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Managing Work and Caring for Horses at Home

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  • Managing Work and Caring for Horses at Home

    I am curious and wanting to know how you do it - how those who work full-time outside the home but manage to keep your horses at home, how do you do it and maintain a degree of sanity?

    I am contemplating this move, but want some assurance that I am not nuts. Economically I may have no choice, but I am contemplating taking a new demanding position all at the same time.


  • #2
    Four horses at home. and a donkey. I don't show or take consistent lessons. We trail ride, horse camp, and I do about a clinic a year or less....

    Horses live OUT 24/7/365. I only have two stalls. Inclement weather means more grass hay, waterproof turnout sheets...ONLY when it's all three: wet and cold and windy. Otherwise they are nekked.

    They are fed hay twice a day, supplements/feed once a day.

    I rotate over two pastures, one sacrifice lot...one pasture is TERRIBLE...but grass hay 2X a day keeps a gloss on their coats and bright eyes. They are fine. Just don't look at the ground LOL...to water them...hoses that are dedicated to water tanks are on a timer. Big tanks are dumped every few weeks... but I overfill them- via that timer... every other day so they don't get too funky...

    I feed round bales in the winter out of a horse type feeder. I just move the feeder if the area gets mucky. A tractor is IMO needed to move round bales very far.

    Small arena, 66X 125....four lights on it that make it doable but it's not lit up like a landing strip...

    Again, I'm not maintaining show horses. But this works really well for me/us.

    does that help?


    • #3
      Who said anything about sanity? I lost that a long time ago. Somehow I manage with 30 or more rescues and two jobs plus fundraising. do I have a personal life, NO. do I care NO. I use stalls and they are clean. Paddocks are clean and I even manage to bushog.

      I simply set the alarm and get out there. Its a decision I made knowing full well what work it entailed and do I regret it NO. Do I understand the lady who said, "Do you ever just want to get out of horses, Hell ya. But then, what reason would I have for getting up in the morning.

      There is nothing like having the horses in your own back yard.
      Our horses are not seen as the old and disabled they may have become, but rather as the mighty steeds they once believed themselves to be.

      Sunkissed Acres Rescue and Retirement


      • #4
        I think it depends on a lot of things.

        *How many horses do you have?
        *Are they high maint. or can they live with a run-in 24/7?
        *How often do you want to ride? - Cut that figure in half
        *Will you have any help, be it a husband or boarder?
        *How understanding is your work? Will they be flexible with emergencies?

        I moved one home and got a babysitter, then bought another horse, then got a boarder who does chores a few days a week (I LOVE my boarder). So four at home and I wouldn't change a thing. I do wish I had more time to ride though. There is always work to be done so sometimes you just don't get to ride as often as you like.

        Mine are in stalls at night and out during the day now. Stalls are cleaned 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That does get old sometimes........but it's got to be done.


        • #5
          I have my 3, and 4 boarders here on our 5 acres. Dh and I both work full time, and he was just deployed for a year.
          I manage to have grass, everyone is out 24/7 except for really nasty weather. I am very very particular about the pastures, I am always mowing or dragging or something out there. Which is why I have decent grass. I also carefully rotate. I have my place split up into 3 decent sized paddocks and one decent area for the house, barn, pool etc.

          We set up the farm to be at the max efficiency, as far as running pipe for water to the fields, setting up gates to the paddocks, etc etc etc. I also try to be really efficient about things like getting feed, hay, managing things and so forth.
          I have found that to be the key-do as many things in one trip as you can. For instance, if you are going out to drag, start the hose in the trough while you are out there.
          Blanket them or fly spray them, pick feet while they are eating, feed rolls instead of squares (cheaper, more efficient and a time saver). That is also why they are out, if they were in my limited riding time would be otherwise occupied with shoveling poop.
          I also do bag shavings. Although it costs a little more, storage is easier for me, and there's less waste. It's easier to deal with so for me it's worth it. You just have to figure out what works for you

          I boarded before we bought our place in '03, and sure, there are sacrifices. You have to find someone reliable if you are going to get away. But then no one will die if they don't get fed at exactly the same nanosecond every day. I keep mine on a not schedule on purpose. I'm not chained to the farm, and I don't want to get stuck running home because Poopsiekins has to eat at 6 pm on the dot. Sometimes I feed early sometimes I feed late. Depends on what's going on, did they eat breakfast at 4 because I hunted or did they eat at 8 b/c I slept in? Do DH and I want to go out to dinner? It's no big deal b/c they have grass and a roll so they have full tummies all the time.

