Starting from zero - need opinions and help all over! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 09-28-2017, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Starting from zero - need opinions and help all over!

At the risk of my first post being ridiculously long, I want to try to post my whole story to help give you the full picture to obtain the most help :)

I owned my first horse in my early twenties - an OTTB who I owned and rode for 2 years. That was 16 years ago. I haven't been able to own again since that time. I've enjoyed some incredible dude ranching vacations and the odd ride here and there with friends, but nothing regular. I have a true love and passion for horses (and dogs!).

I have a friend who purchased a 150 year old farm property with 25 acres. The farm came with 6 horses and little is known about them. He believes 3 of them were riding horses, but who knows for sure which 3. They are all gorgeous and seem sound, and are doing very well on the lush grass pasture they have been kept on the past 2 years. There are 2 shelters but no barn or stables on the property. He also has a love for horses (and he breeds dogs) but has never had the pleasure of owning horses, and has only ever ridden twice in his life.
So now he has these 6 horses, and while they are pretty, and lovely to look at, and feed apples too (he also owns an orchard a few hundred yards from the farm) they are costing him money to keep over winter and I think that money would be better spent on useful riding horses. So I started looking into purchasing some solid trail horses. He also owns another 300 acres about 20 minutes from the farm with groomed grass trails, so lots of great riding to be had!
We went out yesterday to see a lady who specializes in bringing up horses from the US (we're in Southern Ontario, Canada) and training them to be solid, safe, trail horses. Perfect for beginner and novice riders. We went for a 4 hour ride through the forest yesterday with them and had a great time. This has catapulted my friends desire to own and ride (yay!)

Now he is trying to decide how to configure his farm property. He wants to build a barn and indoor arena for riding, and is considering setting it up to be a boarding barn.

SO much to learn and know! Talk about jumping in with both feet....head first! LOL!

So a few questions I have swimming in my head right now are:

-How many horses can reasonably be kept on 25 acres of property? (I always thought the rule of thumb was 1 acre/horse)
-What does a person who is new to horses, need to know about keeping them healthy and sound without a barn. He has done nothing but leave these horses in the field and bring in hay in winter for the past 2 years and they all seem sound and look incredible healthy without being overweight.
-Things to consider about building a brand new barn/stable and indoor area. Do we want the arena attached to the barn or separate. He knows all about building codes and proper structures, so that part is okay, it's the horsey stuff he doesn't know about.
-He plans to fence the entire 25 acre perimeter with galvanized steel chain link fencing so that he can keep out coyotes and other random critters as well as keep his dogs contained and safe on the property. Is chain link safe and okay for horses? He plans to use wood fencing for inside the perimeter to separate paddocks etc.

Other things we haven't thought about or considered?

Thank you for any insight and suggestions you can offer!
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post #2 of 21 Old 09-28-2017, 08:30 PM
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So I will answer what I can and can contribute but am from a different climate and that means different growing, feeding patterns will exist for you.


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Originally Posted by KoolSalem View Post
Now he is trying to decide how to configure his farm property. He wants to build a barn and indoor arena for riding, and is considering setting it up to be a boarding barn.

SO much to learn and know! Talk about jumping in with both feet....head first! LOL!

So a few questions I have swimming in my head right now are:

-How many horses can reasonably be kept on 25 acres of property? (I always thought the rule of thumb was 1 acre/horse)
Only if you feed hay year round...a horse will not eat everything green, they are picky eaters. Better rule is 2 - 3 acres if only on grass 24/7.
-What does a person who is new to horses, need to know about keeping them healthy and sound without a barn. He has done nothing but leave these horses in the field and bring in hay in winter for the past 2 years and they all seem sound and look incredible healthy without being overweight.
These horses are acclimated to how they are living...so they live and do fine as they are.
-Things to consider about building a brand new barn/stable and indoor area. Do we want the arena attached to the barn or separate. He knows all about building codes and proper structures, so that part is okay, it's the horsey stuff he doesn't know about.
Where I am from a attached barn/indoor can be a recipe for lung aliments...fresh air and good circulation is needed for horses lungs to remain clear of dust/dirt particles stirred up by riding in a indoor regardless of footing used.
-He plans to fence the entire 25 acre perimeter with galvanized steel chain link fencing so that he can keep out coyotes and other random critters as well as keep his dogs contained and safe on the property. Is chain link safe and okay for horses? He plans to use wood fencing for inside the perimeter to separate paddocks etc.
I happen to love that idea....chain link for a perimeter that is pretty maintenance free and lasts a very long time, but board fencing where the horses are....FANTASTIC.
Perimeter fence keeps everyone in should there be a escapee and those out you not want, but animals can clear fencing so not a guarantee but a big deterrent.

