How to manage horses outside 24/7, and do it well.
Alright. So we sold my litle farmette in MD and moved to Aiken,SC. Money is not in unlimited supply, thebank wouldn't finance the house/barn combo I wanted( someting about a land to house value ratio!!) so I have a house and no barn yet. I have NEVER lived without a barn , ever, in my entire life, and I am really uncomfortable with trying to manage the horses this way. Do I clip, double-blanket? Gotta clip if we're going to ride. Can't get coats to look good like barn kept horses. And feeding? A nightmare. No matter how far you spread people out, there's always somebody who gets shorted.Is building a grooming stall an idea? But then some of them get upset when I take them out of the field to put them in a grooming stall. Never had problems like this in the barn. And there is NO individualizing. I'm sure there are folks that keep their horses out 24/7 and they do just fine. Any suggestions on how to make this work better than I am making it work? Please, share your system/ ideas with me.
" It's about the horse, and that's it."
Do like most fox hunters. Clip, or a trace clip and blanket as appropriate. Good turnout blankets, you can add a liner as needed.
I used to have horses in CO with no barn, only a shelter. But I didn't clip back then. Now, I have horses outdoors in AZ, I clip and blanket.
For feeding, I have panels set up which used to divide the property into runs but without the back closed. Everybody goes to their designated "stall". I free choice hay and keep my grain feeds small, simple so everybody is done with the grain at the same time. They can come and go from the "stalls" but my only problem is keeping the one guy thin as he's in with a TB and yearling that need a lot more food than him.
I keep my bully broodmare separate as she is brutal, don't want the yearling beat up!
Enjoy your new property!
Last edited by Doctracy; Jan. 28, 2011 at 10:08 PM.
I keep my horse outside 24/7 at a boarding facility. I clip and blanket as necessary (welcome to the south - less blanketing!) and our horses are fed in covered, open air stalls in the pasture and then promptly turned out afterwards. As long as there is SOME shelter from the wind/weather, whether is be a patch of trees in the field or any sort of a run-in your horses should be fine. In fact, my gelding prefers 24/7 turn out as opposed to his previous stalled lifestyle. I groom and pick out his feet everyday, and you can not tell him apart from the stalled horses at the barn.
What I do, though, is feed in strict pecking order (alpha horse gets fed first, no one dares bother them, then the second etc). If a lower-ranked horse gets more feed (so doesn't finish before a higher ranking horse finishes) I feed them just outside the field in the fenced laneway (for one pasture) or my parents' front yard (which is fenced off from the road) for the other pasture.
Once you get into a routine, the horses know where they should be and in what order they will be fed and it is very peaceful and easy.
Do you have run-in sheds? One of my fields has a four bay one. I feed one horse in each bay, again in strict pecking order.
You may be required to have a shelter available, by law, so you may be looking at building a run-in shed of some sort. It's relatively cheap to get corner and support posts sunk/concreted and a roof put on. You can do sides as time and finances permit. But that will let you have someplace dry to tie horses up to eat, groom, etc. You can use fence gates to partition and/or enclose the shed to make "stalls"
Clipping and blanketing presents its own issues, but if you're home/close to home anyway, you can monitor whether they're going to get too hot or too cold. Harder if you work off site and far enough away.
______________________________ The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET
The property I rent has 2 large pastures. One has a shelter with just a roof and no 'sides', the other has a 2 stall shed row barn with a large overhang. Because I have no formal place to store hay, I have to store it in the 2 stalls. But because of the overhang, the 2 horses in that pasture have room to get out of the weather, and the 3 in the other pasture I only see them use the top-only shelter when there is bad rain or snow.
My show horse is clipped, the newest OTTB has no coat to speak of, so they are both blanketed (high necks). I make any adjustments I need to with their clothes before and after work (which is full time). My older gelding is related to yaks but I still have him in a high neck blanket, just not as heavy as the TB's. Something that works for me is keeping hay out 24/7 for them in the winter. It keeps the occupied and warm. I set up feed in the pm for the morning. Because I have small #'s I can manage feeding fairly easily. As stated previously, I feed in the order of the pecking order. Each horse has their own feed bin, and I just dump in order. The first few weeks I allowed plenty of time to keep everyone straight. Then I'd do the other pasture. The TB's do great and eat better when they eat right next to each other. The other 3 I spread FAR apart.
