Keeping Unwanted Wildlife From Moving Into Your Barn

barn pests miceNow is the time of year when wildlife starts to find its way into your barn. And while squirrels, mice, and birds might be enjoyable while they’re outside, when they come into your barn they become nuisances and even health hazards. Need to keep wildlife out of your barn this fall and winter? These tips can help you do that!

Keep the Barn Clean

Possibly the best thing that you can do to keep wildlife out of your barn is to keep your barn clean. Strive to maintain a clean, swept barn aisle which is free of clutter, like tack boxes and equipment. Keep the doors to your tack room and feed room securely closed, limiting the hiding spaces that are available to animals.

Keep Feed Properly Stored

Wildlife will be attracted to your feed room due to the delicious smells of your horse feed. Make sure that you keep all feed properly stored in secure, rodent-proof feed bins and containers. Additionally, sweep up the feed room on a daily basis so that spilled feed is not left behind. The feed room is also a good spot to lay traps for mice.

Consider Getting a Barn Cat

A barn cat can be an excellent defense against rodents in your barn. When you get a new barn cat, you will need to keep the cat in a secure room for about a month so that he learns that the barn is his home and doesn’t immediately stray off. For extra rodent defense, consider getting a few barn cats. 

Some humane societies or cat adoption centers have pictures and histories of cats available for adoption.  Look for cats who are marked as “barn cat only.”  These cats already know the ropes of rodent housekeeping. 

Sometimes cats seem to know that your barn is one that could use a cat and will just move in on their own – these are known as feral cats.  It’s great to help these “homeless” as well as getting a free cat but take the time to get them neutered.  They can be hard to catch, but there are feral cat associations who can give you help and often provide low cost neutering.  You don’t want your barn to be free of rodents, but overflowing with kittens.

Install An Owl House

If you live in “owl country,” consider installing an owl house near your barn.  Owls like to build nests in trees with great views of open land (where mice often hand out).  If you don’t have a tree handy, install an owl house on your property.  Owls are great mouse removers and, whatever get away from the cats, will usually be scooped up by an owl.

Keep Stalls Clean

Make an effort to clean your horse’s stall first thing in the morning. Sweep up any loose shavings, and pick up any discarded hay or grain. Keeping stalls clean leaves less feed around to attract wildlife.

Use Horse Feeders

Spilled feed attracts animals, so try to minimize the amount of feed left behind in your horse’s stall. A horse feeder can reduce the amount of feed that your horse spills by providing him with a larger area to eat over. Try to avoid ever feeding your horse from the floor while in his stall.

Opt for Secure Barn End Doors

Being able to completely close up your barn can also help to keep wildlife out. Check your barn end doors to make sure that they are appropriately sized and that they close completely – this will also be important as winter sets in and you need to keep snowstorms out.

Keeping wildlife out of your barn during this time of year can take some effort, but will result in a healthier atmosphere for both humans and horses!

Photo credit: Farm-Tek
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Stabling Your Horse In The Winter

horse and stalls 1Pasture board during the late spring, summer and early fall is great for both you and your horse.  Not only is pasture board usually less expensive, but it gives your horse time to be turned out with other horses, time to graze and maybe to give his hooves a rest from shoes.  Pasture board is also great if you are planning a vacation and don’t want your horse in his stall all day with no one to exercise him.

But, all too soon, winter starts showing itself and you may have to decide whether to consider with pasture board or move your horse inside the stable.  First, horses do quite well outside winter as long as they have adequate shelter and/or blankets.

But if your horse is going to be in training or you want to ride during the winter, your best option is to keep your horse inside at your stable.  Warm, indoor wash racks, cozy tack rooms, dry stalls and, of course, a covered arena are all attractive reasons to keep your horse in a boarding stable during the worst weather.

There are some things to consider for your horse before you put him in the advantageous, but more structured environment of a stable.  

