My husband and I just bought a farmhouse--closed on it this AM-- on 22 acres, very nice, but the thing is, the seller basically left his 2 horses with the message that we can have 'em. We weren't really counting on that, KWIM? My husband knows someone who will take them if we want him to, but what do we do with them in the meantime? They have plenty of pasture and there are several water sources, plus a barn with 3 stalls and a "run-in" shelter. I feel like an idiot for asking but, I mean, can they just eat grass or should we buy some horse chow, or what? They're lovely creatures, a gelding and a stallion, friendly enough. We may keep them but we know NOTHING about how to care for them. What do we need to do to maintain them while we decide what to do? The seller didn't leave any supples like halters and leads or tack or grooming tools or blankets or anything.
And my husband wants to know if we keep them, can we have the stallion gelded even though he is an adult? He's a little aggressive and bitey. Thanks for any advice!
Congratulations on your new farm! In Virginia, for horses that are not in any type of work, good pasture should be enough until autumn, if they are on at least 10 acres. Winter they will need good forage. (hay) If you see ribs, they are too thin. My advice would be to establish a relationship with a good veterinarian who can advise you on the care needed for maintaining horses. The horses will need twice yearly vaccinations, as well as de-worming, dental care, and regular trimming of their hooves. (every 6-8 weeks) If they are near you, you might check out Piedmont Equine Practice, last I knew Dr. Sean Bowman was a partner there and he is a good, reputable vet. He took excellent care of my horse when I lived in the area. Personally, I would recommend gelding of the stallion, there can be a legal liability if they get loose and breed mares.
If you are new to horse care, I would recommend reading the United States Pony Club Manual Of Horsemanship. Start with the D level book. They are simplistic to read and will cover the basics of horse care and welfare, safe handling and stable management.
I hope this helps, feel free to ask me any questions! Horses are such lovely noble creatures, and I feel so lucky to get to work with them every day.
Thank you! There is a large-animal vet just down the road, he might even know these horses already. I will give him a call tomorrow. They look like they are in excellent shape. I am already fond of them but my husband is less enthusiastic, lol. He is just thinking about mucking out the stalls. I have a *little* experience, I used to ride when I was a young girl but never had a horse of my own. It's like my childhood dreams come true, 40 years too late!
Anyway, thanks again--I'm going right to Amazon to check out those books.
OP: Those horses are so lucky that they got you as a new owner! I can't believe the former owner would just leave them there like that w/o confirming they'd be taken care of -terrible IMO. I hope they are healthy and bond w/you quickly.
Congratualtions on your new farm and you new horses. I can't believe the cheek of the previous owners to just leave their horses with you and not to give you warning, a full 'manual' on each horse (what they have been eating, treats, previous ilnesses, injuries and whether or not they are rideable, what there foibles are etc) never mind not leaving you with a halter or grooming tools.
It's been a while since I looked after horses but I grew up with them as child. Ours were stabled in the Winter and 'turned out' (to grass) in the Summer.
This threads a couple of weeks old now so how's it going? This reminds me of one of mine I had to start when I found two little kittens in the road, had they been dogs or horses I would have been fine but I did not have a clue about kittens and cats, thank goodness for tPF
PlaneGGirl has given you great advice. Apart from grass they need shelter and fresh water and you already have thought of that. You did well to get them both checked over. Keep checking on the condition of the horses regularly, the way they look but also how they walk and move. I would supplement their grass-only diet with ' pony nuts' (thats what theyre called in the UK) and/or extra hay if the grass looks short. Feeding them will also provide you with reason for you and the horses to get to know each other, they will associate you with nice things (food) get to go close to them and have time to look them over while they are happily munching. Make sure you have contact with them at least one a day so you can check them over.
I also think you should get the stallion gelded for the reasons PlaneGGirl mentioned and also because a stallion is usually more difficult to manage and will want to go find himself a mare .
Hopefully you have your books but ...the most important thing is to check their feet regularly - I'm guessing they were not shod, but you may want a farrier to check/trim their feet. He or she can also show you how to pick up their legs correctly, to check for stones and possible foot problems. You should also have bought a basic grooming kit by now but get the furrier or to check that you are using the hoof-pick correctly.
Horses left outdoors need as much attention as indoors. Check for bites, scratches, insect infestations, sores ect. This includes under their tummies, in their tail and manes (where they can develop mange) If you can catch to a halter and groom this will be so much easier. Even with a horse you trust, if you walk around keep your hand somewhere in contact so they know where you are and of course no sudden movements. Clean their eyes seperatly and then nose with tepid warm water and absolutely clean cloth each time or damp cotton wool (flies and other insects will be attracted to dirty eyes). Any wet mud, leave to dry before brushing off. Any specific questions I'm sure all the brilliant hosey ladies and gents will be happy to help.
Update: the owner did finally call and offer to remove the horses, but we told him we would keep them. Their names are Sir Atticus (brown, intact) and Hawk (black with red flecks, gelded). My husband has a horse friend who came over to look at them, he said they are fat(!!) but otherwise look good. We are having the vet come over to castrate Sir Atticus, who was prancing around the other day in a high-stepping, raised-tail manner like a Tennessee Walking Horse. My husband talked to the former owner while I was out of town so he didn't ask the questions I would have, such as age? Last shots? Breed? Ride-ability? Etc. Anyway, we are figuring it out and are making friends with them. Here's some pics!
The horses are doing fine but we are having an issue with the former owner's daughter. She trespassed on our property a few weeks ago, climbing over a locked gate, trying to see them--lied about who she was, too--and just the other day two random people showed up--also climbing over the gate, what the hell is it about the "No Trespassing" sign that confuses folks?--and said that she had called them to basically come get them. We have it in writing that the horses have been given to us and in any case, they were left on the property after we closed on the house which is abandonment and makes them legally ours, as far as I am concerned. Those people had plenty of time to make arrangements for these animals, the property was on the market for many months. If this persists we are gonna have to get our lawyer involved. The former owner has also been quite delinquent in providing us with the requested papers which made my setting up a vet appointment pretty embarrassing since I don't know how old they are, what breed they are, when they were last seen by a vet, or anything. It's frustrating! There is a weird dynamic going on in that family, the two would-be horse rescuers told us the daughter is "squirrelly". I don't care what her problem is, she needs to back off. I'm sorry she misses her horses but it's too late for her. The folks she sent out to get them actually are horse rescuers who had found a possible home for them in Tennessee. WTF!
In any event, the vet is coming out next week to vaccinate them, check their teeth, and castrate Sir Atticus. My husband has really bonded with SA, it's funny to watch them together. Atticus follows him around while he does his chores, frisking about like a puppy. I am a leetle nervous around him because of his nipping and general (playful) aggressiveness but Hawk is mellow. I'm hoping the castration will chill Atticus out some. Hawk gets irritated with him, too. I don't like it when they start biting and kicking each other around me! Atticus likes being the center of attention, lol, and gets "whiny" if he's ignored.
I am not really sure that I would buy that they are "rescuers." If they are, then they are likely the shady kind and those people give real rescuers a bad name. Any rescue worth their salt would have contacted you, not just jumped over your fence while disregarding the no trespassing sign. I hope these people leave you alone soon!