Why bother lining the inside wall of your stable?

Stabling horses can be challenging especially if you have an animal prone to kicking out. 

Well-built field shelters and stables should have the inside of the walls lined with a sheet of timber to protect the fabric of the building being damaged should the horse give it a kick.  It also helps to prevent the horse from hurting itself should his foot shatter the timber.  The lining timber is more flexible and less brittle than the timber used on the exterior. 

Some horses are more prone to kicking than others when shut in their stable.  Apart from not wanting them to put a hole in the building, you may be concerned about the concussive effect repeated kicking could have on the horse’s leg.  A brilliant solution can be to line the walls with rubber stable matting.  The rubber helps to absorb the kick and is also a good way to reduce the noise which can be annoying, especially at night.  The matting is incredibly strong making it virtually indestructible.  Bear in mind that good quality rubber matting is very heavy so do check the framework of your building is robust enough to take the weight before committing to buy.

Rubber matting should be screwed into the side walls as repeated kicking could cause nails to work loose and become a safety hazard.

Another benefit of walls lined with rubber mats is for reasons of hygiene.  If you have a horse that is very messy in his stable, the rubber is easy to disinfect and wash down. 

It is very important to keep foaling boxes super-clean.  Again, a rubber-lined wall will be of great benefit.

Sally’s Guide to a Hay Feeding Station

If your horse is kept out, either part-time or full-time, you will be familiar with feeding hay in the field over the long winter months.

When feeding piles of hay on the ground, a lot can be wasted when it soaks into the muddy field and then gets damp or rained on.  There is also a risk of the hay becoming mouldy causing possible respiratory issues from the spores, should your horse eat it.

Feeding hay in nets in the open field is less wasteful but it won’t stop the rain making it soggy and the hay that falls onto the ground surrounding the net will probably ruin.  Some horses are prone to pawing at the nets which runs the risk of them getting their feet stuck.

As horses are naturally ground feeders, it is thought that the constant pulling action on the head and neck of horses eating from haynets can give rise to physical problems.  If you are able to place hay at ground level, it will mimic their natural grazing behaviour and allow them to extend their neck and back correctly.  It also helps them to chew each mouthful more thoroughly, allowing them to absorb a higher level of nutrients from their food.*

A solution to these problems is to invest in a mobile field shelter.  This will keep the hay dry and shelter your horse at the same time.  If you have two horses or more and they get on together this can work well.

How do you manage when you have horses that don’t always get on?

In the event of having two or more horses that are prone to disagreement overfeeding, it is important they aren’t confined as you don’t want them getting pinned into a corner and being attacked.  The solution is a Hay Feeding Station. This building is completely open at the front and designed to accept large oblong bales of hay or round bales.   Ensure the floor of the feeding station is covered in grass mats topped with rubber stable mats for ease of sweeping.  The hay can be delivered directly into the building and the horses can come and go as they wish.  The vast opening at the front makes it easy for a less dominant horse to escape if challenged by another.  The height of the building allows delivery direct by a tractor and fore loader.  The width and depth allow room for several bales of hay plus access for several horses.  This enables the horses to eat safely and the hay to stay dry and at ground level.  If you keep the Hay Feeding Station swept regularly you should find you waste much less hay and have happy horses who have somewhere dry and sheltered to eat in.  They can access it whenever they wish and you won’t have the hassle of carting hay across wet paddocks.

Accessories for the feeding station

To maximise the Hay Feeding Station or field shelter, you may wish to install a remote-controlled solar light.  This can be turned on and off as you need it, maximising it’s stored power.  If you prefer it can be switched to ‘movement sensor’ mode. 

We have found this particular product to be simple to install and very bright, even in the winter months.  Being relatively inexpensive, it’s a real bonus.

If you want to make your Hay Feeding Station or field shelter even more user-friendly, have some guttering fitted with a downpipe leading into a water trough.  This will catch the rainwater allowing your horses to have natural drinking water, free of charge!

You may choose to fit some tie rings inside your building This would enable you to hang a salt lick to the interior wall and save it dissolving in the rain.  The tie rings could also be used for tying up your horse for grooming or the farrier whilst happily munching hay.

