Advice for First Time Horse Owner on 2 Acres in FL - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-23-2018, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for First Time Horse Owner on 2 Acres in FL

Hey all! I'm new to the forum, and while my SO and I aren't new to horses, we are new to owning any. We are hoping to close on a 4 acre parcel in Winter Garden, FL, where 2 acres could be dedicated to open land for horses, which we would love to add in a couple years when construction is complete.

Is there anyone in FL who knows how to manage horses on small acreage that I could speak with for a "consulting fee"?

Some questions are:

▪️ How can we maintain the grass/prevent the pasture from turning to dirt/mud? (We plan on having a 2 stall barn with a small attached sand run-out, the rest fenced for room to roam).

▪️What should they be fed, and on what schedule, to help avoid overgrazing?

▪️What's the best way to find someone interested in manure? (We are zoned RA and would have to pickup daily and have hauled biweekly, so finding someone to take the manure is important).

▪️We'd like a trained and bonded pair of geldings - what's the best way to find a reputable breeder/trainer to purchase from?

Thank you in advance for any advice!
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post #2 of 23 Old 09-23-2018, 12:48 PM
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Welcome!!

I would recommend as much of the 4 acres as possible for the 2 horses. Keeping them inside during the day will help ease heat and insect pressure, as well as prolong any grass. Horses drink 10 to 15 gallons of water per day, and can urinate 5 gallons at a time. Instinctively, they do not care to eat the grass from areas that they use. (In time of famine, aka overgrazing, this allows some well fertilized grass to go to seed)

You should cross fence this into small portions for rotation.

As much landscape plant production as there is down there, a suitable composter should not be hard to find. I would consider an exchange for finished compost to spread on your pasture, to provide organic matter to your soil. This will greatly increase your water holding capacity and root health.

I don't break horses, I FIX them!
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post #3 of 23 Old 09-23-2018, 01:48 PM
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Greentree offers some good insight...

Sounds like a lot of land but in truth with horses being picky eaters, it is not.
2 horses will eat that to nothing and plan on feeding hay during winter regardless of "green" grass showing as the nutrition is worthless.

So, I live in Central Florida, few counties north and west...
I'll answer what I know about but admit still learning myself...

Quote:
Originally Posted by WinterGarden View Post
We are hoping to close on a 4 acre parcel in Winter Garden, FL.
Is there anyone in FL who knows how to manage horses on small acreage that I could speak with for a "consulting fee"?
Try your local farm extension/ag department to give you good information for your area.
Farm stores, the "real kind" in the neighborhood are a wealth of information shared too.
When you see the locals, the farmer/rancher going in and buying, then standing around talking....that is your information source.

How can we maintain the grass/prevent the pasture from turning to dirt/mud? (We plan on having a 2 stall barn with a small attached sand run-out, the rest fenced for room to roam).
For this, honestly...fence off a area where your barn is inside that area and you can keep the horses in/out of moved from one grazing area to another.
You need to be active and walk to see, truly see how much the grass is grazed or overgrazed to avoid the dirt and mud issue.
Do not plan anything "fenced" till you also see a rain season and hurricane dump copious amounts of water on your pasture space...what you think is high and dry may be the bottom of a lake in a short time.
Watch exactly what the vegetation leaves look like as that will tell you if you are high & dry or a wet area in rain.

What should they be fed, and on what schedule, to help avoid overgrazing?
I would limit my horses and how much they graze if you want to not overgraze...that means you will need to feed hay, period.
3 acres per horse is needed to let them graze and not feed hay is what I see.
When you figure your house and a small buffer area around it {strongly suggested} you are down to 3.5 acres, now do the barn and sacrifice area = now at 3 acres....
That is not enough to graze unlimited on,...it just isn't for 2 horses and barely enough for 1.

What's the best way to find someone interested in manure? (We are zoned RA and would have to pickup daily and have hauled biweekly, so finding someone to take the manure is important).
Put a ad in your local Craigslist and try the Ocala4Sale for free manure for the taking.
You think you will have so much, but get a drag and drag it to enrich your soil, pick up and pile that which is in stalls and the sacrifice area and let it sit and rot...takes not much time.
The word FREE attracts many to come get for gardening.

