Archive for Facility management
When building an arena, choosing the right surface is vital. Here is a summary of some of the most common surfaces available and what they are pros and cons of each.
WOOD CHIP AND WOOD FIBRE
Wood fibre is produced especially for equestrian surfaces and usually consists of smaller particles, whereas wood chip can be anything out of a timber merchant’s chipper. The particle size of wood chip is important. If the pieces are too large it will not settle and can become lodged in hooves; if the pieces are too small and lightweight they may blow around in the wind.
Wood-based surfaces are eco-friendly if not treated with chemicals or colourings. Recycled wood, however, should be treated with caution since it could contain old nails, wire or staples from a previous life as a kitchen unit, door, window frame or pallet.
Don’t be tempted to do a DIY job. Cheap timber offcuts will break down quickly, can block drainage, splinter or become slippery.
A wood-based surface is less prone to freezing than sand, depending on the quality of wood and bark content. A surface that doesn’t contain bark will last longer and will not absorb as much water.
Best for: wood chip and wood fibre can be used for indoor or outdoor arenas as well as other equestrian surfaces — gallops, lungeing rings, turn-out paddocks and horse-walkers. They are also suitable for all disciplines.
What you should know: of all the arena surfaces, wood chip and wood fibre are the least durable and have the shortest lifespan. Another disadvantage of wood chip is that it can become slippery when it dries out, so it needs regular watering. If the drainage conditions are not good, the arena can also become waterlogged.
Life expectancy: a good quality wood fibre outdoor arena, given correct maintenance, should have a life expectancy of between four and 10 years, depending on usage. In a busy riding school the surface would not be expected to last more than eight years. Wood chip has a similar life expectancy, depending on the type of wood. However, it is not necessary to buy a new surface every few years; a top-up layer can be added.
A longer lasting alternative to wood chip or fibre is small pieces of rubber chip. A rubber-based surface requires less maintenance, and is less likely to become waterlogged or dry out. A big advantage of rubber surfaces is that they do not freeze: frozen arenas can be a major problem for owners, who often want to ride early on winter mornings and could lose valuable riding time for days.
Rubber is dust-free and is unlikely to blow around in a strong wind. But while it’s good for outdoor arenas it is not generally recommended for indoor use. In hot summers, the surface can heat up, producing an unwelcome odour.
The most important point about rubber surfaces is they cannot be used entirely on their own. They need a base, and sand, ideally silica sand, is best.
Finally, rubber is probably the most comfortable surface to fall off on to.
Best for: outdoor arenas, particularly for jumping, since it is less likely to result in skidding when horses land or concussion injuries.
What you should know: if you want to change your arena surface in the future, rubber is not biodegradable and may be expensive to get rid of.
Life expectancy: pretty much indestructible if maintained according to manufacturers’ guidelines, such as keeping the surface levelled.
SAND AND SAND MIXES
Sand was traditionally very popular, but nowadays more people are using a combination, such as sand with a topping of rubber or a sand-mixed product. Sand used for arenas is silica sand, which is natural but more durable than most.
Europe is leading the field in developing new sand mixes and North American companies have picked up on the trend for more equine friendly substances. Among the latest products are those that mimic the binding ability of topsoil to improve the surface quality and minimise kickback. Horses can travel on top of this type of surface rather than moving through it.
Best for: good for galloping. Many all-weather racetracks are sand-based.
What you should know: sand starts the “emery board effect” as soon as it is laid, with the natural process of grinding against itself. Through the action of hooves, it gradually gets finer, becoming progressively deeper. Also, sand alone is not an all-weather surface and can freeze in winter. If your surface is unwaxed, it will need to be watered during dry weather for optimum performance.
Life expectancy: usually a minimum of five years.
WAXED SURFACES AND COATINGS
Surfaces that have been treated with a wax coating, usually sand mixed with synthetic fibres, have particles that bind together more effectively and there is less surface movement. They need less maintenance than their unwaxed counterparts.
The more sophisticated products have been developed to emulate turf as closely as possible, allowing for “bounce” and absorption of impact.
