The essence of effective stable management is keeping horses healthy and happy in an unnatural environment. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that these animals originally roamed the land and being cooped up for long periods can be frustrating for them. However, by following the correct procedures you can ensure a smooth and harmonious horse ownership relationship.
The horse must be fed regular, small meals that provide vitamins, minerals, proteins and bulk in relation to the restrictions of the digestive system and the amount of energy expended. Remember that horses have small stomachs in relation to their size so try not to overfeed. More about the type of feed a horse requires can be found here.
Exercise and Grooming
The horse must be kept clean and the muscles developed and toned by regular exercise and grooming. Whilst many believe grooming to be purely aesthetic, it actually provides some key benefits. For example, the process actually cleans the skin and the strapping process encourages muscle development and tone, promoting circulation.
The horse must be provided with a living environment that allows it to feel comfortable and relaxed, with plenty of space and ventilation. Having an effective stable design plays a big part in this. The stable must be dry and warm without being draughty. Furthermore, provision has to be made for effective drainage and, if possible, the stable should be sited facing the sun or other areas of the yard so the animal can take an interest in whats going on in the rest of the yard and feel sociable.
The bed a horse lays down on is very important. It contributes to the warmth and comfort of the stable and therefore the welfare of the occupant. However, it is also one of the most demanding stable chores. A bed can be made from straw, wood shavings, or even cardboard or paper but it has to be deep enough to induce the horse to lie down safely, without sustaining injuries from contact with the floor. Read more about the type of bedding material you can use here.
As with the laying of the bedding, it is equally important to regularly refresh/replace it. The frequency with how often that happens varies. Some stable yards clean beds everyday. If straw bedding is used, the slightly damp bedding can be put out to dry and then used again. The soiled bedding goes on the muck-heap. The bed then needs to be remade after the floor has been washed down and disinfected. Alternatively to save time and money, you could opt for a deep-litter method. This involves removing droppings regularly and topping up the bed with clean, fresh straw. The stable only then needs cleaning once a week or on a monthly basis.
You can reduce the amount of labour time needed on your stable maintenance tasks by introducing certain stable fittings. For example, stable rings are necessary for tying-up and for hanging haynets (this makes it less wasteful and more satisfactory compared to feeding hay from the ground). A more sensible way of feeding is to set up a removable manger in the corner of your stable box as it can be taken out for cleaning without trouble. Another handy tip for providing constant supply of fresh water is to install self-filling water bowls.