View Full Version : Q for those with horses at home but work full time

She's Pure Gold
Jun. 2, 2012, 11:27 PM
Hubby and I are looking for a house with enough land to bring my horse home (and board another so he has a buddy) and I'm starting to get all worried about everything that could go wrong. We both work full time, though he's home for summers because he's a teacher, so the horses would be alone for most of the day 3/4 of the year. How do those of you with horses at home but who work other jobs cope? What safety measures do you have in place? What are some things we should be considering and planning for? The 3 biggest fears I have are a horse getting loose, getting hurt (more than just a scrape), and getting stolen. Please help this worried first time "mommy" :no::lol:

Jun. 3, 2012, 12:26 AM
Some of these answers will depend on if you have "horsey" neighbors (or any neighbors!). And also, the owner of the horse that you eventually board. Horse neighbors tend to look out for each other's horses. They know how to round up loose ones and they will question a strange trailer that pulls in to your property. Perhaps the perfect boarder would be someone who works second shift and thus checks on the horses during the day for a reduction in board?
My husband and I have always worked different shifts so one of us is usually around. But, I also have several good horse neighbors that will help us (and we them!) as needed. The other important thing is well maintained fenceing. Cannot say enough about this! Quality, safe fence makes for safe animals. Both from injurys inflicted by the horse getting hurt in the fence itself and from getting hurt from being out on a roadway. A large loafing shed or access to a large loafing area in the barn plus plentful water and plentful hay and your horses will be happy, happy, happy while you are at work.
Enjoy your new home!

Jun. 3, 2012, 01:17 AM
We work full time and I honestly don't worry much about the horses. I did more when we had tape fencing, but now with the four board I not too concerned.

I do night turnout in the summer, and so even when we're at home, they're being left alone the entire night, so I guess. I'm not too terribly worried about being left alone during the day.

The problem I run into is that my horse is a hog and eats all his hay fast. Even if I put a bale out, he can polish it off in 2 hrs. So I've had to hang small hole haynets to make it last all day.

Even when you board, there are surely times when the horses aren't checked on all day.

Jun. 3, 2012, 06:55 AM
I recommend 4 board fencing for your perimeter fencing. If one board comes down, they are still confined. A good run in shed or access to their stalls keeps everyone less likely to ger hot, irritable, and bitten by bugs. Contented horses are less likely to break the fence and escape. Put out plenty of hay every day. Have two sources of water in case something happens to one water trough while you are at work. Have good stall lighting so you can look them over when you feed, even if it is at 9pm and 5am.

If you are really worried you can put a webcam in the barn or run in and monitor them from work! You will probably find they do well.

She's Pure Gold
Jun. 3, 2012, 07:34 AM
Thanks for the tips. We are planning on installing Ramm flex fence (probably 4 rails to ease my mind) and I am also considering driveway gates, so that between the fence and gates the whole road frontage will be covered. The lot we are currently looking at is wooded on 3 sides. No horsey neighbors, unfortunately, but I do like the idea of a web cam. I am hoping to make the stalls in/outs with attached runs, and then a couple separate grass turnouts. I will look into a run-in shed for one of those turnouts. So many things to think and worry about! ;) (I'm a natural worrier haha).

Jun. 3, 2012, 08:38 AM
How far away from the farm do you work and do you have any flexiblitly to leave is there is a serious emergency?

I know that people with children are allowed to leave work if their kid has so much as a sniffle, so while I try to limit my 'emergencies' I am allowed to leave if there is something really horrible going on. And this happens a whole lot less than sick kids.

Also, have to agree with the posters who said they are alone all night while you sleep.

Sure, it would be better if I were around all the time, but the fact is they do not get in trouble all that often, so being at work when it happens vs. being home on a weekend or asleep at night is less of a worry.

Good fencing is critical.

Jun. 3, 2012, 08:50 AM
My house is 1/4 mile from my barns and paddocks so the horses are essentially left alone most of the time. What I've done is use no climb fencing with a board on top, have a gate across the driveway, and more internal gates so in some cases even if they get out of their paddock they still have two other gates/fences to get through before they hit the road. A contractor once told me that my place was "horsey Alcatraz".

As for injuries, my fields are big, and the herds are compatible, so that helps.