This article was originally published in October 2009. It has now been dusted off and re-published as part of November 2011′s “You Look Familiar” Series. Enjoy!
Story by: Larissa Cox
Autumn brings clouds, wind and rain. Here are a few tips to help you and your horse from getting swept away!
In wet and muddy conditions, its important to keep your horse’s stall dry and clean. A horse’s stall should be mucked out once or twice a day depending on if your horse is turned out or left in all day, to keep the environment fresh and clean. Here are some products from Dry Stall that help absorb moisture and minimize thrush in your horse: DRY STALL.
High use areas in the stableyard are areas that often get puddles or become very muddy. Walkways between paddocks, areas near gates, or along fence lines should be reinforced with gravel or mats to prevent build up of mud.
Wet and muddy environments can cause equine ailments such as thrush, rain rot or mud fever. It’s important to check your horse on a regular basis for signs of these conditions, and take preventative action by keeping your horse clean.
–> pick horse’s feet out and wash off/ brush off legs after coming in from muddy environment
–> put water resistant power on legs to prevent mud fever. ie: Keratex Mud Shield Powder
–> Heal thrush with equine thrush remedies. Ex: Hooflex Thrush Remedy
–> Keep a rainsheet on your horse when out in paddock
–> Keep a clean and dry stable blanket on your horse while in the stall
–> Groom your horse regularly to check for rain scald, mud fever, cold&flu or any other issues that might be caused from a cold and wet environment.
–> Disinfect brushes on a regular basis to keep from spreading skin conditions or cold viruses from horse to horse
Prepare yourself as well as your horse for the rainy season:
-> Get a good pair of muck boots like these from the Muck Boot Company
–> Good quality riding raincoat. There is a great selection of equestrian outerwear from Equestrian Collections.
Hopefully these tips help with the management of your horse during the rainy and muddy season of autumn. If you have any other tips for riders and horse owners regarding mud or rain management, feel free to leave comments!!
(AP photo by Salisbury Daily Times/Jay Diem)
This article was originally published in May 2009. It has now been dusted off and re-published as part of November 2011′s “You Look Familiar” Series. Enjoy!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Barb Timmer, the owner of New Song Stables in Lynden, Washington. After more than 15 years of years of owning and managing a marina, and completing law school, Barb turned her attention to horses. Though having no previous experience in the horse industry, Barb turned New Song Stables into the premiere boarding facility in the county. Today, she offers her story, as well as advice for anyone looking to enter into the equine industry, whether it be in owning a horse, or owning a whole equestrian facility.
So Barb, why did you buy the stable in the first place?
My daughter is a horse lover and a horse rider. When my daughter was younger we often talked about when she grew up. We talked about her having a horse farm and I could have a little place in one ‘corner’ and she could ride horses and I would watch her children, my grandchildren. We also talked about having a farm where all the animals were miniatures. Neither of those are quite exactly what happened, but there is a horse farm and I do play with my grandchildren here! My daughter lived in Michigan for six years before she moved back to Washington. One summer when she was visiting in Washington she told me about a neighbour of hers who raised Andalusians. She said that every year they had a foal and when that foal hit the ground it was worth $40,000! “Wow!” I said, “Now that’s a great retirement program!” Of course, then she explained that a breeding program like that wasn’t quite so easy to put together. The next day we were driving on Birch Bay – Lynden Road on our way into Lynden. We saw a “For Sale” sign on a barn next to the road and she casually said ” Buy me that farm and I’ll put together a horse breeding program for you.” And that started me thinking about the possibility of actually buying the stable.
When you were looking at a barn what made New Song, then Solid Oak, stand out?