Other things we haven't thought about or considered?
Many, many things but first comes knowledge of horses and how to correctly take care of them, set up a barn to be economical to run, safe and free of dangerous hazards to their life and limb...

Now for others to comment and add their thoughts...

Thank you for any insight and suggestions you can offer!

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #3 of 21 Old 09-29-2017, 11:19 AM
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The worst fence accident I ever saw was a horse that had an encounter with a chain link fence.
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post #4 of 21 Old 09-29-2017, 11:22 AM
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I figured it would time out on me and it did. Most here that have dogs either have pipe with panels or wood with panels. Panels meaning horse panels so they don't get hooves stuck. We have always used underground electric with collars for the dogs and that works really well.
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post #5 of 21 Old 09-29-2017, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Can you tell me what happened with the chain link? I figured the chains were too small for a horse to get hung up in, so trying to figure out what the danger is. This is why I posted - lots to learn! Thanks for your reply.
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post #6 of 21 Old 09-29-2017, 05:09 PM
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We have a 35 and have 5-6 on it at any given time and they are on grass only this time of year... and that's about all that tract will handle without having to move them around and let it rest.

I sometimes put two on the 5 acre 'horse pasture' and they keep it looking like a golf course green it's clipped so short.

You can always call your local ag extension office - they'll know immediately what your place can support.

Chain link fences... There has to be a reason why no one does that for horses, other than cost prohibitive. I don't know why, but that just seems like begging for trouble to me.

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #7 of 21 Old 09-29-2017, 05:16 PM
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Ah. It is the cost:

"Chain link fencing is similarly expensive, and is good for keeping out predatory animals, and but tends to lack horizontal strength and sags over time, thus maintenance costs are relatively high. Chain link fences with sharp top wires should be avoided for horse enclosures."

Safe Fencing For Horses - Horses

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #8 of 21 Old 09-29-2017, 06:33 PM
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Sounds so exciting! A dream come true!

The number of horses that can be kept on 25 acres depends heavily on the land itself. We have 13 acres and two horses. I could probably handle a third, maybe even a fourth, but it would mean supplementing a LOT of hay. Because of those 13 acres, there has to be room for our house, garage, yard, pool, baby barn, etc. etc. We also have a garden, an apple orchard, a pear orchard, some watercourses and a lot of woods. In the end, we were only able to fence off about 5 acres for the horses. And right now, with my two small horses (14.2 and 14.3), they are eating it all.

Now, if you don't care about pasture space, you can obviously supplement with hay. However, you still have to provide enough room for the horses to move around. And be separated. It may not be possible to just have one big common pasture. I hate seeing boarding/lesson barns with insufficient space. It's sadly common around here (I'm in New Brunswick), and results in very muddy paddocks because the horses don't have enough room and grass never grows. So even without considering the need for pasture (these people feed their horses hay year round), it is undesirable to have too many horses in a small space. So I agree with your one horse per acre rule, as long as you don't expect them to live off it, but your 25 acres will shrink considerably once you put in the house, barn, indoor, outdoor, and consider what land is actually suitable for paddocks/pastures. And if you'd like your friend's horses to live part of the year on pasture, then I agree with what @horselovinguy says - 2-3 acres is more realistic.

A lot of people use no climb fencing if they want to keep horses, and other smaller critters like goats, in, and other animals out. Google No-climb fencing. It seems like it would be a better option than chain-link. But for my part, I am a huge fan of electric fences. It allows me to rotate pastures, and my horses completely respect it. I do it by the book though. 3 lines electrified (minimum), with ground. Mine are 5 feet tall. Probably more than necessary given that I only have short horses, but I'm not taking chances! My horses have never gotten out.

