Sent my horse to live with my parents when I was unemployed to save on board and I may not bother moving him again (for starters Dad has too much fun having livestock and rebuilding the barn.) Assuming you're already set up (have a fence, stall, etc.) #1 thing would be have a good hay guy and have a backup hay guy in case that one sells out! We needed to go to our backup guy by the end of September because last year's drought meant a lot of places were feeding out hay all year as the pasture died (another plus of my moving was I moved him mid-July and the pasture at the boarding barn was already shot-dry, torn out, grazed to nothing, and no rain to bring it back. Dad's corral hadn't been grazed in seven years, just mowed.)
I can't imagine having mine anywhere else if I had the option. I just love having mine at home with me.
I'll add that I was really on the fence about buying our farm. I'd heard all the horror stories and had so many people tell me I'd never ride again. As a fairly serious (if low-level) competitor, and someone with a good, but modest paying more-than-full-time job, I was worried that it would all be true and I'd be stuck with a farm I couldn't sell in a bad real estate market and be miserable.
Originally Posted by Cindyg
I'm happy to say that what made it work is a great farm, that is well planned (thanks to the unknown person who built it - I wish I could find her and thank her!).
AND a husband who is HANDY and WILLING to work on the farm and with the horses. He's not particularly horsey, but he's learned and is now quite good with managing the barn. I have no qualms about leaving when my job requires me to go out of town. He's even handled some pretty serious emergencies, as well as a somewhat manic stall-resting horse very successfully.
In short, what makes this work is that I'm not in it alone. And thank God for that when our power was just out for three days with the recent snowstorm. Managing the barn, dealing with the generator, AND being sick about sent me over the edge.
Totally agree with this. I had my own barn growing up but now have to board - I rough board as I would NEVER do full board. I hate boarding in every sense of the word (not the work but everything else). I can't wait until the day I can have them in my backyard...
Originally Posted by airhorse
I've never boarded either and can't imagine not taking care of my own horses. One of the things I enjoy most about having my horses at home is I can see them any time I want. I enjoy all the work of taking care of them, from feeding to mucking stalls. We've built a four stall barn and the fencing. I've accumulated an impressive collection of buckets and tubs, stall picks and other tools over the years. Having my horses at home has allowed me to manage their feed, especially for my 30 year old toothless mare. I get the peace of mind of knowing what they're eating and how much and what kind of care they're getting. There are some down sides. You have to make arrangements if you are going out of town or have some kind of back up plan. No matter what the weather or how you are feeling the horses still need the same care. I've taken care of them while barfing my guts out, nearly blind with migraines, sick with pneumonia etc. You don't get to call in sick but it's all worth it when they are all tucked up in their stalls munching their hay at the end of the day. That is where I can find true peace any time any day I want.
One thing I had to get used to with horses at home out in the country is DIY vet care.
Previously I was 15 minutes away from a fancy vet clinic, and the regular vet lived down the road and could always stop in if needed. Now the regular vet is an hour away and the clinic at Auburn is another hour from there.
That means I have to be able to handle routine to minor stuff myself, where previously I had a knowledgeable BO right there and multiple vets close by. And I have to know what major problems look like, and sort out when to wake the vet up in the middle of the night.
Ditto the poster who listed fences and hay as your major concerns. Build *really* good fences, so you can sleep at night. Set the gates at the same height as the fences -- it does no good to have a 5' fence and a 4' gate they can jump. ;) (My recent 4AM panic... the (now bent) gate was 4'8" vs. the 5' 3" fence.)
Looks like the 'Similar Threads' thing at the bottom of the page is doing a good job of finding you more reading material. :)
I have three at home now, used to have four. I think it definitely changes you. Previously, when boarding, I owned a horse. I would go riding. I jumped fences. It was all great.
But, bringing them home, they become part of your family ... and if you're lucky, you become part of their herd. They are the beginning of your day and they are closing of your night. They are your laughter in the mid-afternoon. They "help" you with barn chores. They interrogate visitors. They learn everything about you -- and I mean everything. They know how you are supposed to "be" and they know when you are "off." Oh, and you know these things about them, too. You know how they are supposed to smell. You know BEFORE something is wrong that something is brewing .. or is going to be wrong.
You talk to them like they are human ... and when you come back in the house you may tell your spouse what the horses had to say. You find yourself having lively conversations in which no words are spoken. You relax, they relax. And then riding? It's just so easy. You know each other so well.
In short, it's about as close to heaven as we get!
I boarded for most of my life before DH and I rented a part of someone else's ranch, including a manufactured home, and kept our horses in our backyard. We loved it. I had always dreamed of having my horses at home. Unfortunately, it turned out that the house we were renting was full of mold and making us very sick. Little by little I lost energy and could barely function anymore by the time we moved out 2 years later. I was really sad to have to go back to boarding, but I couldn't handle the work anymore in my condition. My health is improving again, thankfully, so I am looking forward to someday owning property and bringing the horses home again for good.
But yes, the horses do need care, every day, at least twice a day to feed them, without fail. Doesn't matter how sick you are, or if you have a loved one in the hospital, or if you want to go somewhere overnight, etc. So having someone you can trust to come take care of your horses is very important.
Finding good quality hay is the next challenge. We were paying nearly $20 per 110# bale for some really cruddy hay at one point because that's all that was available. No local hay growers here, so we had to depend on the feed stores. Hopefully you have hay growers nearby that you might be able to strike up deals with.
Finding a good farrier and vet to come to you are also important. I was lucky that my farrier that I used while boarding agreed to come to the ranch since I was even closer for him. There was also a nice vet clinic nearby, so another score for us.
Things like having wheelbarrows, manure forks, buckets, etc. are things most people don't think about and realize after they get the horses home that they will need those things.
Not sure what part of the country you're in, but here the horses are fairly low maintenance...they are out in pipe corrals on dirt lots that need to be cleaned every so often. Clean the water troughs when they get green. Throw hay at them twice a day, check them over to make sure there aren't any holes or bumps on them that aren't supposed to be there. I saved grooming and riding for the weekends, since I was home with two young children and had to wait for DH to be home to stay with them while I was with the horses.
We are moving to the Midwest this summer, though, so I will have to learn how to do all the heavier maintenance tasks (i.e. winter chores) before we buy property and bring them home.
Good luck! It's a lot of work but it is a very rewarding feeling when the horses are clean and exercised and happily eating at the end of the day.