Well, I wasn’t really looking for a barn. I saw this place for sale, and that made me think about buying a barn. I live at Birch Bay and my Mother lives in Lynden, and this place is halfway in between, right on the way. So the location was great. It was in pretty good condition, the main barn and attached arena were less than five years old, and the small barn, closer to the turnout paddocks, was built pretty good. Twenty-five years earlier, I and my husband had purchased an old Marina outside Olympia. It was a place that needed a lot of work just to keep it from falling apart and sliding into the bay, and I knew I didn’t want a place like that again. So I liked the fact that it was in pretty good shape. If either of those things were not there, I wouldn’t have looked at it twice. The owner’s daughter was willing to work for me for a year and, since I didn’t know anything about managing a horse stable, that supported the possibility of buying it. Once I was thinking seriously about buying the place, my sister and I toured several other horse stables in Whatcom County to get a feel of the industry in the area, and what the issues were with having a horse stables here. We heard nothing that was discouraging enough to I change my mind. So I made an offer, and here we are!
Did you have a philosophy that guided your business decisions?
I had had previous business experience. For 17 years I had owned and managed a small marina in Thurston County, just outside of Olympia. There are many similarities between owning a marina and a horse stable. I knew I had to make a profit. I knew what location to board a horse at was choice that people made, and I had to present an attractive interesting place for them to continue to choose to stay at my place. I wanted a place that fit in well with the neighborhood, and was appealing to visit and to live next to. I think the mission statement for the Stables describes my thoughts/philosophy well: “a place for fun and education”. Our first priority must be safety. I talked with a lot of people to find out what ‘horse people’ want and I try to provide those things within reason and in a way that still keeps this business profitable. I want to be a good community participant. I find people interesting and I want to make it an interesting place for them to be. I do think it’s interesting that all of our horses are owned by women and this is really a ‘women’s barn’. It has been good to see strong, independent women here. This is an aspect of the business that I like very much. Although, I don’t have any objection to men coming here as boarders or as helpers to their friends or wives! Another aspect was that everyone told me that word-of-mouth is strong in the horse business. So I knew we had to operate in a positive way so the word-of-mouth would be positive.
What do you find are the biggest problems in running a barn?
Problems at the barn: rising costs of hay, grain, help. What to do with all the horse manure. Keeping the barn full so it does pay its way…taxes.
How did you go about finding good people to staff the barn?
Partly by trial and error, which I don’t recommend! The previous owner’s daughter worked for me for a year. When that didn’t work out, I hired someone who had worked part-time for me. She liked the power that being a boss gave her, but she abused that position. When Susan Adrian was boarding her horse here, and doing training here, we had talked about what could be done differently. By that time I had owned the stables for more than a year, and she fit the bill when I needed someone else to be manager. I still didn’t think I knew what was needed to run the place all by myself. Watching her, I have seen how much more there is to having a successful barn, than just buying hay and paying the bills. I’m glad to have Susan – she’s been good for New Song Stables. All the help that we have now is good. I let Susan hire the other people we have working here.
Why did you rename the barn New Song Stables?
I didn’t want to use the name that the previous owner had used because I wanted it clear that there was a new owner. Also, if I had kept ‘Solid Oak’ as a name, I would have wanted to plant some Oak trees around the place! But Oak leaves are poisonous for horses, so I couldn’t do that. I chose New Song after a lot of thought. It symbolizes to me a new beginning. I feel our lives are songs, and this is a new song for me. It’s something I had never done before and I wanted the operation to be as strong and powerful, as rhythmical and graceful, as many songs can be.
Written by: Laurie Cerny, editor and publisher of Green Horsekeeping Guide
1. Winterize the barn: This means repairing or replacing broken windows and doors, and making sure that they can close completely to keep out cold winter air and drafts. If you have a bathroom and/or heated wash rack, wrap the water heater with an insulated blanket. Hot water pipes can also be wrapped to help save energy. Refill under stall mats where needed, or haul in fill in stalls without mats. Remove anything that’s not used during the winter like fans (blow off fan and motor with an air compressor), and any liquids that might freeze in an unheated barn like fly spray, hoof black, fence paint, etc.
2. Harrow pastures. If you don’t have a harrow, use a pitchfork and break up manure piles.
3. Spread manure and compost on hay fields and on pastures that are resting for the winter.
4. Drain hoses and water tanks: Drain hoses of all water, roll them up, and store indoors. Unused water tanks should be drained and cleaned with dish soap or a bleach mixture – then turn them upside down if left outside. A run-in shed or a horse trailer that isn’t going to be used during the winter is another good place to store water tanks.
