View Full Version : Horse at Home Questions from the Clueless

Jun. 16, 2010, 09:12 AM
Keeping horses at home- I have two. A 9 year old mare and an 18 yr old TB. The mare is alpha, TB is a geek.

Can I put both in the same paddock (about 1 acre) or will she make his life hell 24/7? I realize this depends upon the horses involved but just assume she is the typical alpha mare and he is the typical "omega" horse with poor social skills but a heart of gold.

Question 2: Could someone give me a "ballpark" idea of what it costs monthly in hay and feed for two horses? This assumes both will be on good, green pasture too and neither gets alot of pelleted feed. Again, realize this is vague but I just need an idea - $100, $400?

Trying to decide if it is worth it to bring the horses home or just stay in board situation.

Jun. 16, 2010, 09:50 AM
I would think that there wouldn't be a problem turning out together, as your TB won't challenge your mare, so each will be happy in their herd position. I would also think that since there's only two horses they'd bond pretty quickly (and you may find they become herd-bound).

As for costs -- will you be feeding hay over the summer? (Probably, if the field is one acre). I do a seat-of-the-pants calculation: I allow half a bale per horse per day. If a bale costs $5, then that's $2.50 per day per horse. (though my horses are only on hay from November - April). If hay is the same price where you are, then that's ROUGHLY $5/day for you. (That builds in extra, and since it is seat-of-the-pants I always want a margin of "safety", i.e. extra hay).

Grain, would think that was completely variable. Maybe $30/month/horse.

Is all your infrastructure set up? Because that's where your real costs are.

Also, there is the time factor. Two horses don't take that long, but you still will be thinking of things like, "I don't want to go out with my friends and get home at 10 because then I have to feed in the dark" etc. as well as finding a horse sitter when you want to go away. But I would imagine you've already thought of these things.

Jun. 16, 2010, 09:51 AM
Hay cost will depend on where you are located and how much hay you need to feed. (are they on grass pasture? hard or easy keepers? Do you know what they usually eat in hay daily?)

On average for average keeping horses on little to no grazing, I figure around 25 lbs of hay daily give or take...or one bale for 2 horses. If hay bales in your area are 50# and $5 per bale...that's $5 per day or $150 per month.

I have very little grazing, two average keeper horses and that's what I go through daily and the price of hay that I buy here in CT. Maybe a tad more hay, I use 25 bales every 3 weeks or so.

As for turnout...are you expecting to ride too? Turning out just two alone, and sometimes especially one of each gender, can cause some serious herd bound issues. So when you try to ride or separate them yoou have one screaming and misbehaving while the other runs in circles freaking out. Always a fun time. :winkgrin:
For a situation like that I'd keep them next to each other but separated if possible for your own convenience.

If you're worried about how they'll get along turned out together, I've had the same types turned out together on and off over the years without much problem. (also had an alpha mare) The trick I learned was a slow introduction over a fence OR waiting until the mare is in heat. ;) An alpha mare can go from kicky-bitey to lovey-dovey when she's in heat, LOL! Makes turning them out together for the first time a little easier...and once she's no longer in heat they're used to each other. Only issue is the gelding wondering why the mare went from wife to witch. :lol:

Jun. 16, 2010, 09:58 AM
We're more/less neighbors. The last hay I bought was going at $8.75/bale at D&D. Steinhauser in Magnolia was a little cheaper, but their quality is inconsistent. With 2 horses on one acre, you're going to run low on grass and need to supplement with hay. BTDT. I was buying about 30 bales/month.

Feed varies depending on the brand and how much your horses eat.

Bottom line, right now, in our area, you're looking at a ballpark $300/month for two horses.

As far as the two horses getting along, you won't know until you try. He may toe the line, and she may adore him for that and become the co-dependent girlfriend. Or she could walk him aimlessly and endlessly around the pasture all day, taking chunks of hair off him just because she can. Introduce slowly, and let them tell if they'll get along.

