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Shire Horse Facts | Keeping Your Horse At Home?

Posted By: JR

Well I had a few questions for anyone who runs their own boarding operation or keeps horses on their property and I hope you have the patience to answer my questions. I have been riding for about 10 years and my dream is to eventually have my own boarding facility where I can train and give lessons. This fall, I will be going to a community college for equine business management and my dad and I were kind off discussing getting a property with a small barn and a few horses. I have previously owned and leased but they were always at a boarding facility. I have also worked at facilities where I mucked, fed and turned horses out. This summer I will be doing a working student position to try and gain more experience. I realize that if we are able to get a property, I will only have my own horses there as I know I’m not ready to take in any boarders. So my questions are pretty simple. I will be the only one living on the property so what happens when I have to go to class and such? I’m assuming that people still go on with their daily lives but I just have a hard time grasping the fact of leaving the horses in the pasture for a few hours while I’m at school or the grocery store. Would it be better to leave them in the pasture or in their stalls? During the summer, it gets very warm, would you recommend leaving the horses in the barn during the day and turning them out at night? How do you know how much to feed a horse in hay and in grain? I keep trying to research this one but I’m pretty sure I’m just gonna have to ask a vet on that one. Where do you find hay for sale? Do you just buy it and the grain at the local feed store or is there a better option? I don’t have my own horse at the moment but if we do manage to get a property, I would love to bring a Shire I work with. He is at a rescue that I volunteer at and I have fallen in love with him. He is very big and has never been in a stall before so is a 12′ by 12′ stall going to be big enough? When do you know if you are ready to keep horses on your property? I always imagine that no one is truly ever ready but they learn a lot as they go. Is that true? How tall should a fence be for a shire? The pasture he in in now has about a 5′ fence and he doesn’t seem to want to escape. Would it be better if I brought another horse from the rescue with him since horses need companions? What do most people do about the manure management problem? I’ve seen people come and hall it away but I’ve also seen trash companies take it away in dumpsters. This one is gonna sound really stupid but is there like a fee to have a horse on your property? Like how your dog has to be licensed, do you need anything for a horse? Haha, sorry for the 20 questions but I’m trying to learn all I can and the 30 books I have don’t answer everything. Thanks in advance :)Wow, Fennec Fox, I didn’t really ask your opinion on if I was ready to keep a horse at home. How are you ever ready to do something if you’ve never done it before? This is why I’m trying to do all my research before hand and if I don’t feel that I’m ready then I won’t do it. But I do figure that keeping a horse at home will give me a lot of experience for eventually running a boarding barn. Also, concerning the shire, he is kept outside at the rescue with a herd of about 20 horses who get a round bale of hay and two scoops of grain a day and of course the horses all “fight” over it so there is no way to really tell how much he eats every day. Anyhow, thanks for the other answers and do try to be nice to someone asking polite questions. hunterhorse40: It’s nice to hear from someone in the same boat and I have a few of Cherry Hill’s books myself including Horse Keeping On Small Acreage. Very good book and have learned a lot from it too 🙂

