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Effective Horsekeeping
  2007 Cherry Hill

Notes from Cherry Hill's presentation at the
25th Annual Horse Breeders & Owners Conference
hosted by the Horse Industry Association of Alberta

January 12 - 14, 2007
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

Equipping Your Horse Farm
Equipping Your Horse Farm
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Your Pony, Your Horse
Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

From where these comments come……..

7000 feet in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies
70 acres - 9 pastures
From ½ acre to 20 acres
5-10 horses
Foals - Seniors
2 person operation

The Klim Team… all the credit, all the blame


Richard - Design, build and maintain facilities
Sanitation engineer
Resident farrier
Cherry - Training, Health Care, Grooming
Feeding, Breeding
Paperwork, Business
Together - Daily Chores

Our facilities include:


Main horse barn
Hay & Equipment Barn with Senior Center
Outdoor arena - 100' x 200'
Round pen - 66' diameter
Miscellaneous features:
Shop Building, Ranch Office, Sacrifice Pens, Matted Hitch Rails

Horsekeeping involves choices

  • There is no one "correct" way for all horsekeepers
  • There are always new products and information available
  • Yet, in some ways, nothing is new
    • The best bet is to be informed
    • open-minded and dedicated to being the best horsekeeper you can be.

Effective horsekeeping requires:

  • Land & Facilities Management
  • Daily Chores and Care
  • Breeding, Training & Riding

Successful horsekeeping is characterized by effectiveness, not efficiency.

  • Efficiency…is doing things well.
  • Effectiveness…is doing the right things well.
  • Effective Deworming (as an example)

    • Master the SKILL
    • Know WHAT Product to Use
    • Know WHEN to use it
    • Keep RECORDS of what you used and when
    • Put a REMINDER on your calendar for next time

The trick is not in the knowing……….But in the doing !!!

Benefits of Effective Horsekeeping

  • Horses are fit and content
  • Land is healthy and productive
  • Facilities are safe, tidy, functional
  • You'll save money !!
  • You'll make good use of your time
  • You'll have more time for RIDING !!!

Horsekeeping Tips

          • Horses
          • Land
          • Facilities
          • Budget
          • Time


Let horses be horses.

Ground Feeding


It's natural, healthy, and gives the horse's topline a good stretch.
It applies to penned and stalled horses too.
The ideal is a sheltered, matted feeding area.
"The nearer a horse is made to feed in the stall as he does in the field, the better. The hay should be measured and put in a corner on the ground where it can be easily reached.
The importance of this is now so well understood that all first class horses are fed in this way.
D. Magner, 1916
Magner's Standard Horse and Stock Book



Mutual grooming might be hard on manes but it is satisfying to horses.



It is not optional. It is essential.



Horses are curious and interested in learning. Give them a job.

Feed Horses Like Horses

  • Feed according to horse's weight
  • Feed mostly hay
  • Feed little or no grain
  • Feed according to need
  • Weigh all hay and grain

Cold Weather Feeding Rules

  • Increase hay, not grain, during cold weather……..Why?
  • Hay is safer to increase suddenly
  • Less chance of colic
  • Grain digests quickly, hay digests slowly
  • The heat from digestion is longer lasting from hay

    • For every 10 degrees F below freezing,
              Increase your horse's hay by 10%
    • If a 1100# horse gets 16 # hay per day
    • At 0 F, he would get 30% more hay/day
    • 16 x .3 = 4.8 extra pounds or 20.8# total

    Choose Management Style



    Convenient (Horses are clean, ready)
    Space efficient (Small acreage)
    Individual Feeding
    Safe (No fighting among horses)

    Confining (Lack of exercise)
    Boring (Vices)
    Unhealthy (respiratory, stocking up)
    Expensive to erect and maintain
    Labor twice a day
    Increased manure management
    Unsafe (cast, fire)



    Natural exercise
    Respiratory health
    Fitness & Soundness
    Comfortable place to lay and roll
    Socialization and Recreation
    Natural feeding
    Low daily labor

    Land is expensive
    Difficult to feed individually in groups
    Fighting and injury
    Fence and land maintenance time and cost
    Horses can become wild and herd bound
    Laminitis, toxic plants, sand colic
    Insects, wild animals, parasites, hunters
    Horses are very hard on land, trees, and water
    Can be inconvenient for daily riding

    Individual Sheltered Pens


    Convenient (Horses are clean, ready)
    Space efficient (Small acreage)
    Individual Feeding
    Safe (No fighting among horses)
    Some exercise
    Fresh air

