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Keeping two horses on small acreage - Tips & Ideas

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  • Keeping two horses on small acreage - Tips & Ideas

    I'll be officially retiring my current horse, as she is no longer rideable due to injury. My plan is to pick up a second horse that is and just keep my mare as a companion.

    But, I am limited on space. About 1.5 acres. And it is all sand. I'll eventually be building two stalls just outside the pasture so I can stall them at feeding time/extreme weather. So they will be out about 22 hours a day on most days.

    I always feed free choice hay. And they will be getting a half flake of T/A at feeding time. And because I am on sand, I bran/oil once a week.

    What are other things I can do to make this manageable?
    My Blog - http://snootyfillyblog.weebly.com/

  • #2
    Well... as the second horse you could get a mini! That would help

    Other than that.. I have 5 acres (which I know is considerably more in pasture sense) and I do a sacrifice area. I just use step in posts and electric tape. I pick up the poop as much as I can, and I keep them in there all winter/early spring.

    I also feed round bales all winter, and feed hay at night in the spring/summer/fall.

    I have 3.5 horses on 5 acres and still have good grass. (the .5 is a mini donk)
    http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn


    • #3
      I have one horse, one pony kept on about 2.5ac with a sacrifice area between two pastures.
      I use the term "pasture" loosely as I do zero maintenance and the grass is rarely lush, but enough grows so I cut down on hay fed when it's there.

      You don't say where you are, so without an idea of climate I can't opine on how 24/7 turnout will work for you.
      Is there shelter in the pasture?
      IIWM, I'd build those stalls inside the fenceline and let them have free access.
      This setup works really well for me - my 2 can come & go from stall to pasture as they want and I can close them in for things like farrier or vet visits or weather.
      Also makes farmsitting easier for non-horsepeople. They can limit contact - no turning in or out for feeding.

      You need a good source of year-round water, so electric for a tank heater or auto-waterer IMO is not a luxury, but a necessity if you are somewhere it gets below 32F.

      No more ideas w/o knowing more about your setup.
      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      • #4
        What shelter will they have before you get the barn built? It might make sense to build a large run in shed now, before you move the horses onto the property. Then, you can put down rubber mats. If you hay inside the run in, they will consume lass sand. Your pasture will be less torn up if the horses eat inside and go inside when it is muddy or raining. Leaving the horses without shelter until you build a barn is not good for them or for your pasture.


        • #5
          No real advice to offer on set up other than to ensure you have a plan to pick manure on a regular (daily) basis and have a disposal strategy. You may find out quickly that a few piles a day adds up to an eyesore/mess in a short period of time. You might be able to partition off the property and store manure until broken down and then top dress to improve sand so grass will grow. Good luck!


          • #6
            I would put my money into a heated automatic waterer (like Nelson), that way you pretty much never have to worry that they have fresh clean water. (And helps with farm sitting too). I agree, I'd make a run-in that can be closed into stalls part of the sacrifice area. You could also feed hay in something like a cinchchix net, which will keep the hay off the ground and prevent waste. To give more advice we'd have to know more about your climate. Good luck!
            Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/


            • #7
              I have three with just a couple of acres, part of that being marsh. The one positive thing I have is a really nice barn with back dutch doors that run to a sacrifice area. Many days I will only let them out for a few hours and really try to manage the grassy areas. They have hay almost 24/7 in nibble nets in their stalls. I do round bales at times also. Manure management is a must also.

              Acreage is sparse and expensive here, so we make do with what we have. I would love to have lush green pastures with 24/7 turn out. You will learn to make do and I am sure your horses won't be any worse for wear!


              • #8
                I have a horse and a large pony on 1 acre. I agree about the manure pick up. We have a dumpster and it is picked up twice a month. Make sure you find out ALL the rules/laws/regulations that your town has for equines. Check....check and triple check. Get stuff in writing if possible. You don't want to start building or putting up fence and find out you are too close to property lines or that you needed a variance.