My family has always kept horses on our property. At the moment we have two at home and two that are boarded (mine and my sister’s show horse) but we’ve never had a time when we didn’t have at least one horse at home. It can be nervewracking to “leave” the horse, but it has to be done. Leave your horse wherever he is typically safest. If he acts like a nut in the pasture, you might prefer to leave him in a stall. If he hates being confined, turn him out. The key is to make sure your fences, gates, stalls, etc. are safe and secure. That doesn’t mean things don’t happen, but they’re far less likely to happen if you take precautions. Visit the property several times a day, at different times, so vandalizers and thieves are less likely to bother you. If they know you come down regularly and can’t pinpoint exactly when you come down every day, they’ll be less likely to try. Lock your tack room and any other equipment, but don’t lock your horse’s stall or barn–in the event of a fire or other emergency, you want him to be able to be rescued quickly. If you leave for a long time, notify your neighbors or ask a friend to drop by just to make sure things are okay. Keep in mind that a horse in a stall is an easy target for a thief–it’s very easy to catch a stalled horse. Don’t leave halters on your horse. Turning out at night is an option but doesn’t have to be done. When my show horse was at home, we turned him out at night during the summer and kept him in during the day just because we wanted him to stay out of the sun (it bleached his coat). However, it’s not “too hot” to turn them out as long as they have access to shade (trees or a barn) and water. Every horse is different in terms of how much to feed. When you bring a horse home, ask the barn owner or current owner what they’re eating. Start there, and adjust as necessary (with the help of a vet, if necessary). If they don’t have access to good grass, give them plenty of hay. You can buy feed from a feed store or co-op. Good hay can be hard to find, so plan ahead. You’ll need to find a hay farmer nearby who you can buy hay from. Ask local feed stores or other horse owners for recommendations. A 12’x12′ stall seems like it might be a little tight for a huge draft horse, but then again I’ve never owned a draft. If he’s never been inside, is there a reason why you want him inside now? Many horses are fine being turned out 24/7. If you have the space, leave him outside and just build him a run-in shed for shelter, unless you want him in for other reasons.Most horses enjoy companions. If he’s used to having one, I would look into getting either a second horse or pony (you can always rescue one for cheap or get one for free if you’re only interested in a companion horse and aren’t picky about breed or training) or even a goat, donkey, or similar animal.If your pasture is big, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem with manure–it will spread and decompose on its own. If you have a small pen, you may need to go out with a wheelbarrow and pick it up, or at least get a tractor and mix it in. For stalls, have a “dumping place” away from your barn. Once it gets full, have it hauled away. Many people (like gardeners) love using manure as fertilizer so you can also advertise free manure if people are willing to come take it. As for the fee, it probably depends on your area. Where I’m from, there’s no rule or fee, but I know that certain places have regulations about keeping animals within city limits or something. I’ve never encountered that, so I couldn’t tell you.

Honestly you are nowhere NEAR ready to own at home. Not even if a few years.Anyway.The horses will be fine when you go to class. You don’t have to put them in the barn when you leave.During the summer, either provide shelter outside or put them in the barn during the day and turn them out at night. Figure it out. If the horse loses weight, feed more. If they gain weight, feed less. There is no “if the horse is 15.2hh feed him X amount of grain and Y amount of hay”.12 x 12 is too small for a big draft horse. A 5′ fence is fine. He will need at least one buddy horse. You will need to check your township/county’s rules for manure disposal. Horses don’t need to be licensed and you don’t pay extra ‘horse owning’ fees. You will be paying a different and more expensive insurance for having ‘agricultural property’ or something along those lines.

Wow. Bullets would help I think otherwise you won’t be able to read my answer.

So the horse I lease is living at his owners house in their own barn. The barn I work at is a borders barn located at the home of the owner, so thats my experience.

~What to do when you leave the property: The horses are fine. We leave them turned out all day (7-5 at the boarder barn). If people are there great, if not as long as you are back in time to feed everythings fine. My lease has his stall connected to his paddock so he just goes in and out as he pleases.

Summer turnout: some people turn out only at night in the summer but we haven’t had a problem. As long as you have a shelter for shade, water and flymasks or sheets if your horses are sensitive they are fine during the day. Its usually hotter inside the barn than out in the summer (I think at least).

Hay and Grain: There is a truly amazing book called The Care and Feeding of the Horse or something like that. It has great nutritional info. I think that most people start by feeding about what the horse was getting where they lived before and then adjust by trial and error weight and nutrition wise. Thats what we do when a new horse gets to the barn at least.

Buying feed: Its cheaper to buy hay in bulk directly from the farmer if you can. DEFINENTLY buy in bulk though. You save so much money. We buy the grain from the local feed and grain store not Ageway or the like.

Stalls: If the Shire hasn’t been in a stall before, he might be happier just living outside with a run in. It’s easier for you and for an older horse, its good because they don’t stiffen up from arthritis as much if they don’t stand in one place all night. I think I would do 14×14 or larger though. You don’t want him to get cast.

Fencing: Our fences are 4 rails of the traditional fencing. Split rail I think its called. We also use electrical tape across the top which is the main deterrent I think.

Definitely get a companion horse or at the very least a mini or goat. Horses need a buddy- they are herd animals after all.

Manure: We have a big pile at both places and we use it in the garden. It makes great compost. What’s left can be spread over the grass pastures after its fully decomposed.

Lisencing: yes you do need to get a permit for the building and then to keep the horses at least where I live. If you are boarding other peoples horses or giving lessons you need a special permit.