I have one mare that gets fat thinking about food, so since she is #2, I give her some chopped alfalfa with her tiny bit of grain, which causes her to take more time to eat, so she won't bother #3, who needs more grain and the time to eat it.
Mine are outside 24/7 with access to barns or run ins if they won't. I don't ride, therefore I don't clip so can't help you there. I have 6 horses, with them split up in pairs. I have tried putting 3 in with each other and feeding is a NIGHTMARE. I just had to stand there with a whip and constantly run the alpha mare away from the others until they were done. So, not doing that again. My horses pretty much get fed the exact same things, pretty much the same amount so that keeps things a wee bit easier. The 'difficult' horse that gets special supplements is the alpha mare and I know for a fact her pasturemate wouldn't even look at her while she's eating, let alone try to steal her food so I don't worry about that too much. Feed bags would probably be the best way to go for multiple horses, unless you want to stand guard the whole time. As with others, I never stray from the pecking order. You're just asking to set them up for a fight. You can slow the alpha down with large rocks in the feed pans or just more feed if you want to avoid feed bags.
We keep our 10 out 24/7 but are very fortunate to be able to keep them as singles in sheltered pastures. Shelters are divided in half with pastures off of them, so they hang out together in divided shelters. A great way to keep them isolated just enough for individualized feeding, but they still have buddies. You could put eyebolts on your fence posts and tie them up next to their buckets for their meals with breakaways on. That way low man would have time to finish stress free. That's a lot to manage working full time. But great to have found work in Aiken. Too bad the winter is so freakin cold again here. Relatively speaking, of course, in deference to our Maine friends. Where abouts in Aiken are you? We're north or I-20 off of Wire.
Our two are out 24/7. We have slick clay soil and steepish terrain so we have 2 16x16 corral panel pens on the ridegtop, in the lee of the house, which we use in lieu of stalls, so each morning if they spent the night out they come up for breakfast and again for dinner. We hay in the pens if the footing is too mucky in the paddock, or if they have hay in the paddock we make three spread out piles.
They aren't ridden but at the H/J barn I rode at hereabouts lesson horses were not clipped. The saddlebreds are only clipped if they are showing, so some of the lesson horses were clipped a while ago and have quite a bit of hair. They were blanketed, and I blanket mine, mostly because the old guy needs help keeping weight on and the pony is very fine haired.
Klene-pipe makes a portable run-in kit that is reasonably priced, and they offer add-ons to turn it into a shed row style stall. Corral panels can be bought at TSC, Southern States and other some other feed stores.
You are going to discover with winter that mud will be a limiting factor fpr anything you do so if you haven't got one already you should probably set up a sacrifice area with rock footing, that would be a layer of large rock, layer of smaller rock and then something like fines on top. Some people use geotextile or "cow carpet" to keep the rock from sinking into the soil over time. Plenty of threads to read about it. The sacrifice area will make your life so much easier if you don't have to slog through muck to feed, or don't have to watch horse fights where someone slips and goes down. We set the pens up on an old graveled parking lot and although it isn't perfect (especially right now with snow and frozen, unpickable poop) it has been far less muddy.
My old barn that I used to lease a horse at and work at (help with lessons, barn chores, etc) (at the beginning) only had a couple of paddocks, a run in, and a cross tie area that had gates so we could enclose it. (I didn't read all the responses, so I'm sorry if someone else already said this ) But as far as feeding, make sure you go in the pecking order and then we had one mare that ate really quickly and was pretty high up in the alpha rankings so she was always either separated or tied. As far as blanketing, (here in the midsouth) we would just sheet if it was a little chilly or rainy and then blanket or blanket and sheet for everything else. (they weren't clipped though). And as far as the run in, unless it was majorly pouring or cold and windy, they hardly ever went in and would stand in the rain eating hay. Sometimes it was tough, but it was certainly doable.