Jun. 16, 2010, 12:35 PM
with 2 horses on one acre you will be picking up manure fairly often -- plan for that in your scheduling

Jun. 18, 2010, 01:22 AM
Well I live in Southern California and it cost me about $100.00/month per horse. It is about $70.00/month for hay which is an orchard/alfalfa blend and $25.00/per month for manure removal which is through our local waste hauler. I only have 1/2 acre which is turfed with bermuda grass. It is more for keeping the dust down than providing any calories. Bermuda can handle the grazing and urine. I do irrigate it so that is a extra cost. 1/2 acre is all I could afford to buy at the time. Horse property in Southern California is still quite expensive relative to other parts of the country when you look at the amount of acreage that can be bought for a decent price in a decent area.

Jun. 18, 2010, 02:51 AM
I would try turning them out next to each other to see how they act before turning them loose together. But ultimately, your life is going to be much easier if they can go out together.

I have grass but still supplement with hay year round. Heres the costs of the things I get and how much per horse.

1 50# bale of O/A is $10 (if I get it from my supplier from PA). If I have to get it locally, its $14. Its rare I buy it local though.

I feed a complete feed and I feed 2 different kinds. A higher fat for my mare and a lower fat for the geldings. Geldings feed is $16 a bag and mares is $18 a bag.

Supplements.. that all depends on you. Since this is not really a constant and it varies, I am going to leave it out.

To keep my mare at home, whom isnt the easiest keeper in the world, it costs me approx $60/mo in feed. To keep my young horse, who is an easy keeper but growing and huge, it costs me around $40-45 a month in feed.

Hay wise... they all pretty much get the same amount of hay..my young horse and my mare getting a little more. But I go through about 1 bale every 2-3 days. So I usually buy 12-15 bales a month. If I get it all from my supplier, its only $120-150 a month. This is for spring/summer/fall. However, only 2/3 of that is my actual part so for 2 horses, $80-100 a month for hay. BTW I feed approx 3-4 decent flakes (these are very condensed and tightly packed flakes) per horse per day. I up this depending on the hay and the cutting. Right now its mostly alfalfa. If my grass is suffering, I up the hay and/or buy coastal ($6/bale) and usually go through 1 bale of coastal every 1-2 days. Again, that varies, so for simplicity, leaving it out.

Bedding wise... well mine are outside except 1-2 hrs in the AM and right now they are in for about 5-6 hrs in the PM b/c it is so insanely hot. I do not bed deeply though so I MAYBE use $20 in bedding a month (fine fine fine pine shavings that are basically like sawdust).

So roughly, per horse, you can guesstimate $100-130 per horse a month. This is JUST for feed, hay, and bedding. That doesnt include the money for gas to mow the lawn or money to fix the fence or fertilizer or grass seed. I personally do not add that into my horse care calulations.

Whats nice for me is that for my two horses, it costs me around $200 +/- a month to feed them. Well my boarder pays me $300 a month. So that covers the cost of her horse (who is the easiest keeper and therefore requires the least amount of feed and hay) and the cost of my 2 horses. I just have to do the work which is fine with me and cover vet/farrier/etc bills. If I have to buy like say round bales in the winter or extra coastal, she covers 1/3 of the cost, so it works out nicely.

Depending on the area and the quality of the feed items you will use, I would say anywhere from $120-250 a month per horse is a fair and wide range to work from.

Jun. 18, 2010, 05:49 AM
Do not turn the mare out with the gelding right away. Even if you have to run a line of electric fence down the center of your 1 acre pasture, it is better to be safe than sorry. I have seen what an ultra aggressive mare can do to an old gelding and believe me you don't want to take that risk. My alpha mare loved her beta gelding and they were inseparable until the day she turned on him and kicked him in the hip.

If you have only 1 acre turnout for 2 horses, they will eat that down fairly quickly, so you may wind up supplementing with hay. I think the $100 per horse per month estimate is about right, although it can go higher.