I’m going to be in the same boat this summer when I graduate high school and move. I’ve been doing a ton of research on certain things, and I have been taking care of a 12 stall barn everyday at a different farm for 7 years now, so I have this sorta experience. The horses will be fine to stay out when you go out. Make sure you’re fence is a quality fence and your gates are always repaired and working, with good locks. This will give you peace of mind. If you have the money, you can even fence in your entire property. When it gets warm the horses again will be fine outside unless it’s REALLY hot as long as they have water. Leave some trees in the pasture so they have shade. They will probably be cooler outside where the breeze is. Some people turnout at night in the summer because there are less bugs. But where I live (in the woods, lol) there are a lot of coyotes…and yeah I would never do that where I live. Grain and hay depends on excersise and turnout, and a vet can help you find out what is perfect for your horses. As for the hay, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk and have a place to store it where it will be dry and off the ground. It’s best to hear if the guy you get hay from is good from word of mouth. My trainer gets her hay really cheap from this one guy who lives like a hour away, but sense she goes and gets it herself, it’s cheaper. The grain you can get at the feed store…I’m sure there are other ways to get it but that I’m not sure on. As for the Shire, it depends on how tall he is. I think he would need atleast a 12 x 14, and 14 x 14 is even better. He COULD fit in a 12 x 12 but it would be tight. When is someone ready to keep horses on their property? I agree, you learn as you go. Make sure you have a lot of previous horse experience (which you do) and do a TON of research on everything. Which it seems to me you are doing right now. Most horses would want a companion. It can be another horse, but if you aren’t ready to have 2 horses on your property yet, you can always get a goat, a cow, or a mini. About manure management. I have no idea! I don’t think the trash company will pick it up unless you live in a very “horsey” area. And there are some regulations for different things on your property depending on where you live. There are certain people you need to call to find that out. I read about what those places are called in this book I’m reading…


Cherry Hill is my all time fav horse book author. This seriously is the best book ever for this kind of info. I’ve learned so much from it. You have to get it, if it’s not in your 30 book collection already. haha.

Anyway good luck with your property!

They will be fine and quite happy in the pasture when you’re not around, they will cope fine and it is more natural for them to be outside. In the summer they will be fine living out as long as they have plenty of water and some trees for shade. Barns can get really hot. Hay and grain depends on how much grass they’re getting . In winter they would need more food. In spring and autumn the grass will be enough if they are out 24/7 . The vet is the best person to ask how much to feed as they will know your horses. In summer when the grass dies off they will need hay in the field. And will need it in winter obviously. They may only need grain in winter depending on their age and how their weight is. you can get food at any place that sells horse feed. Yes 12 by 12 should be big enough a shire, make sure he gets plenty of turnout , he .may prefer to live out all the time. A 5ft fence sounds high enough and yes he will be much happier with a companion. Movst places have a dung heap and burn it or sell the manure or give it away. Don’t know about the fee. Horses usually fight over food, the dominant ones get the food 1st it’s a natural behaviour, you just have to make sure there’s enough to go round. With the hay you could put a bale in the field and replace it when they’ve eaten it all.

All your questions run together so I’m not sure if I’ll answer them all, but here goes:

Your horses will be fine without you looking after them at all times. As long as you can trust in your fence, you can leave them out when you go to class, the store, to sleep, or whatever.

I put my horses out at night and in during the day in the summer. They seem to like it better that way.

When you get a new horse, start out by feeding it the same amount and type of food it got in it’s previous home. Adjust as necessary due to desire to change to a different feed, increase/decrease in work, increase/decrease of grass in the pasture, and your monitoring of the horse’s condition. Always make changes gradually. If you are feeding grass hay, you can give them as much as they want. Alfalfa hay and grain needs to be regulated.

You’ll pay too much buying hay at the feed store. Find a local farmer to buy it directly from. Some hang out signs at their driveways saying they sell hay, some advertise on craigslist or in the paper or local horse publications. Some places have hay auctions. You can also ask other nearby horse owners where they get hay.

12 x 12 would be a bit cramped for a shire who is not used to being in a stall. Why have him in a stall at all? He could have a pasture with a run-in, which would also be less work for you.

I pile my manure then give it to my dad, my neighbors and myself for use in our gardens. With 4 horses, the pile does not get out of hand.

No fee to have horses!

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