Other grooming tools – hoof picks, comb, and detangling spray (PS: to avoid damaging the tail, never comb the tail from top to bottom, and never comb without detangling spray. Hand pick shavings and other debris out of the tail and, using copious amounts of detangling spray, gently comb sections starting from the bottom until the whole tail is detangled and smooth).
Hoof boot – in case you lose a shoe use this temporarily (only to hack) if the farrier cannot make it out to your barn immediately.
First Aid – to lower cost some of these supplies can be bought from your local grocery or pharmacy: surgical/antiseptic scrub, epsom salts, square bandages, vet wrap, duct tape, scissors, thermometer (don’t forget to attach a string to the end), antiseptic ointment, thrush treatment. A cream containing zince oxide (such as diaper rash ointment) may be used as a sunscreen or rash treatment in a pinch. Your vet is probably needed for anything these supplies can’t handle.
Blankets – depending on where you live, two is probably all you need to handle change of temperature. In very cold temperatures, you may layer the two for extra warmth. Consider a cooler if you work your horse to a sweat during cool weather months. If you clip your horse during the winter where the temps dip below 20 degrees, consider thermal “underwear”. Look for sales during the summer months and consignment options.
Barn Tack – make sure you have “extras” just in case something breaks, gets lost, or needs washing: halter, lead rope, saddle pad, girth, polo wraps.
Extra Clothes For You – gloves, hat/ball cap, jacket (for rain or if you come to the barn underdressed). Whenever I buy new paddock boots I always keep the old ones in my car trunk just in case I forget to bring my boots to the barn after work.
If you don’t use something on a regular basis determine whether you can rely on your barn for things like clippers, leg bandaging, shipping boots, braiding tools/supplies, and lunging equipment. This will lower costs for you considerably. My friend Robin keeps nothing but fly spray, a helmet, and gloves in her trunk. I could not function this way but you get the idea of how “stealth” you can be depending on your circumstances!
Beside your budget, boarding your horse is about personal fit and preference. Here are my top 10 criteria:
- Instruction or training in your riding discipline – make sure that the trainers and instructors are suited to your needs and style. Check out their lessons in advance. Will they allow other trainers at the facility?
- Level of Service – If you work or travel a lot you may need a more full-service barn so that your horse can be properly attended to during your absence or tacked up for you when you are pinched for time. If you like to do things yourself and have the time, then less is OK.
- Riding/Schooling Arenas – depending on where you live and your schedule, assess whether the available arenas will suit your needs. Multiple riding arenas and indoor/outdoor options should be considered. If a facility has one riding arena, are you OK working in a busy arena?
- Hours of Operation – are they open for business during the times that you are most often going to ride?
- Turn out – look for quality: maintained (pasture and fencing) and well drained paddocks are important. Ask about the ratio of horses to each acre of turnout and about the facility’s pasture management practices. Inquire about inclement weather turnout. Some barns turnout in all kinds of whether as long as it is not life-threatening. Others will avoid turning out in wet weather to preserve the paddocks and/or to avoid injuries.
- Cleanliness – well-swept aisles, dry and airy stalls, clean/organized tack areas.
- On-Site Management – is there somebody there at all times? Is there a nightwatch? Who is in charge when management is away at horseshows?
- Feed – who is in charge of feeding? Will they allow custom feeding programs or do they follow their own? How are supplements and medications administered and managed?
- Vets and Farriers – do they use their own vets and farriers and/or are you free to bring in your own?
- Bells and whistles – security, space to keep your stuff, round pen availability, hot walkers are among other things you may desire or have a need for.
Like our homes, children, and careers, our horses are a commitment. If you are juggling the various responsibilities of the typical amateur rider ensuring you and your horse are the right fit for each other is important, or you may run the risk of creating more work, expense, and potential heartache for yourself. I have a friend who decided to buy a young, unmade horse for budgetary reasons. She is a working mom of two able to ride on average 3 times a week. The horse needed a fair amount of training that she could not give due to lack of time and expertise. Unwilling to invest in the training for various reasons she would spend a lot of time struggling with a green horse and becoming progressively unhappy. Riding is about enjoyment so it is prudent to spend a couple of minutes to take stock in your lifestyle, your obligations, and your abilities before you venture into a new horse purchase. Your personal profile should help you select the right horse for temperament, training needs, and ambitions.