Good luck bringing your horses home. It is so nice to have them in the back yard.

Jun. 18, 2010, 09:29 AM
Welllll, on the bright side the acre didn't work out but I've got a line on an 8.5 acre property that has a small barn with pipe stalls for partial confinement until I can determine the paddock situation. Also grass is lushly green all over the property so perhaps not as much hay or pellets needed. It it does cost $300+ a month I'd be better off leaving them in full board.

How does one dispose of manure and does one need to pick pastures with 8 acres? Alot more to bringing the horses home than I thought.

And do I need insurance in case the horses damage the rental property? Though I can't imagine what they could do short of coming into the house.

Awaiting a copy of "Horsekeeping on Small Acreage" from library.

Jun. 18, 2010, 09:33 AM
Though I can't imagine what they could do short of coming into the house.


Such an innocent thing to say!

Just wait. Horses are very creative in how they injure them selves and their surroundings.

You will want liability insurance. The property owner might also require you to carry something to cover them. Horses are an attractive nuisance and if someone comes onto the property and gets hurt it is on your dime.

Jun. 18, 2010, 09:49 AM
Only issue is the gelding wondering why the mare went from wife to witch. :lol:

hahaha! Don't all male species? :D

Jun. 18, 2010, 11:23 AM
Awaiting a copy of "Horsekeeping on Small Acreage" from library.

Very excellent book that has been very helpful to my boyfriend & I as we finish building our barn & paddocks at home to eventually have 2 horses in our backyard. I know you'll find it useful as well!

Jun. 18, 2010, 11:41 AM
Are you looking to rent a home with acreage or just acreage for the horses? You keep saying "bring the horses home", but in your last post, I got more a vibe that you're looking to lease a pasture.

One 8 acres, just rake the poop in. You can do it by hand, harrow, whatever. Just spread it out enough to dry.

Insurance is a must. Damage to the property by your horses is the smaller concern. The larger concern is if your horses were to somehow cause harm to a person. Fences are easy to fix. People sue.

Jun. 18, 2010, 01:46 PM
As far as manure, I am fortunate enough that I muck my stalls into a trash bag stretched over my muck bucket. Then I tie up the bags and put them out every week on the road for the yard trash. Tada. Manure is gone.

I do pick the pastures but mainly in the winter when theres no grass and its wet and cold. In the summer, it is SO hot, I just hook my drag up to the 4 wheeler and drag the pastures so the manure breaks up and within an hour or two its dried out so the flies cant breed in there.

Jun. 18, 2010, 02:50 PM
I spend probably about $200/month on feed for my two. This is for alfalfa pellets and bermuda grass hay. We have no grazing, being in inland southern California.

My gelding is the alpha and the only issue we have with them out together is that he'll sometimes get done eating his hay before my mare (because she's bigger so she gets more) so he'll come over and push her away to eat hers. She's lost a bit of weight since we moved in, so I've started feeding them both more grass hay so there's always some left. We'll probably have to bump up the gelding's exercise since he's betting a bit round from all the extra hay.

We're also lucky enough that we can dump our manure in the pile that our landlord uses and he takes it out on a spreader and spreads it on the field next door. So no manure disposal issues for us.

I think the biggest issue when adjusting to having horses at home is arranging your schedule to be able to take care of their needs. We have to make sure we're home to feed them at consistent times (though it's not the exact same time every day, but we try to keep it to within a 1/2 hour either way). We have to make sure we clean their water trough when it gets green and slimey, we have to fly spray them every day or two, check them for cuts, swellings, other injuries, etc. Just the other day my mare somehow managed to get a puncture wound in her hock (I have no idea how...there isn't anything sharp in their corral she could have done it on), so now I have to flush the wound daily, dress it with ointment and SWAT, and give her antibiotics and bute twice a day, while making sure the gelding doesn't eat her meds. These are all things you have to take into consideration because you won't have barn staff to do them for you at home. I find it's more of an investment of time when you have them at home.