5. Clean and store show tack: Give your show tack a good cleaning and bring it indoors for the winter. This will protect it from the damaging effects of extreme temperatures, as well as prevent potential damage from mice and other critters and insects that might over winter in your barn.
6. Wash fly sheets, fly masks, stable sheets, and unused halters. Repair any tears in blankets, masks, and leg wraps. Store these items in a sealed container like a tote.
7. Clean out horse trailers after their last use: If you don’t plan on using the trailer over the winter, either store it inside, or tarp it – making sure to cover the tires. Empty perishable items from tack compartment, dressing room, and living quarters. Remove anything that could get damaged if the roof or windows leak. Put a couple handfuls of mothballs inside to help repel mice and other pests.
8. Fix fences: Make sure that fences are in good repair including working electric. Replace rotted boards and posts. You definitely don’t want to be digging postholes in the frozen ground.
9. Paint gates: Gates seem to rust quickly in seam areas, as well as areas damaged by use and by horses. Use either sandpaper or a wire brush to remove rust, and then follow up with a coat of primer and then with a rust deterring paint.
10. Stock up on staples: Filling the barn with hay for winter goes without saying, however, stocking up on other things like bedding, stall freshener products, salt blocks, de-wormers, etc. helps to eliminate unnecessary trips to the feed or farm store.
Has the recession got you and your horses down in the mouth?
This week Larissa and I have found ourselves brainstorming to find ways to keep our horses , show, buy equipment and supplies,while saving money, all in ways that won’t compromise our training or our horse’s well being.No doubt everyone is feeling the pinch and horses are an expensive endeavour at the best of times.
We’ve come up with a few ideas we have each found helpful and hope you will as well. Feel free to comment with your own economizing thoughts since we would benefit from them as well.
At Larissa’s barn several boarders went in together to purchase a Pessoa lunging system since they all wanted to use it but f
ound the cost a bit much individually. Larissa suggests layering blankets ie: covering a light blanket with a rain sheet and thereby avoiding buying different blankets for every season. She also found a recent ad for Wintec saddles calling them “the smart choice for these hard times. ” I can vouch for that and in addition would suggest looking for one and other tack items on ebay. I very recently bought a school saddle, a Wintec Dressage Sport in truly mint conditon off ebay for $129.00! Needlless to say , I’m thrilled.
Of course shopping on ebay has it’s risks, do your homework , research the reviews on the seller , use Paypal, take precautions with chequing acct# and credit cards but by and large ebay has a good reputation for credibility and security. they also have vast amounts of horse related items at ridiculously low prices. Good news to all!
Some other ideas we at Sunhall are using to combat this recession may sound a bit odd but give them a try and see if they work for you.This year we felt the need to add to our arena footing. It needed more bounce and life. Most products I looked into were great but simply beyond my budget range. I happened to be visiting Rideauwood Farm near Ottawa where two time Canadian team dressage rider Suzanne Dutt Roth is based. Her footing was amazing! On closer examination I saw it was filled with corks ( real NOT synthetic) cut in half and added by the thousands to the arena base.
I contacted several local pubs who are now saving corks for me free of charge and have begun to notice a real difference in the life of our base. ( Alternatively you could drink a great deal of wine ) but practicality would suggest the former method.
We use one product where in the past we had many different ones ie: we use Murphy’s Oil soap to clean woodwork ,tack, boots and in small amounts and a bucket of warm water …even bath horses.
The boarders get together on bulk purchases of various items an example being wormer paste and usually can get a deal when buying by the case. We all spend a few days this time of year and have hay days getting in several thousand bales and saving a great deal picking it up from the field. We finish the day off with a cookout and even get a few more corks for the arena from wine around a campfire.
We all go together on vet and farrier calls , unless emergency and save quite a bit on the stable call fees this way.
A lot of children ride here and many outgrow breeches and boots before wearing them out. There is an exchange box in the tack room where outgrown items can be traded for ones that fit at no charge. My students go to thrift shops and buy boys suit jackets for about $5.00 which are great for growing kids, perfectly fine for first and schooling shows. They wear rubber boots or paddock boots until feet stop growing saving hundreds on leather boots that won’t fit them for long.
