In some extremely positive ways, a new era of horsemanship is dawning. Several non-profit organizations, some sponsored by horseracing associations and others by animal lovers, are adopting horses who have reached 20 or 25 years of age. Thus have outlived their useful working and breeding lives. Many retirees of different generations are acquiring country homes or buying ranches and using them to express their love of horses. New rules about animal safety and, in particular, the treatment of horses, have garnered a great deal of media attention. Hopefully this will result in a growing societal awareness of the beauty of horses and of their special needs. That said, stabling horses and caring for them is not as simple as planting a new flower bed. Caring for these majestic animals requires a commitment to learning and bonding. There are several steps you must take to prepare yourself for horsemanship and building a horse property before making a commitment that will enrich and change your life.

Are Your Utilities Current?

This may not be such an issue if you are building your horse property from scratch. Many owners choose to stable horses in existing barns or other outbuildings, even if it is a temporary dwelling, while a new stable is constructed. It is extremely important to make sure your electrical and water utilities are up to code. This means not just in the new barn but in any shelter where you intend to house your horse for any length of time. Because you will find yourself going to the barn after dark and because these structures tend to be fire hazards, you will want to verify that electricity is present and safe. If anything in the junction box needs to be replaced, make sure to use outdoor safe parts, such as a Stab Lok Breaker.

Do You Have an Emergency Plan?

When your children were small, you taught them how to call for help, escape from their bedrooms or hide if there was an emergency. Just so, you need to develop an emergency plan for the four-legged creatures you are responsible for as well. What is the most likely source of a crisis you will face at your horse property? You might be surprised at some of the common causes of emergencies:

  • Temperature extremes. Like human beings, animals have a safe range of temperature they can endure.
  • Equipment hazards. If you are going to have farm implements, they have to be stored away from areas where horses run and graze.
  • This type of emergency can come from inside or outside.
  • Chemical exposure. Like implements, farm pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers cannot be stored where animals are housed.

Where is the Nearest Large Animal Vet?

Back to your children: when you took them home from the hospital, you already knew where to take them for pediatric health care. Before you bring your horse home, it is an excellent idea to become aware of the large animal veterinarians in your area. It is an even better idea to meet one or more of them and ask one to visit your stable area. Based on the specifics of your horse facility, the vet will have some suggestions that will be extremely helpful in planning for your new equine addition. This will make you feel a lot more confident as well.

Who Can Care for Your Horses Daily?

To be sure, you already know that horses require daily oversight. On cattle ranches, herds are turned out to pasture and allowed to graze unsupervised for days at a time. This cannot be the case with horses, which are much more mobile, more prone to injury and far more valuable. If you cannot be with your horse every day, do not despair. The best horse trainers in the world do not see every horse they care for every day. However, they do have trustworthy employees to keep an eye on their animals. This may be a good solution for you as well.

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