Loneliness/Boredom – if your horse is used to being outside 24/7 with lots of other horses and things to look at, being kept in a stall for long hours can make him lonely and bored.  This can lead to bad habits such as cribbing or stall walking.  Coming up with distractions such as stall toys or treats like “Uncle Jimmy’s Hanging Balls” (and turnout when possible) can help keep him engaged.  If there’s room and the barn management doesn’t mind, having a “barn sitter” like a goat or chicken can also keep horses entertained.

Exercise – If your horse has been turned out for long hours, most likely he’s gotten plenty of exercise just walking around and grazing all day.  And if he has other horses for company, most likely they all get a good gallop in every once in a while.  But in a stable, it will be more important than ever to regularly exercise him.  You can lunge him or even hand walk him around the facility.  As a trainer to ride him if you aren’t able or consider a lease with another horse lover.

Feed – Horses do best on lots of forage, and when they are turned out all day it’s rarely a problem.  But inside a stall, your horse is restricted to what he can find to eat.  A good supply of quality hay given on a regular basis is a good way to satisfy his urge to graze.  There are a variety of hays available and your barn manager can help you choose the right one for your horse’s weight, age and activity level.  And, while most horses rarely need to be supplemented with grain, if your horse is now being ridden more frequently you may find that adding grain is a good idea.

Blankets/Clipping – When horses are turned out for most of the year, they develop a coat to protect them through the seasons.  If your horse usually grows a good winter coat, he may be perfectly fine in stable that protects him from the cold and wet.  You still may want to consider a lightweight waterproof sheet if he will be turned out in rainy/snowy weather.  You may also want to consider whether to clip or not.  Clipped horses can be cooled much more quickly after a hard ride, but the downside is that he will need to be blanketed.  And sometimes double blanketed depending on your winter cold. I suggest several light layers instead of one heavy blanket so you can adapt his “wardrobe” to the temperature.

Shoes – When horses are turned out in a pasture or ridden only on soft ground, it may be a good time to pull their shoes and let them go barefoot.  This can save you quite a bit of money in farrier expenses. If you plan on trail riding, you can use hoof protection like the Easyboot.  But when boarded at a stable, you may want to consider having your horse shod.  While many owners are part of the “barefoot” movement in all circumstances, some horses when ridden or in heavy training need the support of shoes to help with leg issues or to avoid stone bruises.

Finally, consider stabling your horse at a barn that has “horse friendly” stalls.  Open front stall doors, access to attached paddocks and/or see-through stall dividers.

Depending on where you live, winter weather may only be a few short months or seem to last forever.  Use your best judgment when considering what is best for your horse.

Photo credit: Classic Equine Equipment

Extras To Make Your Barn Stalls Special

2018 catalog coverIn addition to the basics for comfortable and safe stalls for your horse, there are a lot of add-ons to personalize your stable and to make horse care easier.   These can include:

  • Feed doors – swing-out doors that are built into stall fronts for hay and grain make feeding quick and easy. These are also helpful if children or people unfamiliar with horses will be helping at the barn so they don’t have to enter the stalls to give the horses feed or water.
  • Corner grain feeders – make it convenient and easy for your horse to eat his grain. Look for one with a rolled top lip that is rolled inside to keep grain enclosed. Buy one with rugged, durable construction, with no sharp edges.
  • Corner Feeders – another option for feeding grain, or to keep your horse healthier by keeping hay off the ground. Ones with a large open design fit well into underused corners.  There are also larger sizes that let you feed hay and grain from the same feeder and include two inserts for salt and grain. The on-floor design allows your horses to eat with their heads down.
  • Automatic horse waterers – often come in either corner or wall mount designs. They keep a constant source of clean water available to your horse. They are easy to clean. Many come with heated water options.

Miraco EQUIFount water systems are especially designed for your horses. Smooth rounded edges provide a safe access to water. Installation is easy with just four bolts, and ample drinking space provides plentiful water.  EQUIFount Features:

  • Durable polyethylene construction; urethane foam insulation.
  • Easy valve access; one screw quick water level adjustment.
  • Minimum intrusion on stall space.
  • Four bolt installation. (Stainless steel bolts included)
  • Plumb from above or below.
  • Large easy drain; no disassembly required.

