Self Care 101...help!
Ok I'm not new to horse ownership but I am new to self care. I'll admit I've always been a bit spoiled in the sense that someone else took care of my horses and I just showed up and rode :-) And now the only facility anywhere near us is self care only, I'm humbled and finding myself in the outs as far as day to day care and maintenance! So can someone give me a basic rundown of your routine at a self care (or your backyard) facility? Any self care 101 would be appreciated! I am very much looking forward to spending the additional time with my girl, though :-) I think it will be very rewarding.
I guess one thing to pay attention to is keeping a schedule,
especially when it comes to feeding.
You'll find yourself being more mindful of changing weather conditions, as well.
Also, find a good, reliable hay supplier, and local feed store.
You'll want to be available, or have someone available, for farrier, vet, and equine dentist visits, etc.
LOL!! Your whole world is about to change!!:shock::mrgreen:
Welcome to self care!:-)
We've been doing self care for a year now and I would DIE if I had to go back to Full care boarding.:-x
Our horses are a big monetary investment, and they are very important to us, and it is very hard, if not impossible, to find someone else to take the proper care of your horse that you would do.
As the saying goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself.
We are very happy for the ability to make ALL decisions about our horses ourselves, when they come in, when they go out, what to feed, when to feed, etc.
When we were in full care board, we were constantly butting heads with the barn owner about stuff....like turning our OTTB out in inclement weather, leaving him in alone, not turning him out at a set time so that he would be left in his stall with the others for most of the day, not changing his water buckets every day so his water was fouled with dissolved grain, slobber and hay....not refilling bucket when it was empty, not cleaning his stall regularly, putting him in with horses that he fought with, not doing anything to make the telephone pole guidewire in the pasture visible to the horses, not feeding him enough hay, not feeding him quality hay, and this list could go on forever.
Where we are now is a farm with a 6 stall stable that is a private residence. There are 23 acres of pasture and lots of trails....and we have it all to ourselves. We do self care as the barn owner has severe back problems, but she will bring the horses in, turn them out, unfreeze their inside water in the winter(outside water has a tank heater), throw hay in the dry lot or in their stalls, fill their buckets with the hose in the stall or dry lot....
She just can't do much in the way of mucking or carrying water to the buckets in the far field....
ALL horse decisions are left up to us. If we want them to come in for a storm or heat, we call her and let her know.
The horses actually let her know, lol!D! seriously, when they get hot or if the flies get bad, they will come in from the far field and stand by the stable door....that is her cue to bring them into the stables which have walls that open on each end, dutch stall doors, and a huge barn fan that blows into their stalls.
They are so spoiled.:wink:
This is our schedule. the horses are usually left out in the dry lot paddock overnight unless the weather is bad. 7 am the barn owner turns them out into the grass pastures. They come back into the dry lot and stand by the stable door waiting to come in to their stalls(even though the pasture has LOTS of shade and trees!????? WHY????) around 11 am, later if the weather is cooler. She brings them in to their stalls and turns on the huge fan and opens the end walls, which are doors... when they come in from the far field. We get to the farm around 4 for feeding, mucking, riding, etc. We usually give them 2 more hours of grass time , then We usually leave around 8 or 9 pm....and turn them back out into the dry lot paddock. Next morning is a repeat of the day before.
By the way: our horses only get 6 hours of grass time on advice of our vet due to fatness.
I am new to horses (2 years experience) and others here on forum can probably direct you to a good source, but for what it is worth, this is my routine every day...
Pull out water buckets from stall, empty, scrub if needed. Muck stall. Add or change shavings if necessary. Change shavings every 2 weeks, can go longer in summer when horses aren't stalled at night. Put buckets back in, fill with fresh water. Put down feed & hay, bring mare up from pasture & put in stall to eat.
Begin on second stall with my foal, do the same. After eating, my mare gets tied outside stall, brushed, feet cleaned, ridden or turned out to pasture. Muck her stall again if needed. The foal (5 months) gets brushed, feet cleaned, led out and around property, put out in round pen for whatever we are working on. Check water troughs in pasture morning and evening.
After riding mare, I hose her down a few times a week, use sweat scraper to get water off & let her dry tied in shade with a good breeze.
I check horses daily for cuts, bumps, etc. and treat as necessary. Feet are trimmed every 6 weeks. Check your local vet for worming/vac schedules. Oh, and I use fly spray on both after brushing.
Hope this gives you some idea of what is involved in self-care. I wouldn't have it any other way. I love spending the time grooming & caring for my horses. Of course I only have two so it isn't that much work.
