Seeking Advice (New To Keeping Horses @ Home) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-22-2017, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Upstate New York
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Question Seeking Advice (New To Keeping Horses @ Home)


I'll try to make this as straightforward as possible. At the end of October/early November I plan to move my two horses (a bonded gelding and mare I've owned for years) onto the 5 acres of land next to my recently purchased home in NY. I'm not new to horses by any means but I'm new to keeping them on my own property. There is already a barn with electricity and water hooked up but I have no fencing whatsoever. I plan to keep them pretty much solely on pasture as that is how they've lived the past 10 years. Which leads me to my questions...

What is a good type of affordable but easily maintained fencing?
Is electric fencing the only way to easily block off 'cells' of a pasture (for rotation purposes)?
Any book/video recommendations for a first time owner of a horse at home?

Any advice is greatly appreciated! I would also love any input outside of the questions I've asked. I'm eager to learn and want to provide a good quality of life for my fur babies.

Thank you!
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post #2 of 9 Old 06-22-2017, 04:25 PM
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Welcome to the forum!!

For perimeter fencing I like horse wire with a top board on it.
Easily seen it keeps our hooved friends in and unwanted pests of many types out.
Not inexpensive but not the most expesive either.
Being you live in NYS you have winters of ice and snow throughout the entire state.
That would restrict you from electric fencing I believe due to shorting circuits with wet frm heavy icing conditions forget the snow accumulation.
Many do use a combination of electric wire over field or horse fencing to section off grazing areas..

As for pasture only....not going to work.
Plan on feeding hay probably from late August till May as grass stops growing losing nutritional content.
You also do not want your horses tramping your grass fields endlessly when ground is wet, soggy in thaw or from heavy rains..they will destroy the grass period.
Figure you need a sacrifice paddock near or connected to the barn so the horse can get out for fresh air in winter nasties but you are not walking over icy paths leading 2 horses for your safety and theirs.

Enjoy having your horses home when they is such a nice thing to look out the window or door and see them grazing peacefully, running and playing together or getting into mischief!

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #3 of 9 Old 06-22-2017, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Upstate New York
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Thank you for the warm welcome!

I apologize for any confusion; when I say 'pasture only' I mean I'm going to keep them out 24-7, not keep them in stalls. They will have access to the barn in winter/bad weather and I plan to build a lean-to out in pasture so they'll have a place to bunker down if they don't want to come in. I've been hunting down hay suppliers to see what prices are and what type of hay they provide. I'm thinking a simple grass mixture, no alfalfa since they aren't horses that are working hard or showing.

Thank you for the heads up on the electric fencing! I'm moving from ND and the place they've been boarded at the last 10 years was barbed wire and some basic board fencing.
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post #4 of 9 Old 06-22-2017, 05:09 PM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
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Best overview of electric fencing for horses is on the Premier One website. They are in Iowa so they know about snow.

We are very happy with our old board fencing with three strands of hot wire inside it.
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Short horse lover
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post #5 of 9 Old 06-22-2017, 05:14 PM
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I love board fencing but it is prohibitive in cost to do many acres of it...I have 4 board now on my 1 acre paddock that surrounds my barn area.
I have a combination of several types of fencing in my pastures though. As I can afford I am changing over from barb to field fence and top board.
Field fence is cheaper than horse fence and when you add a strand of hot wire to it the horses don't mess nor get to close. My horses also do not wear shoes so much less chance of catching a hoof in the lower sections unless they strike out and then all bets are off of the damage to them-self they will do.
Pressure treated posts not landscaping posts I would use no matter what kind of fencing you far many of mine are solid and straight now going on 15+ years and many yet to come I hope.
My fence once up is relatively maintenance free...something I like!
You do need to watch for breakage but that is true of any fence.
A good excuse to ride the boundary lines of your land

Barb wire works..ducking thrown tomatoes!
It is what cattle use and is not best for horses but as you know it contains them.
Barbwire though can leave very nasty cuts to horse hide which is not as durable as cow hide.
Rusty barb wire is really be careful if you use or have any of it..
Some places barb wire is outlawed so check if you are thinking of putting up any new...existing may be grandfathered clause in but do check for new fencing.