EQUIFount Heat Tube

  • Heat Tubes are an essential part of the proper installation of Miraco energy-free watering systems. Heat Tubes make a big difference in the performance of your energy-free Miraco watering system.
  • This highly insulated tube shields incoming ground water from cold as it passes through the frost level. Polyethylene construction ensures years of trouble-free use. One 30-inch tube and 3 feet of 12-inch drainage tile provides a sufficient heat well in most locations. For northern regions, two 30-inch heat tubes may be required.
  • Endurequest Horse Waterers are a new concept in a rugged, easy to clean, durable waterer. Maintains water level with a completely enclosed diaphragm valve, and can be mounted so water connection is out of view and reach of the horse. The bowl is extremely easy to clean and remains isolated from the supply water. A dove-tail fitting is included to mount on your stable wall, or other wall-mount application and brackets for pipe corral mounting are provided. There is nothing to rust or corrode and the waterer is always easy to remove and replace

Other additions can include filial or caps for the tops of stall front columns, blanket bars and bucket holders, as well as bridle and halter holders.

While you may be tempted to just get a basic barn up as soon as possible, it is often these extras that can make your barn YOUR barn.

Visit our website and view our new catalog!

Fall Is A Great Time To Landscape Your Barn

fall planting MyGardenLifeFall is a great time to upgrade your barn landscape.  Getting new plants and trees in the grown before the first frost gives them plenty of time to get acclimated to their new home before winter comes.  Studies prove that plants put in during the fall are already bigger than the ones you will find at the garden store in the spring. 

So, what to plant? You don’t want to create anything too time consuming, but you still want your property to look great. Here are some easy landscaping ideas you can put to use around your farm.

Use “Horse-Friendly” Plants

In addition to using only plants that are horse-friendly, make sure you also choose plants that are easy to care for and maintain. If a plant on a horse farm needs to be watered daily, chances are it probably won’t survive the season – or even a few weeks. However, if you choose hardy plants that can survive on occasional waterings and fluctuating weather, your landscaping is much more likely to still be looking great at the end of the season.

To save yourself even more time next year, plant perennials, which will continue to flower year after year. This simple technique can save you planting time every year.

Include a Perimeter Fence and Entrance Gate

Consider including a perimeter fence around your property to create an impressive, cohesive look. Adding an entrance gate helps to shape visitors’ first impression of your facility, and adds a professional touch.

A perimeter fence provides plenty of opportunity for beautiful landscaping touches. Whether you hang potted flowers from sections of the fence or opt for flowerbeds along the entrance, you can shape the character of your property with landscaping.

Use your entrance gate as another landscaping opportunity. Add flowerbeds to help frame the entrance and the gate itself. Lower flower beds create a welcoming appearance, while taller bushes help to frame the road and give off an air of elegance.

Consider Tree Location Carefully

Trees can make beautiful landscaping accents, but it’s important to carefully consider their location. Try to avoid locating any trees next to buildings – over time their roots can extend beneath buildings, disrupting and even cracking foundation. Instead, locate trees in more open areas where they can grow without damaging their surroundings.

Use Gravel or Mulch Around the Barn

When it comes to framing your barn, opt for a gravel or mulch base which can readily absorb runoff water. If you’re in an area which receives significant precipitation, make sure any plants or shrubs you choose to surround the barn can survive heavy water content.

No matter what types of landscaping you use, remember that maintenance is important. If you keep up with your landscaping, you’ll be able to present a beautiful appearance around your property.

Photo credit: My Garden Life

Barn Privacy

cee entrance gateFor many horse owners, the farm and barn are your sanctuary. They are places where you and your family can enjoy your horses in peace. Or they should be, at least – encroaching development of neighboring properties or busy nearby roads can leave your private property feeling anything but. Don’t worry, though – we’ve come up with some great ways that can add privacy to your farm!

Set the Barn and House Back from the Road

One of the best ways to create privacy for your property begins with the construction stage. When you are planning out the locations for your horse barn and house, set them both well back from the main road. The further back that your barn and home are located, the more privacy you’ll have and the more aware you’ll be of anyone entering the property.

