There are lots of things required to keep horses at home- knowledge, skill, facilities, equipment and a steady source of income round out my top five. That being said, backyard horse set-ups come in a delightful variety of flavors, shapes and sizes. Your backyard might be behind your million dollar house and include a barn, multiple paddocks, a trail system and an indoor arena. Another backyard set-up might be right behind a mobile home where the horses use the awning as shade and strips of electric fencing keep them from wandering off. My personal set up is somewhere in between.
I would love to have a fancier facility than what I do. And yet, I have lived around the country and observed a variety of set ups where the horses appeared happy and healthy, even when the facilities where they lived were modest. It seems that the fanciness of the arrangements does not necessarily correlate with a horse’s physical and mental health/wellness. All horses should be granted the FIVE FREEDOMS (freedom from thirst, hunger, discomfort, pain/injury/disease, fear/distress and freedom to express normal species behavior). Fortunately, these can be provided for in a variety of ways. If you would like to read more about the FIVE FREEDOMS, I suggest this Equisearch article on the topic at https://www.equisearch.com/articles/animal-welfare-freedoms-15961
For anyone reading this blog and considering backyard horse-keeping, I recommend your starting by digging up a copy of the 2005 book “Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage: Designing and Maintaining Your Equine Facilities”. This classic by horse professional and author Cherry Hill will act as a guide and give you great food for thought. A lot has happened in the horse world since 2005, but horses themselves haven’t changed much. You ought to find plenty of useful info that is still applicable today. Start with your local library and see if they have a copy.
Just as important as my top five standard requirements, there are character qualities that need to be developed to be successful in this endeavor. To that end, I am sharing a link to one of my freelance pieces entitled “Perseverance and Grit for the Everyday Equestrian”. It appeared on The Plaid Horse Blog on August 28, 2019 as well as The Plaid Horse Facebook page.
If there is one thing (well, two things) that the backyard horse owner needs, it is perseverance and grit to handle all the situations that will crop up along the way!