I also have automatic waterers, and run-in sheds, and in winter there's always hay in front of them, so if I'm delayed or something there is always water, hay (or grass) and shelter for them.

Knocking wood furiously I have not had a problem.

Jun. 3, 2012, 08:53 AM
We are in the middle of the city. Three schools close by. We ended up under advise of our insurance carrier double fencing the perimeter... chain locked outside perimeter gates

If you have a gym membership; cancel it. I get up at 4:45AM to take care of the eight head in the mornings... five days a week..6am on weekends... We put every one away at night either in paddocks or stalls...so those are cleaned in the morning so that they are ready in the evening

The constant attention required.... farrier, getting feed, hay, bedding, fixing what the evil TB filly torn up and all that stuff pretty much take up any spare time one thought they might have

Jun. 3, 2012, 09:14 AM
Gold, it sounds as if you have it well figured out. Driveway gates are great. You may end up just closing them when you are gone, but they are good insurance against having horses in the road.

Now, make sure you stick with your plan for only 2 horses. Two horses is much easier than a larger number. When I have 2 horses, no one breaks fences or makes trouble. When I have 5, chaos reigns.

Jun. 3, 2012, 09:42 AM
Mr. CC and I both teach, but with his union meetings, and my other horse that I compete at my trainers, 45 minutes away, my two horses are alone all day, too.

I have no-climb (wood fences are impractical in the PNW) with a top rail/hot wire around my whole farm. We have a long driveway, with double gates (one close to the house, one at the end by the very busy road). The road end one is always closed. I have a barn with stalls that lead out to a sacrifice paddock, which in turn leads to a larger field. There is an overhang on the barn. It is super easy to turn out, feed, clean and prep for the next feeding. I've got a routine, that with pelleted bedding, I can do two stalls and prep everything for the night in under 20 minutes most days.

I think you are worrying about nothing! Once they are home, you'll wonder why you got so worked up. Find their horsey routine, work with that, and it will be fine.

Jun. 3, 2012, 09:58 AM
I was paranoid before bringing my horse home. He lives alone in a 1/4 acre dirt paddock, in/out 24/7. He is happy as a clam. I invested in 5 foot high non-climb fencing with a top board and electric. I do have neighbors who are retired and around a lot, but (knock wood), I have never had a problem. He's been home for (I think) 4.5 years now.

You get used to it after a bit. Always has hay in front of him, so though the grass looks nice on the other side of the fence, it has never been worth breaking out.

I keep the gates on the road locked with bike locks.

Jun. 3, 2012, 10:18 AM
Don't cancel your gym membership! I've had horses at home for 4 years and have managed to get to the gym regularly...
We have had a couple of close calls - once came home to find one horse in our front yard enjoying the grass - someone forgot to latch the chain and the gate blew open. One horse didn't even bother to come out and join the other. We are 1/4 mile from the road, but typically horses aren't looking to make a run for it, they like to stay close. Once we came home to a horse cast under the fence (four board). Our neighbor helped us get her out and she was fine.

I don't know about other boarding facilities, but the one I was boarding one of my horses at didn't have someone there 24/7, so things could happen there as well.

My husband is a horseman and that helps tremendously.

It's much better having them close - you will never want to go back to boarding.

Jun. 3, 2012, 10:30 AM
Lots of good advice here.

Definitely have good perimeter fencing and gates with a plan to check it all regularly. It's super-convenient to have some kind of redundant system, where if someone leaves a door or gate unlatched the horses still can't get into the grain or leave the property.

Definitely figure out how to leave the property such that, if *something* happened and nobody stopped by for 24 hours, the horses would still be fine. Meaning access to weather-appropriate shelter, plenty of water, and hay or good pasture. That's as easy leaving the horses in a paddock with run-in or porch, stock tank full of water, and something like a hay feeder (or slow feeder) you can put at least a bale or so in. You never know if you'll be in a traffic accident or some freak weather condition that strands you away from home.

And, finally, have a support network. Ideally, have an experienced petsitter/horse person you can pay to do evening feed if you're going to be extremely late *and* have a very near neighbor (walking distance) who could do a basic check for injuries, throw hay, etc. in an emergency.

