Thinking about boarding my horses at home... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 07:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thinking about boarding my horses at home...

Hi! Sorry this thread is long, I just want to let you know all the reasons and the fact that I'm not planning to keep my horses in the backyard of some city apartment.

I have two horses and I board them in a barn that's about a 30 minutes drive from my house. Lately I have been able to see my horses only on the weekends and I feel that is not nearly enough. The main issue is just time.. I work and I get home around 6pm every day. Considering I spend at least 3-4 hours at the stable everytime I visit, I won't have any time to even make dinner at home. Not to mention I have a cat and dog who I have to take care of as well. So I've been thinking.. Maybe I should just board my horses at home?
I've kept the horses here during a summer, we got along nicely haha. But now they would be here during the autumn and winter. I have a lot of land, the horses would have plenty of room to move around.. I also get a pretty good deal on good hay so that's no problem either. I have a tiny ''barn'' too (it's just two roomy boxes for the horses, it's also insulated). I have space for riding and I live next to a forest so the horses have to get used to hacking haha. So paddocks, boxes, feed and water would be no problem.
If I turned them out, took them their hay and water in the mornings before work would everything be okay? My sister lives close to me and she stays home every day, so when I'm at work she could also keep an eye on the horses(even through her bedroom window). When I get home in the evenings I could take care of my family, pets and horses. I just like the idea of taking care of the horses myself and actually having time to see them. But as I said, I've only ever kept them at my home for one summer and I'm scared that maybe I'm just getting ahead of myself and I'm making a bad decision for my horses.
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post #2 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 10:51 AM
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I think that would be totally fine, unless you have reason to suspect that one of them would have a sudden issue in the time you are at work. Honestly I board my horses and they are on 100% pasture, and I doubt the owner even looks at them once a day.

I'm moving toward having my horses on my own land in the next few years, hopefully. If I were in your shoes, I would have brought them home yesterday, LOL. You'll be happier, your horses will probably be happier, and you will save money! What's not to like!

ETA: if you're really worried about something happening while you're at work, you could set up a couple of cameras so you can check on them from your phone / computer.
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post #3 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 11:01 AM
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Sounds like you have a pretty good set-up, I say go for it! I keep my horses at home and love it. Except for the one I am showing, the others are on pasture 24/7 and get a small amount of pellets in the evening. We use round bales because we also have cows, but if you use square bales they make slow feeding nets that will hold a whole bale. That would free you up in the mornings. My sister hangs 3 or 4 from the trees for her horses and mules.
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post #4 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
ETA: if you're really worried about something happening while you're at work, you could set up a couple of cameras so you can check on them from your phone / computer.

Thanks for the idea! I might just do that.. in the beggining at least. I tend to be a worrier.
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post #5 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 11:06 AM
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You may want to read (I just recommended this to someone else too) Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage by Cherry Hill. Gives you both an overview and a very detailed look at what goes into keeping your horses at home.

I have a horse and a pony at home and probably spend at least couple hours a day cleaning stalls, feeding, watering, walking the fence line, sweeping the barn aisle, tending the manure pile/compost heap, sweeping cobwebs, stacking hay, running to the feed store, grooming, blanketing, unblanketing, digging out noxious weeds, mowing, getting trees off the fence where they fell during a wind storm, repairing stuff the horses broke .... notice how much time is allotted for riding in there?

Keeping horses is generally laborious. And I have lots of pasture too. They don't graze it during the day right now because of the biting insects, instead they graze at night and spend the day eating hay and pooping in their stalls on the nice soft shavings.

If what you want is riding time, boarding is the way to go, really. I love having my horses at home but there is no way around how much more work it is.
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post #6 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the recommendation, I just ordered the e-book on Amazon.

As for the work, I'd like to think I'm prepared. After a long day in the office I find cleaning and taking care of animals very refreshing. My two horse-crazy daughters are also ready to help with simpler tasks. Of course riding them more often would be great, but my main goal is that they can just interact with people more often. They've turned pretty wild in the stables I'm boarding them at... being on pasture 24/7 and seeing me only on the weekends.
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post #7 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 11:46 AM
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First off, I keep my three horses at home and wouldn't want it any other way. It's a lot of work, but I get to spend lots of time with them. I will say though that like @Avna , I don't ride as much as I'd like because the chores take up the vast majority of my time. By the time I finish chores, I have very little time left for riding. I don't really mind that much since I enjoy just being around them, but it is something people complain about when keeping their horses at home.