Can you put in even temporary cross fencing to divide them up? Ideally, at least the fat/alpha horses should be in one group and the harder keepers in another. Again ideally, the horse that needs the most feed should be the top horse in his or her field.
I feed free choice hay, and each group gets a different type and a small amount of concentrate fed once a day. The fatties have first cutting grass that keeps them in good condition with maybe a ration balancer and a bit of supplemental legume hay. The harder keeping group was on second cutting grass, supplemented with legume hay, and some concentrate. It was really nice when the top horse in that group got the extra feed, so I could just leave the bucket with her while I did chores and she'd defend it. The old man had to be separated for the winter, since it could take him ages to snorkle through his buckets of beet-pulp based feed.
If you are having trouble pulling one horse out to work on, something as simple as a hitching rail just outside the paddock can be very useful. You can pull out a horse or two for extra feed or to let the others eat in peace for a while. It's also a safer environment for cleaning them up, fly spraying, etc. than loose in the field.
Mine are out 24/7 and still get individualized care without having to be separated.
For feeding, feed bags work well (and are kind of amusing as well- ). For my guys, what works the best though is that I know who fits where in my herd. Alpha mare always eats first and then I go down the line. Unfortunately for me, guy at the bottom of the totem pole needs the most feed. My solution is that everyone else gets more than him, but their more may be a handful of grain and a good bit of beet pulp or hay stretcher. This way low guys get finished before others. I also usually put out an extra feed of just beep or haystretcher so that there is an extra pile to move to if need be.
I don't clip, but do blanket. And, yes I ride throughout the winter. If they are sweaty when I get back and it's cold out- I'll layer Irish Knit, then cooler, then breathable sheet. A couple of hours later, they are dry and ready to be curried.
For grooming and tacking I have two trees near the field that I've screwed giant eye bolts into- I tie there to get them ready.
I do have a run in- it's a shelter king instant shed that I found on Craigslist for a steal. Easy to put up and no permit needed.
“While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain
We've just tied each horse to their bucket for 24/7 turnout. Of course, your horse must tie....and be supervised.
What are you doing for feed, tack and hay storage?
Best thing ever to spend your money on is a round pen. You can use the sections to make small paddocks for injured horses or to separate the greedy ones. Next thing would be some kind of shelter. You can rent to own in most places if you don't have the cashl to buy or build right now (but it is the expensive way to go). We looked at one for temporary stalls...2 - 3 stalls would have been about $250/month, IIRC. If you're interested, PM me and I'll dig up the info on the supplier.
So many solutions depend on how many horses you have, their feeding habits, etc.
"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant
I don't understand why anybody in SC would worry about having horses out 24/7 unless it's worry about a heat stroke or a hurricane!!!
First, go down to your local Extension Office and ask about plans for ag. structures. I'll bet they have a quite a few plans that they can give you which would give you options on sturctures appropriate to SC. This would include run in sheds, hay storage facilites, etc. Many can be built for very few dollars as long as you're willing to put in some "sweat equity."
You can also hit your local bookstore and look for books on "working structures." There are many general purpose buildings that can work for equine run in shelters or tack storage or feed storage or whatever.
Our horses live out 24/7 in East TN and right now the shelter in their pasture is a grove of trees. The pasture has some rolling terrain and there are a couple of "wind break" areas. Personally I think "run in" structures are more trouble than they are worth in our climate. If I lived in So. FL or Superior, WI I might have a different opinion. The risk in the South is heat, not cold. On the coast you have to add violent weather. You're not in MD anymore; don't build on a MD standard.
Like I say, hit the Extension Office. They will have ideas that you can use that are specific to your location. Good luck.
As for grooming, we have 3 and four board fencing. We have an indoor wash stall, but had to use it for overflow stalling for a short period of time, so we built and outdoor wash stall. We used the pasture fence for the back, put in two posts and fenced it off. It's about 12 x 12. Put down geotextile, rock and some mats on top and voila, outdoor grooming/wash stall. Cross ties are attached to the posts.
It's great when you want to pull one out, the others really don't seem to mind, since they can all see each other.
"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant
How many horses do you have? Mine are out 24/7 in a herd of 20 (only 2 are mine, I board).
We do have access to a barn but ...
