In Need of Property Planning Assistance - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-16-2015, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
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Red face In Need of Property Planning Assistance

Hi All! I'm not necessarily new to horses but it has been awhile. I rode and owned horses growing up but never kept them on my own property. I recently bought 3 wooded acres for 2-3 horses and need some pointers on how to get it horse ready. Right down to the basics. I realize this is a very broad question so I'll break it down into individual questions.

Like I said, the lot is wooded and will need to be cleared. Any ideas? How much needs to be cleared? What is the best way to go about it? I was planning on fencing 2 of the 3 acres.

I live in Nova Scotia, Canada and winters here can get pretty nasty (-20 F with windchill). I plan on keeping the horses (2, may add a 3rd) out year round with access to a run in. Any suggestions on feeding and watering? I would like them to have access to 24h hay but hay around here is scarce especially in the winter, anybody recommend hay feeders for only a few horses or should I just use nets? Should I get big round bales or stick with smaller square bales?

I'm worried about the water situation. Since I'm starting from scratch I'd like to do it right. Should I install heated automatic waterers? I have heard horror stories that the pipes freeze anyway and they're no use. What else can I do that reduce chore time when it's well below freezing, and so the horses have access to water of course! Is it safe to have a water collection barrel inside the paddock that collects water from the eaves on the run-in shelter?

My plan is to have a run in that measures 12x24 with adjoining storage for hay, feed and tack and an overhang for added coverage. I was going to pour a concrete pad with a drain and just lay rubber mats. Is that sufficient footing? Will I need to add bedding (shavings or moss)? What material should I use to build the run in that will require very little maintenance? Which direction should the shelter face? We live close to the ocean which is at the back or our property. How do you run electrical and water to your shelters?

This may sound silly but those who keep their horses out year round, what do you do about your manure? How do you muck out a large pasture/paddock? Do you have a muck pile or do you re-purpose it?

What about fencing? I was going to do electric wire of some sort. Any suggestions on type? What type of poles did you use? I'm looking for the lowest maintenance options with easy installation.

So basically I need a horse property that is very easy to manage and maintain. I'm not lazy but I do work full time, have a family and my husband travels with his job so it's just me! Horses are my passion and I want to pursue it on my own property. Please help me do it in the easiest way for me and the safest, healthiest way for my horses.
The area I live in isn't exactly horse country and there aren't very many horse people around so I need ALL the help I can get. PLEASE! Any and all tips would be so greatly appreciated. I'm mostly worried about what to do in the winter and harsh weather but please post any and all advice!
catbelleman is offline  
post #2 of 10 Old 02-16-2015, 08:16 PM
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Never ever stint on hay when it's cold. Horses need all they can get to keep warm.
Electric fence (tape is better than wire) is fine for interior fences bur NOT for perimeter fences unless you want to spend a lot of time hunting them in bad weather. Ice and snow can short them out pretty quickly.
Put up a better run in shed with 3 1/2 sides closed, and put your water source in the most protected end. Make sure water lines are buried below the frostline, and well insulated where they come up.
I hope you understand that unless your 3 acres has absolutely exceptional grass, it won't support 2 horses, since it's going to be recently cleared. You will need hay year round.
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-17-2015, 12:20 AM
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I'd fence in as much as possible. Leave some of the trees for windbreaks and shade for summer (in a grove type setting if you can). You'll need to make sure those you leave are not poisonous to horses. We have electrified high tensile fence and the posts are all wood in one pasture and wood then 2 T-posts, wood, 2 T-posts, etc... 4 strands (all hot). It's very low maintenance compared to other types. Many people don't like high tensile for horses because of the risk for injuries. We've had it for years and haven't had a problem but we have large acreage with plenty of pasture so they're not trying to reach through for something more tempting. I could also see where injuries may be more of a concern if you had small lots or crowded conditions.

For your barn make sure that all the places the horses can get to are covered in wood. Horse kicking through metal siding does cause serious injury. I do not like concrete for the stalls/run-in. Might be easier to maintain but not so good for horses to stand on. Would also be very cold in your neck of the woods.

A heated automatic waterer has been on my wish list for YEARS! I can't speak for them since I've never had one. We have 100 gallon troughs and put heaters in them for the winter. Frost free hydrants at the barn and I drain the hose after I fill the tank. It doesn't take long.

Round bales are very convenient but there is more waste than with square bales. Even with the bales being in a feeder they still pull a lot out and waste it. We buy both every year.

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post #4 of 10 Old 02-17-2015, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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JCnGrace

Thank you for the help! Greatly appreciated! Any other ideas for the run in shed flooring that is low maintenance? You're very right, the concrete would be freezing.
And I really want to spring for a nelson watered. But your trough sounds like it works well. Do the horses bother with the heater at all?
Do you have any experience with horse mesh fencing with electric wire?
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-17-2015, 02:47 AM
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I do not have any experience with that type of fence but I'm sure if you ran a hot wire to keep them off of it that would do just fine.

I use drain plug heaters so they can't throw them out but they used to when I used the floating heaters. Here's the type I use in a Rubbermaid tank.