It does sound like you haven't really put a lot of thought into it. Being at work during the day is not a problem (I suggest using slow-feeder nets so they have hay for a while, not just twice a day). But you want to put some thought into planning layout before you make the move. Think about all the seasons and what you might be dealing with. Here are a few questions you might ask yourself:

- does the barn have running water? If not, you may want to install some. Unless you are in a warm state, hoses will freeze and carrying buckets of water from the house gets old really fast. Also, while we're on it, how will you keep the water from freezing in their buckets? Heated water buckets are great (that's what I use), but you have to have electricity in the barn, and it should be done professionally by someone who has wired horse barns before. It's important to avoid fire hazards, so put outlets anywhere you will need to plug things in. Using extension cords is not recommended because they are a fire hazard.
- so does the barn have electricity or will it need to be upgraded or installed? Other than the water buckets, you will want to have lighting in the barn. Winter days are short, and without lights in the barn, you might manage in the summer, but in winter, you'll want to be able to go to the barn in the evening, especially since you work during the day. Those lights will have to be encased in cages or globes for safety.
- what does your fence look like? Winter is hard on fences.
- Do you have enough space to turn the horses out without ruining the land?
- Where will you store your hay for the winter? It's not a good idea to leave it outside obviously. How much can you store? Calculate your needs and look at the space critically.
- Where will you pile the manure? You'll be shocked at how much there is. It can be worse in the winter because they tend to stay in a smaller area so it really piles up AND it freezes solid if you're in a cold area. I use a pitchfork to pry it up and remove it. Otherwise, spring will come and you will have several feet of thawing manure to remove, making a huge mess.
- Are you ok with never taking a day off from barn chores? You will have to look after the horses even when you're sick, even in the middle of a big storm, even when all your friends are going away on a trip.
- Do your horses have winter blankets (again, this depends on where you live, but in a hot state, you will have to think of heat, anything in between, probably rain), can they get away from the weather/sun/flies when you're not home? A set up like a run-in or shelter can fix that and give the horses a place to escape from all of the above. But it should be a good, safe shelter that will not get knocked over, kicked through, etc.

Those are my first thoughts, but I'm sure there are lots more things to consider, depending on your situation. If you can answer all of them without hesitation, then maybe having your horses at home is for you. If you're not sure, maybe wait a little longer. Maybe start working on reconfiguring your property to make your life a little easier, and the horses a little more comfortable. Rushing into this is probably not a great idea.
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post #8 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 12:00 PM
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@Acadianartist has a great list of things to consider. I also wanted to mention I loved the Cherry Hill book that @Avna suggested. I know you already ordered it, but I just wanted to give it another vote.

I guess another question would be if you feel comfortable diagnosing and treating an injured horse. Do you know what colic looks like? When to call the vet for lameness? People on this forum are super helpful for that sort of thing, but you also need to be comfortable doing that. There are a couple more Cherry Hills books that I will try to find and mention later; I think she has one for basic health problems also. After a while, her books get a little repetetive, but I would still recommend just about everything she's written.
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post #9 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 02:17 PM
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I keep my guys at home and the chores actually aren't too bad (my horses are not stalled) and I have more time for riding as I don't have to drive anywhere to go see them. So if I have some spare time in the evening it is very easy to just saddle up a horse and go for a quick ride.

At the beginning it was a lot of work as we needed to build fencing and shelters, etc. Depending on how fast i'm moving I'd say my chores normally take me about 30-40 minutes in the evening (on a normal day - meaning no blankets to remove/change). I don't do free choice hay as my one mare is on a diet, so I fill up hay nets for the horses at night and also put piles of hay throughout their paddock. Make sure they have lots of fresh water (we do not have an automatic waterer) and I also pick all the poop out of their dry lot daily so it doesn't turn into a mess.

It does happen where we have to cut down trees in the paddock and repair fencing, etc but those aren't daily occurrences that need attention. In the spring there is a lot more work when we harrow the paddocks and re-seed, etc. Generally, the work is not bad and I love having the horses at home.

One thing though - now that they are here I find it can be very difficult to get away. If we want to go on vacation it can be difficult as I need to organize for someone to look after them.

I'd say if you have the facilities already in place that you should go for it. Even if I don't get to ride I still like seeing them every day and hearing them munch on their hay :)
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post #10 of 13 Old 08-14-2019, 02:24 PM
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Mine are at home. I have 6 stalls for 5 horses. I have three paddocks and a pasture.

I do not have running water or electricity. I have a hose that go's from the house to the barn (or should I say 800 feet of hose). I have two trash cans that I fill with water for convenience (soaking hay or a quick bucket top-off). In the winter I fill two trash cans in case the hoses freeze. I have an air compressor that I blow them out with each night. I have a hammer for breaking water and I use my car and a flashlight to see at night.

I get up at 430 AM to feed them Monday - Friday (weekends I sleep a little longer). They are usually fed dinner no later than 5PM each day.

Weekends, Holidays, and vacations get a little sticky because they still have to be cared for but...

I positively think you would love having them at your house full time.

Last night I sat on a rocking chair on the porch and watched them graze for an hour.

It's definitely worth considering.

I have a camera set up at my house that faces the paddocks and pasture so I can check on them through out the day.

"Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I love you
Go to work, do your best, don't outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin knees get lazy
And love like crazy"
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