Fields and Stables
Hints & Tips
When bringing a new horse home for the first time you must consider how unsettling moving can be and give your horse time to adjust to his new surroundings. It may take him several days, or even weeks, to grow accustomed to his new home. Also allow time for you and your horse to get to know each other, as developing mutual trust and respect will ultimately result in a closer bond, leading to more enjoyable riding.
Horses naturally like to be around other horses, and are designed to graze in open spaces with their herd. They will learn to adapt to stable life, but it is important that you give your horse enough exercise to satisfy his physical needs. Make sure he has enough stimulation from other horses and people, otherwise he may become bored and unhappy.
Your horse will most likely be out in the pasture during some rainy or windy days, so make sure you provide a three-sided shelter, with enough space for the number of horses in the pasture. The back wall of the shelter needs to be facing the prevailing wind to protect your horse and his companions from the elements.
Make sure you give your horse a constant supply of fresh, clean water. If you use a watering bucket, you must refill it at least twice a day and whenever you find it empty. If you use a watering trough supplied by a pipe check it during winter weather to ensure the pipe and water surface have not frozen.
Check that the pasture you will let your horse out in has sufficient fencing and that the pasture is large enough to let him gallop and graze at his leisure. Watch out, too, for hazards such as dropped litter and poisonous plants. It is important to check for such plants in your pasture at least once a week.
The following is a list of the most harmful plants that need to be looked for:
- Deadly nightshade
- Oak leaves and acorns
- Meadow saffron
- Castor bean
- Star thistle
Ragwort is a weed which causes liver damage in horses and other animals and can have potentially fatal consequences. Under the Weeds Act 1959, the Secretary of State may serve an enforcement notice on the occupier of land on which such weeds are growing, meaning that the occupier must take action to prevent the spread of these weeds.
The Ragwort Control Act was adopted in 2003 and amends the Weeds Act, giving added protection to horses and other animals from the serious and possibly fatal outcome of ragwort poisoning. The code aims to promote good practice and good neighbourliness and therefore reduce significantly the risk posed by ragwort poisoning to horses and other animals.
To find out more information on the Weeds Act and the Ragwort Control Act visit DEFRA at defra.gov.uk.
Horses should not stand all day on a hard floor, and they will lie down when they need to sleep or rest, so it is important to have proper bedding in place. Straw is a popular choice, but it can sometimes contain fungal spores, which your horse would ingest when occasionally eating some of his bedding. Other bedding options are dust-free wood shavings or using rubber matting as a soft surface but make sure you place straw or wood shavings on top of the matting to provide warmth.
Keeping your horse's stable clean is of paramount importance to protect from illness and disease. You should muck out the stable at least once or twice a day, and more often if your horse is stabled all day. Remove any droppings with a shovel and wheelbarrow and then level out the horse's bedding. Check the bedding for any soiled parts and remove this too. Sweep and then clean the floor with a stable disinfectant.
Once the floor is completely dry, put the clean bedding down and then add some fresh bedding material to make up for any soiled amount that has been removed.