Jun. 3, 2012, 10:52 AM
Having them at your home is not the problem and quite rewarding. You have been given all the right advice; shelter, water and plenty of hay, slow feeders, etc. The greater issue is having a pet sitter/helper. You will invariably want to take a vacation, may have family emergency, or whatever. When that happens you will want to have a plan.

Honestly, my husband and son are vacationing in Puerto Rico right now and I did not want to leave the horses (three of them) despite the fact that I have my mother to take care of mine. Flies are bad and there is just a little more to taking care of them this time of year than I want to place on my mom.

You have some time to work thru those issues but it is a huge consideration. Good Luck!

King's Ransom
Jun. 3, 2012, 12:25 PM
What everyone else said (perimeter fencing, etc.) and one more tip: set up your daily routine to be as easy as possible. Not only will this make things easy for you - but it will also make it easier to find someone to pinch hit for you when you want to go on vacation, take a business trip, get sick, etc.

I am always surprised at some of the routines horse owners will set up, simply because they don't mind doing all of this work. But then they complain that they can't find anyone to take care of the horses. Ideally, you should be set up so a non-horsey person could check / fill water, throw hay and replenish grain without ever having to open a stall or snap on a lead rope. If you get to that point, you're in good shape for daily living and leaving!

I am almost there, but I have an oldster who does require a lot of extra work ... including you have to bring him in to feed and give him at least 2 hours to eat. Nobody wants to stick around for 2 hours or come back in 2 hours to let the old guy out. I was lucky that my trainer is young and lives in a small apartment in the city. She and her hubby LOVE to come out and farm-sit. So I lucked out there!

Jun. 3, 2012, 03:55 PM
A now a word from you friendly neighborhood horse sitter...

Make the layout of the chores as easy as possible for you so that you don't wind up hating your farm. I only have to work these places for a little while; you have to live there. Let the person best suited for identifying logistics see if the farm in question is really the one for you.

Some things you will end up hating:
The barn sits low on the property, the turnouts, water tanks, sheds for horses are at the top of the hill. Can you run a water line up the hill that won't freeze in the winter, or are you hauling buckets of water up the hill in the rain, snow, sleet and ice, twice a day? Does the shed you have up there have electricity for lighting so you aren't running up and down the hill in the dark, and trying to feed and water a horse in that shed as well? Ditto for the manure coming out of that shed and paddock and having to come back down the hill. Is the compost pile going to have to be out in the back forty, uphill? This is all a huge time sucker.

Is there a paddock close to the barn for turning out a difficult/injured horse? Can the hose be stored within reason of the spigot in the barn throughout the year without freezing, or will you have to be hauling it out of the basement of the house each and every day, maybe twice a day. Is there a way of keeping your paddock tanks from freezing in the winter? Or are you going to be chopping ice twice a day. It gets old, fast. And, if you have groups of horses on outdoor turnout in each paddock, is there a way to set it up for hay and watering from outside the paddock so the non-horse person won't be mobbed by hungry, pushy horses? I'm experienced and I have turned down jobs because some of these pastures are just too dangerous.

Is there a way to store some hay near the barn for the days rations, or are you you hauling from one building, across the field and to the barn each day? Do you have a room you can lock for tack? Or are you hauling it in and out of the house? And is there room for grain/supplement storage and storage of cleaning supplies, etc. Is there room for a refrigerator to store meds, or is the sitter going in and out of your house?

The best farm I ended up working on had all of the problems above. They ran an insulated water line up the hill, put electricity into the sheds so we could see, set up a compost pile near the paddock so the manure could be brought directly sideways to the fence and not downhill/uphill. Hay and grain still had to go uphill, but the water buckets in the shed were heated, so I wasn't chopping ice. Tanks in the paddocks ended up being muck tubs placed near the fence, haying and watering could be done over the fence so that once you got to grain you didn't get mobbed--the owner then put in automatic hay feeders so the paddock horses also got hay at noon and 9 pm as well. Stall cleaning was easy as the compost pile was brought down from the top of the hill and placed behind the barn. Three of the stalls turned out directly into the paddocks so the most difficult horses could be turned out, the stalls cleaned and set up and the doors re-opened so they could go in and out all day. Hay and grain storage were near the barn, the mud in front of the barn and on the way to the turnout was replaced with stone dust so you weren't slipping in the mud or dancing on ice with a fractious horse; the hose was stored on a good wall reel in the heated tack room, which also had a working sink, a small refrigerator, a telephone, a white board for messages/numbers and was where the timers were located for the automatic hay feeders in each paddock. The door could be locked. I never had to go into the house for anything, the water lines never froze, I was never running uphill with full wheelbarrows or chopping ice out of water tanks, etc, etc. I ran into all of these problems and more on some of the other farms. They loved the place, I loved it and loved doing that job winter, summer, spring and fall.