I havent actually bought my horse yet although at my barn i lease so i do most of the work considering self care. I think the most obvious one to me is cleaning the horses stall, imagine sitting in a room the smelled like pee diiiiscusting thats why i would come to do my horses stall 3 times a week perferably mon, wed, fri. The other factor of self caring for your horse is feeding do you know what they fed your horse before? You have to figure that out first! At my barn we take shifts feeding the horses and each have to feed them at least 3 times a month so for example im feeding next sundaynight and my friend is feeding sunday morning! Now obviously horses eat 2 a day, although then there's hay (if your horse stayes inside during the day) 3 flakes a day if your horse isn't a pig 4 if he or she is.
Cleaning your horse is the next big thing in the summer months i like to give my horse a bath once a month or after i ride if she's really swetty i'll rinse her off. Then theres brushing, obviously before and after a ride i would brush her. Or maybe once in a while when im at the barn ill just groom her to get red of all the fur in the spring. The icky part of cleaning them is if you have a boy horse you have to clean his privates once a week and same with a girl horse. (Your lucky if you have a girl horse :P). Also after grooming i put zinc (sunscreen on their nose if it is pink and flyspray oon to keep the fly's off.
The last part is the riding part i would suggest 4 times a week to keep her excersized.
Now if this is all boggaling your mined then another thing is you could pay someone at your barn or to come in that knows what your doing to do some of the work well they are doing the work you can watch and hopefully learn eventually do!
Good luck and have FUN!:D
Everyone has great advice but this summed things up nice and tidy:lol:
When I was raising a family and working full time, my horses were home and had use of the run-in shed. They didn't spend much time in there so I didn't have to clean manure every morning if I was running late because "someone" forgot to tell me the night before he needed to take cookies to school that day:shock:
Back then the box stalls were in the big barn and only used in the coldest of winter or when someone was sick.
However early you get up now, add another 30 to 60 minutes to that - it's your schedule and your driving distances, so you will know how much extra time to build in to your schedule mornings and evenings.
Unless you have a very animal-dependable friend or family member, be prepared to never go anywhere overnight again unless your horses are out on plenty of pasture, have ample water and shade. Even then I would want someone checking in on them.
Years and years ago, my good friend left for camp with one horse and her horse-oriented sis drove 20 miles every day to check on the other horse.
To keep this short, Sis found the other horse dead due to the high tension power line getting blown down in the previous night's storm. The horse was electrocuted immediately and never knew what happened.
Point-being he was found in less than 24 hours because someone was checking on him (and the property) every day.
I think most folks will say the primary thing is to be well-organized, learn which horse-keeping duties can be let go in a pinch, if that needs to happen and you'll do fine:-)
Although there are benefits to self care, you will discover many things that you will miss from going to a boarding facility to self care. I made a small list of them. I would consider this in any decision you make.
You will no longer get the luxury of sleeping in on your weekend. You will not be able to make dinner plans with out thinking about when to feed your horse, or weekend get-a-ways with out the stress of finding a barn sitter. If it snows where you live and the horse is not on your property you will have the stress of driving in snow and ice first thing in the morning because you have to feed. You will always be thinking about your horse!
You have to be very disciplined and organized to take care of your horse yourself, properly.
Other potential pitfalls of self care, these vary greatly depending on the other people at the facility:
Hay-you have to buy it & store it somewhere. People can steal your hay, same goes for grain.
Feeding schedules-it can be hard to feed your horses when the other horses around you are begging for some too. Your horses will be begging at someone else's feeding time.
Responsiblity-There always seems to be someone who doesn't take care of their horse/s-how will you deal with that? Is there a barn manager to assure that all horses get proper care including deworming & vaccinations? Will that person step in before a horse has to suffer?
Cleaning- you may keep your stall/area clean but if someone else does not you share their filth.
If a horse gets injured/sick or needs some sort of attention & the owner is not available is there someone who can handle it?
So many times we hear stories of people getting mad that someone watered/fed their horses instead of being grateful.
A daily hands on barn manager who is not afraid of hurting someone's feelings can be the difference between a good or bad self care facility.
If there are other people at this facility, you may want to consider getting together with them and set a feeding schedule up between everyone. This way all the horses get fed at the same time, and it is less stress on everyone. It would be up to you guys if you want to rotate it daily, or weekly, both feedings, or only one feeding.
I.E. everyone takes care of the morning feed them selves and thats when the stalls get cleaned. Then one person comes back in the evening to feed all the horses on that day, the next day someone else does the evening feed.
Having to go somewhere and take care of your horse will get tiring after a while. It would be nice to split up the feedings between the boarders. Even if only a couple want to participate.
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