People who keep their horses at home - what would you do?

kit279

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I'm moving house (finally!) on Tuesday and horses coming home to live with me the following weekend, which is super exciting as been waiting about 9 months to move!

I'm wondering what people who keep their horses at home and work full time do, particularly anyone who has very erratic hours. I work a pretty hard core rota at the moment with a lot of late and night shifts. My husband, who is not at all horsey, is going to be living with horses for the first time in his life and is obviously a bit nervous at the prospect. I wondered what sort of routine people have with them at home - my rough plan was to let them live out as much as possible as I can't guarantee that I'll be at home at consistent times to be able to bring them in and out. Do people have a particular routine or do you get help in when you're not there?

Any experiences welcome :)
 

Tinypony

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Can they have free access to shelter? I don't keep mine at home, but keep erratic hours. Mine live out, have plenty of hay in the winter, and are fed once a day whenever I get there. Contrary to what some might expect, the lack of routine seems to end up with them being very relaxed. No stressing about anticipation.
 

ozpoz

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I prepare in advance, for coming in/going out. It means a very early start for an early shift, and a late finishing up for a late shift. Ad lib hay means they aren't stressed and I think they know more to expect to be in/out/fed when they see my car arrive rather than by time. Teach you OH to lead, or let horses walk in themselves once they feel at home, if it is safe to do this.
I don't need to call in extra help, except for holidays - perhaps you could exchange help with a horsey neighbour? Enjoy your new home!
 

Honey08

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First of all congratulations!! Its wonderful having them at home once you've sorted out how everything will work.

Ours have a slightly varied routine. If I am home, they may well get fed at 6pm or earlier, after I've ridden and done the yard. If I am away, hubby does them, and it can be 7.30 onwards. Unfortunately ours can't live out as our land is too wet and they get mud rash easily. We have them on a hardcore/chippings turnout area for 12 hours a day with haylage nets. Hubby hadn't looked after horses much before that, so I taught him lot, bought him a fab book called something like the horse emergency bible which lives at the stables for reference on when you need to call the vet etc. I also have my BHSII best friend up the road who would pop in and check on something if hubby was unsure about something. Seven years on the horses are still alive and he's doing a good job! I have had to loosen my standards a bit to help him out. The yard doesn't get swept when I'm away, they now live in turnout rugs not changing to stable ones at night etc.

When I was full time, we had a BHSAI girl come and ride my mare to keep her event fit, and we have a young lady come and do the yard on a Sunday morning so that he gets one day of peace and a lie in even if I'm away. She will also cover holidays. We now have a sharer that helps out a bit too and will pop over and help if we're out/struggling.
 

kerrieberry2

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my horses are not at home, but not far! however I am on my own! I have to bring them in a night from November, for the first time in 12 yrs, so last time I had to do this I only had 1 now I have 3, so its going to be a massive shock to the system! I'm planning on getting up at 5.30am to let them out and muck out, then go home t get ready for work, get to work for about 8.30/8.45 I finish at 5.15 but im starting a new job on 4th nov, bad timing, which is a big promotion so im hoping I wont have to stay too late for the first few months but get the feeling that I will in the future! so im planning on going to the yard when I finish at 5.15, do hay nets, water and feeds etc then get them in for the night!

I'm also a hairdresser and get quite a lot of work in the evenings but im going to have to cut it down or even stop if full stop now as I will be blimmin shattered after getting up at 5.30! plan on doing a full muck out at the weekend and just skip out in the week!

I have a friend that has started a company doing horse care! so will be getting her to muck out for me when I have to go away with work! or if I struggle with time!
 

Clodagh

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Mine get ad lib hay and live out. There is no poaching by the fence line as they have no reason to stand by it. I feed them once a day, in the morning, and if my work means I'm not around at 7am anyone can do it (my OH for example) as they all stand in the right place for their bucket so the feeds can just be put over the fence, job done! Then when I have time in the day I give them a proper check. If I'm not around in the afternoon they don't get fed but OH will go and look a them to make sure they are standing up and breathing.
 

Wheels

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Mine live out as much as possible. They are in a kind of routine, they get fed haylage in the mornings and evenings and a hard feed in the evening. Times vary, they're never waiting at the gate because they don't know what time food will come, once they hear or see me coming out if the front door they make their way to the gate.

It means if I need to feed early one night or I need a lie in one morning then it's no big deal.

If they do need to stay in then I'm a bit more timely
 

p87

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Although mine aren't at home they are a ten minute walk from the house at a private yard. I keep them out as much as possible and my friend (who owns one of them!) drives past the field on her way to and from work so can have a quick look to see that they are ok!

I only bring them in if the weather is due to be awful overnight, as there is no field shelter. I'll check the met office weather app late afternoon, and if they need to come in at night I make all the beds and hays up so all I need to do is bring them in and put water in. I also leave them in their turnouts so I'm not having to change 4 rugs.

During the day in winter when there is snow on the ground I load up my plastic sledge with hay and chuck leafs of hay all over the field to encourage them to keep moving and not stand by the gate desperate to come in!

