5 Ways to Prepare Your Property for Horses
Any place with plenty of varied terrain and open spaces is ideal for horse riding. Whether someone buying an equestrian property plans to own horses to start a business, for showmanship training, or just for pleasure, they'll want to create a comfortable, safe environment to help their horses flourish. Keep reading to learn more about some essential home upgrades that owners should make to prepare their property for horses.
Develop Raw Land Suitable for Horses
Property that is purchased in its natural state is known as raw land. This type of land is unimproved and is free of sewers, utilities, streets, and structures. This means that buyers planning to prepare a suitable setting for equines will have some work to do with their raw land investment.
Most of the trees, boulders, and brush commonly found on raw property may need to be removed to pave the way for a suitable setting for raising or breeding horses. Each type of property and terrain offers different advantages for horse owners, who can take steps to maximize the land's natural resources through integrated land management practices.
Keep in mind that equine laws and regulations only permit one horse per half-acre, so choose raw land with enough space to accommodate the size of the herd that will be housed on the property. Depending on the ratio of horses to land and the available grazing, the property may need to be managed to keep the property producing enough forage for the horses. Another consideration is access to the property, which could be important for trips to showings or transporting horses from one location to the next.
Good soil is pivotal when establishing a good arena design and healthy pasture. Ideally, the land will offer some form of natural watershed protection, or owners will need to tend to this issue to prevent problems with neighboring property owners. Look for a property that offers ample sunshine and boasts foliage that is not harmful to horses or make plans to eradicate invasive species and insects that aren't beneficial for the herd.
Prepare Horse Shelters for All Seasons
Some places may have cold fall weather with winters that often bring snow to the region, while spring and summer could bring about rainy days along with those filled with sunshine. Every season is different, so horse owners will want to establish a shelter for their animals suitable for all types of weather and temperatures throughout the year.
In the summertime, ensuring that horse sheltering zones, whether an enclosed stable or a run-in shed, are draft-free and waterproof helps prevent humidity that can cause overheating and distress in horses. Their shelters should feature circulating fans with automatic thermometers that help maintain comfortable temperatures for human and equine occupants.
To help horses stay cool and healthy in warmer weather, owners need to make sure there is plenty of potable water and a water source where the animals can cool themselves off. A hose is great, but a pond is even better because that allows them to take advantage of it at will. Misting fans are also a good option, but keeping cables for electrical connections tucked away is essential when installing any type of fan in horse shelters.
When the snowy season arrives, horse shelters need to have trusses that can accommodate 30 pounds or more of heavy snow per square foot. It is worth considering having a steeply slanted roof that allows snow to slide off to prevent structural damage around the joints, such as cracking or dry rotting. An enclosed barn is highly recommended for winter sheltering to keep horses warm and safe from frostbite or injuries that can result from wandering in deep snow.
Establishing Water Sources for Horses
Like humans, horses require substantial amounts of water, and some home upgrades may be necessary to ensure they have adequate access to fresh, potable H20. However, there are various challenges to face, as watering methods may be somewhat different during warm and cold weather seasons depending on the property's elevation.
For a year-round solution, the best upgrade to install is an automatic water bowl that provides water on demand. This keeps water from sitting stagnant and developing algae, and it prevents the liquid from freezing in chilly temperatures. There are several types of automatic watering systems for horses, and all of them require a dedicated water line that runs from the barn to the main home or a separate pump house.
There are heated, energy-free, and frost-free automatic animal watering systems that help prevent freezing and help balance the water levels. No pressurized system access? It might be necessary to use stock tanks, but these require extra work to keep them cleaned and filled, making automatic waterers the ideal option.
Creating a Suitable Riding Arena
Equestrian riding arenas can be constructed, inside large barns, under a covered shelter, or completely outdoors. However, those with multiple horses tend to enjoy having both indoor and outdoor options that allow for year-round training and exercising schedules. When designing or restoring a horse-riding arena, draining, base layers, and top layers are important considerations.
Pools of water in the arena can create soft spots that affect ride quality and can result in the breakdown of the riding surface and sub-layers. Install a French drainage system if the landscape is prone to pooling water after rains or snow melts. Choose a quality clay base material.
Once it's compact, apply a thin layer of limestone and compact that as well. After adding a thin layer of crusher dust, apply the top layer of choice to finish off the riding surface. Most opt for rubber, wood, soil, or shredded leather to offer exceptional grip without putting excessive strain on the horse's leg muscles and tendons.
Install a Suitable Fence
When enclosing a pasture for horses, it is important to choose the right type of fence. The most common type of fence used for horse pastures is a rail fence, which is made of wooden or composite boards that are attached to posts. They can be either three-rail or four-rail, depending on total height and personal aesthetic.
Another type of fence that can be used for horse pastures is an ElectroBraid fence. ElectroBraid fences are made of plastic or polyester threads that are strung between posts. They are safer than wire fences, as they have no sharp edges that could injure horses. ElectroBraid fences can be either four or five feet tall.
Finally, mesh fences can also be used for horse pastures. Mesh fences are made of interwoven strands of wire that create a strong, flexible barrier. They are available in heights ranging from four to six feet.
When choosing a fence for a horse pasture, it is important to consider the size and activity level of the horses that will be using the pasture. It's recommended that the fence be at least 52 to 54 inches tall to help prevent the horses from jumping over. Ambitious horses may try to jump the fence regardless, but this is typically enough to dissuade any horse that isn't an Olympic show jumper.
Live the Equestrian Lifestyle
Horses are prized animals, and these majestic creatures deserve to be just as comfortable in their environment as their owners do in their own homesteads. These tips for upgrading or creating a place on your property for horses will help prospective horse owners in horse-friendly neighborhoods promote a healthy, happy herd.