Inside space is useful all year round for shelter from the elements or storage when not in use by your horse.

Sally’s Guide to Loving your horse even more for Valentine’s Day!

Would you like to make Valentine’s Day extra special for your horse? 

Here are 10 ideas for a bit of extra pampering:-

  1. Catching him with a fresh apple or carrot
  2. When you put his headcollar on, gently ease out his long eyelashes so they don’t get caught (it can’t feel nice when they’re stuck under the headcollar!)
  3. Give his coat a thorough brush. Start with a curry comb to remove any mud, but ensure you are gentle.  Move onto a dandy brush followed by a body brush.  Pay special attention to areas the rug straps sit as longer fur can become matted and itchy. 
  4. Using a spray-on conditioning product, brush out his mane and tail until it is silky and tangle free.
  5. Trim his tail using a sharp pair of scissors. Take care not to make it too short though!  It should sit 10-12cm below the hocks.
  6. neaten your horse’s mane but aren’t keen to pull it (this can sometimes hurt the horse), a mane comb with a blade could be a good solution.
  7. If your horse is living out, he may be muddy. Use a hose with a spray nozzle to wash his feet and legs.  If your horse isn’t used to being washed, start the hose away from him and gradually work towards his hoof.  Once he is confident you can give his hooves and legs a good clean.  Take the opportunity to check for feather mites and mud fever.
  1. Once your horse is clean, pamper him with a relaxing   You can either buy a prepared oil or make your own
  2. Now your horse is thoroughly relaxed, give him a long cuddle, tell him how much you love him
  3. Finally let him roam free with his pals!

 

Sally’s guide to preparing for the arrival of a new horse

Buying a new horse is both scary and exciting.  You will no doubt been to see quite a few and some were probably very different to what you expected.

Having made your decision, you will need to make the necessary preparations for its arrival. If you are keeping your horse at livery it will be a simple matter of making arrangements with the yard according to their guidelines.  They will be able to advise you accordingly. Should you be bringing your new horse to your own premises, there is lots of planning to do. Begin by checking with the current owner how the horse has been looked after to date. 

Here are some questions you could ask:-

 

  • Does the horse live in or out? (In other words, is it stabled or does it stay in a paddock)
  • If the horse is stabled, is this full-time or part-time? If part-time, is it turned out during the day or at night?  What bedding do you use?
  • If the horse lives out, does this apply in the winter months also? Should circumstances require the horse to be stabled (if it were unwell etc), is it relaxed in a stable?
  • Are there any health issues or allergies to be aware of?

These are examples of more common complaints colic, laminitis, COPD, Sweet Itch

  • What do you currently feed? Do you steam or soak the hay?
  • Is the horse shod and if so, how often?
  • Would you describe the horse as dominant or subservient?
  • How comfortable is the horse travelling in a trailer/lorry? Does it load easily and travel quietly?
  • Do you rug the horse in the winter?
  • Is it necessary to restrict grazing in the Spring?
  • Does the horse respect electric fencing?
  • Can the horse stay on its own or does it need constant company? (Some horses get very distressed if they don’t have a companion or if their companion is taken for a ride leaving them alone)
  • How is the horse with clippers?
  • When did you last do a worm-count? (This involves sending a dung sample off for a lab test)
  • Are the vaccinations up to date? Every horse is legally required to hold a passport.  Vaccinations should be entered in this document.  You take ownership of the passport when you buy the horse.

 

Having understood the requirements of your new horse, you can put everything in place ready for his/her arrival

If you are introducing the horse to an existing animal or herd, care needs to be taken to avoid fights and potential injuries.  Horses can be territorial and are vicious when protecting either their field or their herd members. 

Assuming you plan to integrate your new animal with your other horse/horses in the same field, the situation needs to be managed carefully. 

Should you have two fields side-by-side, separated by strong fencing, you could consider turning your new horse into the adjoining paddock.  This way the horses can ‘meet’ and ‘talk to each other’ over the fence but the chances of injury are minimised. 

Ensure there is no barbed wire or sheep fencing etc. in which hooves could get stuck should they paw or kick the fencing.  To start with there is likely to be much galloping up and down the fence line and probably some shows of aggression by the dominant horse. 

