Horses at Home

By Marcella Peyre-Ferry

Saddle and Bridle Magazine Equine Articles


Crane logo What care is needed to have a horse at home. Written for Saddle & Bridle magazine by Maracella Peyre-Ferry. © copyrighted horse article.
People often say, "It would be so nice to have the horses here with us at home instead of boarding them." Yes, it is nice to be close to your horse and to ride whenever the mood strikes, but before you begin building a barn or searching the real estate ads for a "farmette" stop and think about all your stable owner does for you. Stable services run the spectrum from simply providing a pasture for an outdoor horse to a full service stable with full use of all the facilities plus a trainer, and/or instructor. Some stables even have summer camps or horse shows right there for you to take part in. What will you have at home?

A small cozy barn can be built on a budget, but that may not be all you need. Fencing for a paddock or pasture can cost more than the barn, and depending on your soil and acreage, you may need a second field for your horse to graze while the grass grows back on the first.

Do you have easy access to trails or will you need a ring to ride in? If your ground is not level and well drained consider the excavation cost to create a flat spot and a drainage system plus you might have to haul in footing to have an arena that is usable most of the year. In some parts of the country, an indoor arena is closer to a necessity than a luxury, and they do not come cheap. So your stable owner has a lot invested in his property, and your board each month helps pay the bills for the amenities you are enjoying. It doesn't stop there. Can you physically or financially handle the maintenance that is needed as part of owning a barn. Fence has to be repaired from time to time and every barn will need occasional work whether it be roofing, plumbing, or regular mowing.

One of the reasons people want to have their horses close to home is the time factor. If you suffer with driving to the barn every day, fighting traffic, struggling with your work schedule or your children's other activities, eliminating the commute is appealing. In practical terms, however, you are trading commuting time for other chores.

If you are lucky enough to have your own horse at home with you, you know how much time it takes to care for him even when you don't ride. Someone has to be there every morning and evening to feed and clean, plus there should be someone on site for farrier and veterinary visits. If you travel even a little, you will need to find a dependable person to take care of the horses and property when you are away. Even if you only take a week's vacation a year that is a week that someone has to take care of your horse.

It is also important to have a dependable person you can call in case of emergency. Who will be there to take care of a frozen water line or put your horses indoors when an unexpected storm hits .For some people, getting services to your barn may be a challenge. Depending on the part of the country where you live, there may be limited access to farriers, vets and others you will need on a regular basis. Also, think of your instruction time. Is your teacher/trainer willing to come to you to give lessons or will you have to haul your horse to him? If the horse has to go to the lessons or the horse show or the riding trail, you may need to buy a trailer, and the vehicle to pull it, and all the other licenses and inspections that go along with them.

Speaking of licenses do you know for sure that you can legally keep your horse at home? I have seen properties with barns listed for sale that no longer have the minimum acreage for horses to be allowed. One property I know of right now had to have a run in shed and fence torn down and moved because the land owner put them up without a survey and they turned out to be on his neighbor's side of the property line.

It may sound like I am trying to talk people into keeping their horses at the boarding stable. I'm not. All of the obstacles to keeping your horse at home are solvable as long as you think them through in advance and plan for the future. Look at all the factors first, consider all of your options and decide with open eyes. If the problems outweigh the benefits in your particular situation, say a thank you to your stable owner next time you pay the board bill.

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