Questions about owning a horse
Ok, I am still working on getting my first horse. :-) yay! BUT I have some concerns. I am really trying to be prepared for owning a horse and trying to learn as much as possible. so here are my questions:
MANURE-what do you do with it?!!! i have been reading about it and researching but all it says is things like-most people compost it-can someone please elaborate! do you have a manure pile? where? what do you do with it then? what exactly does composting it mean?
DIRT PASTURES- is the pasture going to turn into dirt and mud? how do you prevent it?
WHICH IS BETTER- a run in shed or a 1-2 stall barn. I know obviously a barn would cost more money, but is it a better investment? You can confine the horse if it was sick or bad weather, ect. but is a run in shed all a horse needs?
Please let me know your opinion on these topics and anything else about horse ownership that i might be overlooking. Thanks!:D
What is your property like? Some people spread manure in pastures for fertilizer (although you have to be careful about worms!). You can dump it somewhere on the property that isn't being used. I like the idea of it being hauled off property, but that's not always doable.
Mud is inevitable most of the time. You can dump crusher dust or gravel in the paddocks, especially in high traffic areas such as gates. Dirt and hay will turn into muck, which leads to mud fever! It's also good for hooves to walk on hard ground.
I prefer horses to live outside! They can come and go as they please. There's really no need to stall horses as long as they can get out of the wind and weather when they feel like it. Horses who live outside are healthier and happier. Even injured horses are often better being allowed to walk around rather than being stalled. You can screw in a ring so you can tie your horse up in there. It's nice to have a barn with cross-ties though (even if there is no stall) for things like vet/farrier appointments, grooming, tacking, etc. You'll also need a place to store hay, feed, and equipment.
OK... so with manure composting means just pileing it up and letting the weather and bugs and worms break it down. If you have a garden it works great for your plants! Depending on where you are (town, city wise) sometimes a local plant store will take it off your hands to be processed to sell. When I worked at a high end stable they let people come and take it for free for personal use as well. So that is also an option. I advise against spreading it out in your horses pasture. It can cause worms and other things. Pileing it in a corner out of the way is your best bet.
Having a pasture means having grass, but eventually (if it is a smaller pasture) will have some dirt spots. There is really nothing you can do about this except possibly have two runs that you switch back and forth between. Your best bet is to find a spot with no dips and may possibly be slightly (slightly) downhill to help the water run off. Having a gravel base (meaning it is a layer of packed gravel and then soil/grass on top will help keep the water from making it too muddy. You DO NOT want your horse to be in a pen that is completely muddy with fecal matter. It will cause thrush or canker (hoof rot).
When it comes to a run in or stall it mainly preference. You can have a 1-2 horse barn where there is a back door that opens to a run. That way you can have the option of a stall with the convenience of having a run in. You can also lock the horse in the stall on a bad weather night or if they get hurt and have to be somewhere where they can only have limited mobility.
When it comes to manure, it really depends on the size of your field. Unless you have the time to walk around every night & pick up poo it can become a real chore in a large area & if you do let it pile up on you then it takes hours to get it all cleaned up again just to start all over the next day!
This is why most people with a bigger field & more than 1 horse prefer to harrow it every couple of months to spread the manure around.
In the small pens i clean up manually.
Also, depending on the size of your field & your weather mud & dirt is inevitable. Horses have a tendancy to tear grass up by the roots & wont eat where they have pooped in the past so pastures can look pretty messy at times.
Also, since the grass all dies in the winter, come spring when the snow melts the fields are pretty bare & if you dont have a large area (or somewhere else to keep your horse for a few months) you're gonna end up feeding year round because the horses wont allow the grass enough time to grow & it can get mucky.
As for shelter, there are very few in my area who actually have a barn. Most just use run-in's or else trees for shelter. You can easily turn a run-in into a stall of you need to & heat lamps can provide warmth if needed.
Thanks so much for the imput! :) It was a lot of help!
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