Hay if you go directly to the grower is around $3.00 a solid square bale averaging 50 pounds per bale.
You need to remove from the field, stack and store it though in your barn.
If you buy out of the barn it will naturally be more but not much.
Fill your storage area during growing/harvesting season and make the deal with the farmer in advance for how many tons you want.
Upstate NY has some of the best T/A you can get...that would be my choice to feed if I could.
You can get different ratios of alfalfa to timothy though...many are 70/30 and that is a nice mix horses, regular riding horses do well on truthfully.
Down here where I live 1 square bale of T/A can cost $20 so being realistic...for pleasure animals that trail ride it is not happening on my salary.
I feed what is locally grown..Tifton 44 or Tifton 85 which is equivalent to high-end T/A like I described. A square bale averages $8.00 a bale {45 pounds}...

Putting up field shelters ask your ag. agent to help you...
Winds can be fierce in NYS in winter almost as bad as ND. You need to position them carefully for best protection of the animals.
Winter cold is wet and gets in your bones where ND is brutal cold but dry in nature..

OH... you will be transporting your horses from near across the country.
Make sure they are vaccinated for the different strains and types of disease that is in NYS and not in ND you deal with...they need a few weeks before shipping to build immunity and protection.

I use to live in NYS so am familiar with some areas of the state and the beautiful riding weather, trails and show venues that abound.
You will love it their in the more rural areas... the city and more populated areas are nice to visit but after having space to roam you will be glad to go home to the land and horses quiet.
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-22-2017, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Upstate New York
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Thank you, thank you! I will take your advice and wisdom to heart!
I feel a bit out of sorts being knowledgeable enough about horses, but knowing nothing on how to provide for them daily. We will be using a horse moving company to transport the kiddos and have already had the vet out to give them vaccinations and to give them the A-OK to move. So that's one less thing to worry about!

I appreciate the heads up about the winter! I was confident that the winter would be no biggie coming from ND but if it's sloppy snow, I'll be needing to change my mindset. I'm hoping to set up at least three pastures that I can just rotate the horses through so no one space will get pulverized or eaten to death.

Thank you for the link, Avna! I'll be sure to check it out.
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-22-2017, 08:22 PM
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Location: Canada
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Hi Mewlie!

I just brought my two horses home a year ago, to a brand new barn, paddock and pasture, so I empathize! First - yes, electric fence is the best way to go. I have three strands (I don't advise less than that, and really, it's not hard or expensive to put up). I also have a winter paddock (about 120 x 90 ft) with a top board. I keep them in the pasture until the snow gets too deep. I live in Eastern Canada, so we get a lot of snow. My husband even cleared the snow out of the paddock a few times in the winter, so the horses could stretch their legs and we could ride. Snow here can get several feet deep so it requires a lot of planning and foresight. Hopefully you won't get that much! But yes, freezing rain/sleet, rain on top of snow, have all become part of our new climate. This means crusts. Crusts are not good - they will cut a horse's legs. Thus the need to contain using something other than electric fence, which gets pulled down by ice, and the need to clear an area so they can get around.

Think of setting aside a smaller area as a sacrifice/winter paddock. If only to save your pastures.

We have 13 acres. 5 is great, but you may want to read "Horsekeeping on a small acreage". Full of great ideas, from manure management, to fencing.

For the record, I LOVE having my horses in my backyard. Every. single. minute.
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-22-2017, 08:40 PM
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Canada
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Thought I'd emphasize the snow part :) I actually did a whole thread in the journals section on keeping a horse in a cold climate. I thought I was well-prepared - and for the most part I was. But what I didn't realize was how much harder it would become to dispose of manure when the snow gets really deep. Lucky for me, I had situated my manure pile slightly downhill from my barn. I still had to shovel a path to it in the winter, but discovered that a much bucket slides really well on one of those round, saucer sleds. All I had to do was give it a little push! And down it went to the manure pile. Of course in the spring, that pile was pretty impressive. Good thing it was a good distance from the barn, because it crept closer and closer as it grew bigger. By spring, hubby hauled it all away to our compost pile on the back end of the property.

Do you already have a barn at your new place? Or will you be building one?
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-23-2017, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Upstate New York
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I just ordered that book off Amazon! Along with another by Cherry Hill for general horse keeping that looked like it would have a lot of useful information in it.

The manure pile isn't something I was thinking of - thanks for bringing that up! I am interested in seeing how much different the winter is here from North Dakota (wet vs relatively dry). My kiddos are masters of winter but I'll have to see how crusty the snow gets here. I want to protect those legs!

There's already a barn on property, thankfully. Not the kind I would have designed, but it's in good shape and already has the electricity and water in it. No stalls, so I'm thinking of just putting fencing inside to partition the building so Thing 1 and Thing 2 can come in freely out of the elements. Perhaps in a few years I can look to designing a dream barn!
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advice , books , fencing , new owner , tools

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