How do you handle turn-out at self-care stable?
We bought our property in August which includes a small boarding business. We're still very new to this. When we bought it there was a single trainer renting the main barn & arena and then he would sub-let stalls and provide full-care. So he controlled turn-outs, etc.
Well, the trainer moved out of the area shortly after we bought the place and we decided to open it up to self-care boarding. We both work VERY full-time and cannot provide care for any horses other than our own.
We will soon have a total of 14 horses and 7 different clients. Our 4 horses are kept in a back field with a run-in shelter, separate from client horses.
So, my question is, how do you handle turn-out in this situation?
We have about 8 acres of land for turn-out and our horses. There are two different turn-out areas, but they are not divided well between the two barns. We will be completely re-fencing next summer so we plan on dividing the pastures up differently and are looking for ideas.
We cannot provide separate areas for each horse or even each client. Do most stables provide one field for mares and one for geldings? Do you just cross your fingers that they'll all get along??? Any other suggestions for how to do this?
I've boarded at a facility that had full and self-care. There was only one pasture, but the facility also had paddocks where people could turn their horses out individually or with other horses of their choosing (providing they owned the other horses or had permission from their owners).
The pasture was mixed gender - geldings and mares all together. I've heard of people separating geldings/mares, but in my area it isn't all that common.
I think that if I had my own boarding facility and had the space to do so, I would separate mares and geldings. Just my preference as I have a gelding that can get pretty territorial over mares and I know what a hassle it could be at times.
An option you may consider is charging to turn people's horses out for them. I did self-care at my stable, but for a small monthly fee I could pay to have my horses turned out for the day and then brought back in at night. If this is an option for you, I bet people would take it. Since I myself worked it wasn't feasible for me to get out to the barn twice a day.
I board at a self care barn. (Love it, by the way :)). We all turn out together. During the warm months, some turned out during the day, and the row I'm on turned out at night. Now that its getting cold, everyone goes out during the day, and they are in their own stalls at night. Works well. We have one big pasture, that is basically a dry lot. (No fault of anyones but the Texas weather.) And we don't feed any hay while they are out, so no fighting. But we may invest in round bales, but since hay is hard to come by, we're not sure yet. There is one smaller side pasture, that is grassed, and we hand graze in there for an hour or two when we can. Hay is fed in the stalls at night.
Honestly, if I were you, I would consider hiring a manager and/or a few employees so that you could provide full care. Self care isn't a good option for most people, since, unless they're very close by, it's extremely difficult to be there long enough or come out twice to turn out and bring in horses, feed 2x a day, blanket, etc.
I stabled at two self care places. The slightly bigger one had four paddocks - two for mares and two for geldings that it would rotate between when one was eaten down. You could only put your horse out during the day. The mares paddock was about 4 acres maybe, there were more geldings so they were each about 6 or 7 acres each I think. Additionally, if the owner didn't want to keep the horse with others they could pay extra and get a private half acre or acre paddock for turnout.
The other place I stabled was smaller and separated into two stable blocks. There were a few paddocks that they rotated between, generally there were two herds, one for each block, but if your horse had trouble in one of them you could put them with the other. You could put your horse out either in the day or at night, so in the summer we put them out at night instead of the day. There were also private paddocks with shelters you could rent out just for your horses if you really wanted to.
I think that whenever you introduce a horse to a herd there will be trouble for a few days but they're horses, its natural. I have nothing against keeping them in mixed herds, but in my experience horses get less herd bound when kept in single sex herds.
Thanks for the info. Since we've never kept horses in a boarding facility, we're learning these things as we go along. I think we'll probably keep a very small paddock behind the old barn. Right now it has the largest turn-out area, even though it only has 3 stalls. The main barn has 15 stalls, but a smaller turn-out area. (Yeah, it makes no sense at all.) As per your suggestions, we'll probably have two larger turn-out areas for the main barn - one for geldings, one for mares.
Thanks for the suggestions of hiring employees, Clementine. Right now we have plenty of clients who want self-care. All of our clients live within 2 miles of our place, so it isn't a big deal for them to stop by twice a day. Plus, they help each other out when needed. Our thought is that if we offered full-care boarding, and hired someone to do the work and they weren't reliable, it would fall back on us. We just don't have the time to do that. But it is something we might consider in the future, especially if we ever have kids.
"We cannot provide separate areas for each horse or even client."
I dont buy that, no reason at all you cant divide up separate areas. Saying that 14 horses is alot for 8 acres. Especially if part of those are being used for personal use.
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