Hopefully, over the course of 7-10 days, the animals should settle down and start to ignore one another. 

When you judge it safe to introduce them into the same paddock, it might work best to introduce the more dominant horse/s into the paddock of the less dominant animal, rather than the other way around. 

Certainly, to start with, try to avoid feeding the horses near each other.  If necessary, remove the new horse from the paddock and feed separately as this can be a common cause of ‘punch-ups’. 

If you are feeding hay, ensure there are plentiful piles or haynets spread well apart to avoid issues.  If you have 3 horses, try to put out 5 piles of hay. 

With careful handling, your new horse should settle in happily and become a well-integrated member of your herd or a good companion to an existing horse/pony. 

Horse Rugs

Sally’s Guide to Managing Horse Rugs

Over the winter months, wet and muddy horse rugs are an ongoing problem.

Fleeces and sweat rugs are easiest to manage, especially if you are lucky enough to have a washing machine you can use to keep them fresh. A quick wash cycle at 40 degrees is usually sufficient to leave them looking good.  Being lightweight they tend to dry quite quickly.  In the absence of an alternative, they can be draped over a door or saddle racks to dry them.  Dirty fleeces won’t be as effective at absorbing sweat as clean ones.

Non-waterproof rugs

Under-rugs and stable rugs can also be washed in a domestic washing machine.  As they aren’t waterproof they have no proofing to lose during the washing process (Standard detergent dissolves waterproofing).  Being a little heavier than fleeces they can take longer to dry.  An excellent facility for drying them is an electric rug drier but not everyone has the space to accommodate them and they aren’t cheap to buy.

Affordable Drying

A budget and more compact alternative is to invest in a hanging rug rack with swinging arms that folds back when not in use. 

If you site it over a power point, a domestic radiator will easily dry the rugs overnight.  Fasten up the neck straps or clips and hang them downwards on the rug hangers.  Warning! Avoid the rugs making direct contact with the heater for safety reasons.  Always ensure heaters are in good working order as old ones could present a fire hazard.

Tips for turnout rugs

Wet and soggy turnout rugs are another matter entirely.  If you need to swap rugs and dry them, a line of strong cord or baler twine can be secured using robust eyelets at the back of your stable or field shelter.  Ensure the cord isn’t slack as you don’t want your horse getting caught in it.  Take care to place it tight to the wall of your building for the same reason.  Horse rugs can be draped over this line with the inside of the rug facing outwards for easier drying.  Some horses are a bit mischievous and may try to pull the rugs down when left to their own devices, so make your decisions accordingly.

Check for leaks

It’s worth regularly checking beneath your horses’ rugs to ensure they aren’t leaking.  If they are only slightly damp inside it could be due to perspiration if your animal has been galloping around.  Most rugs are breathable so this should only be an occasional problem.  If it is happening regularly you might need to swap to a thinner rug.  When the weather warms up, rugs will need to be changed accordingly. 

If the rugs are actually wet inside, check for rips and tears.  If the rugs are older the waterproofing may have worn off.  This can often be remedied by getting the rugs professionally cleaned, patched and re-proofed.   Be sure not to leave a horse in a wet rug as this can lower immunity and give rise to illness.

A sign of horses not being warm enough can present with weeping eyes and/or a runny nose.  Every horse is different so look out for signs of any discomfort and pop your hand under the rug to check they feel a comfortable temperature.

Out with the old in with the new

When you get sparkling new rugs, consider giving your old discarded rugs to a local horse rescue centre.  They are always grateful and it is a good way to recycle them.

Young and old horses tend to be more susceptible to cold and wet weather than others.  Their rugs will need to reflect this. 

Out with the old in with the new

Different breeds of horses have varying winter coat types.  For example, Welsh cobs, have thick short hair interspersed with longer wispy hair.  Connemara’s tend to have dense almost woolly coats whereas thoroughbreds don’t grow much winter coat at all.

Horses are individual just like humans.  Some like to be wrapped up with many layers and neck covers over the winter months whereas others try to rub their coats off and prefer their necks to be uncovered. 

If you clip your horse, remember to rug them up more to make up for the coat you have removed.