Jun. 18, 2010, 06:58 PM
Answer #1: It depends. Give it a try.

Answer #2: It depends. ;) Soup to nuts and averaged over the year (hay, grain, bedding, farrier, routine vet care) it costs me about $150 per month per horse to have them at home. Not counting the mortgage on the property, the barn, the fencing, the tractor, etc. etc. I live in an area that is not super depressed nor super vigorous, economy-wise. Hay and other costs seem average compared to most places. If you live somewhere where hay has to be trucked in, expect to pay a lot more.

Jun. 18, 2010, 07:06 PM
As far as manure, I am fortunate enough that I muck my stalls into a trash bag stretched over my muck bucket. Then I tie up the bags and put them out every week on the road for the yard trash. Tada. Manure is gone.

Now there's a fantastic solution! :)

Jun. 18, 2010, 07:27 PM
Now there's a fantastic solution! :)

Thanks! I discovered the trash bag idea when I worked at a farm and one of the geldings had salmonella so we had to use special forks and buckets for cleaning his stall. So we would muck into trash bags and put them in the dumpster.

I used to pay for a 3 cu yd dumpster to put my trash bags in (I dont have a tractor to transport buckets of manure over to and into a dumpster) and then started thinking... well how would they know if its leaves or manure, unless a bag broke?? So I researched and found out the bag has to be under 35lbs and tested it with just putting two bags out. Well, they were gone.

So now, I save over $100 a month for manure disposal from not having a dumpster and let my taxes that pay for trash pick up work for me!

Jun. 18, 2010, 08:47 PM
Paper bags would be nicer, environmentally speaking. All that nice, natural stuff rotting in a landfill . . .

Our local Waste Management rents these big giant tarp bags called "bagsters" that they drop off on your place, you fill it up, then they come and haul it away. I've been tempted to get one for winter mucking (made difficult because my loader is out of commission from December through April because we need the tractor for snowblowing) but can't bear the thought of adding something that can be so useful to the landfill.

Which is not to say I would condemn someone for having it on their list of solutions. :) I'm fortunate to have space and equipment to compost mine, and enough local people that want to take it away for their gardens to keep it under control. :yes:

Jun. 19, 2010, 12:55 AM
Unless your local waste management company (ie, the landfill) offers a composting solution, sending your manure to the curb each week means it is sealed in a non-composting landfill...seems sad and not very environmentally friendly.


Two horses on good grass on 8 acres? Not sure you'd need hay for much of the year. I spend $150/month per horse from October to April (hay-not local, beet pulp, rolled oats, rice bran, vitamins). From May to August/September I have enough pasture to supplement the above to bring my costs down to about $50/month. Will you stall them? You'll need to figure in bedding costs, as well, and any equipment you'll need. Will you mow said pastures to maintain grass health? Do you need buckets, barrows, forks, etc.?

Jun. 19, 2010, 01:49 AM
Unless your local waste management company (ie, the landfill) offers a composting solution, sending your manure to the curb each week means it is sealed in a non-composting landfill...seems sad and not very environmentally friendly.

This is the YARD trash which includes only things that they can compost. They wont take regular trash or bottles. That is taken away with the regular trash on a seperate day.

I would love to do paper bags (which I do use all of my old feed bags to fill up first before using the plastic bags) and I do not have any way I could compost (already spent 2 years trying to get that to work).

Jun. 19, 2010, 05:07 PM
Gotcha Krazy! I know some folks get a dumpster for poo, and it doesn't always go to a composting/yard debris facility--many cities do not have one, it all ends up in the same spot, just picked up at different times, but sent to the same landfills.

Jun. 19, 2010, 05:11 PM
Saw the 8 acre property with a field walk was good. Lush green grass everywhere, cross fenced into various sized fields and a nice pond and plenty of shade trees. Even a nice open place next to the house for a small arena type thing.

But - pecan trees everywhere. Do horses eat pecans and are they toxic?