This is an important area of horse ownership. I attended a seminar a long time ago that discussed this very topic at Cornell University with speakers from around the globe. With all the new technology it still boiled down to removing the waste from the stall and shipping it out of the barn to a place far, far away from the horses.
If a horse can make 50 or more pounds (23kg) of manure and urine soaked bedding a day, accumulating this for 30 days equals 1500 lb (682kg) in a pile. Even if you don’t keep your horse in a stall or shed, the pasture will still have this much. It all needs to go somewhere other than remain in the stall or on the ground where they eat.
Waste management therefore is one of the most important subjects to discuss when owning or managing a horse farm.
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These areas and pieces of equipment are needed to support the training and development of horses for athletic endeavors. You might find some other training equipment in the therapy section such as vibrating plates. These topics are specific to training the horse and not in their recovery phase.
Shipping horses is fun as long as nothing bad happens. There are two causes of bad things. Either you do something wrong like go too fast around a curve or, more likely, someone or something else (deer, hog, drunk driver) does something wrong where you need to do evasive action. Here I list what I think is important for all horses shipping any distance.
Shipping horses is fun as long as nothing bad happens. There are two causes of bad things. Either you do something wrong like go too fast around a curve or, more likely, someone or something else (deer, hog, drunk driver) does something wrong where you need to do evasive action.
Pastures are often an afterthought to horse owners. If it’s green then fence it and put the horses on it. But it’s not that simple because of several factors. These include the ability to nourish the horses correctly, the ability to grow where you live, the maintenance requirements of the pasture and the ability to stand up to the traffic and the grazing.
Good drainage in pastures is essential but when pastures are located near rivers, the chance of flooding is seasonal and can be extensive. Here are some flooded pastures which are useless. However the remaining 11 months of the year they are fertile and supports the horses. Sometimes you just need to be flexible.
A horse farm requires fencing. It is often the most expensive part and usually requires a lot of maintenance. Selecting a type of fence is based on cost, maintenance requirements, availability, safety and aesthetics.
There are also gates and latches that come in varieties you might be interested in seeing.
Fence safety is important as many horses become injured from either the type of fence (barbed wire) or the poor maintenance (broken boards).
There never is enough storage on a farm.
Storage areas are needed to protect equipment and supplies. Here are some I have come across. Most are standard and represent the concept but some are fairly unique in the way they are made.
I have one image and a video of one type of electric floor sweeper. I keep missing the opportunity to view and capture images of the others. In my barns floor sweepers have always been humans with brooms…
Every barn has equipment specialized for a job. There are a lot of pieces and here are just a few. I suppose I could add another bunch here such as different types of pitch forks but this will need to wait for a while. It is just too personal a choice and the variety is too many.
An arena is where horses are worked and trained. They come in two basic kinds: covered and uncovered.
This subject is mostly images of arenas I have seen in my travels. Some are majestic and some are bare bones. There is something that can be learned from each and applied to an arena you are planning to build.
I am not an expert in agronomy but I know this much. Too many horses can destroy a pasture. Poor drainage is something I constantly see. Irrigation often helps in dry areas.
Something I need to look at are track systems that require horses to move within a pasture. Also when to cut the pasture, sugar content, dormancy and rotation as well as the different types of grasses and what they have been modified to do (rapid growth of cattle).
The first time I heard of a manure vacuum was when it was used in a study about parasite control. It was driven off of a PTO drive shaft from a tractor. Since then there are a few companies making gas powered self contained vacuums that can be pulled by any vehicle.
There is one rule when spreading horse waste. Avoid spreading it on a pasture where horses live. This is not sanitary and encourage the spread of parasites. It is true that periods of dry heat will kill the larvae but few areas lack rain or dew. It will also attract flies to the decaying matter and who wants that.
Containment of horse waste is needed where it will be hauled away in the future. Many keep it in a trailer or a manure spreader where once or twice a week it is emptied. Waste containment is important and in some areas are required to meet strict standards. Some are portable containers and others are permanent areas that are periodically emptied.
Composting of horse waste is done on several farms I visit. This has several benefits that are discussed here with pictures of some set ups on a few farms.
Where ever horses are, poop and urine happen. Daily. It is the most basic of horse care to clean the areas where they spend time, yet some people skimp on this needed process.
There are several reasons for cleaning up horse waste but for me, the number one reason is because it is the right thing to do. No one wants to live in their own waste. It is necessary to define what “clean” is. Unfortunately for many this definition is controlled by the amount of money a person wants to spend on labor and bedding. This doesn’t place the horse as the most important reason for cleaning and that needs to be placed above money and time. If you own horses you need to remove all soiled bedding and waste at least once a day.
The efficacy of using horses as therapy for people with mental, emotional or physical challenges is unquestioned. Barns that have adapted their facilities to accommodate these people and their families are now found everywhere. Access ramps, people lifts, grandstands and other specialized equipment are installed strategically for daily use.
These images are from a few assisted riding barns I have visited. I am not an expert and information for creating a barn specific for this use is abundant elsewhere.
Blankets have become a big part of horse life today. From fly sheets to coolers to turn out rugs, blankets come in all styles, purposes and sizes. It is rare that a horse only has one blanket and if one is not on a horse then it will be hanging on a rack, folded and stored or piled in the corner of the barn. For those organized and wanting a clean barn, the images in this gallery are for you. I love the ingenious blanket rack that is also a blanket dryer (unfortunately not pictured).