- How often will I be riding on a weekly basis?
- Can I afford or do I want professional training for my horse?
- What is my objective for this horse? Horse shows, trail riding, pleasure?
- What is my riding level and experience?
- What is my fitness level?
Your personal profile can help to guide your horse search. Honestly assessing your personal needs and abilities can help you determine if you are able enough to train and nuture a green horse on your own or if you need a “school master” whose job it will be to teach you and build your confidence. Your profile can point you in the direction of breed and age as well. A word of caution: never select a horse based on “looks” or somebody else’s idea of the perfect horse. Horse shopping can be exciting, sad, and often disappointing, but if you can remain objective and true to yourself the right match is out there.
A place to call home
An equestrian home is a special purchase that goes above and beyond a great home and acreage. While the décor and square footage of the main house are important, you must also think about the comfort and well being of your animals. Remember, your horses and livestock have to call this home as well, so do your research before buying. Here are some questions to ask that will help you find out if a property is right for your horses.
- Are there local trails or areas to explore that are within a short riding distance?
- Is there adequate room to run and exercise?
- What is the climate like? If the weather is harsh, is their ample barn space to house your livestock when the weather is less than desirable?
- Would your horses be housed in a community stable or in your own barn?
- Is there an area for training?
- Where is the nearest water supply?
- How far is the nearest veterinarian?
Finding your own piece of heaven
Once you have found a few places that are suitable for your livestock, it is time to start looking at the living spaces for the two legged members of your family. Here are some of the things that you want to consider when looking at an estate.
Price- this is usually the first hurdle that any property must overcome. If you can’t afford it, then why even bother? Be clear about your own budget constraints and only look at properties within that range. This will help avoid heartache later on down the road. Also keep in mind that your property will require a certain amount of upkeep, such as taxes and maintenance so factor that in to the overall cost of a property.
Location- would you rather find something close to where you are now, or are you looking for something more exotic. There are equestrian properties all over the world, so you are only limited by your own imagination.
Amenities- items such as motorized gates, employee quarters, and surround sound systems are just a few of the thousands of different amenities that you may find in a property. Begin by creating a list of items that you must have, and then create a second list of items that you would like to have but don’t have to. This will help your realtor custom fit a home to your specific needs.
Size- how much living space do you and your family need? If your budget is tight, you may be able to sacrifice home square footage for acreage, so vice versa. So understand your particular needs and wants.
Style- the overall feel of the property is also important. Do you prefer rustic or modern flair? No matter what your style, chances are you can find an equestrian home to fit your personal tastes.
A basic primer for horse people outlining how to create pro-equine government policy, protect against anti-equine efforts, and educate the non-horse owning public. AKA: legislative guide for horsepeople
Throughout history horses were vital to expansion, used in battle, and viewed as wealth. Right up until the mid-twentieth century, horses and mules played a key role in war, transportation and farming in the United States. However, after World War Two and the advent of modern mechanization such as tractors, jeeps and planes; horses gradually fell out of use. This decreased the need of horses as work animals, along with loss of farmland from encroaching development, have led to many laws being enacted that can not only make owning a horse difficult, but in some cases impossible. Often, these laws are based on misinformation or misperceptions from the non-horse owning public.
This site was created to assist horse people with legislative issues, in order that they may help defend against legislation that would negatively impact the equestrian world, and support legislation that would help. This includes topics such as farmland and open space issues, zoning, taxation, import/export regulations, animal health and welfare and a host of other matters that equestrians find themselves dealing with.
The information contained on these pages was created after many years of direct involvement with bills, regulations, and proposed legislation. It is not meant to replace legal or tax advice, or to be the most exhaustive resource on the subject of politics. It is however, meant as an introduction and basic primer for those involved in the horse industry-as often they find themselves on the receiving end of laws made by those who have no knowledge of animal husbandry or concept of agricultural practices. It is my hope that by educating the horse industry, that it can successfully further its own interests. Please do be aware however, that a great deal of work went into this project, and reproducing this material is prohibited without my consent.