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.

 

Buying your forst pony or horse

Sally’s Guide to Buying Your First Horse or Pony

A guide to buying your first horse or pony

Buying a horse can be harder than buying a second-hand car. You need it to be in good working order but it also has to be safe to ride.

A vet can check the general health and fitness of the horse but assessing it for suitability and personality is down to you.  Don’t worry, the following tips will help you find your perfect match.

Firstly, you need to decide what sort of riding you intend doing.  Many first-time horse owners want to enjoy hacking around local roads with the occasional canter through fields and maybe progressing to a bit of jumping here and there.  In this instance, safety is paramount as you don’t want to frighten yourself with a horse that is too ‘flighty’. 

What type of breed?

It’s worth taking time to research the traits of different breeds of horse as they are all bred for different disciplines. 

An example would be a Thoroughbred.  They are gorgeous to look at but built for speed and therefore highly sought after for horse-racing.  Asking them to potter around on quiet rides and not fizz up when encouraged to have a canter is not going to work well.  They are also very lightly built (again, this works well for making them as fast as possible) but for everyday use, it can cause issues with their fragile legs not coping well with the pounding of roads.  Thoroughbreds are also renowned for having poor quality hooves which can give rise to problems keeping shoes on.  They are not good in muddy fields and need stabling during the winter months. 

A Welsh Cob, on the other hand, is a much heavier build.  They have very sturdy legs and strong hooves which can save costly shoeing bills.  Bred to withstand the harsh weather of the Welsh mountains, they can live outside all year round with a good rug.  Their stocky build is not designed for speed which makes them better suited to steadier riding.  They can carry more weight than Thoroughbreds and are much easier to look after.  They have thick skin as opposed to the more fragile skin of a Thoroughbred.  This makes them less susceptible to injuries and rub marks from girths etc.

In between the lightweight Thoroughbred and heavier weight Cob is the Connemara.  They are not as thickset as the Cob but have stronger legs than the Thoroughbred and denser coats and tougher skin making them less susceptible to injuries than the fine race-horse types.  The Connemara can suit riders who want something a bit more forward-going than most Cobs but still require a sensible horse. 

 

Apart from these types of horse, there are many other choices, all with traits specific to their breeds.  Cross-breeds can be a great mix of characteristics but the wrong mix can be disastrous!

Having narrowed down your search, you can start investigating where to buy your horse from. 

This falls into two categories; a horse dealer or a private seller. 

Unfortunately like some second-hand car dealers, a few horse dealers are not reputable and will do their best to sell on a horse that is either unsafe or unwell.  Check reviews online to ensure you don’t make that mistake.  Personal recommendation is always good.

Private sellers are not always ethical either but there a few things you can do to help make your experience a positive one. 

Firstly, don’t let your heart rule your head.  You may ‘fall in love’ with the picture of a horse for sale but don’t raise your expectations.  Be prepared to take the process slowly and walk away if you have any doubts at all.  It is too big a financial and emotional commitment to rush into a decision.

Your preliminary step is to speak to the seller and ask them why their horse is for sale.  Has a teenager grown out of the horse or are they leaving for University and sadly recognising they won’t have time to ride any more?  Maybe the sale is for completely different reasons.  It’s definitely worth asking.

The age of the horse is important too.  If you buy a horse upwards of 8 years old, it will have experience and will have lost much of the immature behaviour you expect in a younger animal.  A horse over 20 years of age is probably not going to want to race around and could come with health issues. 

Consider asking the seller some of these questions: –

What sort of riding have you been using the horse for?

How long have you owned the horse?

Are you sad to be selling it?

Is the horse easy to catch?

Does the horse kick/bite?

Does it live alone or in company?

Is it stabled/living out all/part of the year?

Is it good in traffic?

Is it strong to ride/soft in the mouth?

Has it had any health problems?

Is it shod or does it run barefoot?

Is it good with the farrier?

Does it buck/rear/bolt?

What does it eat? (Some horses exist well on good quality hay others need hard feed to keep condition, especially during the winter)

Does it like being brushed/fussed over?

Does it load well in either a trailer or lorry and is it calm to travel?

Assuming you are satisfied with the answers you have been given, it is time to arrange to meet the horse and the owner.  If you intend keeping your horse out at grass, ask if the owner could leave the horse in the paddock for you to help catch and get in to then brush, tack up etc.  This way you can test whether the horse is happy to be caught and prepared for riding. 