Install an Entrance Gate

An entrance gate is an excellent way to establish the fact that your property is private. Entrance gates don’t have to be big, imposing, ugly gates – Classic Equine Equipment offers a variety of entrance gates which can be tailored to your design specifics for your property. Done well, entrance gates create both privacy and make an attractive addition to your property.

Create a Perimeter Fence

An entrance gate won’t establish total privacy on its own, especially if your horse pastures are located near the road. In this situation, it may be wise to install a perimeter fence which connects up to your entrance gate. Try to locate the perimeter fence so that it is set well in front of the pasture fence. This method can help to prevent drivers from stopping and petting or feeding the horses over the fence.

Use Landscaping to Separate Your Property

Landscaping can be another effective method to establish privacy on your property. Adding dense trees and bushes can help to separate your property from both neighbors and from the road.

Install an Attractive Sign

Consider installing an attractive sign at your property’s entrance which designates it as private. Horses attract all sorts of animal lovers, and visitors may assume that your farm is public property, especially if your farm is large. Adding a “private property” sign can help to discourage these visitors, especially when it’s paired with an entrance gate or perimeter gate.

If you’re building a horse barn for personal use, then it’s a good idea to start planning ways that you can increase the privacy of your farm from the beginning of the process. With a little effort, you can enjoy your horses in privacy and peace.

10 Things To Consider On The Outside Before Building The Inside of Your Barn

CEE custom barnWhether you are building a new barn or renovating an old one, the best way to get the barn you want is to remember the old adage, “form follows function.”  Before you start planning your barn, think about the following things:

  1. How will you use your barn?  Are you a boarding stable or breeding facility?  The size of your barn might need to be bigger than you thought to accommodate tack rooms, wash racks and/or foaling stalls.
  2. How many horses will you ultimately care for? You may just have a few horses now, but if you’re dream is to someday have a training facility, you should build a big enough barn to accommodate more horses. It’s always less expensive to build right the first time rather than trying to add on later. 
  3. Consider the weather. Are you planning to have attached paddocks?  Cold or wet weather may prompt you to be able to close doors leading to the paddock to keep horses warm and dry.  Also consider doors at the end of the barn to keep out inclement weather.  With either or both have an overhang or awning over them to keep everyone dry?
  4. Let there be light – and fresh air. Look at barn designs that will maximize the amount of fresh air and ventilation – both important to your horse’s health – to flow through the barn.   Look for designs that allow large amounts of natural light into your barn. 
  5. Consider your daily workflow. Will you use wheelbarrows to clean stalls or feed or will you need a barn with an aisle wide enough to drive a truck down the center aisle for these chores?  Will your hay be stored off site or do you want it close by in your barn’s hay loft?  Will you need additional room for a viewing area for parents or a kitchen or clubhouse area for boarder parties and relaxing? 
  6. Look at your proposed site location. Is it level?  Is the landscape such that water flows away from the barn?  From which direction will the wind come?  Sun?  Is there room for a driveway and parking area for boarders, the farrier and vet?  Will you offer trailer parking – will it be part of the barn structure so it can be covered?
  7. Consider utilities. How far is it to the nearest electrical and water sources? 
  8. Consider barn style. Do you have a preferred barn style that works best for your type of facility?  A Shed Row barn a good choice for warm climates as they maximize air flow and ventilation.  They can be configured in a straight line, an “L” shape or a “U” shape. The Full Monitor has a high center raised roof that lets hot air rise above the stalls and horses. The design also allows skylights and windows to be installed on each side of the center roofline, letting in more light and additional fresh air. The Monitor is good if you need to build a long row of stalls.  The Gambrel offers a large loft located above the stalls for added storage and increased headroom. Gambrel trusses eliminate the need for interior post and beam supports giving you more freedom in your floor plan.
  9. Look at legal considerations. What do the laws in your area allow you to build?  Are there restrictions on size or location?  In some areas, the barn must be a certain number of feet from your property line.
  10. Consider available construction materials. Do you want wood post and beam for the old-fashioned look of a barn?   Or do you want the low maintenance and fire-resistance of a steel modular building?