Try to work the layout so the flow from one chore to another is so smooth that you don't mind doing the work in all kinds of weather, that you are always working safely in good light, and the pipes aren't freezing on you in the winter. Then you'll love your farm, your farm sitter won't mind taking the job, and may even give you a discount for being so thoughtful! :winkgrin:

Jun. 3, 2012, 05:08 PM
Is there a way of keeping your paddock tanks from freezing in the winter? Or are you going to be chopping ice twice a day. It gets old, fast.

Automatic waterers are your friend.

My trainer gave me this advice: put your money into auto waterers because that way if something happens to you you can toss a bale of hay out and they have food and water. I am so glad I listened to her -- there is NO time spent watering; I maybe clean the bowl once every few months.

Chief2 has great advice!

She's Pure Gold
Jun. 3, 2012, 06:09 PM
Wow, thanks for all the advice! I will definitely keep it all in mind. We have an offer in on a place, but there are a couple of hurdles to overcome to make it ours. Hopefully we will have good news by the end of the week. Cross your fingers for us!

Jun. 3, 2012, 06:25 PM
Hubby and I are looking for a house with enough land to bring my horse home (and board another so he has a buddy) and I'm starting to get all worried about everything that could go wrong. We both work full time, though he's home for summers because he's a teacher, so the horses would be alone for most of the day 3/4 of the year. How do those of you with horses at home but who work other jobs cope? What safety measures do you have in place? What are some things we should be considering and planning for? The 3 biggest fears I have are a horse getting loose, getting hurt (more than just a scrape), and getting stolen. Please help this worried first time "mommy" :no::lol:

My husband and I work full time and have our two horses at home. I don't worry about them while I'm at work. I worried much, much more at some previous boarding facilities!

I have electric fencing for their paddocks and there is perimeter fencing around most of the perimeter (by the road).

I don't worry too much about horses getting loose, although I'm sure it could happen. They would probably just stick around to eat grass, anyways.

Horses can get hurt at any time, including when I'm at home, so I don't worry about that any more than usual.

I have no worries about my horses being stolen.

Jun. 3, 2012, 06:57 PM
Glad you're using some variation of "flex fencing" -- it's what I have and I love it, moreso as various of the original fenceposts fail (DO NOT using landscape timbers as fenceposts; they do not last!). Post sags, but the fence stays up (at least the line posts; corner or end posts are, of course, much more critical -- I advise using the biggest posts you can get for those positions).

I only have one horse, who has the run of a good-sized paddock with access to the underside of the bank barn with overhang -- the ideal situation, IMHO! :yes: (except for being the only horse, I know, I know.)

I am lucky that I have a fine old barn (as in, ~ 150 years old) that has a hayloft, so I can buy my hay each summer and be stocked for the year. I drop what I need each week (gravity can be a lovely thing :yes:).

I also am lucky that I have a "wishing well" in the paddock that was a functional well, back in the day. I have a sump pump dangling below water level from the original rope/bucket hook, and I had an electric line buried out to it so all I have to do is plug the pump into the outlet mounted on the inside of the stonework to produce water to fill the water tub; in cold weather I can plug in the heated water tub. I am SO lucky I have this. :cool:

A friend with LOTS more horses than I have uses large capacity heated water tubs in her paddocks, which of course means having water as well electricity run underground to let them be filled/plugged in. She's been clever in her fencing that lets her share a large tub between two paddocks.

I have to differ from another poster who loves automatic waterers... I HATE them! You have no way to monitor how much water your horse is actually drinking. My riding instructor sent her few horses home with a student/boarder when she hit her 80's and was forced to retire; the boarder put all sorts of money into a fancy barn with auto waterers in each stall, which the horses had never encountered before. My instructor's horses were lost to colic in the first winter there. To each, their own.