Drain Plug De-Icer--Rubbermaid Allied Precision ( - Stable Equipment Supplies - Heated Waterers)

R.I.P. JC 5/19/85 - 12/9/14. You made my life better.
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-17-2015, 05:07 AM
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For a run in shed, the absolute, most important thing you want to do is place it, and grade the ground around it, so that NO water runs into it. Once water gets in, you will have a mess regardless of what you put on the ground or how you try and drain it out. Here is a picture of ours. You can see how it's graded (a lot) to flow water away from the shed, we have 6"-8" of stone screenings (looks like extremely coarse sand) in the shelter, and a gutter for the rain off the roof. Also, the open side should face away from the winter weather; in our case, it is open to the southeast.

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post #7 of 10 Old 02-17-2015, 10:10 AM
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If you are looking for that acreage to feed your horses significantly during your growing season then it needs to be cleared, stumps removed, disked deep and well to fill stump holes as well as graded before seeding. It should be given at least a season to establish before putting your animals on it. Sub divide it so you can rotate and leave small copses of trees as shade and wind break. Another poster covered the shelter which is something we don't provide. We're as far south as you can get without hitting water. The trees are adequate for us. Plan on hay for the winter and storage areas for that. Outside perimeter needs to be other than electric with at least one line to keep them off and interior fencing can be all electric. We use tape and have for 30 years.
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-17-2015, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catbelleman View Post
Like I said, the lot is wooded and will need to be cleared. Any ideas? How much needs to be cleared? What is the best way to go about it?
Why do you "need" the woods cleared?
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-17-2015, 06:32 PM
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I'm from the same area as you hears what I've found since I've owner horses here.

For clearing a wood lot (if it's large trees) contact people for selling it as stumpage, most won't force you to clear cut so you can keep what trees you want. Plus you might get a little money for it. As far as removing stumps and brush that can be expensive, we removed stumps with a truck because we have shallow soil but be careful to remove as much of roots that you can we had a problem with with ground sinking as they rotted.

For hay, a lot of people feed wrapped round bales here, but without a tractor with the right attachments its likely to get damaged from hand rolling. I know people that use the plastic car ports to keep small bales in, they anchor them to trees? I prefer small squares because it's easier to get quality and best to find a farmer and buy out of field as it's much cheaper in the long run. Or have a years worth delivered during hay season. I recommend a hay feeder and cut open a few squares and throw them in.

As far as water freezing, I found that it was easier just to bring water in the morning and break it later in the day. Keeping it out of the wind helps it not freeze too fast if your lucky. But I haven't found a better method in my situation.

Run in shed materials, mine is made out of rough lumber sitting on paving blocks too keep it from sitting on the ground. I recommend covering half the front too, the wind changes direction fast and it's not fun finding your run in filled with snow. I say no to metal seen horses loose eyes from rubbing on metal siding and seen it rip off in hurricane force winds. For the floor Paintedhorsemares has a good plan and you won't need mats. I do bed mine but it's a personal choice. No electricity or water running in my shed, but a solar light for winter chores.

For that many horses on such little land your probably going to want to muck and drag your pastures, maybe a sacrifice paddock with better footing because just because it doesn't look wet now doesn't mean it won't later. You'll also be feeding hay year round, if the land has trees with needles the ground is usually super acidic and wouldn't grow great grass without a lot of money and time put into it.

Electric fence is great, but make sure your posts won't rot too quickly I don't know where you are but our ground rots wood so fast it's almost yearling replacing wood posts. Recommend putting in real gates not electric gates, they can be a hassle when your in a hurry. Also have great grounding system so it's always hot.

Wow that was long.
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-17-2015, 08:25 PM
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I don't have my own property, so take what I say with a grain of salt. BUT, I keep my horse at someone else's property and I've been planning for my own for a while, so I've done some research.

I recommend you check out the "Paddock Paradise" concept. It's a way of forming your paddocks to get the horses moving around a lot and living a life more like those of wild horses versus domestic horses. It's good for hoof health and overall health if the horses walk more miles in a day over varied terrain than if they stand in the same spots all day long.

Several problems to avoid or think about in your planning:

1. Muck that builds up from horses standing in the same place all the time, with bad drainage or just lack of maintenance; you can put feeding stations is several places to keep this from getting too bad.
2. Know where the wind often blows from and plan your run-ins appropriately. If the wind is particularly strong in your area, maybe consider a space between the walls and the roof so the wind can't come in and lift the shelter up and throw it around (can happen if the wind is strong enough, even when the foundation is strong);
3. Know where the sun rises and sets on the property, so if you need sun protection, your run-in is faced the right direction. Remember the wind part too.
4. Vegetation should be horse-safe (you'd be surprised how many plants and trees are poisonous to horses);
5. Sharp edges (they're everywhere, so be on the lookout);
6. Trees need trimming so when horse and rider go under, no one gets whacked; remember that trees are wind breaks and horse scratchers, so they shouldn't all be cut down;
7. Where I have my horses, they put a concrete pad down near the entrance to the paddock, so when you're putting on the halter or taking it off, you're on good footing and not bogged down in mud/manure/etc.
8. Make sure your spaces between paddocks or where horses will exit paddocks are wide enough that a large horse could turn around and not get shocked by a nearby paddock wire.
9. Have a hot wire cut off in a few places so you don't have to run too far for emergency shut off.
10. Your water, troughs, and pipes will freeze in winter if you don't plan for it. It's way easier to have a heating mechanism than to have to break through it every morning and night.
11. Make sure all your paddock entrances and paths are big enough to run a 4-wheeler or tractor through.

Man, there are probably a hundred more tips that are better than these, but these are the ones that ran through my head after a few glasses of wine. :)
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