Take some time to day dream about your perfect barn.  Visit other barns to get additional ideas.  Now make a list of what you absolutely have to have.  Examples might be a wood barn with 12 stalls and paddocks with an overhang with each stall.  Now think about what you’d like to have.  It might be enough room for a full kitchen and TV room for boarders.  Make sure you write everything down so you won’t forget anything when talking with your barn builder.

A final consideration when designing the outside of your barn is to make sure it’s horse friendly as well as people friendly.  Horses dislike dark, closed in places so design your barn with lots of room and plenty of natural light and air.

Photo credit:  Classic Equine Equipment

West Nile Virus Can Infect Humans As Well As Horses

West nile transmission Westnile.ca.govIf you’re a horse owner, you’ve probably been aware of the West Nile Virus potential for your horse for several years and, hopefully, have given your horse the proper vaccinations. However, there have recently been news stories about  cases of human West Nile cases.  You may be hearing the following – we’ve investigated to see what’s true. 

FACT: People and animals can become infected from the bite of certain kinds of mosquitoes that are infected with the virus. Mosquitoes may pick up the virus when they bite, or take a blood meal, from wild birds that are infected with West Nile Virus.

TRUE FOR BOTH

FACT: Mosquitoes transmit the virus when biting to take a blood meal.

TRUE FOR BOTH

FACT: Infection occurs primarily in the late summer or early fall in the northeast and Mid Atlantic regions.

TRUE FOR BOTH

FACT: Only humans and horses can get West Nile.

FALSE. In addition to humans and horses, dogs and cats have been found to be susceptible to the disease.

FACT: Humans and horses can get the virus from other infected mammals.

FALSE FOR BOTH. Once a mammal is infected, it is considered a “dead end” infection and mosquitoes cannot ingest the virus.

FACT: There are symptoms to watch for if you think you have West Nile.

FALSE FOR HUMANS In approximately 80 percent of West Nile virus infections in humans cause no symptoms (also known as “asymptomatic”). Click HERE for more information on symptoms of West Nile in humans.

TRUE FOR HORSES Symptoms in horses may include a general loss of appetite and depression, in addition to any combination of the following signs:

  • fever
  • weakness of hind limbs
  • paralysis of hind limbs
  • impaired vision
  • ataxia (weakness)
  • head pressing
  • aimless wandering
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • inability to swallow
  • walking in circles
  • hyperexcitability
  • coma

FACT: There is a vaccine to prevent West Nile.

FALSE FOR HUMANS. Also false for dogs and cats.

TRUE FOR HORSES. Click HERE for recommendations by the American Association of Equine Practitioners on how, when and how often to vaccinate for West Nile.

FACT: There are steps you can take to eliminate the possibility of mosquitoes, and therefore West Nile.

TRUE FOR BOTH  Mosquitoes by far are the biggest carrier of West Nile. Mosquitoes breed in standing water – eliminate the standing water and you’ll start eliminating mosquito breeding grounds. Be sure to:

  • Empty and refill outdoor water troughs or buckets every few days.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and don’t let water stagnate in birdbaths.
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
  • Clean and chlorinated swimming pools when not in use. Mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property, especially near manure storage areas. Mosquitoes may breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters every year. Millions of mosquitoes can breed in roof gutters each season.
  • Most barns have their population of birds and some birds can be beneficial to insect control. However, if your area is infected with West Nile, consider reducing the number of birds in and around the stable area. Also, periodically look around the property for dead birds, such as crows. Use gloves to handle dead birds and place the birds in plastic bags for disposal.
  • In addition, use mosquito spray or topical on yourself and your horses, especially at night. For more information on best mosquito repellents, click HERE.  Consider fly sheets that stop “no see ems” for horses and long sleeves and pants for humans.

For help in assessing mosquito exposure risks on your property and for suggested control practices, contact your county extension office, county Department of Environmental Protection, county Department of Health, or mosquito and pest control company.

