There comes a time in every cowgirl’s life when she is ready to move out of the city and enjoy life in the country.  Ok, maybe this applies to cowboy’s, too, but I’m speaking from my own experience here! LoL Truth is, cowgirl or cowboy, we just get tired of the hustle and bustle and start longing for something more… something natural. We start planning a happy horse farm in our mind and slowly, the daydreams start turning into reality.

But seriously, how do we plan a happy horse farm?  It’s easy to find checklists of the things we’ll need but, who know what little details those lists are missing.  To help solve my worry I took to the pastures and ask some of my followers to send me their advice on how to plan a happy horse farm.  Here’s what they wrote:

Sarah H, horse lover from Arizona

The most important thing to do before you build is to spend at least a full year, meaning all four seasons, on your land.  Get a feel for it.  You need to know the patterns of all weather types and from which direction they come before you start planning and building.  Watch the wind patterns, where water sits and/or drains, and which areas receive the best sun.  You’ll also need to learn about your soil type, microclimates, where your water and electric lines run, and more.  All of this info together, will help you pick the best spot for your barn and roadways.  Remember to leave enough room to turn horse trailers around, and such!

Gary M, horse farm owner from Missouri

I believe the most important question you should ask yourself is, how many horses do I plan to get?  And now, be honest with yourself – this will help you plan a happy horse farm.  The #1 mistake I’ve seen, and I’ve seen it over and over, is in people buying too few acres and building barns that are too small. A horse can eat 11 acres of pasture a year but can be comfortable on only one or two acres per horse.  If you buy land with this in mind, you’ll probably wanna fall somewhere in between that two to 11 acres per horse.  And if you think you want two horses, plan on picking up another one or two over the years.  It happens all the time.  We just fall in love with the beautiful beasts.  So, if you plan on only two horses, build four horse stalls.  You can use the others for storage or a visiting friend’s horse until you’ve adopted your two unplanned horses. Haha. Whatever you do though, please don’t keep too many horses on too little land.  It hurts their spirit and causes more problems than you can imagine.

Lee A, horse enthusiast from California

happy horse farmDecide what you plan to do with your horse farm before you buy, plan, or build.  There will be much different needs and layouts for hunter/jumpers vs. dressage, or other events.  If you just want a family farm with some horses for the kids, keep in mind that they may lean towards one discipline or another in the future.  Try to talk to your family now to see where their current interests lie.  This may help you in the planning, a bit.  

Adrianna, old horse gal from Arizona

Here are the things that contribute most to my happy horse farm.  

  • My sturdy perimeter fence – the first thing I put up.
  • My moveable electric fencing – helps keep pastures healthy.
  • My Pasture Paradise setup – got the idea from friends.
  • My extra stalls – I can use them for storage or visiting friends’ horses.
  • My grooming station – for spoiling horses (and myself) during cold snaps.
  • My separate hay storage – now I worry less about barn fires.
  • My trailer parking – this and the wide roads makes life easier!
  • My automatic waterers – days are easier when you only have to fill the backup bucket!

Casey H, horsewoman from Maine

An oldtimer gave me some advice before I built my first horse barn.  He said, “Casey, you’ll be spending a lot of time in that barn so don’t forget about the little things that will make your days a little nicer.  Sometimes, it’s hard to make yourself get up and get out there but, if you have niceties like warm water, good lighting, and a stereo system, well… you’ll be a lil more likely to work with a smile on your face.”  I followed all of his advice and have found it to be worth its weight in gold.  So that’s my advice, too, warm water, good quality lighting, and a decent stereo system.

Dallas M, new horse owner from Pennsylvania

When I setup my horse farmette, I put all of my horses in the pastures that I can see when I stand at my back windows or porch.  Now, I can check them in an instant, helping me worry less.  And what a view!  I waited a long time for a view like that!

The other ‘most important’ part of building a happy horse farm would be to plan it with efficiency in mind.  If your buildings, round pens and such are spread too far apart, you’ll spend half of your day and energy walking back and forth.

Chung L, new horse owner from Oregon

rubber horse matBuilding a horse farm is expensive!  When budgeting, I recommend you keep two expense sheets.  One with everything you’ll need and one with everything you’d like. Make sure to include things like an automatic fly spray system, fans, feed and water dispensers, and an office and bathroom for your barn.  Plan out the ‘needs’ first and then start adding in ‘wants’ as the budget allows.

Some things I wouldn’t skimp on, though, even though they may seem like ‘wants’ include safe rubber horse pavers for the barn aisles and solid rubber mats for the horse stalls.  We included these and they’ve been the best investment.  Our horses seems more comfortable, we save money on bedding and cleaning up is easier than it ever was in our old barn.  We just spray down the rubber mats and are good to go!

So now you have some insider tips on how to plan a happy horse farm.  If there’s anything you’d like to add?

I’d love to hear your favorite happy horse tips in the comments below!!!