          And for the record, I do have some show horses. I have been showing, lessoning and doing clinics. Now that foxhunting is starting up down here I will also be hunting 4 days a week. I hunt and whip in at two hunts, and have been walking out hounds etc all summer as well.

          If you just plan your schedule and set things up efficiently it makes things a lot easier.
          "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


          • #6

            You set the alarm. You do it when it's hot, cold, windy, and you're tired as hell from your "real" job. You do it when you have the flu, cramps, limbs in casts, too tired, too busy. Last night I quickly turned out, and went in for the evening. This morning, cleaned stalls, brought in, and got to work. When I went out to do evening chores tonight, the big horse wuffled me on the neck while I was doing his stall, until I gave him my undivided attention (which means scratching him just behind the withers while he drools), then "helping" me clean his stall by grabbing the end of the fork. It is my friends what KEEPS me sane. Unconditional love. No judgements, no expectations, doesn't care if you smell funny or you're having a bad hair day. Just give them love. What else could you want. Does it cut in on the ride time? Sure, but I think you get to know your horse better.


            • #7
              I'm in the other camp- I can't imagine anyone else taking care of my horses. It's not that they are special or high dollar horses, I just plain enjoy the task associated with daily horse keeping. I have 5 here- 3 full size horses and 2 miniatures.

              To answer your question- turnout and run in sheds/stalls are your friend. Your dicipline will dictate how much facility you need- nice jumping arena, indoor if your up north and so on. Most horses aren't t.h.a.t. demanding- hay & fresh water in front of them, a secure fence around them.

              Good luck in making your decision!


              • #8
                Yeah, making your horses low-maintenance is key.

                Mine are also out 24/7. I only put them up if there have been monsoons and I'm worried about them turfing up my pasture, which I irrigate/fertilize and keep up to the best of my ability.

                I do shift work, so sometimes they get fed at very funky hours. Last year is the first year I didn't blanket. I was convinced my non-coat-growing TB needed his blanket. He doesn't.

                I don't have anywhere near as much time to ride as I did as a boarder, but then I didn't have a kid before either, so that plays into it as well. I do have a big halogen light that lets me ride at night. I don't show anymore right now, but I hope to change that eventually because I miss it. I don't really have anything show worthy right now though.

                Finding someone you trust so you can go on vacations is an issue. My hubby doesn't mind pitching in which is also a huge help. Do some planning and invest $ before going into it is my best advice. My barn is set up so that the stalls open to pasture and can be used more like a run-in setup, and I invested in vinyl fencing with hot wire at top and bottom. I'm no good at handywork so I didn't want fence maintenance. I also have vinyl siding on my barn to deter my cribber....everyone thinks it was to make the barn match my house. Hot water run to the barn, lights everywhere, lots of things to add up on your budget but they make things a lot easier in the long run. I'm very lucky in that though I only own 5 acres, I'm surrounded by family land with access to great trails. Otherwise riding would be limited to my property or hauling out which would get old.

                Agree with the previous poster, I couldn't let someone else take care of my horses now. My former hard-keeping TB is now thriving on a forage only diet. It's true nobody can take care of them like you can.


                • #9
                  Plan for your convenience and your horse's.
                  I have 5ac with 2 horses and work 4 days a week, voluntereering on the 5th.
                  My pastures are so-so but improving each year, no thanks to me - I don't reseed, fertilize, weed and mow rarely. Still, I feed less hay in Summer than cold weather.
                  Horses have free access to stalls 24/7/365 and they choose Out over In in any weather.
                  I blanket - waterproof T/O - only if weather is truly nasty = icy snow or temps well below 0, otherwise they are Wooly Mammoths and perfectly happy that way.
                  A frost-free pump in the barn is NOT a luxury, neither is decent electric.
                  Both will make your life a lot easier.
                  Like OP have said a non-schedule for feeding is better for all and finding someone trustworthy to give you a chance to vacation is definitely a good idea.
                  Even though I have an indoor I ride less than when I boarded, but the tradeoff is knowing my horses better than ever before and I LOVE it.