Manure disposal: do you have a plan?
I wheelbarrow a load up the hill every day/other day to dump; I have to put a large tarp over it during fly season or else one of my neighbors complains (I'm sympathetic to his complaints, but it's a PITA to deal with the tarp :sadsmile:); I use the bucket on my small tractor every 2-3 weeks during fly season to load that pile into a small utility trailer to take further up the hill (away from neighbors, also away from possible groundwater contamination) to unload by hand to compost. I also feed Solitude and subscribe to a season's worth of fly predators. It might be worth it for you to contact the Mass. version of an Ag. Extension service, like UConn provides, to discuss manure handling issues.

I have neighbors pretty close on every side :sadsmile: and ONE of them are an older couple who have my contact info. and they are awesome neighbors who watch out for me; however the guy on the other side of this rather narrow property also works in Hartford, 45 min. away, but in any case he would be clueless about anything whatsoever happening outside because he LIVES inside; one almost never sees him poking his nose outside. :sadsmile: Welp. At least he's an EASY neighbor!

Jun. 3, 2012, 07:20 PM
When I first brought a horse home (in Florida) I drove home at lunch time every day for a couple of weeks, just to confirm that he was still where I left him! It gets easier. :)

When we moved here, I built the Horse Fortress. 5' tall non-climb wire plus a top rail, with double-chained gates. It's not terribly attractive, but I can sleep at night and leave the property without worrying [too much].

Jun. 4, 2012, 07:43 AM
Driveway gates are great. You may end up just closing them when you are gone, but they are good insurance against having horses in the road.

I didn't read page 2.

Please please please make sure these gates are openable and large enough for a fire truck. If you must lock it, use a combo lock and make sure the pertinent agencies have the combo.

Otherwise, don't worry about it. Horses are just as likely to hurt themselves and/or get running silly and crash through a fence with you watching as not. Nature of the beast.

Jun. 4, 2012, 08:39 AM
I've had horses at home for 20 years and in all those years I've only had one horse related problem when I was at work. Someone (me) left the gate unlatched and the horses got out. My neighbor called me to let me know and I was home in record time. We rounded up the herd and everybody was fine (thank God). I've got very good neighbors who will call me if they notice a problem. They will also question strangers if they think they don't belong. I do run home every day on my lunch hour to check on the horses and let the dogs outside for a few minutes.

I think the most important thing we do is maintain the property. I go over my barn and fencing with a critcal eye. Anything that looks dangerous is repaired or removed immediately.

Fancy That
Jun. 4, 2012, 09:47 AM
We followed our dreams 3 years ago and moved from South San Jose (where we boarded our horses in Almaden Valley) down closer to Gilroy (San Martin) and bought our own ranchette to bring the horses home!

We both work in Silicon Valley - definitely full-time jobs with 1 hour commute, too.

Here's how we addressed your concerns:

- Bought a beautiful property in a horsey-estates-neighborhood, and it is at the end of a cul-de-sac, off of a short private street. No busy road nearby enough where the horses could ever get loose and get onto
- We installed beautiful driveway gates, and have video security cameras set up (4 of them)
- We DO have wonderful horse-friendly neighbors and in fact the only time they "got out" - which was our fault - there is one bad spot on the short end of the rear pasture where the electric tape fencing was janky......their pasture butts up against our neighbors' 10 acres/pasture - so they just went in there :)

Just keep safety in mind when you are installing all the fencing or looking at a property set up. I have NO concerns about our horses when we are gone for 10 hours a day.

We personally preferred to keep the horses "out" 24/7, so we don't have to do stalls/turning out, etc. It's very low maintainance :) We are so happy here and so are our horses!

You'll love having them at home! I'd almost suggest you just get a pony instead of boarding. That's what we did. Our Shetland lives with our bigguns and she is the "anchor" that is ALWAYS home so when two of us leave for a show, clinic, camping etc.....the other one that is left ALWAYS has the pony.

Jun. 4, 2012, 10:07 AM
Horses are going to try to kill themselves whether anyone is watching or not. I have seen or been involved in accidents that happened while people were there and watching, while not there, in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, etc.