    Expense to erect and maintain (panels, footing)
    Labor twice a day
    Moderate manure management
    Unsafe (cast under panels)


    • Take care of your land……..
    • And it will be there when you need it

    Grazing Guidelines

    • Cross fence and rotate
    • Graze when grass is 6-8" tall
    • Limit number of hours of grazing
    • When 50% of vegetation is gone or 3" in favorite spots, remove horses
    • Mow to uniform height of 4-5"
    • Seed bare spots
    • Keep an eye on weeds
    • When grass regrows to 6-9" (2-6 weeks) return horses to pasture
    • Use sacrifice pens when pasture is not available.

      Overgrazing stops root growth
      (example - horse turned out on 6-8" grass)

      Grass Plant Grazed (%)
      Root Growth Stopped (%)


      Land - Riparian Areas


      Riparian refers to vegetation and soils alongside streams, creeks, rivers and ponds.

      Precious areas easily damaged by horses

      • Manure +
      • urine +
      • overgrazing +
      • destruction of brush and trees +
      • creation of muddy banks =
        • Less vegetation
        • warmer water temperatures
        • more algae
        • less fish
        • decreased wildlife habitat.

      Land - Wetlands

      • Wetlands are sub-irrigated "swampy" lowlands
      • Often considered undesirable wasteland
      • Wetlands filter pollutants and help prevent flooding
      • They are a valuable resource that should be protect.
      • When wetlands are wet, keep horses off.
      • And Richard says...

        • Besides protecting the land
        • You'll be protecting your horse's hooves
        • Hooves exposed to too much moisture can develop cracks, thrush, white line disease, poor hoof quality and loose shoes.

      Land - Manure Management

      • 1000# horse produces 50# of manure/day
      • 6-10 quarts of urine per day
      • 50# of wet bedding/day
      • 5 horses in stalls produce 90 tons of manure and bedding per year.

      Land - Composting

      • Reduces volume
      • Reduces odor
      • Reduces insect breeding area
      • Prevents water contamination

        Heat of composting kills parasite and fly eggs and larvae.

        Good bugs thrive
        100-150 degrees F (38-66 C)
        Bacteria, virus, fungi, protozoa,
        weed seeds, fly larvae die
        130 degrees F (54 C)
        Parasite eggs killed
        145 F (63 C)
        for two weeks


        Take care of your facilities and, not only will they be safe for your horses, but they will appreciate in value.

        Wood Chewing

        It affects horse health, facilities value and safety… is a bad, unnecessary habit…………Prevention is key !!!

        Wood Chewing Prevention

        Long stem hay not pellets or wafers

        Increase hay during cold, wet weather

        Cover all edges with steel at least .06" thick (1.6mm; 16 gauge)
        Apply anti-chew product to all other wood surfaces

        Sacrifice Pens

        When horses must be in off pasture, well-drained, sheltered pens come in very handy.

        Fugitive Dust

        Airborne particulate matter that arises from bare patches of earth such as fields, vacant lots, overgrazed pastures, horse

        ens, arenas, and round pens.

        Nuisance, health concern and could be legal issue with neighbors.

        Prevention includes

        No overgrazing

        Minimize work on windy days

        Apply dust suppression (water, chemicals)

        Pave or gravel roads and paths

        Minimize areas disturbed

        Keep excavation to a minimum on construction sites


        • Think Ahead and………save Money
        • Be Innovative and save Money

        Feed Grain and Hay by Weight…….. not Volume

        • To avoid overfeeding, underfeeding, and colic
        • And to save money

          Buy Hay in Bulk

          Factor in labor, fuel cost, delivery cost and/or convenience, and feeding convenience below. Using some sample prices from recent Colorado hay sales.


          50# small grass bales
          Small bales- store
          Small bales - stack 20
          Small bales - stacker
          Small bales- field
          Small bales - semi trailer
          Large bales - semi trailer



          • Save time by being on time
          • Stay on schedule with farrier & veterinarian
          • Make an annual TO DO list
          • Get organized

          Annual TO-DO List (example)

          • Buy hay
          • Spread manure
          • Remove bot eggs
          • Breeding program dates
          • Gelding
          • Annual immunizations
          • Taxes
          • Dental care
          • Insurance due
          • Registrations

          Organization examples

          • A place for everything
          • And everything in its place
          • Especially important when several people use the same equipment and facilities

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