Imagine looking out your window in the morning and seeing your horses grazing outside! That seems like it would be every horse lover’s dream, right? Can I have a horse on my property? Having your horses at home can be an incredible experience; you can see your horses whenever you want!
But, there is more to having horses at home than meets the eye. There are SO many things to consider when making the decision to bring your horses home or not. Horses are much more of a responsibility than any other pet, and bringing them home places all of those responsibilities in your shoulders.
These responsibilities take many different forms; land, feed, water, shelter, turnout, stalls, exercise, blanketing, vet, farrier, etc. etc. etc. The list could go on! In this article, I will be addressing the most important elements to consider when you are deciding whether to bring your horses home or not.
Can I Have a Horse on My Property: Physical Requirements
How Many Acres Does a Horse Need
The most obvious thing you undisputedly need if you are bringing your horses home is land. And a substantial amount of land, at that. Many say that you should have 2-3 acres of pasture for every horse you intend to have living on your land.
And, pasture doesn’t include the land you may need for your barn, arena(s), equipment storage, etc. And, this land needs to ideally be cleared of most trees and bushes, while still being full of grass. While this is not possible in all environments, it is definitely ideal for the horses’ health and well-being.
Can I Have a Horse on My Property: Responsibilities
When you bring your horses home, there are many responsibilities you may not expect to encounter if you are accustomed to privately boarding your horse. These are things that, if your horses were privately boarded, were included in your board.
The first is feed. When bringing your horses home, you will want to keep their diet relatively the same as it was wherever they were living in the past. Typically, this will include grain, hay, and maybe supplements.
So, before you bring your horses home, you’ll need to know how much your horses eat of each food, you’ll need to make sure you have reliable sources from which you can purchase these foods, and you’ll need to make sure you have a reserve supply of these foods with a rough idea of how long they will last you.
Second is water. You will need to ensure that your horse has ample access to water both inside (if your horses will live partially in their stalls) and outside. It is absolutely essential that your horses always have access to clean water.
If you are not going to be available to water your horses at least twice a day, you will have to either hire someone to do it when you are unavailable, or you will need to install automatic waterers, which can be expensive.
Can I Have a Horse on My Property: Shelter/Turnout
How you exactly house your horses is up to you, but they absolutely need access to both shelter and open pasture. This means that, if your horses live outside 24-7, then they need some kind of shelter.
If you do have stalls for your horses, which is highly recommended, then you will need to ensure that these stalls are picked and re-bedded daily. It is common for stalls to have rubber mats as flooring in order to encourage cleanliness and deter bacteria from growing.
You also need to account for the storage and disposal of soiled bedding. The moving of soiled bedding can be a hassle and, depending on how many horses you have, can involve the purchase of trailers, tractors, and more.
The volume of work in doing stalls is highly dependent on how many horses you have on your property, but it is important to have enough time to properly take care of your horse’s stalls. And, if you are worried that you won’t have enough time, then you may need to hire someone to help you.
Can I Have a Horse on My Property: Exercise
If your horses are going to be used as riding horses while they live at home, then it is up to you to make sure they are getting ample exercise. If you live in a climate where the weather doesn’t allow you to ride outside year-round, then this may mean that you need an indoor arena.
And, if you don’t have help, this could mean that you are the sole rider your horses will have in maintaining their fitness.
If you live in a climate where horses frequently need to wear blankets, then switching your horses’ blankets with the changing weather is now your responsibility. Most boarding facilities will switch blankets for you. But, not when your horses are at home!
It is extremely important to make sure your horses are blanketed in the properly weighted blanketed for the outdoor temperature. If not, your horse can be overheated (which can lead to colic) or shiver (which can lead to weight loss).
It’s also important to realize that all of these tasks that are now your responsibility are also your responsibility to pay for. While things like grain, hay, and bedding were previously included inboard, now they have to come directly out of your pocketbook.
It may surprise you how expensive hay can be, or how inexpensive bedding can be. Either way, it is important that you understand roughly how much money it will cost you to maintain your horses at home before you decide to do it.
Taking your horse home is a great experience, but it brings with it lots of responsibility. It involves a huge financial investment and a large amount of physical labor and dedication.
I hope this article helped you understand the things you need to consider when deciding whether to bring your horses home or not. If so, please share this article, and share with us your experiences bringing your horses home!