                  If you could spend some time as a working student it might make your decision a little easier.
                  Once you have them at home it is a fulltime job no matter what you feel like - sick, hurt, justdon'twanna do not count, horses need to be taken care of.
                  *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


                  • #10
                    Will you be building your own at-home horse facilities? If so, definitely take some time to make your facility as easy for the non-horse-person as possible. That way, when you have to work late or be absent from home, you will have a far easier time finding someone who can do horses for you.

                    The best thing I did (at the insistence of experienced friends) was build my barn with one wall as part of the fence line. That wall has windows into the stalls so feed can be dumped in from the outside.

                    The horses have access to the stalls 24/7, and each stall has two doors so there's always an escape route. Once feed is in the stalls, the non-horse-person can go around and shut the doors to keep horses separated while they eat.

                    With my set-up, no one needs to lead a horse anywhere or take food inside the fence with loose horses. This makes for a much longer list of potential horse-sitters.
                    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                    • #11
                      3 at home, 5+ acres, full time job. I leave for work at 6:15a, home by 5:30p unless I run errands, then a little later.

                      Feed at 5:30a, turn out, hay is given outside, total time about 15 minutes. At night I mess with one of them, then do night chores. Since I haven't been getting a lot of rain, I have to keep them in at night to keep grass. I use the pelleted bedding and it takes me less than a half hour to clean all three stalls as long as I keep up with it. Feed, mix breakfast, total time to feed in the evenings less than an hour (with stall cleaning). I'm usually back in the house by 7:30-8p. Weekends I do a thorough cleaning of the stalls and add bedding if needed. Also dump and whoosh out the trough. Total time on the weekends about 2 hours total of extras.

                      I buy their feed and hay every other week, bedding once a month.

                      I love keeping them at home, and even though I miss the companionship I had when boarding, I really don't want to give this up. Sure its a pain in the butt and every now and then I suffer from burn out, but you can simplify it as much as you want and not scrimp on their care. I am closer to my horses now than I ever was when boarding, and I can watch them walk out of their stalls in the dark and will know instantly if something is wrong. When your with them as much as you are when they are at home, its easy to eyeball them and avoid major problems just because you develop a sense of what is normal for them and what is not.

                      I want to add I am not a slave to my horses. If I want to go out to dinner with friends I do, and have never had a problem feeding them a little later than usual or skipping a stall cleaning for one night. Usually I get home and find them out grazing peacefully without a worry in the world. They know I'll show up.


                      • Original Poster

                        How many horses do you have? 2, possibly 3
                        *Are they high maint. or can they live with a run-in 24/7? they are show horses, or former show horses so I don't want them to live out unless the weather is perfect.
                        *How often do you want to ride? - Cut that figure in half I ride a few times a week
                        *Will you have any help, be it a husband or boarder? I won't have SO to help me but wanted to hire someone to take care of them in the evenings, do stalls and when I travel.
                        *How understanding is your work? Will they be flexible with emergencies? Not sure yet about this. But I plan to have help.


                        • Original Poster

                          My facilities are already in place.

                          I have 3 large paddocks, more than I need so I won't have a problem overgrazing with only 3 horses. I have very solid 4 board new fencing so that is in order too. I have water in 2 of my paddocks.

                          My stalls are very large, I will use bag shavings (kept in the hayloft, it is a bank barn) along with hay. Already have planned delivery for a large quantity of shavings (buy in bulk and the price goes way down) and they will deliver it for $10, imagine that!

                          I have a ring, 100 x 200 which is almost completed, will be done by spring (we are letting it sit). No lights though, but I have access to indoors. Not great, but I guess I will be riding less in the winter, that is ok.

                          I have hot and cold water, an indoor wash stall and a very nice renovated 1900 bank barn.

                          My issue is just learing to juggle it all - job and horses. But my horses are easy to deal with, great manners, and I know them fairly well already.