I think it's just a case of trial and error and figuring out what works best for you and your horses, lucky you having them at home though, so jealous! :)
 

LynH

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Mine live out as much as possible with access to field shelter or I leave their stable doors open. I make up a week's worth of feeds in different coloured 15l shallow tub trugs. If I'm not around my OH is able to add Speedi beet and feed the horses in the field. He's also ok to fill large tub trugs with hay and check for wounds/illness from a distance. He is not at all horsey but very proud of the fact that he spotted colic twice in one of mine and more importantly next door's elderly horse who wouldn't have made it if he hadn't recognised a problem when he did.
I never expected him to do anything but as it was only very occasionally at first he decided he enjoyed it and fed them breakfast all last winter before he went to work.
I also have a couple of local freelance grooms and very good friends I can rely on. Again, as feeds are already made up and horses live out as much as possible it's very easy for someone to pop in and check the horses and feed etc.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy having your horses at home. I love it.
 

flirtygerty

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Our 4 have never had a routine except for their evening feed, being fed during a 2 hour window before or after work, they have access at all times to their stables in the barn from the fields, haynets hung at approx 5.30 am then again at evening feed, if I want them in for any reason, I just whistle and in they come, if I want them in off the mud I just give them access to the hay bale and shut the field gate, simples. It's lovely having them at home, I can see them from most windows in the house, enjoy it
 

Bobbly

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I'm lucky that I don't work and the horses are on my doorstep but come in every night so they have a pretty settled routine however I do find it makes life easier if things are prepared in advance. I have collected numerous haynets (Dad buys them for xmas every year!) and can fill enough for a week at least, which I fill all at once ready to grab, and then do the same with made up feeds that just need the wet food added each time. If it's been a wet day then provided the rugs are dry inside they stay in their turnouts at least until I do hay at 9pm (by which time they have pretty much dried off) if not all night depending on the temperature and the need for more/less rugging. This also make life easier for OH if he has to step in for me at any time.
 

Rhodders

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mine have free access to a barn in winter which they have their hay in and a big bed for them all. In winter my husband skips it out and I do it properly at the weekend. He does all farrier and vet duties as well as I'm always at work. He is also not horsey at all but he's learning ;)
 

Molasses

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make it as easy as possible and you'll be surprised what a non-horsey OH can do :)

one rug will do, in winter I just have one good quality rug and I don't inflict rug changes on someone who's non-horsey. I'm often away long hours with work so am a dab hand at giving random instructions over the phone on a train. Eavesdroppers must think all my 'chuck some pulp and chaff in a bucket' natters are insanities!. Stick to chucking hay over a fence rather than fussing with nets and horses who are good to lead and don't take the p are a god send.

Unusual hours aren't a problem, like others have said they learn the sound of your car very quickly and come over to that. Enjoy it, its marvellous and so heart-warming everyday to have them as part of the family.
 
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honetpot

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I would invest in hard standing and the biggest open barn you can afford and subdivide with movable gates if needed and give them free access to a round bale feeder. I would do all my jobs in the morning after nights, poo pick, hay etc and do a final check about tea time. I try and keep them out as much as possible with good fitting rugs and only stable if really needed.
We have now bought somewhere with cattle barns so if they have to come in they live in there herd groups deep littered and ad lib poor feed quality hay and straw and they wintered really well.
 

Jericho

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My 3 are at home and live out mostly. I can see them in field and yard from the house so can see any problems. I spoil mine a bit and feed them am/pm but they don't really need it. They are usually waiting in the yard to be fed in the am by 7.15 but if I don't feed them then as having a lie in they will wander off. In the PM I feed them anytime between 2.30 and 7 as usually out and about but it has never bothered them. I agree that although it seems horses like routine it can be counter productive as they get stressed if you don't stick to the routine. I ride in the morning or the afternoon. I always always try to get all my stable jobs done so that if necessary all that needs to be done is to chuck the ready made feeds out for them and then if I do get extra time it means I can ride, groom or poo pick at bit as a treat! I hate being stressed worrying about getting back to do the horses if everything isn't done and if they are out I know that they arent standing in stables and aren't that fussed where their tea is.
 

Booboos

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The easiest thing is to have the horses live out but you will need to sort things out for them a bit, e.g. hard standing, access to hay 24/7.

If the horses have to come in, it becomes more complicated. I always coped by having fairly regular hours so that I could always do mornings, and employing a part time groom to help for 2-3 hours in the afternoons. If I was not there she would finish mucking out, bring in, lunge and feed, if I was there we would ride together and finish off all jobs together.

With irregular hours it may be more difficult. Could you get a livery who would help out with yours? Could you train up OH to help? Could you make it easy for OH to bring in, e.g. just open gates and horses go up to stables?
 

Adopter

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I was very lucky when we had stabled competition horses my Mother came up every afternoon and got them in and prepared evening stables. My sister is also only a short way down the road and will cover for me if he essary.

However, I now have the two youngsters out 24/7 and life is so much easier! My stables are in the paddock nearest the yard so all that happens is if feed is put in the bins the ponies bring themselves in so OH just has to shut doors and open them again. Having said that he will now pick out feet as well, but it has taken some years to get to this point. In the winter I use the sbles as field shelters, put out hay and ponies came through last winter very happy.

