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.


Avoid Planning Costs with Mobile Stabling

Fed up with the mud?

Unless you are very lucky, you will probably spend the winter fetlock-deep in sticky mud. Apart from pulling shoes off, it can cause foot abscess, thrush, mud fever, sprains and more. *

When a horse is cold and wet, it is hard to keep condition on them and can give rise to snotty noses and rheumatic conditions. Maintaining their condition by keeping them dry and well-fed will keep their immunity high and help protect them from illness. Vets are expensive.

Ideally, you’d have a stable to keep your horse off the paddock during the winter months. Limiting turnout helps to preserve your field for the spring.

What is the best type of stable for your requirements?

Conventional stables are a wonderful facility but expensive and time-consuming to build. An architect would need to draw up plans which are submitted to the local planning department and a fee is paid to both the architect and the council. Assuming permission is granted, a concrete base is installed by groundworkers followed by a course of bricks. The wall panels of the stable are bolted through the brickwork.

Mobile stables are a much faster and cheaper solution. They are made in exactly the same way as permanent stables but instead of being fixed to brickwork, they are bolted to a heavy steel skid. The skids resemble the runners of an old-fashioned sledge.

The types of skids for your shelter

At NFF Ltd., we design and construct the skids from heavy-duty steel in our steel fabrication workshop. We take time to weld the joints and brackets to give them extra strength as our buildings are very heavy, due to the high specification timber we use.

Following manufacture, the skids are sent off for galvanising. Galvanising gives steel a shiny silver appearance and is designed to protect it from rusting giving a life span of approximately 35-years. We don’t believe in painting skids as they quickly rust.

Apart from not requiring groundworks, these buildings can be moved around. The shiny nature of the steel and the clever shape of the skids makes it easy to tow the building using a 4-WD vehicle or a tractor, depending upon the size of your stable.

Cheaper skid option

You may not want to move your building very often. In that case, timber skids may be an option. Despite being double kiln dried and pressure treated to preserve them, they won’t last as long as steel but are cheaper. It will still be possible to tow your building but it won’t glide quite as easily as steel skids do. Timber skids are best suited when a building is going to sit on an existing hardstanding and won’t be moved too often. They are still very strong and durable.

Bedding up

In order to make your building practical to bed-up, you may wish to invest in some rubber matting to lay on the ground. We recommend a layer of rubber grass mats, topped with rubber stable mats. You can then bed up in the same way as a conventional stable.

Should you wish to keep the cost down, you might choose to have just a bottom stable door. When you think about it, you are probably unlikely to shut the top door very often.

Planning Permission

To comply with planning regulations, you won’t be permitted to connect any services, namely electricity or water. There is excellent solar lighting available on the market which is cheap and easy to fit. If you fit guttering and a water tank, you can collect rainwater which is not only free but eco-friendly too.

Getting your horse comfortable with its new shelter
A good way to introduce your horse to their new building is to place feed, hay and water inside. Your horse will soon realise how cosy it is.


Why a Mobile Stable?


NFF’s mobile stables provide cheap, instant stabling for your horse or pony.  With no need for expensive concrete bases, brickwork and hence planning* these fabulous buildings can be towed around thanks to the sledge-like ‘skids’ they are built on.

If you place rubber grass mats, topped with rubber stable mats in your mobile stable, you can bed it up as you would normally.  Should you wish to move the building, you can pull up the mats and replace them once the stable is relocated.  

If your stable is going to be sited away from services, you can invest in some cheap solar lighting for those dark evenings and have guttering with a water tank to catch the rainwater.  

It’s worth considering an overhang for the front of the stable to give your horse extra protection from the elements.

Where possible, avoid facing your stable in the direction of the prevailing wind as you want to keep your beloved equine as snug as possible.

A good way to encourage your animal to feel comfortable in their new home is to hang a hay net inside and make a point of placing their feed bucket inside. 


Recent Testimonials

Emily Llewellyn (Professional Eventer) – “The stables are great thank you so much! Your boys were fab to have on the yard, they were so tidy and nice to work around.”

Mr C from Wallcrouch – “An exceptional job, well done”

Mr C from Wadhurst – “Great, and a hard working team”

Mr & Mrs P from Crowborough – “Looks great”

Mr H from Burwash – “Very nice”

Mr A from Hawkhurst – “Very good work”

Mrs. D.S. We’re very pleased with the shelter, tell your guys thank you for putting it up


New Stables photos

Check out our updated gallery of timber stables and stable-blocks.  All our buildings are designed and hand-crafted by our experienced team at Horam.  Delivery and installation are included in the price, subject to conditions*.  (*Contact office for details).



Do I need shelter for my horse or pony?

Horses in a bespoke stable block


The BHS guidelines state “all horses and ponies kept at grass require the provision of an adequate effective field shelter”.


Over time, we have bred more refined horses to suit our preferred disciplines making them increasingly vulnerable to temperature changes. Thin-skinned breeds from warmer countries are particularly susceptible to the cold.


When animals live out they use a lot of their reserves to keep warm and tend to drop weight.  A stabled horse/pony needs less food than one that is out-wintered.


If you are not blessed with well-drained fields, winter can quickly change smooth green pastures into rutted mud-baths ready to be colonized by weeds once spring arrives.   Winter can be a very unpleasant time for the horse-owner.


Keeping your horse/pony in a shelter or stable for the winter months not only preserves your ground for the spring but it helps to keep your animal in good health. If a horse gets cold, its’ immunity will drop leaving it vulnerable to illness.  It doesn’t take long for a vet’s bill to add up to the cost of field shelter!

New and improved stable specs!

We have improved the standard specifications of our stables for 2015:

  • Doors now come with galvanised chewstrips
  • Both Windsor and Badminton stables come with a 900mm lined overhang
  • 610mm x 610mm framed Perspex window with galvanised grill

These features are included in the price of our stables as standard. To see an example of our new specification stables visit our yard in Horam or call us on 01435 813 535 to discuss our wide range of equestrian buildings.




We are pleased to announce that we are now stocking rubber grass mats.

The mats are only £17.50 plus VAT each.

They can be collected from us in Horam or our delivery prices start at only £10.

Rubber grass mats are great for using in gateways or high usage areas where the ground often ends up poached with high use and during periods of bad weather. The design of the mats allows for the grass to grow up through so that the mats become unnoticeable. There is no groundwork required before laying the grass mats and they are easily linked together with cable ties. They can be laid on flat or contoured areas as they are flexible. Grass can then be cut over the the mats with a conventional mower.

Mats are 1 m x 1.5 m and 23 mm thick. They can be simply joined together with cable ties. These mats are also safety tested by Rapra to BS EN 1177:1998 for 3.3 meters critical fall height. They are therefore also great for use under swings and other childrens play equipment. You will also find a number of other uses for your grass mats.


Mrs B Testimonial

……..I am delighted with my new shed. Thank you for a very efficient service. The young man who did all the hard work was excellent and very helpful, and I was very impressed with the way he carried out his work………

20 August 2011