Equine Info and Links
If you are interested in adopting or buying a horse, you must first determine whether you can afford to take on that responsibility. In addition to the purchase price (or adoption fee), you must consider the costs of adequate shelter and fencing, stable equipment, grooming supplies, tack, grain and hay. Also, there will be the cost of shoeing or trimming, vaccinations, Coggins testing, and the inevitable vet bill for illness or injury. Below is an overview of the various expenses.
Let's start with the basics of shelter, fencing and water supply:
Shelters can be made from either wood or metal. They should have a roof and one to three sides. For a single horse, the door should be at least four feet wide. Shelters that are used for more than one horse should have doorways at least five feet wide on at least two sides so that a trapped horse has a chance to escape from a bully.
Wood Fencing has the advantage of a traditional look, with the disadvantage of upkeep. Wood board fencing can be used for horses and livestock and creates a clean look. These type of fence should be treated periodically to reduce splintering. Traditional board fencing can be broken if kicked or ran into which could cause cuts, but prevents broken bones. An electric rope or tape can be added to prevent contact with the fence.
Electric fencing provides a mental barrier for horses. This helps the fence last longer and reduces chances of injury. A downside to electric fencing is that a shortage of electric power will allow the horses to escape. Electric wire is not considered safe for animal containment and should be replaced with electric tape or rope. Using a solar charger will eliminate the need for electric power cords. Electric fencing is not recommended along busy roads.
High Tensile Polymer Fencing is considered as one of the safest types of fencing for horses. The wires and polymer coating are made to give some whenever there is pressure on the fence. This allows a horse to kick or run into the fence without hurting themselves or damaging the fence. These fence types are also considered to be very low maintenance and can be ran with or without electric current.
High Tensile Polymer Rail Fencing can be used as an alternative to Wood Fencing. HTP rail provides the look of a traditional fence, without the upkeep and potential for injury. This type of fence has three high tensile wires coated and connected by a polymer coating. Though it may look complicated, HTP rail is actually fairly easy to install (See Centaur Fencing’s extensive video trainings)
Line Fencing carries benefits of safety and low maintenance. Line fencing with wire is built for high break strengths and high visibility. These are often covered by a polymer coating and can be used with or without an electric current. Line fencing without wire (see Finish Line Fence’s product) is designed for the safety of the horses, being designed to break away from fence posts if an animal becomes stuck in the fence.
No-climb horse wire is generally considered one of the safest fencing types for horses. No-climb wire is woven together rather than welded, with small squares to deter horses from stepping through. However, the fence can be bent with a strong kick, so it is not impossible for a horse to get its foot stuck in no-climb wire.
Field fencing comes in two styles: (1) the kind that has large squares and (2) the kind that has large squares on top and smaller squares on the bottom (to keep little critters out of the field). Field fencing is a less expensive alternative to no-climb horse wire, but it comes with greater risk that a horse will get their foot caught in the fence. Because the natural reaction is for horses to panic when they get their foot caught, this type of fence should not be used with horses who have a tendency to paw or kick at the fence.
Barbless wire is a less expensive alternative to the traditional fences, but comes with more risk to the horses. This wire works best with at least one strand of electric tape/rope at the height of a horse's chest to keep the horses from trying to push through the wire. Line fencing is a safer alternative to barbless wire.
Barbed wire is not considered safe fencing for horses. Horses can get a leg hung up over it while pawing or kicking, or a bully horse might run another horse into the fence. With a stuck leg, horses may panic and cause more injury to themselves.
If you already have barbed wire in place, or if you feel you need to use it because it is economical, you can run a strand of electric tape/rope along the inside at the horses' chest height to help keep them away from the fence.
Portable Corrals are the ideal solution to any temporary fencing needs. Kits come with everything you need for horse shows, camping, or a temporary home for your horses. (Check out the Smart Fence product by Gallagher Fence)
If you are buying horse fencing, look into these resources as some help making the decision:
Most people run a hose from the nearest faucet to a trough in the horse's paddock. A variety of rubber and metal troughs are available at feed-supply stores. For one or two horses, you can get away with using a plastic or rubber muck-type basket or buckets hung on the fence. Provide at least ten gallons of water per horse every day.
If you can afford an automatic waterer, it will be much easier to provide and maintain a clean, algae-free and ice-free water supply for your horses. Cleaning troughs is a chore that needs to be frequently repeated. Automatic waterers require only that you wipe the bowl clean.
Once you have adequate shelter, fencing and a water supply arranged, let's consider what is needed to maintain the horse's living area. Check back for this information to come.
WINTER HORSE CARE
When freezing temperatures are setting in, we need to make sure our horses are protected from harsh weather. They also have special food and water needs this time of year.
Ideally, horses will have a two or three-sided shed so they can escape the wind and rain. At a minimum, horses should have a windbreak of dense trees or a building that they can stand beside in order to escape the prevailing winds (usually from the north and the west). Horses in an open paddock with no shelter should be protected with a well-fitted, waterproof blanket.
Horses need more calories in the winter to keep warm. Heap up those feed scoops on cold days and toss some extra hay! Check your horse at least once a week to see if he or she is losing weight by running your hand into the horse's coat and over its ribs. (Don't count on checking them "by eye" because a winter coat can conceal the ribs on a horse that is starting to lose condition.) You should barely be able to feel the ribs.
Horses typically drink less water in the winter, which can cause intestinal impaction (the same as constipation in people). Impaction colic is life-threatening in horses but can be prevented by encouraging the horse to drink an adequate amount of water each day. This can be done by adding a few tablespoons of salt to the horse's feed in the morning and again in the evening, and by making sure that the water is not frozen. Do not count on a salt block to serve the same purpose. Your horse might not lick the salt block enough to make a significant difference in its water intake.
West Nile Virus is a threat to horses and humans. The virus is spread by mosquitoes. The following steps can help prevent this disease:
For information on many aspects of horse care, go to www.equisearch.com
Check out www.mustangs4us.com for a variety of articles about adopting and training a wild horse or burro.
*This page is a work in progress to provide helpful information and website links regarding various aspects of equine care and welfare.
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