Since our first horse
purchases while living in the mountains in Colorado in 1985 we have always attempted to keep and care for our horses in the
best conditions we can. Always learning and developing better methods for their care. After years of having, riding, caring
for and boarding horses for others we have settled on a very simple principal.
their natural environment as much as possible!
So what does that mean??? We simply provide them
the most basic elements of what they like to have in their world. This makes for a healthier horse both physically, mentally
Here is a list of those "Basic Elements".
They are kept in a herd environment. Most horses are really not ridden
or used that much. So, what are they to do with the majority of their time??? Frolic, play, nuzzle, groom and anything and
everything else a horse does all day long. Keeping them in a herd gives them that most basic of all needs that any herd
animal desires the most: Companionship, Family, Structure, Friends and Safety.
keeps their mind alert and their emotions positive.
2. The Space
They are provided a minimum of 1.5 acres per head. Horses need room to roam, play and graze.
Instinctively horses graze 16 - 18 hours a day. They are browsers. A nibble here and there, take few steps and get another
bite, look around and see who's doing what, then a few more steps and take another bite, etc... They will do this all day
long if left alone.
So let's be honest with ourselves. They spend a lot
of time alone and we do not ride them as much as we should. It is so evident in their behavior. Cribbing can be caused from
pure boredom... We see so many owners plop that hay in a nice feeder right in front of their horse with a little shot of grain
everyday and they will stand right there and eat until it is gone. Then their water is close by because that is the convenient
place for us to fill it and you have basically immobilized your animal to the point that they grow fat, out of shape, founder
and any other host of health problems caused from a sedentary lifestyle...
3. Plenty of food.
We already touched on grazing
but what about in the winter when the grass has quit growing and is covered with snow? We feed round bales in round bale feeders
in various places. Usually there is at least 1/4 mile between where we feed and where the water source is located. Each time
the feeder is emptied it is moved approximately 50 feet. This helps prevent manure build up and also helps to limit parasites.
Giving plenty of space between feeders also helps to limit the control
freaks in the herd trying to hog it all for themselves... These feeders are also placed far away from their water source...
They will spend all day eating, but they will only spend minutes getting a drink.
Also, an average horse produces 40-50 pounds of manure per day. Manure management has to be
considered and I would rather do anything with a horse besides shovel and wheelbarrow manure all day long. So, by feeding
them out back and moving the feeders each time there is no concentration of manure that needs to be handled...
Various watering locations also allows them variety. When the water is not frozen our horses have access
to numerous ponds to drink all they want. We have seen many go wading, splashing, playing and we have even had a few that
will roll and submerge themselves... How many times have you been on a trail ride and experienced a horse that would not cross
a small creek or wouldn't step in a small puddle? Daily exposure to ponds and water as a drinking source makes them much more
comfortable when you are on the trail and need to cross water...
5. Water in the winter.
In the winter it
is much harder to have various locations for them to drink so we do not even try. There are so many limiting factors like
where is the well located? Electricity source to plug in the heater. Non of us likes to string out 200' of garden hose when
it is below zero to fill a tank only to have to drain it and roll it back up again and store it someplace where the hose won't
freeze... That is why we feed them as far away as possible. Remember, they will eat all day but only drink for a few minutes
and then they will head right back out.
So, having the winter water source up close and convenient
for us humans is the prudent thing to do...
We are frequently asked what is our biggest challenge
in the winter? Without hesitation we always answer "WATER". We can feed enough hay in an hour to last them all week. They
have access to shelters for inclement weather if they want it. They can group together for safety if they feel threatened
by coyotes, wolves or bears.
2 dozen horses can empty a 150 gallon tank in an afternoon.
1. Creating a healthier, happier animal. Much easier to catch and calmer on the
trail or when being ridden. They usually d not have that anxious feeling of being let out of prison when they go for a ride
after not having been utilized for an extended period of time.
2. Fitness through activity and
interaction with others. If an outside horse comes to us and is overweight and big bellied that horse will look dramatically
better in a few short months. Tighter stomach, standing taller and straighter, with muscle definition throughout. We have
actually had horses come to us that the previous owners were on the verge of euthanizing them because they thought they had
the simplest sense, DSLD is a failure of tendons and ligaments to maintain, remodel and repair themselves in a normal fashion. Degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis (DSLD) is a progressive and devastating lameness, recent research has discovered this is actually a body-wide
problem. Although the horse used in this example was never clinically diagnosed with DSLD, he did show the signs of having
it. This same horse 6 months later showed no sign at all of breaking down or health issues of any kind.
3. Less hoof maintenance.
We find that the hooves are much stronger and tougher with thicker soles and cleaner/healthy frogs. They stand taller and
straighter and they naturally wear their hooves requiring fewer trimmings. We usually see them needing hooves trimmed once
every 4-6 months instead of weeks.
4. Less vet care. We find
that we need to have a vet visit the farm very rarely. Maybe once a year on average and we have gone years without a vet visit.
The most common thing a vet will do at our farm is a coggins.
horse boarding may not be for you if:
1. Your horse is older and is used to a paddock every night.
2. Your horse is not used to a herd environment.
3. Your horse has special needs or health issues.
Not every facility is good for every horse and we are no different.
So, please look over our web site,
come and visit us and make an informed decision before bringing your horse to us.
Call us at 715-569-4693 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org