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March 2005

Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Horse Housing

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  2006 Cherry Hill

Your Management Style

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill  Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage - Second Edition Coming Soon!
Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill  Road to the Horse

This newsletter is a personal letter from me to you, a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.
My goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting stories and helpful tips for your horse care, training, and riding.

Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage

Second Edition - Arriving Soon!

I've just received my first copy of the Second Edition of Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage and it looks fantastic! My publisher, Storey Books, has done a great job with it. In a few weeks, I'll be receiving my first shipment, so will be able to fill your orders. Thank you for your patience !

The first edition of this book was reprinted over 30 times since it was first published in 1990. The Second Edition has 120 more pages than the first edition, twice as many drawings (by that partner of mine, Richard Klimesh), and twice as many photos PLUS the entire book is in color! I took many of the photos here at Long Tail Ranch so you can see our facilities, pastures, horses, and management.

I've included more information about arenas and footing, caring for the environment on our horse farms and ranches, and I updated and expanded the entire tractor and implement section. There are so many other new features in this book that you will just have to see for yourself. Visit this page to see a full table of contents:


Excerpt from Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage
Second Edition
Copyright 2006 Cherry Hill

Choosing Your Management Style

There is no one right way to keep horses. But horsekeeping will go more smoothly if you design a management routine that fits your lifestyle, facilities, and locale. If you have ample pasture but little time for daily horse care routines and plan to ride only on weekends, then keeping your horses on pasture full time might be the best choice. If, on the other hand, you have limited space but have the time and interest to do barn chores and can provide daily exercise for your horse, then stabling could work. Another popular way to keep horses is in a partially sheltered pen or run. To tailor your own horse management plan, consider the pros and cons of the most common methods of keeping horses.

Keeping a Horse in a Stall

The smaller your acreage and the closer you live to an urban area, the more likely your horse will spend part of his time in a stall. Although it is a space efficient way to keep a horse, it requires a large investment of capital and time. Keeping a horse in a stall requires you have a well-designed barn and that you feed at least twice a day, clean the stall at least once a day, and exercise the horse every day by riding, longeing, driving, ponying, or providing active turnout. Even with all that, stall life doesn’t suit every horse. For the best chance of success, start with a good stall.

A good stall environment begins with a minimum space of 12’ x 12’ with an 8’ x 4’ door. Many horses over 1100 pounds or 15 hands are much neater and more content in a 12’ x 14’ or 12’ x 16’ stall.

For hoof and respiratory health, the barn should be located on a well-draining site. The base of the floor should be porous material such as 10-12” of gravel. The flooring, which goes on top of the base, should be comfortable and safe, such as rubber mats. The bedding must be non-toxic, clean, dust-free, comfortable, and something the horse won’t eat.

The stall walls/doors should discourage rubbing, be able to withstand damage from kicking or chewing, allow ventilation to flow through the stall, and allow the horse to look out of the stall. There should be a clean place for the horse to eat hay (preferably at ground level), a grain feeder and a large water pail or automatic waterer. The stall should be located where there is not a lot of noise or bright lights. The barn environment overall should be healthy - plenty of ventilation (windows, doors, vents or fans) that keeps the temperature in the 30-80 F range and humidity in the 35-60% range.

Pros and Cons of stall life. See the book.

Keeping a Horse on Pasture

Part of the dream of having a horse is the visual satisfaction of seeing a horse peacefully grazing on a well-maintained pasture at your home. Pasturing a horse might be the most natural way to keep a horse, but unfortunately, it is out of reach for many and can be far from ideal from a horse’s viewpoint. For the best chance for success, start with a good pasture.

A good pasture has a stand of plants suitable for horses. The best kind of horse pasture is a well-drained grass mix with few weeds and NO poisonous weeds, trees or shrubs. If there is a good grass stand established, you have decent rainfall or access to irrigation, and you mow, harrow and reseed as necessary, you should be able to keep one horse on 2 acres of pasture during the growing season. However, arid ranchland with minimal browse plants can require 20 acres or more to support a single horse. To get a better idea of the specific stocking rate for your property, contact your county extension agent.

A pasture needs to be enclosed with safe fencing and gates. Pasture fences and gates should be at least 5 feet tall and well maintained to maximize the horses’ safety and minimize the liability of loose horses on public or private property. Using electric fencing in conjunction with conventional fencing decreases the wear and tear on fences and adds to security as long as the electric fence is checked daily to be sure it is working.

There should be no old dumps or farm equipment in a pasture; horses can easily get hurt on items hidden by tall grass.

There should be easy and safe access to free choice, good quality water. Natural sources should be running, not stagnant. Know the source of the water your horse drinks. If it contains agricultural runoff, it could be high in nitrates. A trough or automatic waterer should be kept clean and situated to minimize mud and to prevent a horse from being crowded into a corner or against a fence.

Pastures should be well drained with no bogs or stagnant water and preferably the soil should not be not sandy.

The pasture should provide shelter - either natural (trees, rocks or terrain) or man-made (shed or windbreak) to ward off sun, wind, cold precipitation, and insects.

There should be free choice salt and mineral blocks at all times.

Pros and cons of pasture life - see book.

Keeping a Horse in a Pen or Run

When you want your horse to have some room to move around but you don’t have access to a pasture, a good set up can be a group pen or individual run. These are usually located adjacent to a barn or other covered shelter and can vary in size from a bare minimum of 16’ x 60’ individual run off a stall to a 60’ x 100’ or larger pen off the end of a barn or loafing shed for a group of horses.

A good pen has safe, durable fencing and comfortable, well-draining footing. The pen should be located on high ground and be situated such that the horses can take shelter from cold wind, wet weather, hot sun and insects as needed. There should be a clean place to feed and a comfortable place for horses to lie down. To prevent feed from blowing away, windscreens can be attached to the outside of the panels.

The land in pens and runs is considered “sacrifice” because no vegetation is expected to survive the constant traffic. If the natural lay of the land doesn’t slope away from the barn or shed, then excavation should remedy this so that the shelter under the building is high and dry and the pen or run gradually slopes, about 2 degrees, away from the building.

Depending on the native soil, footing can be added to provide cushion and minimize mud. Some choices are decomposed granite, road base, and pea gravel.

A sheltered feeding area with rubber mats allows a horse to eat off ground level without ingesting sand or wasting feed.

In the loafing area of the pen, bedding can be used to encourage a horse to lie down but it usually invites a horse to defecate and urinate there also. This behavior can be minimized or eliminated by locking a horse out of the loafing or eating areas except during specific times.

Pen fencing can be made from metal panels or continuous fencing. Panels don’t require setting posts so are more adaptable to changing pen size or shape. Whatever pen fencing is used, it needs to be tall enough (5’ is OK, 6’ is better) and strong enough to withstand roughhousing, rubbing, and playing across the fence. Panel connections should be tight and safe.

Pros and cons of pen life - see book.

Road to the Horse

If any of you live near Murfreesboro, Tennessee and want to come by and say hi, I'll be judging the Road to the Horse competition March 5 and 6, 2005. You can read more about it here

I will have a sneak preview copy of Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage, Second Edition there with me too!

That's it for this month.
Hang in there, spring is in the air!

Cherry Hill

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  2006 Cherry Hill 

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