We DO have neighbors who like to watch the horses do their horsey things and one of them called me at work one day to say one was out - he'd rolled into the fence and broken it, and was just hanging out around the fenceline with the other horses.

I went for early voting the Saturday before Nov elections in '04, gone for a few hours, and came back to find one of my horses had been down with colic, rolling. He ended up being put down due to a very large section of intestine having died. Could he have been saved if I'd found him the minute he went down? I don't know, maybe. But if he'd gone down after I went to bed, it would have been worse as I wouldn't have seen him for much longer.

My other horse boarded for a bit at a very small barn, where the BO was there for breakfast, occasionally lunch, and then dinner. So, horses were out unattended most of the day, and of course nobody was there at night (though there was a house next door). My horse had the foresight to injure himself right in front of the BO in the morning.

You can't watch them every second of every day, not even if they're boarded.

As said, make fencing and everything else with safety as the #1 priority. Make friends with neighbors. It will be fine :)

Jun. 4, 2012, 11:02 AM
I do work at home, but I honestly rarely see the horses during the day unless we have an injured horse or a new rescue in who is emaciated and needs more feedings. We also don't have close neighbors who would care if anything happened, so we're on our own.

I have learned to deal with the fact that I can't control everything. I love having them at home, and we've done our best to make things as safe as possible. My husband is not a horse person, so all the routine chores fall to me. He does take care of the horses if I am gone, and he helps with bigger things (like he did a lot of fence repair when a flash flood took out a lot of fence!).

Jun. 4, 2012, 12:26 PM
Gosh, you people are making me feel like I am horribly unprepared. No perimeter fencing, not driveway gate, no cameras, and no horsey neighbors.

Did come home to one being loose once (charger died, Haflinger noticed and went for a walk, other two stayed inside). I guess with the other two horses still contained and the grass being pretty yummy she did not feel the need to adventure too much.

I do agree with making things as easy as possible. I think that holds true even if you are home all day.

Jun. 4, 2012, 12:43 PM
I do work at home, but I honestly rarely see the horses during the day unless we have an injured horse or a new rescue in who is emaciated and needs more feedings.

Yep, exactly - I'm home now, I saw the horses when I got up, saw them a bit later when I brought them in to feed/ride, I won't lay eyes on them unless I get up and look for several more hours.

Heck, we were BOTH home, on a weekend, working outside, the horses were at the far end, my foal escaped, and a neighbor drove up to tell me LOL

Jun. 4, 2012, 04:04 PM
All of the advice given is excellent, especially about not worrying too much.

But...you will anyway -- at least in the beginning.

A webcam or two or three are not that expensive, and the peace of mind it will give you is priceless. Even if you end up not checking in very often after you've been there awhile, it is well worth the money for when you can't remember if you shut a gate...nothing is really wrong but you want to keep an eye on a horse...keeping an eye out for unwanted visitors...you name it.

Jun. 4, 2012, 04:36 PM
I'm totally clueless about this. Can webcams be outside? Like if you had a farther pasture to monitor? What is the difference between a webcam and a security camera then?

Jun. 5, 2012, 10:02 AM
Yes, a webcam can be outside, but it's basically a security camera.

My four horses are out 24/7, my husband travels and I work full time. I just don't worry about them. Heaven forbid something should happen, but it could just as easily happen while you are asleep.

As someone else said: I feel better about having them at home, even if I just look out the window at them twice a day, which happens, than I did at some of the barns where I boarded.

Jun. 5, 2012, 11:41 AM
I worried a LOT at first - mostly because our place is really isolated & off the beaten path, & originally we were both gone for the majority of the daytime hours - but we put up really solid 5'-high 4-board oak fencing, & after awhile, worry simply wasn't an issue anymore (well, until we had foals on the ground - lol!). The fact that we also had 4 large "hounds from hell" who barked their brains out at the slightest sound provocation also helped.

Now I will say that one of our #1 priorities when farm shopping was that we definitely be "off the beaten path". If I lived next to a busy road - or next to a road period - I'd definitely be a worry wort. Location is everything.

Jun. 5, 2012, 11:57 AM
A webcam or two or three are not that expensive, and the peace of mind it will give you is priceless. Even if you end up not checking in very often after you've been there awhile, it is well worth the money for when you can't remember if you shut a gate...nothing is really wrong but you want to keep an eye on a horse...keeping an eye out for unwanted visitors...you name it.

