From a blog post from 2016 (moved from old blog)
I have a series that I am beginning….. after 10 years of boarding our horses, we have now moved them home…. something that was a dream of mine, but I never thought we had enough room and never thought it would be a possibility.
Horses on Small Acreage
This was the plan that I came up with…..
One of the biggest factors came into play was expense. We were paying so much on board every month and we were trying to cut back everywhere. Getting rid of the horses was not acceptable to us, so we figured if we buckled down and got this done, in the long run, it will be much less expensive to have them here.
So we did it. Keep in mind, we only have a little over two acres. This is why I want to share our problems and our solutions on managing our horses on this small space. It will be an ongoing series from manure management, mud management to creating a small exercise ring, etc. This post is about the barn itself and fencing that we chose.
We were/are on a budget so I searched and searched everywhere to find something that fit what we wanted and in our budget but with our style. Yes, style is a factor for us. We chose our house colors of gray with white trim and black shutters and everything must match or compliment. We are fitting a lot on our small property, and don’t want it to be a terrible eyesore as I see sometimes happens. We have a lot of work ahead of us for sure 😉
Functionality was also important to us. Our Stormy has arthritis in her knees and we want to make sure that none of our horses are confined unless temporary for a specific reason. Horses are not made to stand in stalls for hours at a time. The natural horse roams and forages and only sleeps for very short periods of time. It is healthier to let the horse have access to shelter but do not confine them. We had to confine Stormy way more than we wanted to when she was pregnant, and her legs swelled terribly.
We decided to work with Amish Structures of Queenstown MD. We were thrilled with the price and felt that we wanted the structure in burgundy to compliment that gray house and other outbuildings we have. We customized the structure. We wanted a run in shelter that could fit three full sized horses, two openings (in case of a little disagreement among the horses, there was easy escape, and a small feed room (we have a tack room inside our walk-out basement – tack room to the right).
There were some preparations that we made, but we had to be as fast as we could. I wish we could have done some more and prepared the pastures a bit better, but time was crunched, and we were even delayed with a big snow. The ground stayed mushy way too long, and we just had setback after setback. Dean was a trooper – he cut down one of our big trees….
We had our septic redone.
We also rented a machine and dug out the area and put down fabric and crush and run for the foundation. Erynn was right out there with us working hard to make sure that we could get this done quickly and bring our horses home!
The Barn Build
The Barn had to be built first prior to the fencing.
The structure came partially assembled. I stayed home from work and was able to watch all of it. They showed up with the main part of the structure on a flatbed.
We had it placed behind the storage shed (this shed has been getting a complete makeover – that in another post).
They built the overhang onto the front. This overhang is wonderful. Horses are a “flight” type of herd animal. If they are scared, they would like an easy way out to run. We wanted to make sure that everyone had enough space to lounge in the shade or take cover under because of rain, but also, be able to feel secure that they have an escape route if something should scare them.
And of course, they have the option of getting inside completely for shelter from wind or cold.
Yes, we call it a barn, although it truly is just a run in shelter with an overhang and feed room (and now a hay storage in the back), but we are so very happy with it. I will later share our organizational changes, but for now, here’s the final, and some pictures to show the overall size comparison with the horses.
We looked for an unobtrusive budget-friendly fencing. We looked at all types. Luckily, our horses were used to boards as well as high tensile/electric fencing, so we didn’t worry too much about that.
We chose high tensile. Sunnyburn Fencing in PA did a wonderful job and completed it in one day. We chose black wire as we felt it would blend in better with the landscape. We thought we may have to train the horses some way on the darker fencing in case they couldn’t see it, but this proved to be a nonissue. The fence is electrified with solar power, but we can choose to turn it on or off depending upon what we feel is needed. Our horses do respect the fence, so most of the time it is off.
We chose five wires instead of the typical four. We just felt that in the future, when we breed Pixie (this is years down the road, and yes, we will do live video feed again, just like we did with Pixie’s birth), it would be better to have more coverage.
The only thing I would change is I really wanted black gates (why not paint them? I later, did – worked out great), but that was not an option at that moment, and I should have put a wider gate on pasture 2, but overall, very happy with the result.
Bringing the Horses Home
We brought the horses home. It was pretty terrifying. I mean, this was a huge huge huge commitment. Was this going to work? We still needed to find a hay supplier, a new farrier, etc. It’s a crazy jump to go from depending upon others around you to being completely on your own.
The first night, we slept with windows open, and when we heard a noise, we would shine a flashlight down or run down to the barn. Yes, we were that worried about them!
They did great. They settled in very quickly.
I have to tell you, the BEST is being able to simply look out the window or sit on the porch or deck and see our beauties out there content and happy. They all get along so well, too well in some cases of a little certain someone who now thinks he is the stud of the pasture 😉
For anyone debating horses on a small acreage, all I can say is go for it. If you feel that you can do the work involved, just do it. Follow this journey of Horsekeeping on Small Property, we have much more going on and and many changes and better practices to share.