We'd like a trained and bonded pair of geldings - what's the best way to find a reputable breeder/trainer to purchase from?
Try Craigslist {farm & garden section} and Ocala4Sale...
Unless you are planning on showing and doing breed, don't worry so much about papers and breeding but that the horses are good and level-headed mounts to enjoy riding.
I would also not need a bonded pair, but just get 2 horses ...pretty soon they will be happy to be in each others company. They will bond.
One will be more dominant,...the pecking order will prevail.
Personality and exposed to what you are wanting to do is so much more important.
If you are going to do trails, then buy trail horses not show horses and think they will be trail horses...whole different set of smarts and common sense needed down here with our wildlife present.
Most show horses do not know how to deal/act with a snake, wild pig, alligator, big cat, deer, rabbits, skunk or flying owls/hawks encountered on a trail...a good trail horse does and not get rattled means you not get dumped!!
Consider horses that have some age, teenagers offer a lot of wisdom to new riders/owners and those suddenly on their own.
Older can teach you and I find are much more forgiving than the young, unexposed is...
There are a ton of horses all the time for sale in Central Florida...
Ask at local tack shops and read their customer boards the sale animals...amazing what you can find.


Thank you in advance for any advice!

Go slow in the building process.

Remember to raise the barn 6 - 10" above grade ... I really mean that.
When it rains 3" a hour on saturated ground you will suddenly understand the wisdom of those words.
Fence and do it right the first time as once done and money spent it is not easily found again.
Make several pastures so the horses can be moved off and around...I would do 3 pastures.
A week on then move them to another and continue will give your grass time to grow back in and recuperate.
Figure from end of October till end of April pasture is busy food but garbage nutrition...hay fed to give nutrition is needed...honest.

Limited hours all year on small acreage grazing or you will have junk.
Plan on weeding and feeding those pastures before you put any horse on them, even before fencing them so a spray truck can easily maneuver and do good coverage is money well spent.
Make 6' walk-through gates and 16' drive through gates for pasture access so trucks needing to work the land for you can gain access and not take down your fences bumping into them.
Those come to mind real quick...
Best of luck.

WELCOME to Central Florida and soon to house, land and horse ownership!!
...
jmo...
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Last edited by horselovinguy; 09-23-2018 at 01:58 PM.
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post #4 of 23 Old 10-05-2018, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both for your very helpful advice! We live in Orlando currently, and have both been here 20-some years, but found that Winter Garden offered us the "country feel in the city" kind of lifestyle. We definitely plan on supplementing their diet year round, and mostly just want the land to give them some room to roam, not so much as a food source past snacking. It's so important for us to maintain grass because we will be moving into a gated neighborhood, as with having a very reliable pickup/haul schedule. We are looking at Five Phases Farm now to help us purchase and train, and fell in love with the idea of an Andalusian & Friesian, which this farm works with and we have read they are both incredible "all rounders", exactly what we are looking for. Great temperaments, gentle, and gorgeous to boot.

Here is a rendering superimposed onto the parcel.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_0005_1538758826659.jpg (74.2 KB, 5 views)
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post #5 of 23 Old 10-05-2018, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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I hit send prematurely!

So some follow up questions are, we currently have 5 dogs and feel extremely well educated on their needs, but aren't there with equines due to lack of ownership experience. Are there nutritionists that we can hire? Any good books to read (ordering Cherry Hills managing horses on small acreage!)? We wont be ready to bring them home for 2 years, and would be boarding them while learning with them for that time, so whatever advice or resources to guide us are SO appreciated.

We will definitely be speaking with our local ag dept!
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post #6 of 23 Old 10-05-2018, 02:32 PM
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If you already have the horses, or are working with a reputable barn now then you have contact with respected vets who care for those animals.
There are nutritionists all around this area that specialize in equines and or dogs...
To make sure you get someone well versed in our area I would reach out to those horse vets and ask a referral...
Good facilities use resources wisely and this might be a good thing to do ahead of bringing home those babies.


I looked at the drawings...
Do you have a area allotted that is dog specific and large for that many to run and play?
You need to protect them from horses who may not want dogs underfoot.
And you may not want your dogs running in the horse fields eating horse poop as they love to do...yuck.
Keep the dogs out of the horse feed too as it can swell once it hits the stomach and throat moisture, expand and cause a severe blockage {yea, been there not ever doing it again!!}

Nearly lost my dog to that one...
And dry poop expands very quickly once gulped down by our dogs causing dangerous consequences...be aware.



