Bringing Your Horses Home
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
After years of boarding you can’t wait to bring your horses home, do morning chores in your PJs, and drink coffee while staring out the window at your equine babies grazing on your idyllic little farmette…
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! It is going to be an adjustment and those little jokers are going to give you heart palpitations. I say this lovingly as I devote almost all of my free time to my two jerks (whom I adore). Here are the things you need to do before moving your horses home.
Stables and Outbuildings. Safety first. If your barn looks like this (see above), then you’d better get to work. Make sure your stalls, run-in sheds, and storage spaces are safe for both humans and equines. Personally, I love these little barns, but if you only plan on using run-in sheds, then you should be sure that they comfortably fit however many horses you plan on keeping. Oh, and put extra snaps on the stall doors, gates, and the door to the feed room because honestly, it is not a question of if your horses escape, but when.
Pasture. Once again for the people in the back—they will escape eventually! Be sure that your fencing is safe and secure. Personally, I prefer regular wood fencing. It’s truly a miracle that my heart is still beating given how many times I’ve been electrocuted. Don’t come at me talking about how the shocks aren’t even life threatening for toddlers because I definitely saw my life flash before my eyes. Seriously, I hate electric fencing, but if you plan on using it in some capacity, then you should seriously consider using electric tape rather than wire. If it breaks you can just tie it back together and move on. Now, I’ve heard people complain that the tape just snaps when the horses run through it and to that I say, “@$%@# Duh.” FYI—if your horses have never seen electric fencing before, then they will try it. Don’t think they won’t. I don’t want my horse to get tangled in electric wire. Neither do you. Use it with caution.
Seeding pastures can be annoying and costly, especially if it doesn’t work. Be sure that you have enough pasture for the number of horses you plan on keeping. You will likely need to rotate pastures to avoid overgrazing. It is bad for the soil and bad for your horses. You will also have to keep an eye on the weeds because some are allergy inducing and others are poisonous. You may also consider running water and electric to each paddock so maintenance will be less of a hassle in the winter. And buy some chicken wire because the horses will eat your trees.
Feed and Hay. If you don’t plan on using the same feed as your previous barn, then be sure to buy some of the same feed and hay the horses are used to. You should mix it in with the new feed slowly. Moving is stressful enough for many horses and you want to be careful not to change too much of their routine at once. I would also recommend talking to your vet about ulcer prevention for nervous horses and bad travelers. If you have more than one option for feed and hay suppliers, I would recommend shopping around for the best price. A few dollars here and there can make a huge difference.
Companions. Companions are important, both equine and otherwise. Generally, I’d advise against keeping only one horse. Many horses don’t fare well living alone so if another horse isn’t in the cards, rescue something cute and relatively low-maintenance like a mini donkey. People joke about getting goats for their horses. I love them, but I have learned that the first rule of goat ownership is that you must have at least two goats. Still, they almost certainly cost less than a second horse.
You will have mice (or rats) so if this isn’t the company you would like to keep, I recommend getting one or two barn cats. You won’t have to look far. People seem to love dumping their cats on farms. Just be sure to get them spayed or neutered unless you really dig that cat lady vibe.
As is custom with horses, there is so much you just won’t be able to prepare for. Keep this in mind as you put together your human and equine first aid kits. Take a deep breath and picture that view you’ll have while you drink your morning coffee. Never mind the view your family and neighbors might have of you in mucky pajamas with hay in your hair. Ugh, some hay just fell in your coffee. Oh well, you’re too blissed out to notice.