I ride all winter and do a bib clip. They have been to clinics, recognized competitions, etc with this clip and no issues. They grow a good coat and have free choice hay all winter. They get a rain sheet when very cold rain/sleet. They are naked in snow or dry cold.
No, they won't look as pristine as barn kept horses.
For feed, I have found that as easy keepers, they do fine on one meal a day even in winter. Furthermore, they get fed when I am there, which is totally random from day to day. So I feed each one when I ride him, and if only riding one I feed the other one in the field separated from the herd (big field).
If you are working them, simply feed them when you are done working them and they are cooled out, before you put them back in the field.
We try to group according to feeding needs and personality, so that a dominant horse that gets a little grain is not in the same field with a submissive horse that needs more. A dominant hard keeper with a submissive easy keeper is no big deal.
If that doesn't work for you, you can tie them to eat (if they tie and you have board or other appropriate fencing for tying -- I wouldn't tie to woven wire or electric obviously). Nosebags are an option but I have personally never used them.
We have also let the submissive hard keeper horse out in the alley to eat on occasion if they know their routine and you are far from the road. My parents' farm is set back at least a 1/4 mile from the road, which is extremely quiet country lane, so that can work -- but I would not do it on my current farm which while set back is not that far from a busier road.
Putting them in a round pen or other enclosure would work of course.
Or build uncovered "stalls" to eat in -- Sink a few posts, put up a few boards with gates across the back and it would be secure enough for feeding grain.
But they really should have access to some shelter. Run-ins won't solve your feeding problem but are inexpensive to construct and will provide shade in the summer and wind protection in the winter.
Actually, run ins can solve your feeding problem. You just put a length of electric tape with a gate handle at both ends across the entrance at feeding time, and you've got an enclosure that either the bully or the bullied can eat in. It's cheap, easy, and rolls up and goes in the garage in between times...
I don't have a barn, pe se. I have a row of 3 metal run-ins, in the pasture, set about 14 foot back from the fence, facing the fence. This gives me all sorts of separation opportunities with the aforementioned gate handle and electric tape method. (It's not hot, btw, it's just substantial enough that they don't try to walk through it.)
The right hand end shed is set up so it has a pipe run-out in front of it that has gates both sides--one side into a side paddock so I can keep my "doesn't play well with others" horse there when he's home during the summer, gated off from the main pasture, and the other side gate is into the main pasture, so when he's not there in the winter, I can shut off the side pasture, open the gate into the main pasture, and I have more shelter space for the two boys who live out there full time. The run in on the left hand end is set up as my hay store, with a floor, and a full mesh swing-out front with a man-door in it.
We have water and electricity at the fence line, so I use troughs and tank-heaters for my water sources.
This whole set up is across the driveway from my garage, in which I have a wall that is set up as a feed room--coutertop, feed bins, upper cabinets for supplements, drawers and a cabinet for meds, and another wall set up as a tack room, (cabs for blankets and supplies, saddle and bridle racks, hooks, etc.) I have one bay of the garage rubber matted with cross ties in the doorway for grooming, tacking, farrier work. I have power for clippers, vacuum, etc right there.
That's a good idea, atr. You could also gate off the run-in with real gates, which we did for our first horses when we had a bully. 2 12' gates would gate off a 24' run in, and you could put the hinges to the outside and tie them back to the fence during the day to keep it open.
I just meant that run-ins alone, without more, will not solve the problem!
Lots of great idea to implement. Like I said, I guess I'm spoilt, and a turn out just ain't the barn!!! Also, I have "divas"- one field was 2 mares and a broodmare- 2 17 h and 1 15.2h. Miss 15.2 got bullied. Now I just moved her today w/ the yearlings, hopefully that'll work. My ponies all seem to get along fine - it's always the horses. My poor young gelding was in a spot too but I just sent him away to get broke( I'm way too old for that anymore ) so that solved that problem for now. My husband is working on barn blueprints right now - he hopes barn will be up by fall. Also, we are at the end of Whiskey Rd off 278 for Kachina. Do you go to the Highfields shows/ Mike Sharps? Where are all the h/j shows down here?
" It's about the horse, and that's it."