Dealing with farmers ,feed dealers, vets and even tack shops these days, I find you can get a substantial discount by paying in cash.If several people you ride with are ordering items from the same tack shop the shipping fee is very negotiable and sometimes waived altogether.
In the last few years with the help of parents and riders we have built two 20×60 dressage rings for shows with scrap wood and paint , gotten free, from our local recycling centre.
The city of Windsor held a charity beach volleyball tournament and had beautiful beach sand brought in for it. After the competition they wanted it removed . We were able to get all that beautiful sand for the outdoor rings absolutely free and paid only the trucking costs.
This past year we have been sharing several top clinicians with various local barns , thereby really cutting down the cost per session and allowing more riders to participate. One barn will billet the clinician overnight, another feed them lunch , another drive them from barn to barn etc.saving trailering costs and avoiding shipping in nasty winter conditions.
It takes riding companions you can trust, a spirit of cooperation in your local horse community , some creative thinking and an open mind to the “no idea too small”way of approaching things but truly there are a great many ways to cut the costs of riding , showing and keeping your horse in the manner they are accustomed to.
We’ll get though this recession and improve our business , communication and thinking abilities in the process. Hopefully the entire horse world will become more practical , less wasteful and united by these hard times. remember, “together we can afford to ride” Cheers. Happy Saving. Libby Keenan
I have had some requests to write an article on general horse care. This is a huge topic and much broader than the scope of this blog entry. The number of ways horses are kept, fed, housed, turned out and worked vary almost as much as our own lives.
I thought the best idea might be to run through my own stable routine and then suggest some resources for your own research.
Much of the information will vary depending on where you live, climate , what you do with your horses and funds available but there a few things common to all the care of equines that need to be addressed.
I have a stable of 9 to 14 horses depending on who is home , who is showing etc. At the moment 2 are my own and the rest boarders. Most of these horse do dressage and or are pleasure horses , a few compete and one is retired. they run the breed gamut from Hannovarian to Appoloosa and from large pony size to 17.3 hands.
My routine begins at 8.30 with hay and water for all and grain for a few who are working more or are older and need supplements. As I do the morning feed I check each horse , primarily to see signs of anyone having been cast overnight or anyone who might be off their feed indicating possible colic or fever as mine are a greedy bunch and anyone not eating has a reason.Most of our horses are on a mixture of timothy and aflafa hay ( always very clean , well cured and no mould.)
When I am satisified all are well I begin doing the stalls.Some horses are turned out during stable rounds and some into the arena. One horse has severe allergies and so turnout is limited to the arena as he is even allergic to several common weeds found in the paddocks and can have a bout of hives lasting weeks and requiring prednisone to control them.
Most of the horses are bedded on soft wood shavings(hard wood being toxic to horses ) and a few on straw. Actually I was trained on straw and so find it makes it a very clean , bright bed and for me easier to clean. Practical reasons ie. removal etc. have made shavings our main bedding here.Many people prefer the plastic shavings forks but I like the weight of a metal fork and have one regular 4 prong for straw and one multi pronged one for shavings. If a horse is very wet and messy I add 2 cups of “Stable Boy” to the bottom of the stall before adding new bedding as it neutralizes the ammonia and helps keep the floor drier.During stall duties and while turning out I check horses for any new cuts, scrapes, bumps , bruises , coughs, nasal discharge , sheath or other swellings , heat in the feet and general look of coat , eye , gums and attitude and deal with these as needed.