                We made what we have work...but it is small. Use as much space as you possible can.

                I also agree about trying to have a set up with in and outs. You want some freedom to be able to go out and do things and not have to worry if it suddenly starts pouring that you have to run home and put the horses in.

                This is a link to the thread about my property.


                • Original Poster

                  I'm in South Florida, so no snow or freezing weather (even though I think the occasional cold spell is my impending doom). And sandy, sandy soil.

                  There is a lean-to (which is where I feed my free choice hay), but there is not enough room to make two stalls as it it only 12' x 15'. It is open on two sides with access to hay from the other two. There are days which the weather is extra cold or lots of rain that I would prefer they would stay in, but for some reason, my mare loves to stand out in the rain during a cold front. Ugh.

                  I have one medium stock tank and one Xlarge stock tank for water. The medium is changed daily and the Xlarge is cleaned out weekly. No electricity in the barn, so heated waters aren't an option.

                  I pick poop, but not often enough. Once a week right now. But I should do it more often.
                  My Blog - http://snootyfillyblog.weebly.com/


                  • #10
                    The smaller the companion horse, the better. Maybe a donkey.


                    • #11
                      I'm pretty sure horse 2 is to ride, since horse 1 is retired.


                      • #12
                        I highly recommend the book Horse Keeping on a Small Acreage.

                        There is a ton of great information in there.


                        • #13
                          I have 2 horses on about 2 acres. I have it divided into 1 large pasture 1 very tiny paddock and one dual purpose medium pasture/arena. I have a lean-to where I always keep a round bale, and a 2 stall barn with 2 large stalls and a feed room, both in the largest pasture. The two stalls have individual sacrifice pens that they can go in and out of all day long.
                          I keep hay in front of the nearly 24/7. What manure I don't compost for my garden, I give away on craigslist.
                          I seed my pastures twice a year. I live in TX so I do winter rye in September, and Bermuda in April. My pasture looks great. I just really have to stay on top of it and rotate regularly.


                          • #14
                            Look into Paddock Paradise. I made a track for my horses around my regular paddocks and they are moving around (self exercising and staying healthier) much, much more than in a traditional square fenced in area. They are also on about 1.5 acres.
                            I personally would not bother with stalls. Your horse is already telling you they like being out. I had to chuckle at your "cold " comment in Florida. I am in the Colorado mountains at 10,000 feet!!
                            "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                            • #15
                              Sounds like you are on the right track. the 12' x 15' shelter should be adequate, especially in springtime, for two horses as long as they get along. Since you will be riding one horse, a small barn with 2 stalls, a tack/feed room and a cross tying area (I realize you can tack up in the stall but you'll need a place for the farrier to work) would make you life easier. If you can have electricity in the barn it will make your life much easier - what about late nights/early mornings? Also, Nelson waterers are great and will really make your life easier.

                              I have 2 horses on 3 acres. I designed the barn to be as space efficient as possible. I have two 12 x 12 stalls, an 8 x 14 feed/tack room, and an 8 x 10 wash stall in an "L" shape. The area "inside" the L is a covered aisle with cross ties and is open, so doubles as a run-in shelter. So, my total barn footprint is 32'x24'. My stalls open into individual bluestone/sand paddocks, which in turn open into two 1 acre pastures. It works really well and is very efficient. Though it is safer to keep hay in a separate storage unit, I have a loft above my barn for space efficiency. It helps keep the barn warm in the winter, too. My horses are never locked in their stalls, so I don't worry about them being caught in in the event of a barn fire. I also have a smoke alarm in the barn that will ring in the house.

                              My two horses are very attached and get upset when one leaves, but over time they have gotten used to the arrangement and stay calm. That said, if you have no chance of having pasture, your 1.5 acres could probably support 2 horses and a small companion. My grass could not support a 3rd animal, so my horses have just had to learn to deal.

                              Shouldn't be a problem on sand, but make sure that large vehicles (farrier, hay, etc) can reach your barn even when wet. In most areas that means paving or gravel up to the barn.

