerfully do this for a year or two, but start to get sick of it after that period of time. Plan and budget for regular 'holidays' in which you send your horses to a boarding stable and go away from the farm, if you feel this sort of feeling coming on.

4. Plan to do 'enough but not too much'. While horses need grooming, shoeing, feeding and turnout, they don't need to be fussed over constantly. It's not so bad to put the horses in their stalls and go to a movie one afternoon. Plan for time away from the barn. Some people never get tired of the barn - but others need a regular break.

5. Understand spouses and relatives and friends. Not every spouse or partner is delighted to have horses at home. Consider very carefully how much pressure it might put on a marriage or partnership, especially if the partner knows little about horses and doesn't understand why they should be cared for so carefully.

6. Have a realistic idea of how much time barn care and property maintenance will take. Cleaning stalls, hauling manure, feeding, exercising horses daily. Maintaining fences, pastures, doing repairs and projects. Shopping for and buying bedding, hay and grain. Holding horses for the vet or farrier. Being there when the vet gets there. All these things chew up an incredible amount of time.

7. EXCAVATE. It's not just about using thicker pieces of wood in building or tougher latches, gates and fences. Horses chew up the ground, and everywhere they go turns into mud and gets eroded, causing issues with runoff, neighbors, and just maintaining a safe area for them. My neighbor sent her horses to board after she found her level, poorly draining property turned into a bog every spring. The barn inside, the entry ways, the gateways, everything was a bog. Instead of excavating and putting in a system to drain the water away, they decided to build up a thick layer of bark chips. That doesn't work.

8. Make out a legal, binding will - with a lawyer. Make sure that if something suddenly happened to you, there would be money available and someone to purchase feed and bedding for the horses in the short term.

9. Plan for the cost of having manure hauled away frequently. In many areas, you can't spread it at all, and nowadays a manure pile can't always just be left to sit there for years.

10. Know the neighborhood, zoning and covenants. Know how your neighbors will react to horses in the area, and what laws, as well as what general climate is there. Rural townships wanting to convert to more profitable properties like homes are not always supportive of horse owners. Horse ownership in and around subdivisions is not always easy or possible.

Nov. 21, 2009, 10:00 AM
Heh, I had a barn & property of my own at 25 and thought, "I might as well have a horse!" I kept 2 in my own backyard, (8 acres) for the first 8 years. It was fun and not too bad since my neighbor had 350 acres of cattle and hay/corn/oat fields.

Then, divorce. Moved to a small house in the City and started boarding. For a younger person in their 20-30's, boarding allows a lot of freedom to travel. Now that I'm older and hay/farriers/vets are scarce, boarding is again, more trouble free than keeping them at home.

Plus the only work I have to do is riding & grooming!

Nov. 21, 2009, 04:41 PM
...By working at every barn I boarded at for 20+ years. Which is why I wanted my own place, so I could take care of my horses the way I wanted. Then asking around for hay dealers, talking to fellow trainers/ barn owners, and asking questions on COTH!

Nov. 21, 2009, 08:03 PM
All the advice so far has been great. You now have 10 million MORE things to think about, and worry about.

But really, how do you learn enough? The same way you learn enough to have kids and raise them.

You just do it. And somehow you will all muddle through together.

Pocket Pony
Nov. 24, 2009, 10:02 PM
I remember when I was planning on moving to a farmette and bringing the horses (well, just one at the time) home. I wondered how on earth I could do it and "what if what if what iffed" myself to near craziness! Then I thought, people a lot dumber do it and manage just fine! If you are a hands-on owner already, you will love keeping them at home.

I was just mentioning to Mr. PoPo yesterday how I am thankful for the time I DID spend in boarding barns because I learned a lot by osmosis. I learned what I liked and what I didn't like. I learned from standing with the vet and farrier, from talking to other boarders about horse injuries and symptoms, from watching endless lessons and trainers work with horses and students.

Thomas had a good point about learning herd dynamics and safety. When moving horses about our farmette, I have to keep in mind what will happen when I take x horse away. Who will act up? What is he likely to do? Who should be moved first? Who is the alpha? Who will try to steal hay from whom? Who kicks, who chases, who runs around like a crazy man? Most of it can be avoided by practicing thoughtful management.

Find a good farm sitter!!!!

I find professionals are always happy to offer advice or help. A farrier will be happy to teach you how to pull a shoe so he doesn't have to come out if one is sprung. A vet will be happy to teach you how to give an IM injection. The feed store often will have experts come in to talk about feed or other farm animals. Take advantage of the resources available to you.

Get a truck and trailer so that you can come and go whenever you want and especially in case of emergency.

Consider water - where does it come from, where does it go? We live in a hilly area so we have a lot of issues with erosion, but no flooding. People who live in the valley might have flooding problems. Water management is big for us.

Will you have an arena at home? If not, where will you ride? It is a lot more time consuming to have to haul out somewhere to ride vs. riding right at home.

Will you mind riding alone? I don't, but some people really miss the social aspect of boarding. Will you miss your barn friends?

Do you have two horses now? If not, will you get a second, or some other type of companion? I've found that horse math dictates that you have four horses. :lol: First horse is yours. Then you need a companion horse. But if you want to take yours out then the companion needs a companion. Then hubby decides he wants to ride and so you need a fourth so that if the two of you go out together then the companions will have each other. Simple as that. :D:winkgrin:

It is really fun and rewarding. Thomas was right that there are so many things I do in a day that are hard to explain. I know in an INSTANT if something is wrong with one of my horses. Seeing them 4x a day gets me pretty tuned in to how they are feeling and if there are any new lumps or bumps. I love watching them graze, I love watching them play, I love watching them have a nap.

Oh, and always make sure your gate is locked!!!! :D

Nov. 24, 2009, 10:24 PM
I just realized it took me 35 years to get my horses on my own property.... :)

Prior to that I boarded, but.... I managed 2 of the barns I boarded in, my best friend managed 3 of the barns (and I helped her a lot), I worked at 2 others.... I did lease a property for a while and kept the horses there.. So I really was taking care of my own for most of that time...It is really only in the very beginning and just prior to moving here that I was in a regular boarding situation, without complete control of my horses....

You can do it! Get a good relationship with a good vet established, so that you have someone you can call on if you are uncertain.

Nov. 25, 2009, 11:14 AM
My dream is to own a farmette and do it my way and not have to constantly wish the boarding conditions were better. I feel that I KNOW the ways to make it better.

For those of you who graduated from boarding to having them at home, did you feel confident enough to handle emergencies/illnesses/injuries without the presence of a BO or fellow boarders? Did this aspect of the transition make you nervous? If so, what did you do to improve your confidence?

I was a nervous wreck about bringing my horses home, despite having boarded for three years first. I survived, and so did the horses. But here's what I wish I'd done beforehand (and what I did do a couple of years later):

First find a boarding stable where you are happy with the conditions and where the BO is happy to show you what to do - like what Thomas1 describes doing with his new horse owners. Board there for awhile until you learn how it's done right. You won't believe the difference this will make in your confidence level when it comes to managing on your own.:yes: