Horses at home?
Like a lot of people, my 'dream' has always been to eventually have a small farmette type arrangement where I could keep a horse or two at home.
However, now that I'm not 10, I realize that it's a lot of work, and I'm just wondering if anyone who struggles with health or disability issues manages to do it anyway, and if so, if there are any tricks or tips to share.
Have any of you considered hiring in or having live-in/on-site help?
Do you try to keep your horses turned out more due to your health problems, to minimize the need to clean stalls? Do you find having to do farm chores really cuts into your time to just enjoy the horses, and wish you'd boarded them somewhere close instead?
(I am nothing like near ready to actually buy a property myself, I've just been curious about it recently. How people manage, what's realistic, that sort of thing.)
You can make having horses at home as complicated and hard as you want, or as simple as you desire.
You can have a top of the line barn and keep hot house horses in there, or have runs outside, which makes easier to keep them, or pasture them with shelters only, that you don't have to clean all the time, but for that you need more acreage.
As long as you take good care of your horses, you can do it under any management.
For when you are unavailable, you provide someone else to be there for you, delegating is your friend.
Very important, don't get more horses that you and your land can handle.
There is where many fail, especially the first decade of keeping horses home.
There really is no room or time or energy on your part but for so much.
Learn what that is and you and your horses will enjoy each other company, not be run ragged and never get everything done.
Above all, you have to love being a caretaker and be a self starter, that will keep things done, not procrastinate.
Horses need you or your substitute help 24/7, can't warehouse them like a motorcycle.
There are days when I wish I could send mine all away to be boarders, especially when it's zero degrees out, or when the barn floods because we get 6 inches of rain in 2 hours...stuff like that makes me wish I was in the house, paying board somewhere.
I'm 44 and have been quite healthy until last spring . I injured my back while my husband was home recovering from hernia surgery ~ it was a tough time. We had to pay some guys to clean the barn just so it didn't get out of hand because I had no idea how long I'd be out and my husband was going to be out for weeks. As it turns out my back still isn't 100% so now we've bought different equipment, like a larger manure wagon that it higher off the ground so I don't need to stoop to hitch or unhitch when dumping. Smaller buckets for transporting water and I don't fill buckets up to the top to carry them. I also clean several times a day now rather than once or twice just so the loads are lighter. We feed with round bales in winter rather than squares so we can move hay with a tractor. I keep one large bale in the barn and pull the hay off when we need hay - no lifting a 70 pound bale for me. I always use the hand-cart now...I used to be to lazy to look for it and I'd lift things that were way too heavy.
I have 5 horses and I don't think that my chores would take any more time out of my day than commuting to a barn would. I guess if the barn was around the corner it would be tempting (not that I could afford to board 5 horses). I personally enjoy every moment with my horses and wouldn't trade the ability to check on them and be with them whenever I please. I've caught things super early because I see them out my windows all day long and am in the barn 10 times a day so I know when something is off - there is no price you could put on that amount of comfort.
There are certainly advantages to boarding though and like I said, on those days when the icy-wind has froze the barn door open and my hands freeze after 5 minutes of being outside (I have horrible circulation!)....I wish I could pay someone else to keep them safe and sound. Oh yes, and that time my whole family had some horrible flu for 10 days and I had to drag myself out to the barn with a 104. temperature...days like that totally suck.
We have 6 here, and I would never change it for the world.
They have been my reason to walk on days when walking would never be an option.
They have been my reason to push wheelbarrows, shovel and haul water when my muscles were screaming in pain
They have been my solace when the days were so bad that I questioned what I did in life to deserve the pain and sickness I have had.
That said, we have a good system here. My DH throws some hay at 4:30am before he gets ready to leave for work. They get a cookie and share his coffee with him (more like they mug him for a cookie and make him spill his coffee).
Around 6am DD an I get their breakfasts ready. We get them separated and everyone gets a thorough look over, feet cleaned, a brush and fly sprayed and masked and then feed. I clean the stalls while she takes care of the chickens and ducks. We dump, scrub and refill waterers while they are all eating. By the time we are done, so are they and we release the beasties and scrub the feed pans. DD throws some more hay and we clean the paddocks.
By 7am all is done and everyone is out for the day. Water is topped off throughout the day and we will throw hay at 12-1pm and then again at 4pm (we pick the paddocks again at this time). Dinner is at 8pm and they are checked again, masks off, sprayed and hayed for the night.
Okay so I have my horses at home, wouldn't have it any other way.. But I have made lots of modifications to suit my needs. I feed hay cubes or Pellets rather then hay, easy to store, easy to put in buckets and dump in horses pens.. Hay is a horrible chore when in a wheechair, bulky to store, not easy to carry you name it. I have automatic waterers in all stalls, no need to drag hoses, etc. I try to turn out everyday so the stalls don't need as much cleaning. Recently I found a great gal and she feeds and cleans when I'm out of town at shows, I also have her come 3 days a week and just clean pens for me. This helps me keep on top of things especially since I have been sick for 2 weeks and barely able to drag myslef out of bed to feed. My folks and I combinied households 5 years ago, they travel the world, but when they are home my Dad helps with chores. I need to cut down on number of horses.. But the economy is such that no one is buying right now... I have 7 at home. 2 retired show horses, 2 current show horses, 2 youngsters for sale and 1 youngster who has a future as my next show horse... If I boarded I wouldn't have the number of horses I have:-) I love looking out my window and seeing them. Its like anything, maintance is an issue, you have to repair water pipes, fenceing etc.. I don't know how some of you do the stuff in the winter. But I also live in CA where I don't have to deal with mud, snow, ice or extreme heat.. So that makes it easier for me...
where I had to wear a sweater to drive my horse this afternoon, a cool 65 and sunny.
This is really interesting to hear, particularly that you still manage to do it from a wheelchair. One of my fears is that there's not really any way to know how bad my arthritis will get - there are people my age or younger with the same type of arthritis who've already had to have joint replacements, or already need to use a wheelchair to get around. So it could be just a question of when, or it could be that it never gets that bad - autoimmune issues are just confusing crazy things.
Originally Posted by cadriver
At the same time, obviously, I don't want to give up on things just because something MIGHT happen - my late husband was severely disabled due to a form of muscular dystrophy and we never let stuff stop us from figuring out how to make things work, but it seems like it's easier to be that way for someone else than it is for yourself, sometimes. :)
I know some people don't like the automatic waterers because it makes it harder to keep an eye on how much the horse is drinking - do they make them with some sort of gauge, or is that not a problem you worry about?
You are exactly right. And it is this piece of wisdom that has kept me going and just facing things as they come. We can prepare, yes, but we have to remember not to let the act of preparing take away from our joy of living in the moment. The old saying "where there is a will there is a way" rings true! The work, the adapting, the planning...it's all worth it, even when it seems like it was the worst idea on earth :lol:
Originally Posted by kdow
Diane mentions keeping the horses turned out as much as possible and this is probably the single biggest help there is for me. With just the little ones in at night all we have are two stalls and the run-in's to clean (and the paddocks of course).
Instead of auto-waterers, my DH ran and buried commercial hoses and we have them hung low near each waterer. This way we the kids and adults who use wheelchairs, walkers and canes can easily reach them without a struggle.
I also keep feed and supplements here in the house in my office, along with the tack. This way we can get everything made up inside so dealing with the weather extremes is easier on me.
This forum is a wealth of knowledge, and I learn something new every day. It has been instrumental in helping us adapt our farm :) :yes:
Honestly, I think some of the ideas people come up with to adapt things for people with disabilities are probably fairly sound ideas for everyone. Sometimes just because you physically can do something, it doesn't mean it's the best/most effective way to do it - it's only when you NEED to look at more effective or efficient ways to get the job done that you realize how much time and energy you've been wasting.
Originally Posted by equineartworks
Well, I have been useing auto waterers for 20 years, the big thing is learning about your horses habits, and what they look like, I have the waterers mounted where with a quick look I can tell whether they are working or clogged up. They do clog up occasionally but it takes less time for a quick look then to fill buckets of water. If the horse looks a bit drawn up then they aren't getting enough water. If they aren't eating same thing. I have a couple of different types one type is a push waterer and I have a horse not allowed in those pens because he will just push it all day long flooding his pen. So he has to have a float waterer... LOL The other thing I did to make my life easier was to poor concrete sidewalks, from my house to the barn. Wash rack etc. And from my barn to my turnout, everything is laid out to be very convienent for me. The benefit is that it is also really easy for anyone else to take care of the animals.
Originally Posted by kdow
I use pelleted bedding in my 2 stalls, very absorbant, less waste to compost and less to remove from stall everyday. I work my horses late afternoon because my arena is also my turnout. The horses can be turned out everyday while I work then when I'm done, I can round them up and then work the horses I need to.
Often it is just thinking outside of the box, you don't have to do things the way you have always done, or the way your neighbors do it.. You just need to figure out what works for you and your horses.
I am disabled and keep my two horses at home. As a previous poster said, some days they are my reason for walking and even getting out of bed. When we planned our place, I wanted to make it as easy for myself as could be. Everything I need is close by (hay, feed, etc) and I do my own stalls, feed, turnout, etc. The only thing I really need help with is hay/shavings delivery/stacking which my husband does and then brings 2-3 days worth in the barn for me as needed. If I do have to carry hay bales or shavings, I have a cart that I load them on to and wheel them around. If I have to dump water buckets, I dump half into a muck bucket on a cart and wheel them out that way. Where there's a will, there's a way. I dont aways do things the way everyone else does and it may take me a little longer, but I do it and that's what's important to me.
well, all i can sayis, you guys are all absolutely amazing and wonderful........your attitudes, determination, and creativity..
i just have the usual age and injury related kinks creaks, aches and pains....a head injury messed up the wiring, and depression is my biggest stumbling block to motivation...
reading about all the tremendous ideas, thoughts, and tenacity the riders here put out is very inspirational....kudos to all
I can't drive - and I still keep my horses at home. Physically, nothing else is wrong with me (so I'm way more fortunate than many). However, not driving means not going to the vet, not going to the feed store, not going to get hay, not going anywhere. Without help.
Fortunately, I have a great husband. But horses aren't his thing. Before we moved, I had a horse-owning friend and we would go get hay together and she would haul horses to the vet for me. Now, we're someplace new and don't know anyone and we make do.
Snakes are the only other problem that I have thanks to my vision. I don't see them until I'm on top of them, and I cannot then tell if they're poisonous or not.