Photo credit:  westnile.ca.gov

Could An Equine Chiropractor Help Your Horse?

chiropractor vetmed.vt.eduWhile traditional equine veterinary medicine continues to grow with new techniques and medications.  However, sometimes your horse may need a little “extra” or alternative help.  One you may want to consider is an equine chiropractor.

Equine chiropractic care is a rapidly emerging field among veterinarians due to increasing demand from horse owners for alternative therapies. It is an art of healing that focuses primarily on restoring the spinal column’s normal movement and function to promote healthy neurologic activity, which in turn supports effective musculoskeletal function and overall health. Chiropractic care centers on detecting abnormal motion of the individual vertebra and its effects on the surrounding tissues. Reduced mobility between two vertebral bodies can irritate the nerves exiting the spinal cord, leading to decreased nerve supply to the tissues. This altered nerve function causes problems such as pain, abnormal posture, uncoordinated movement, overloading of leg joints, and muscle changes.  

An equine chiropractor can make a big difference in a horse’s comfort and performance, but it’s important to find a talented chiropractor. Put these tips to use when it’s time for you to find a great equine chiropractor.

Ask Your Vet for a Referral

Your vet can be an excellent source of information when it comes to reputable, skilled chiropractors in your area. Many vet offices work in tandem with a specific chiropractor, ensuring that horses get the treatments that they need. Check with your vet and ask them if they can refer you to a chiropractor.

Ask Other Horse Owners for Recommendations

Other horse owners may be able to recommend chiropractors that they have hired to work on their horses. Horse owners may have had excellent results with a particular chiropractor, which may indicate that the chiropractor could be a great fit for you and your horse. Be sure to pay attention to any warning stories you hear, too.

Carefully Read About a Chiropractor’s Education and Experience

Once you have the names of a few potential chiropractors, see if they have a website. Read up on the chiropractor’s education and experience. You may want to research the reputation of the schools that the chiropractor attended. Make sure that you choose a chiropractor who has plenty of experience – while a chiropractor just out of school may be very talented, you can’t replace the value of firsthand experience.

Consider Rates

Rates for equine chiropractic services do vary according to each individual chiropractor. The distance that a chiropractor will have to travel to your barn will also factor into the cost. While you shouldn’t automatically hire a chiropractor just because he or she charges less, you should consider the cost when choosing a chiropractor for your horse.

Schedule a Trial Appointment and Evaluate Results

The only true way to determine whether the chiropractor you’ve chosen will work out is to have him or her come out for an appointment with your horse. Make arrangements to be present at the appointment, and provide the chiropractor with as much information as possible about your horse’s medical history and current problems.

During the appointment, your horse may get a little antsy or uncomfortable, especially if he hasn’t had chiropractic treatments before. If the chiropractor is working to alleviate a particular issue, it’s a great idea to take photos or video footage both before and after the appointment to observe any changes.

A great equine chiropractor will explain their findings to you, be skilled in working with your horse, and will be an excellent partner in keeping your horse in his optimal physical condition. It’s well worth it to spend the time necessary to find a great equine chiropractor.

Photo credit: Vetmed.vt.edu

Should Your Horse Go “Back To School”?

working with trainer Julie Goodnight RFD TVLooking back on a summer of riding, were there things you wish that were different about the partnership between you and your horse?  Do you wish your show results were better?  Did you not quite get to your goal of jumping 3′?  Are you still uncomfortable riding out on the trail?  Maybe it’s time for your horse to go “back to school.”

Sending a horse away to a trainer for schooling requires a good deal of trust, since your horse’s care and well-being will be in the trainer’s (and often a new barn’s) hands. If you’re planning to send your horse away for training, you will want to make sure that the horse will be safe and that the training will be a positive experience. Here are some factors you’ll want to consider.

Find an Experienced Trainer

When choosing a trainer, look for one who is experienced and who trains horses full-time. A person who has made training their career should take their work seriously, and should also have plenty of success to show with the horses that they have previously trained. When someone trains full-time, you know that their focus and energy are on the horses in their care and their progress. Additionally, for a full-time trainer, training horses is a profession, so the operation is more likely to be managed professionally.