Not sure how much snow you get there. But here, we get tons, and electric lines get pulled down in the snowbank. So I have a winter paddock with top board (2 x 6") so they're safe and aren't tempted to step over.

You mention another large piece of land 20 minutes away. But to run a dude ranch/trail riding operation, you'd need to ride there. Riding on the road for 20 minutes with a bunch of newbies who think they're cowboys is a very bad idea. You'd have to figure out a path that doesn't involve riding on the road. That may be difficult, but look at the land to see if there's any possibility of getting right-of-way for a price.

Finally, you say your friend doesn't know anything about horses, and is just leaving them in the field and giving them hay. He needs to know that these horses need to be seen by a vet asap. Also, a farrier or trimmer (for shoes or barefoot trimming). Sorry if I'm stating the obvious and if this has already been done, just going on what you wrote. At the very minimum, a healthy horse needs to be vaccinated every year, and have his teeth floated so he doesn't develop hooks that will be painful, especially when wearing a bit in his mouth. Horses also need to be dewormed regularly. Even my two, with lots of room, a natural lifestyle, and very limited contact with other horses, get dewormed in the spring and fall. Ideally, you take fecal samples to a vet lab, they tell you whether the horses have worms, and what types, and you deworm accordingly. When my horses' fecal counts are zero (which actually just means they're below a certain number, but probably never actually zero), I deworm twice a year. Anything more, I deworm more frequently.

Of course your friend will have to look into liability insurance of some sort if he's planning on boarding or running a trail riding operation. Good luck! Let us know how things go!
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post #9 of 21 Old 10-01-2017, 04:38 AM
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First off I wouldn't dream of keeping 25 horses on 25 acres. In the U.K. where we have good growing conditions, it is said 2 acres per horse.

First off he needs to decide what sort of business he wants to run.

Looking at a trail riding business has to take into consideration how many people would want to ride in the winter? How many people would be able to ride week days? How many hours would each horse have to work to pay for its keep? That means covering all costs, not just its feed.

300 acres sounds a lot to ride around but, in truth it isn't much. Sure, you can cross cross around the area but it still will not take very long to cover.

Having liveries would need someone with experience and knowledge to oversee the running of the place.

As for chain link fencing I have never used it. It would be exceedingly expensive to erect and maintain plus dogs will dig under it. I know nothing about coyotes but would assume they might also dig under.

For the last 20+ years I had stock netting around the perimeter. On top of this was a plain wire which was electric and off set so that it was about 6" to the inside of the net so the horses couldn't get to the netting. From this I divided each field into paddocks with electro rope. This was on wooden posts, two,strands of electro rope, top one around 3'9" and the lower a foot down. This was so that the sheep could get under it without any problem.

The advantage of electro rope over tape is that it doesn't break in the wind. Tape wears where it runs through the fitments. Height was determined by making it high enough to be respected but low enough that should they decide to jump they could clear it.

This was all run from a mains fencer

A lower strand of electric around the perimeter would stop dogs from trying to get out.

I will just say that no matter what fencing you use some horses will get into trouble with it. I have seen a yearling colt with a heavy wooden rail impaled through his chest and sticking out by his elbow. (Yes, he lived and won several races!) if there is a way to get injured many horses will take the opportunity to take it.

You have to look at the business side of things - the saying, 'How to become a millionaire with horses? The answer is, start with six million!
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post #10 of 21 Old 10-02-2017, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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This is all really, really helpful information guys, thank you! He doesn't want to run a trail riding business, just a boarding barn.

The horses have not seen a vet, or had their feet or teeth done. There is literally no where for the vet to safely examine them. There are 2 shelters but no barns or anything else. We tried to halter the horses today but only 3 would allow it. I am going to guess those were the 3 horses that have previously been ridden. I discovered a cut/abrasion and bad swelling on one of the mares front legs today, so told my friend to call the vet ASAP to get her looked at as the wound is pussing and is hot. I know that means infection, and could be really bad if it's not looked at quickly.

The fences are in desperate need of repair, and that is difficult to do when you are trying to contain 6 horses. I think he is coming to the realization that he really needs to part with these horses, get the new fences built, and at least a barn with a couple of stalls before he looks to introduce new horses into his life.
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