Another flake or two( depending on weight requirements) is fed when the horses come back in ( our area is very humid and buggy this time of year and most days an hour’s turnout and they are at the door wanting back in.)While doing the stalls I check the water buckets which easily become filled with hay scraps and slime and dump , scrubbing out if needed and refill. Fresh access to clean water is an absolute essential for horses and often in summer they easily will drink four to five /five gallon pails /day. I also check to make sure each horse has not finished their salt or mineral licks which hang on the wall and make a point to see there are no loose nails or sharp objects (metal come loose , splintered boards etc.) in any of the stalls.After the stalls are done I hang up all the implements and sweep the aisles since debris and forks etc. in the aisle can cause real damage to a person and or horse.I am extremely lucky in that two of my boarders volunteer mornings four days a week and help me with chores. I can’t imagine how I would get by seven days a week without the respite from the heavy work that they contribute.My husband hoists big hay loads into the loft periodically but his engineering job keeps him away from the stable for the most part.I do enlist his help for building maintenance etc. as I am known to be quite dangerous with handyman tools .
Normally I then have a lesson or two and after that feed a flake again , top up water buckets and open all doors and windows, turning on fans as per the weather.
The bulk of lessons are in the aternoon and evening so around 3.30 after a break and my own ride I flake and water again and turn out another horse or two if they had not been out yet that day. I am careful to turn out in pairs or groups only horses who are not going to play too rough or hurt each other. I soak the hay cubes and beet pulp that are part of the evening grain feed and usually drag the ring or do some cobbwebbing till the students are ready. After lessons I have learned to come in for a coffee and grab a bite to eat. I used to night feed after the last lesson but found the horses began “lobbying” for feed as soon as my voice changed to “cooling out” mode during the last lesson . If the horses have been down the drive to the outdoor ring or hacking I always have the riders check their hooves for stones when back to the barn.At night feed around 9.30 pm.I check again that all the horses seem hungry and happy, that the water buckets are filled again and that all the stall doors are secure and again windows and doors according to weather.During lessons and turnout I fly spray the horses applying by hand to face and ears. I prefer “Wipe” as it seems to work best here , for the most part the fans keep flies in the stalls to a minimum.
We have the farrier come to trim and or reset/shoe every five to six weeks in summer when hoof growth is faster and every six to eight weeks during the winter.We have the vet come in April for vaccinations, teeth floating , (sheath cleaning we generally do ourselves every few months and sponge the area when grooming) and whatever else needs examining. and luckily do not usually require the vet very often on an emergency basis. One reason for this I believe is that I feed small amounts often , mimicking grazing and therefore limit the number of colic cases we seem to get here.I do feed grain but not huge amounts as I think forage and fodder should comprise the bulk of a horse’s feed.
We worm the horses in Spring and Fall and in between once or twice. We used to have them tube wormed but the pastes have become so effective we no longer need to do that.I make sure to rotate the brand of paste wormer used to discourage any resistance being built up.
Regards blanketing , a vet once told me , horses are better off without and in a perfect world I would agree, however with stable kept and several older arthritic and or clipped horses they seem to appreciate the warmth of blankets. We have light weight fall blankets for after the first frost and heavier ones in the hard freeze months starting around Christmas.For horses living out I do think the Weathabeeta brand of waterproof, ripproof rugs are an added kindness, particularily if the horse is alone and cannot share body heat with other horses. Cold is not really a problem for horses but dampness, wind and drafts can be. Good ventilation is essential and we have rubber mats on the stall floor for insulation and to stop slipping.
That’s basically my routine and seems to work well since most horses at Sunhall tend to live well into their thirties.
I would highly suggest keeping a copy of “Hayes Veterinary Notes” on hand for reference and determining if a vet call is needed. I also find “The British Horse Society Pony Club Manual ” very thorough on animal husbandry and day to day issues you may have. I do keep banamine , mineral oil, pressure bandages , syringes, epsom salts , antihistamine powder and boracic acic (eye wash ), rubbing alcohol, a disinfectant, cotton packing, rectal thermometer , iodine, poutice clay and vet wrap on hand in the medicine cabinet.
I hope you find this very general overview helpful and keep in mind as I said any stable’s routine must adapt to geography , climate and work requirements of the horses living there.If you have any more specific questions feel free to post them and I will do my best to give you a helpful reply.
The number one consideration I believe contributes to the overall optimum physical and mental health of equines is a Steady Routine they can Count on ,this makes for a program that meets their physical and emotional needs. Happy Horsekeeping Libby Keenan