Do make sure the community you are planning on building this in allows the structure "appearances" you have in mind, the number of horses you want and the number of dogs you own...not all communities do and make sure the HOA has it in their permanent by-laws and covenants so it not change and force you to get rid of what you so dearly love.
Enjoy the planning..
...
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post #7 of 23 Old 10-06-2018, 10:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply! We have been working with the county and the developer/HOA for 4 years getting approval. Renderings are all approved. Our 5 pups are strictly indoor dogs and they would have the main house's separate fenced yard (of about another 2.5 total acres which extends into an empty lot outside of the photo) for themselves + family. Only the farthest left lots were approved for the PD Amendment to be zoned for 1 horse / acre.

We wont have the horses on the land for over 2 years due to construction, but want to start the preparation process now to make sure we have the right plans established going forward. We are also planning on purchasing next year and boarding so they can be trained and begin to get to know us.

Most importantly are any and all nutrition, pasture management (maintaining grass, rotating advice, hauling, hay placement, etc) and purchasing recommendations/advice 🙂

We looked at the ATV waste pickup attachment tools, which is sort of like a vacuum. Does anyone have one of these?
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post #8 of 23 Old 10-06-2018, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WinterGarden View Post
We looked at the ATV waste pickup attachment tools, which is sort of like a vacuum. Does anyone have one of these?

Seriously.... I would purchase a tow-behind dump cart and a back-saving quality much fork and go scooping.
I can only imagine how much ground topsoil you will be sucking up in the sandy soil of Florida.
I see the vacuum things used for leaf removal in fall/winter, not as a daily/weekly tool used.


If you're going to by paying for a weekly carting service won't matter which vehicle you are dumping into a dumpster.
2 horses is about 14 piles a day need picking up.
Some horses are really neat where they poop too...
I used to have one who would only poop in one place no matter where he was he had to come back to that spot to defecate...wish he could teach my others that habit.
Bet you could teach your horses where to make their deposits in turnout....


Have you looked into just dragging to break-up and replenish the ground with natural fertilizer?
Will your HOA allow that?
...
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post #9 of 23 Old 10-06-2018, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback! Can you give me some more information on dragging? Given 2 horses at an acre fenced each, would I do this daily? Would I only do it to one side to ensure the horses aren't going to accidentally graze that area and get sick/parasites? If I do it daily and stay on top of it, how often would removal be needed? HOA just does not want a manure pile or unsightly field, I planned on speaking with my county's waste removal service about paying to have it hauled away to coincide with the community's own service, so it doesnt add a disruption, but if that didnt work, to contact local gardeners and see if they would do it.

Super appreciative of all of your help!

(If not the vacuum for pickup, maybe something like this?
https://youtu.be/gh26Tp2ntyw)

Last edited by WinterGarden; 10-06-2018 at 12:56 PM.
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post #10 of 23 Old 10-06-2018, 02:05 PM
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I would cross-fence your pasture area into 2, if not 3-4 smaller areas, or you'll have ruined pasture in no time, which provides little nutrition for the horses and looks unsightly. Graze the horses a day or two on each one, then move them to the next. If you get a ton of rain or when growing slows down in winter, confine them to a corral area around the barn so they don't ruin the grass in your pastures.

Does anyone else in your community keep horses? Visit with them to see who they use and what haul-away and other services they recommend. If there are NOT several other horse owners keeping horses on their own property, really think about if this is something you want to do. How heartbreaking to go through the years of planning and then find out three months after you move your horses in that your neighbors aren't all that thrilled with the 'livestock' next door, and want them gone? A community where every other house has horses is much more likely to be welcoming to horse owners than a community where there are only a few. Also consider if you need to double-fence your horse area as horses are often considered an 'attractive nuisance' where HOAs are concerned, meaning you need to make sure there is a buffer between where the horses are kept and your neighbor's land as well as ensuring others can't access the horses for their own safety.
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Last edited by SilverMaple; 10-06-2018 at 02:14 PM.
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