                          • #14
                            2 horses, 1 pony.
                            Stalled at night, out during the day
                            I ride 4-5 times/week and periodically show.

                            In morning I dump feed and muck stalls while they eat, then lock them outside all day so no extra poop in stalls when I get home.

                            I have a full sized dressage arena (nothing fancy) with 1 light pole, 2 lights points from "E" to the short sides of the arena. This way I can ride after dark (sometimes summer, mostly winter which is show season here).

                            In the winter I ride at night.
                            I work F/T plus O/T.
                            Many times I work regular 9 hr day, come home and ride, put horses up with hay, eat dinner while horse cools down, then feed horses around 10 pm sometimes later. Lately after my dinner I do "homework" - i.e. documents from work updated at home.

                            I have a young rider who has been with me 3 years riding my older mare. She comes once a week and gets a lesson for which she exchanges chores (see that as things I hate to do or heavy chores a youngster can handle better than I).
                            Now in Kentucky


                            • #15
                              Actually, you may very well find that your show horses will benefit from 24/7 turn out - mine certainly have. In summer, they stay in run-in shed under their fans (with fresh hay, of course!) during the day - between that and flysheets, I have little to no bleaching of coats. They tend to graze more in mornings, evenings and nights...

                              I've noticed that since going to 24 hr turnout, they are more fluid in muscles than when they were in a stall part of the time. Also, my mare in particular became more relaxed in her overall demeanor (she is not a calm/quiet horse by any stretch of the imagination).

                              Just a thought..... and it does make life much much easier - especially in rush to get to work.
                              Originally posted by SmartAlex

                              Give it up. Many of us CoTHers are trapped at a computer all day with no way out, and we hunt in packs. So far it as all been in good fun. You should be thankful for that.


                              • #16
                                Set the alarm? Not necessary. A barn full of hungry horses can wake you up from a loooong ways away. And if they're outside... it won't take long for them to figure out which window is the bedroom.

                                I always found that the key to it was 1. staging and 2. dress properly.
                                You will not have as much fun dragging out of bed in the dark cold rain if the hay is not out of the loft or you are running around in muck boots and a nightgown and your socks have scooched down to your toes. That just takes all the pleasure out of it.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by monalisa View Post
                                  I have a very nice renovated 1900 bank barn.
                                  Oooh. I'm envious!

                                  As far as hired help, just get a husband...it'll be cheaper.

                                  If you have lots of storage in your bank barn that's a definite plus. My hay storage situation is crappy...I keep my hay at one of the larger outbuildings on the family farm, about .5 mile from my house, and have to bring down about 20 or so bales at a time since that's all I have storage for at the moment. That's a big time waster.

                                  You will definitely need a friend/hired help for times when you can't get off work to hold them for the vet/farrier. Finding good help can be hard.


                                  • #18
                                    *Are they high maint. or can they live with a run-in 24/7? they are show horses, or former show horses so I don't want them to live out unless the weather is perfect.
                                    Here's where you'll run into time issues - caring for stalled horses is far more time-consuming than caring for ones that live out, plus far more wasteful in terms of supplies - you go through far more bedding, thus producing far more waste.

                                    Having experienced both show horses on limited turnout and those that live out all the time, for most horses, it's definitely better for their brains if they're outside all the time, anyway. They don't melt in less than perfect weather. Granted, it's your choice, but to me it's always been easier and more practical to keep them out, or just in in incliment weather. Some horses do nicely with 12/12.
                                    They're small hearts.


                                    • #19
                                      Monalisa, I have a boarder that trades her board for daily feeding and cleaning. It works great. She knows the schedule, lives across the street and is dependable. Without the trade she and her daughter could not afford to have horses, so it's definitely a win-win-win for all of us. If you can find someone like her, you can have some flexibility. I find time to ride and cannot imagine not having them home.



                                      • #20
                                        I found a very reliable horse crazy teenage girl to help us when we travel. That's a huge help to me.

                                        Your horses most assuredly will be healthier and happier....out fresh air, room to wiggle, etc. They'll tell you when they're ready to come in.

                                        It is scary at first but I promise, it gets easier if you let it Nice turnout rugs make for happy- outside- hides!