All the best with your move I am sure it will all work out, just enjoy being able to see them and not travelling anywhere.
 
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My two both live here on-site. As there's other horses not belonging to me coming and going as well, and they tend to be more erratic than my routine, that does complicate things a little, but basically they live out as much as possible and are fed when they come up to the gate!!! :) Which is usually when either mare or traddie-boy gets a hole in their guts and decides to rattle the cage so that "mum" relents and feeds them!

It sounds terribly lacksadaisical, but actually works well for everyone.

I work from home, so can keep an eye, and at the moment am riding out with a friend on alternate days (till the clocks change); when its a "riding day" they'll come in and stand in for day (we ride late afternoon) and they don't eat much hay as have plenty of grass, so don't need it.

Am clipping this afternoon; so then rugs will go on. If we don't get too much wet/damp weather, my aim is to leave them out as long as possible - it would be nice to think they could be out more than in this year as last year my fields (like everyone elses) were just a swamp and they were pulling shoes off all the time. BUT........ if we get a sensible winter; then that's it, turn the blighters out! Much cheaper and much less hassle.

You'll find your own routine which suits you and the horses OP, just give it time. We've got a local sheep farmer who puts his sheep in with the horses which helps one helluva lot with keeping the field nice and saves us a fortune on maintenance!
 

nix123

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The good thing about having horses at home is you can do what you want, when you want. At the end of the day the majority of horses that are kept at home have a more relaxed routine. If they accidently stop out a night its not going to kill them. You'll find both you and your horses will just slip into some kind of routine that suits you. Have fun and relax, it will work itself out. X
 

MagicMelon

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Definately keep them out 24/7, as long as they've got shelter (or just leave their stable doors open and let them come and go if you can). Then it doesn't matter that much if you're late. Mine have always lived out and I've never kept a strict routine as to feeding times (although obviously they tend to fall into usual times generally), so the horses don't get too peed off if I'm late one night or something. If they're out then all your OH needs to do is chuck them some feed and hay (make up the feeds beforehand) which anyone can do.
 

moana

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Mine live out 24/7/365 with access to shelter. I make sure they have adequate forage for weather/time of year and also suitable rugs if/when needed. I also have someone just keep on eye on them who will call me of they see any potential problems, which could be your other half.
Feeding times with me are not strict, but a general time scale.
 

Pinkvboots

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Mine are at home and come in at night in winter not got enough land to keep them out without it being very muddy, I am mostly at home but I have got someone to do them for me if I am out or away, my partner did not have a clue about looking after horses but I have showed him the basics and he can manage on his own if need be, I love it its the best thing we ever did not sure if I could ever go back to having them on livery, I wish you all the best I am sure you will llove it to.
 

BWa

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Mine stays out as minch as possible and lives in a turnout rug if need be to save rug changes. I make feeds up in advance and leave everything ready. The other key thing is mine is steady and knows a routine. If you open the gate at tea time he brings himself in and same if you open the stable door in the morning. No Headcollar required! I realise this isnt ideal with flighty ones or a group but i know that I can ask anyone to open the gate and he is in.
 

jendie

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I prepare the stables with haynets in the morning. OH then opens the gate to the stable yard and the ponies take themselves to bed. He closes the doors after them No probs
 

ridefast

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Can they have free access to shelter? I don't keep mine at home, but keep erratic hours. Mine live out, have plenty of hay in the winter, and are fed once a day whenever I get there. Contrary to what some might expect, the lack of routine seems to end up with them being very relaxed. No stressing about anticipation.
Same, I turn up to do mine any old hour of the day, and mine are never fussed, just happy to see me when they see me
 

MiniMilton

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Can they have free access to shelter? I don't keep mine at home, but keep erratic hours. Mine live out, have plenty of hay in the winter, and are fed once a day whenever I get there. Contrary to what some might expect, the lack of routine seems to end up with them being very relaxed. No stressing about anticipation.
I absolutely agree with this, as long as they get sufficient turnout horses are quite happy with no routine. When mine were stabled they still get at least 12 hrs turnout per day. If I'm busy they stayed out. If I needed help my OH (non horsey) used to herd them out into the field for me (no am feed as plenty of grass) When stables were mucked out and feed in the horses were herded back in.
Now they are out most of the time due to human additions to family.

Horses get stressed with no routine if they are dying to get out for a miserable 4 hours turnout. More turnout also equals less mucking out. If they are used to a routine there may be a transitional period where they seem unsettled but they will soon realise life is relaxed and good
 

WelshD

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My two ponies have no routine, i work long hours 4 days a week so if one of them us to come in at night i leave him in his turnout rug and make up haynets at the weekend just in case

My husband then gets an instruction to open the stable door and the pony knows where the gate to the his part of the field is - husband wont lay a hand on pony unless he absolutely has to! He is naff all use at most things equestrian and cant tie up a haynet for toffee but he is wonderful to even have a go!

If my husband is also working long shifts both ponies stay out if at all practical
 
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