Maybe you have or had parents that would respond to your pleas of horses with “Do you have any idea how much care they take?!” I don’t think many of them actually know though, other than the generic “You’ll have to shovel poop!” (the horrors!)
I don’t find my horses had to take care of. It’s not hard, it’s just time consuming. I like to think the care activities are divided into two categories: Daily, and weekly or occasionally. Weekly, I drag my arena. Occasionally, I fix fences, or spread grass seed.
This post is about the daily care involved for my horses that I keep at my house. I’m not a master at keeping horses; I’m sure there’s many different ways people keep their horses, and I thought it would be fun to compare/contrast.
My morning routine is all about being quick, as I have to get to work. I usually go out at 4:30, in pitch black, guided by a flash light and the impatient noises of Vintage. If they are turned out, she grinds her teeth on the fence. If they are stalled, she grinds her teeth on the window.
I prepare their food, with Berry getting her supplement, and double the grain of Vintage. If I’m running late, I cut back her grain so she’ll finish faster.
I open the barn door, and they walk themselves into their stalls to eat. While they eat, I change blankets if needed, and then I put out hay. This is unusual for most I think, but I primarily feed off round bales. The horses do not have full time access to them, I peel layers off and put them in the field to eat. It’s way more economical to feed this way – As nice as it would be for horses to have 24/7 access to the hay, they would destroy the whole bale too fast. They used to rip the bale apart, sleep on it, or poop on it, but even after we built a feeder, they still went through it in about a week. When I put out the hay, my bales will last 2 to 2 and a half weeks.
The only issue with this method is that I end up covered in hay. My allergies go on red alert for at least an hour afterward.
Once they finish eating (with many helpful prompts of teeth gashing from Vintage), I let them out, shut the barn back up, and done.
My afternoon routine takes slightly longer. This is when I’ll take the time to clean out the stalls if they are staying in, and then I left everyone in. It’s exactly the same as the morning, but I fill the water trough, and pick out and clean everyone’s hooves.
Clean hooves are a must for me. Too many problems pop up that could have been avoided just by keeping those hooves clean and dry. This is also what dictates my personal turnout policy. If the ground is muddy, I stall them. I won’t stall them for more than 12 hours though, so I can’t keep everyone pristine, but I think the 12 hours they stand in dry stall bedding is still beneficial. If the ground is dry though, I see no reason to stall them at all. They come in to eat, and immediately go back out.
My routine in the morning takes about 20 minutes, and my routine in the evening can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on what needs to be done. At the bare minimum, 40 minutes a day to take care of them isn’t a lot. The equivalent of coming home and watching an hour of television, and I’d rather be spending that time with my horses.
I don’t enjoy waking up super early and going out in the dark (there could be bears lurking outside my range of light!). I don’t enjoy going out in the rain and sliding down my hill, and my feet getting wet because my muck boots always end up with holes in them. I hate it when my pipes at the barn freeze, and then I have to haul buckets of water down from the house.
But these are all very minor in the grand scheme of things. If I really wanted, I could spend some effort and correct many of them.
Sometimes after I’m done feeding, I stand out there with them while they are munching hay. On clear nights, I can see every star in the sky, and sometimes the moon is so bright, it might as well be daytime. I could just sit there with them, listening to their horsie noises, getting an occasional curious muzzle pushed against me, while staring at the sky. Times like that make me wish there was more to do, so I could have an excuse to spend more time with them. And yes, I am a bit of a dork.
Anyone else want to share their daily care routine?