The guidelines for sheltering horses are ones that have been developed by Circle F Horse Rescue, and ones we encourage you to review in your situation.
Shelter and Care Guidelines
Not all settings may have a barn, but if a barn is part of the care of your horse consider the following:
- Is there an odour in the barn?
- Are the aisleways clear of debris?
- Is there a safe passage for the horses and people?
- Is there a non-slippery surface to the floor?
- Is there fresh air in the barn without a damp smell?
- Are there windows and doors that can be opened?
- Do the windows have bars/wire or plexiglass?
- Is the location of the fire extinguisher noticeable?
- Is the fire extinguisher in working order?
Many horse owners use a combination of both barn and run-in shelters. Some use barn only with paddock access or paddock and pasture access. This is especially true for boarding stables and training centres.
Run in sheds are normally:
- At least 10-by-10 area for each horse
- At least 8 feet high
- One or more of the shelters should have a self-contained closure area should a horse need to be separated or be isolated for farrier or veterinarian attention.
- When using a run in full time the horse must have a dry place to lie down and roll. Also, it is best not to feed on sand so if the paddock/run in area is sand footing a feed area on rubber or other footing is needed.
- Basic information on stalls can apply to both barn and run-in shelters because a shelter is a form of a stall:
- Stall size should be 10 feet by 10 feet or more
- Wall materials must be able to withstand a horse kicking
- If there is space between the boards they should be less than 4 inches so a horse’s foot will not be caught or more than six inches so that a horse can easily remove its foot
- If wire grill is used, there should be no rough edges or any sticking out. There should be no openings large enough for a hoof or head to get stuck
- If there are doors or gates they are sound, properly fastened, and safely closed
- The stall floor may be of dirt or cement. If of cement, rubber mats are highly recommended, especially if a horse is in a stall most of the day and night
- Bedding should be at least 3 - 6 inches of either straw or shavings
- Stalls are kept clean and dry and free from manure accumulation or ammonia smells
- There is adequate artificial lighting and power to look after the care of the horses
PADDOCKS, PASTURE and EXERCISE AREA(S)
Paddocks are often as small as 12 feet by 20 or 30 feet extending beyond the stall. Many stables also have a series of paddocks situated near the stable area. In addition there may also be turnouts that can be 60 feet by 100 feet or more. Many owners also have access to small pastures. As a horse normally requires one acre few owners have enough pasture so that hay must be fed in addition to having a horse on pasture. Pastures require rotating to assure continuous growth.
- Paddocks have durable fencing and effective gates
- Paddocks are free of debris and sharp objects
- Check to see if there is anything the horses can get caught up in
- Clean water containers are available at each paddock
- If there are several horses in a paddock assure that they get along
- If a horse is dominant or aggressive assure that there are no narrow alleys or blind corners another horse may be pushed into
- If one or more of the paddocks are large enough and have proper footing, fencing, and drainage they can also be used for exercise and riding purposes. Larger stables normally have their own indoor or out door riding rings
- The arrangements of shelters and paddocks should be such that new horses can be kept separate for a short period to determine how best to introduce the horse to its new buddies, that is, if that will be the intention
- There are many kinds of fencing as noted in the various commercial advertisements. For the less expensive fencing the following can be considered:
- Barbless wire is never a good option for horses
- Electric fencing with at least three strands well marked on secured wooden posts
- Page wire is okay but should have a board on top or an electric strand, the squares should not be large enough for a hoof to go through, best to use twisted not welded wire
- Board fencing is solid and secure but can be expensive, running electric on top can save wood from chewing
- Gates are properly secured and latched
- Water should be clean, free of contaminants, and available at all times
- Rubberized water troughs are standard
- Smaller, portable water containers can be used in paddock areas
- Often barns have separate controlled water receptacles in each stall
- Small water containers are usually cleaned daily
- Troughs that provide water for several horses are usually cleaned weekly
- During freezing weather, a water heater will keep a water trough open
- If your water source may freeze up have a contingency plan ready
- Hay will be clean, dry, have no mould, and will be secured in a dry place away from the horses
- If round bales are used and placed in paddocks or pastures their condition needs to be monitored
- Grain and supplements are stored in dry, safe, clean place in rat-proof containers
- Salt and mineral blocks are supplied
MEDICINES and FIRST AID SUPPLIES
- Medicines and first aid supplies are kept current and stored in a safe, dry, secure place
- A knowledgeable person(s) is on hand to administer medicines and first aid
TOOLS and IMPLEMENTS
- Necessary tools, tack, grooming and care equipment, and implements are on hand and properly stored and cared for