                              Make your barn as close to your house as possible. A hunt box type setup, where the barn is actually attached to the house, is ideal and makes life SO much easier.

                              You'll want to pick out your turnout daily or every other day, or it will become unmanageable. I pick out my sand paddocks daily, and my pastures once a week.

                              I use nibble nets (thinaircanvas.com) when the horses are in the sane paddocks - slows down their eating, simulates grazing, and keeps them from ingesting sand. They are expensive but well worth it, and they hold up great - mine have seen daily use for several years and are left out in rain, snow, etc and still look great.

                              Good luck!


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks for all the great info. I've already ordered a copy of "Horse Keeping on Small Acreage" and I am looking forward to reading it!

                                Second horse will be for riding as my current horse can no longer support the weight of a rider. She had a nasty fall flat on her hip and that was the end of it. So many issues since then.

                                I do have a nice concrete slab with cross-ties so the vet and farrier have a place to work. We've got good drainage and rarely have any flooding or mud, thankfully!
                                My Blog - http://snootyfillyblog.weebly.com/


                                • #17
                                  I'd just do a big run-in shed that you can divide or enclose as needed.

                                  Have a look a the Klene Pipe structures, I'm very happy with mine. I can put round pen panels across the front if I need to confine my horse, otherwise it's just open.

                                  I also put in a solar panel setup and can run a light off of a battery (it's also supposed to run a fan, but I need another panel, someone's math was off...)

                                  Your horses like to be out, no point in spending $$$ to build stalls you'll rarely use.
                                  ... and Patrick


                                  • #18
                                    I have about 2.5 acres for 1 riding horse and donk companion. I have a large run-in shed and used round-pen panels to make a 12x12 stall when my horse needed temporary lay-up and it worked fine. My shed opens directly into a sacrifice pen which opens into the main pasture. I can close the gate to keep them in the pen or leave the gate open so they can come and go as they want; either way they always have access to shelter.

                                    The horse portion of our run-in is 24w x20d; we're in NC and it gets hot so I always want them to have access to deep shade. On one side of our shed we have a 6x20 enclosed feed and tack room (it's under the same roof as the horse area so the overall width of our shed is 30'). I use a dead chest freezer to hold all my feed, supplements, treats, etc.; horse and vermin proof. Then I keep a couple of bales of hay; the bulk are stored in another building. My tack area is about 6x8 and that's plenty big enough for saddles and all supplies for one or two riding horses. I suggest outward opening walk-in door so horses can't pop it inward and help themselves to anything.

                                    We have electric and water now but didn't in the beginning. It helped that we installed 2 "sidelight" windows (hung horizontally higher than horses could reach). They provide natural light so the feed/tack area wasn't a dungeon. We found ours at a local salvage place for cheap - you might be able to find some like that, too.

                                    Good luck with everything, especially finding the new horse...
                                    It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


                                    • #19
                                      Do you know how your retired horse behaves if left alone? If she can't handle it, you may end up with 3 if you plan on taking your riding horse off property. I'm lucky in that my companion horse is cool with being left behind by himself. But friends had to get a companion for the companion for those times when they take the riding horse off property.


                                      • #20
                                        I have a tad over 2 1/2 arces but only about 1 and 1/3 for my horse. I have roughly a 140 x 70 paddock (dry lot) with a 2 stall barn (11x12) and a another small paddock that has grass. I don't let out on grass but a few days a week and only a few hours. But I am able to have grass most all yr. And never when its wet do I turn out on the grass. (Florida here) Poo patrol is very important and I keep coastal in front of them 24/7 and they get either T/A or O/A at both feedings. I also have a 140x60 riding ring so I am not tearing up my grass paddock riding.

                                        I have had two horses here and it worked fine I just cant afford two horses and be able to do lessons and a little showing. So to solve the buddy issue I got a goat and it works perfectly. So Its very workable you just have to manage it.