When you arrive, assess the surroundings.  Are they what you would expect or do they fall below the standard you would set yourself?  Does it feel nice?  Trust your instincts.

First impressions are important.  If the horse looks suitable, make a fuss of it in the way you would do if you owned it.  Press down it’s spine to check it doesn’t dip away with apparent pain.  Ask whether it is safe to go around the back of the horse, maybe ask the owner to show you before trying it yourself.  When grooming the horse, feel down its legs for lumps and bumps and pick up each of its feet to ensure it doesn’t mind.  Have a look at its hooves to see if they look healthy and strong.  White hooves have a tendency to be weaker than brown ones.

Time to tack up

When you tack up, see if there is any discomfort as you put the bit in his/her mouth.  If there is, it can be a sign of teeth problems.  Some horses can be head-shy if they have experienced ill treatment in their younger days.  With careful handling, this can come right in time.

 

If the owner is reluctant to have the horse near a fence or stable door, it may be that the horse is prone to ‘crib bite’ or ‘wind suck’.  This is an annoying habit thought to be caused by stress in its past.  It involves the horse taking hold of a fence rail or stable door and sucking in air.  This trait can devalue a horse as it can make it harder to keep condition on the animal.  It may not bother you but it will make it harder to sell in the future.

 

Having tacked up, ask the owner to ride for you. Ideally, choose a route to encompass every type of riding that you will want to do yourself.  This may need a little forward planning and perhaps require you to take a bicycle to keep up.  Ask to see the horse ridden on the road in similar traffic to what you would be faced with at home and get them to take the horse into a field for a canter and gallop. Maybe ask them to demonstrate a jump or two if that is what you want to be doing.  Watch the rider carefully to assess whether they are fighting the animal at all and whether they look at ease.  Once you are happy that everything looks safe, ask to get on yourself.  Sit for a moment and see if you immediately feel comfortable and trust the horse.  If you don’t, get off.  If you do, start off slowly and build up gradually to a canter etc.  When you have finished, if you can’t stop smiling, then you have chosen well. 

 

Last but not least

Before making a final decision to buy, ask a vet to do a 5-star vetting to assess for any problems.  This is not cheap but it will help to safeguard your money and save potentially expensive vets’ bills in the future and potentially a horse you can’t ride or sell on.

Ask to see the horse’s passport which will show you the age of the horse, any identifying features, its bloodline and recent vaccinations.  Check it matches the horse you are viewing.

Don’t part with any money until you are 100% confident everything is legitimate.  Be sure to get a receipt for your purchase.

Owning a horse is a huge responsibility but the most wonderful fun if you choose wisely.

 

Enjoy!

Sally

 

 

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.

Sources: https://stablemanagement.com/articles/health-hazards-mud-horse-farms-31885

Making the most of your field shelter this winter

Apart from sheltering your horse/sheep/alpacas/goats etc, during inclement weather, field shelters are good for separating animals at feeding time.

Here are 10 clever tips for making them even more brilliant:

  1. Put some guttering around the building with a downpipe leading into a water trough. Free water!
  2. Have a couple of clear roof panels to maximise the light
  3. A window is a nice addition
  4. Consider putting a half stable door at the back or side of your building. This can be opened during nice weather to give your horse a different view to enjoy
  5. Line the inside of the roof for a smarter look
  6. An overhang provides good shelter and helps to prevent rain from driving into the shelter
  7. A lined overhang minimises draughts
  8. Full height kickboards re useful when horses are prone to chewing
  9. Rubber stable matting can be fixed to the internal walls if your horse tends to kick inside the stable
  10. Stable doors give you an instant stable

View Shelters

Why a Mobile Stable?

MOBILE STABLES

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. 

 

RDA(Riding for the Disabled Association) New Timber Pavilion

Sally S (NFF Timber Buildings Manager) and Martin Logan (Timber Buildings Estimator) were invited to the Kipling Trust RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) Grand Opening of their new pavilion.
We were commissioned to design & build the timber pavilion for the RDA complete with disabled toilet access at the side.
The exterior verandah was a popular vantage point for viewing the driving competitions, and also a great place for a social get together.
The founding member, Jan McSweeney cut the ribbon to officially open the building.
We really enjoyed seeing the carriage driving competitions and it was lovely to see everyone having such a great time