Make Sure the Training Facilities are Safe

Before you agree to send your horse out to a trainer, you should pay a visit to the training operation with an eye for the safety of the facilities themselves. Ask plenty of questions, such as how much time your horse will be spending in a stall and whether he will have access to turnout. Look for standard safety issues, such as the quality of arena footing, the condition of paddock fences, and that horse stalls are designed to provide adequate room for your horse to move around.

Additionally, watch to see the condition of the other horses on the property. Do they appear to be well-fed and in good physical condition? Look out for hoof issues, low body weight and the presence of saddle or girth rubs, all of which could signify that the horses aren’t receiving quite enough attention or care.

Hire a Trainer With Similar Training Methods and Approaches

When you send your horse away for training, it is important that the trainer you choose is someone who shares your same training methods and approaches to training. In order for training to be a success, both you and the trainer need to agree on the desired outcome and what training methods are acceptable to get there. You will also need to find a trainer who shares your view on horse care, and who will keep your horse in good health while he is away in training.

Get and Check References

Everything might look great at a facility, but you should absolutely still get and check references on the trainer. Call each reference and talk with them about their experience with the trainer. Ask them what they sent their horse to the trainer to learn, how long the horse was away in training, what the results were and whether they encountered any issues.

Sending your horse away for training is a big decision. In addition to following the above tips, be sure to fully read the training contract and ask any questions you may have before signing the agreement.

Photo credit:  Julie Goodnight-RFDTV

Give A Horse A New Beginning

rescue before and after Tails OfA Shelter VetFostering a rescue horse is a great way to help out a horse in need. If you are new to horses, this is a great way to try out home horse care.  If you think you’d like to give fostering a try, here are the basics that you will need to know.

Know What You Can Reasonably Do

Many rescue horses come from truly horrific situations.  They may be dangerously underweight or have serious health issues that have not been addressed.  Many rescues do what they can to stabilize a horse before putting it in a foster situation, but realize that this is not a free horse that you can do anything with.  Most likely it will be unrideable for the forseeable future and you will need to follow a consistent diet to put weight back on.  The horse may require stall rest with some hand walking.  Make sure you are ready for the challenges of a foster horse in need.

Read the Fine Print

Every horse rescue has different expectations and needs of their foster homes. They also have their own individual home screening and approval processes. Before you get too far into your plans of fostering, ask the rescue for a detailed explanation of what duties, financial or otherwise, a foster home assumes. For instance, if the horse is injured while you are riding it, are you solely responsible for resulting vet bills?

Some expectations of a foster home are pretty standard – generally a home is expected to provide feed and day-to-day care for the fostered horse. Most rescues will want a situation where the horse has a stall available to him. Depending on the horse’s level of training, you may be able to ride him and enjoy him much in the same way that you would enjoy your own horse. Many rescues cover the cost of farrier work and vet visits for their fostered horses. Still, differences occur between each foster situation, so be sure that you have a thorough understanding of what your responsibilities will be.

Foster Through a Reputable Rescue

If you want to foster a horse, then you should take your time in finding the right rescue to work with. Horse rescues have a variety of outlooks in terms of horse care, riding, and training techniques, so find a rescue with an approach that you agree with. You will also want to make sure that the rescue is well-established and reputable, and that the rescue will continue to act as a resource for you during your time as a foster home.

Be Realistic About Your Situation

In fostering a horse, you may have that horse for a few weeks or a few years, depending on how quickly an adoptee is found or if your own situation changes. During that time you can bond strongly with the horse, which will make letting it go to its new home difficult. Many rescues give a foster home the first choice of adopting a horse, but before you set out to foster, you should decide if you can handle owning another horse. Knowing what your decision would be ahead of time can help to make the situation a bit easier if or when it does arise.

Fostering a horse is a great way to start off a new beginning, both for you and for the horse. If you’re interested in fostering, then chances are there is a nearby horse rescue that will be grateful for your generosity.

Photo credit: Tails Of A Shelter Vet