Covered arenas are made to shelter the horse and rider from weather and strong sunlight. They can be built with 4 enclosing walls, with one side permanently open with a half wall, with sides or half walls that can open and close or with no walls at all. Irrigation systems can be hung from the ceiling for dust control. Fans can help with ventilation. Music and PA systems can be installed. They can be attached directly to the barn or separate from the barn with or without a covered walkway. They can be made with wood or steel trusses and some of the wood can be basic trusses or laminated boards. All are rectangular in my experience. The width is dependent on the materials used and the anticipated roof load with the additional weight of snow collapsing many covered arenas. Footing can range from dirt to sand to special mixes laid in layers.
This gallery displays many of the covered arenas for your imagination to explore. Grab a cup of coffee, darken the room, grab a pen and paper to write notes, and sit back and enjoy.
Exercise machines have become very popular on farms. They come in many varieties from treadmills to walkers. How they are placed on the farm is of interest in this gallery.
Extreme trail riding has become popular, though there have been plenty of old cowboy books written where the good guy had to do some extreme riding to get to where he wanted to go. This one is located in south Florida near my home.
The gates used in a fence line on horse farms range from elegant to unsafe, hand made to mass produced and maintained to barely keeping together.
Safety is the key here and is a recurring theme in this subject. Also ease of opening and closing.
From simple to complicated, I have seen a wide variety of fence gate latches. I boil them down to only two types. You either operate them with one hand or with two hands. I prefer the one handed gate latch.
In here I have a simple way to turn a two handed chain into a one handed chain. So simple and inexpensive, it’s crazy. Enjoy!
Horses don’t normally live behind fences. They are inherently dangerous for the horse although being born and raised behind one, the young horse learns quickly to respect them. Yet injury from fencing occurs every day.
There are many styles of fencing and usually the cost of the fence is proportional to the safety it brings to the farm. But that’s not always the case. Fencing that is not maintained often becomes the reason for injury.
For me, there are only two styles of fences: safe and unsafe. Most fences fall into the unsafe category and over time, a lot of the safe fences become unsafe due to poor maintenance. I will discuss here all the fencing styles I have seen over my 50 years with horses. I may have missed some but you can tell me about it with a comment below.
The ability for a horse to live outside is accomplished on many farms by providing structures that allow for free entrance and exit at anytime for the horses. These structures provide protection from the weather including rain, snow and wind. Some incorporate doors that usually remain open but can be closed for containment when needed.
There are dozens of features I have seen from air conditioning to full water systems and tack rooms to sleeping quarters. This is something personal and is constantly improving. I have no advice here, just some images with captions.
This is a subject you might think a vet is not fluent in. However you all need to know that for a while I shipped horses professionally before and during vet school. I drove the big 18 wheel semi trailers (Mack, Freightliner and Peterbilt) all over the east coast of the United States.
I also cover how to ship a horse safely and what is necessary and required for travel of livestock.
There are so many different types of trailers made with different materials and configured in many ways. It is a personal preference which type you use as there are advantages and disadvantages to each. If money were no object I would get the longest trailer attached with a fifth wheel to a truck, the most powerful engine, the most number of axles (and their brakes) and the most comfortable cab. If money were no object…
In dry areas it helps to be able to irrigate pastures if water availability is an option. Here in FL we have an abundant water supply – usually. In other areas the water is restricted or needs to be separated from the drinking water supply.
This water cannon is a common sight here in FL. They are used for irrigation and for dust control in outdoor riding areas.
Jog tracks are popular for many reasons, the most important one is the cost of building one. I had a 1/2 mile oval on a figure 8 track bull dozed on my farm in upstate New York that went through the woods. It became a great place to leg up a horse using LSD – Long, Slow, Distance.
Jumps are either smoothed branches or well designed works of art. Here are some that I have captured for anyone wanting to look at some fancy jumps.
Round pens are made in many ways. Some simple panels and others engineering marvels.
Here are some images of ways to dispense salt and minerals that I have seen on many farms. Personally I use a mined salt block on the ground or having someway on a wall. I also believe that many minerals are found in the well water. See the nutrition section.
A place to keep equipment and trailers from exposure to weather is necessary on any farm. This protection from the elements will extend the working life and your investment in these things will be extended in time. Just as important is the organization of these away from horses because on any farm, there is potential for a horse to get loose and exposed equipment would pose danger to them.
Many barns utilize the space just below the roof and above the stalls (the loft) for storing things. Where the temperatures are moderate, lofts are usually large with room for large amounts of hay. Where the temperatures are very high, there are no lofts or only partial lofts as this space is used for ventilation. In other words a ceiling is not covering the stalls. Further, any hay stored in a barn loft where temperatures exceed 100 F (38C) for most of the year will bake out the nutrients of the hay as well as possibly start a fire or cause spoilage.
Storing food and bedding should give protection from weather and be efficient to access for use. These things are accessed daily and have turnover on a consistent basis. They also create a lot of dust and dirt so this access should be limited to specific times and be isolated from the horse living areas or where people are working throughout the day.
Uncovered arenas are easier to build and less expensive. Their use in harsh climates is limited. The footing material and how it is constructed is the elaborate and costly part. Good drainage is imperative and is often overlooked due to the added cost. A poorly drained arena is useless and may cause injury to the horses being trained on it. Water cannons or moving sprinklers help keep the dust down in the dry season.
This gallery displays many of the uncovered arenas for your imagination to explore. Grab a cup of coffee, darken the room, grab a pen and paper to write notes, and sit back and enjoy.
There are so many types of buckets to put water into and this gallery shows you some. Believe it or not, buckets for water and other materials have caused damage to horses when handles are exposed and the horse is spooked. Torn eyelids is the most common incident (see “Water bucker safety”).
There is little attention given to the health and maintenance of the pastures for our horses. Farm owners must realize two principles. The first is that there is a natural ebb and flow to the cycles between plant growth and horse health. The second is that the plants in the pasture are living just like you and your horses. These plants need as much attention to their health as your horses because without it, it, the soil and microbes within the soil needed for plant life will die.