They require an internet service.... I know it is shocking but some of us still do not have that at home.

Jun. 5, 2012, 02:39 PM
Invest in an excellent run-in shed situation for those unexpected weather days, or days you just simply can't get home in time like you planned.

The barn I'm had has large 3-sided, fully roofed sheds in the near pastures that are the sacrifice pastures in the winter. It's so nice to know that they have an option to get out of crappy weather if they so choose, and it removes the pressure I would feel otherwise to blanket them to a "T". Now I can always err on the side of under blanketing and be guilt-free.

Another barn I visited had a massive overhang (like, 20 feet deep I would bet) that ran the length of their barn and they hung hay nets. Off of that courtyard (it is a converted dairy farm, so the barns are plenty and close) they turned one barn into a massive run-in that the entire herd of 5 could fit into without squabbling.

Set it up so you can safely preset as many things as possible. I would have a fully lock-able horse proof feedroom so you can pre-dish grain for the following day. If flies are an issue, you can cover the bucket with a shower cap. Preset your hay for the pasture in your wheelbarrow or 4-wheeler or whatever you'll use to schlep it.

Then, in the morning, you just have to dump grain. While they eat, you toss hay in the pastures. They'll probably be done by the time you get back. Put them outside. Yay, done for the morning. If you have free time, toss their dinner hay into their stalls**

Stalls can be cleaned when you come home at night. While they munch the pre-dished dinner, you can preset everything for the next day. Added bonus of always having a meal pre-set? It buys you that much more time if you have a sudden event preventing you from doing your own horse care**. Anyone can handle dumping a bucket of (labeled) grain in a (labeled) stall. Worst case scenario, if they hay is already tossed in, the person helping you while you're tied up can put any horse in any stall and skip the grain.

My BO also uses straw to bed. Didn't think I'd love it as much as I do, given that I grew up on shavings and always found straw to be dingy. But, it's super cheap and they just pick the big poop every day and toss a flake or two of straw (shook up a bit to loosen it) over the rest of it. I think 2x/week they just strip all the hay out of all the stalls with a (real) pitchfork (not rake) and then sweep the little bits into a pile and scoop it up. The cement-floor stalls are also slanted, though, so the pee just runs out of the front of the stalls and out the barn in the little drainage tracks that are the width of a fat pencil and are covered by the black stall mats that sit right at the stall doors.

Another thing I've seen is that one barn laid gravel for a base. Then put 2x4s (or something- maybe even 2x4s cut in half so they're 2x2s?) on their sides about 1-2" apart, and filled in the space with dirt. Thus, they created a level stall with drainage. As the dirt eroded through wear and tear, they just brought more in and tamped it down. Saved time for stall cleaning because it was usually just picking poop. The only down side I noticed was that I had to scoop in the direction of the wood due to the slight unevenness. Small price to pay for the rest of the benefits.

Jun. 5, 2012, 09:32 PM
There is some great advice here! I too am a worrier and made sure I did everything possible to help control the things I could control. We installed no-climb fencing with board on top, driveway gates, run-in shed, established a simple feeding/care routine, etc.. My tech savvy DH wanted to make me feel at ease during the workday so he set up a webcam too. It was awesome to check in on them during the day. A word of caution, be sure to get one that is weather resistant. Ours died when a heavy fog set in and the moisture got to it. We now have our eyes on an inexpensive security camera system.

Tonight DH and I went out and wandered around the property. I chattered on about how quickly they were grazing down the pasture, the lack of rain, what to do about mud in the winter, and on and on. He stopped and smiled and asked me to stop for just a minute, take a breath and enjoy the moment.
Buying the farm was a huge dream of mine, I promised Blue 18 years ago that someday I would bring him home and have him in the backyard. I am just so happy to have been able to do this for him (he turned 25 this year).

You will worry about the horses settling in at first, and then you will worry about maintaining the property but please, please remember to take a few moments and enjoy the wonderful experiences that come from having your horses at home.

Jun. 5, 2012, 09:44 PM
I have a little farmette in my backyard, and have been bringing my horses to and fro (boarded now) for the past several years. :) I am contemplating bringing them home now to save on money, so am loving this conversation. One thing that bugs me, is leaving them with only my morning hay drop before work and wanting it to last them for more than a few hours in the morning. My place is a dry lot. Any ideas?

