It is important to remember that genetically, domestic horses and wild horses are the same. That means the instinct to be outside 24/7, graze on lush rich grasses and enjoy natural foraging is as strong in the horse living in your back yard or at your stables as it is in a horse living in the wild. Being cooped up in their stable for long periods can prove frustrating and at times, a little boring for horses and therefore, a well-run stable is vital for keeping horses healthy, calm and happy.
Efficient stable management is not just about feeding the horses and mucking out the stables, it’s also down to good communication, planning and organizing too. Here are our tips on managing your stables successfully.
Food and water
Providing fresh, clean water is vital to your horse’s diet. It is used by every cell in their body, and they cannot survive without it. In fact, an idle horse in a cool environment requires approximately 5 litres/100kg body weight. Typically, for a 1,100-pound horse, that would be around 25 litres (6.6 gallons) of water per day. That amount may increase to 15 gallons per day or more with hot weather/exercise.
Horses are naturally trickle feeders and enjoy regular, small meals that provide all the vitamins, minerals, proteins and bulk needed in relation to the restrictions of their digestive systems and the amount of energy they are expending. A horses’ stomach isn’t just small in relation to their size (try not to overfeed), their stomachs can also be sensitive to diet changes. A horse’s large intestine is full of specialised microbes that need time to adapt to changes in their feed, including forage. Rushing a change may put your horse at risk of colic or at the least, loose droppings. Introduce new foods gradually by mixing part new feed and part old feed every other day and slowly taper out.
Ease boredom with toys
Ensuring you have plenty of toys and boredom breakers will go along way in entertaining a stabled horse and keeping them stimulated, calm and happy.
Cleanliness and grooming
Mucking out regularly speaks for itself. However, it is also important to regularly refresh or replace bedding. Some stable yards prefer to clean beds out every day with slightly damp bedding put out to dry and then used again and soiled bedding going on the muckheap. The floor needs to be washed down, disinfected and dry before beds are remade. Some yards prefer cleaning using a deep-litter method whereby they remove droppings regularly and top up the beds with clean, fresh straw. This way the stable only needs cleaning once a week.
Horses themselves should be kept clean and well groomed. Grooming daily will increase blood flow to the surface of their skin, helping to maintain healthy skin and coat and affording you the opportunity to check the horse for lumps, bumps and cuts, and provides the chance to bond, spend time with your horse and take some time to pause and reflect on your relationship with each other.
Ensure they are comfortable and able to rest
It is important to make sure horses are comfortable in their stable particularly the bed your horse lays down in, so they are kept warm, comforted and well cared for. Their bedding needs to be deep enough to induce the horse to lie down safely, without sustaining any injuries from contact from the floor. There are lots of different types of bedding material that you use, but the most common are straw and wood shavings.
The stable should be dry and warm with as few draughts as possible. Ensure drainage is efficient and if possible, position your stable so your horses have an interesting view and can socialise with what’s going on in the yard. If you are looking to invest in new stables, our team at National Timber Buildings would be happy to customise the perfect design for you and your horse(s) – reach us on 01233 740944.
Taking care of and tending to horses is a full-time job which requires oodles of time and energy. If you own or are part of a very large stables, your team may benefit from some specific stable management software so you have a centralised platform that keeps the whole team constantly up to date.
We hope our tips on running an efficient, smooth operating stable helps free up lots of extra quality time for you to enjoy your true passion: the horses.