Jun. 5, 2012, 10:01 PM
2boys - how much weight do they need, or not? If they can do with a lot of hay, you can give them your free choice hay but also put out small hole hay pillows scattered around.

If they don't need that much hay, then put it all in 6 or so small hole hay pillows, so less hay will last longer.

Jun. 5, 2012, 10:16 PM
I have 2 horses on 8.5 acres in a rural town. I'm pretty lucky in that I work 3.5 miles from home, so I can come home on lunch to check on the horses (and dogs). Usually when I get home, they're still munching away on grass, and don't even look up. :lol:

One thing I do is turn my horses out with cheap break-away halters. Easier to catch if they ever got loose. I also have the vet, and farrier's phone numbers up in the barn for easy access.

We have 3 board fencing for turn out.

I was a big worrier at first, but now, I'm comfortable knowing they're alone. In the winter, I make sure to leave out enough hay to keep them occupied. I also check the weather before doing chores, and if it's going to be totally miserable all day that day, I leave them in (we don't have a run-in shed).

Once you get a routine, you won't worry so much. Having your horses home is such an awesome experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything. :)

Jun. 5, 2012, 10:45 PM
My situation is similar to yours and had many of the same concerns. I work 40 minutes away full time, my husband is NOT a horse person so I to make my set up very one woman show friendly.

i installed 3 rail centaur flex fencing on 5" round posts that were driven into place. 6 inch rounds were used for term posts and gate posts. on the interior i added 2 strings of electric rope which keeps my horse off the fence line and she doesnt rub on the posts. the larger field is in front of the barn she goes out there when we are home. during the day she is in a 50x100 paddock with access to her stall and automatic waterer.

my barn is very small, 12 x 39 dutch style with a full loft. i have 2 stalls 12x12 each with direct paddock access, and a "center aisle" 12 x 15 that is very mutli purpose. its a wash stall, has 2 3 ft tack walls and a ships ladder up to the loft. i have electric, water and frost free hydrants for winter. i have pre wired for cameras.

i can do my morning chores in 30 minutes. i have neighborhood horse girl come by to give hay in the afternoon.

Jun. 5, 2012, 11:48 PM
Two things that help. I got a Freedom Feeder that I hang in my horse's stall, so he always has hay. It fits more than 6 flakes, and I fill it constantly, so if I am late, he is not hungry. Pissed, because his grain is late, but not hungry.

Also, this is the height of OCD, but I have 10 latches/gates that must be fastened. I check each of those and count down those latches and gates before I leave the paddock. It really reduces the going back to check if I locked the far gate kind of thing. I know that I checked it if I got to ten. Also, I count to two for the lights in the barn, and the spigot. I know if I have counted to ten and counted to two, I can leave and not go back and check those things. Sounds dumb, but it really does provide peace of mind.

Jun. 6, 2012, 07:04 AM
[QUOTE=IFG;6360485]Two things that help. I got a Freedom Feeder that I hang in my horse's stall, so he always has hay. It fits more than 6 flakes, and I fill it constantly, so if I am late, he is not hungry. Pissed, because his grain is late, but not hungry.
Just googled the Freedom Feeder. I like that!
JB, I usually cut my guys' grain so that they can get free choice hay. But I find that they plow through the hay quickly, and then are without by afternoon. I like that Freedom Feeder idea...

Jun. 6, 2012, 10:15 AM
I work 7 miles from the farm - but it's a 25 minute drive. I do not live at the farm - I live about a 1/2 away. I feed in the morning, and return after work to ride and feed them dinner.

Ensure that your fencing is in great shape! Also, make friends with your neighbors. Our neighbors are wonderful and would let me know in a second if something fishy was going on. I also make sure that my contact information is somewhere visible in the barn just in case something were to happen.

My horses are insured, and their stalls have their insurance cards on each stall door.

The only time I've had someone get loose was 1) boredom = searching for more food and they broke fencing for grass on the other side, 2) exuberance when they jumped the fence. If I'm concerned about keeping them busy and I can't put them in the grass field, I throw our plenty of hay.