I have a bit of a space problem here. Too many horses and not quite enough spaces. So I’ve been busy coming up with some solutions. Misha, who boards her two horses (Zamaluck and Diego) here, enlisted her family to come and help with the various projects this weekend. And Jen, who owns Twister, helped too.
The first task was of course, just to repair the various fence damage that the horses have inflicted this season. Just keeping ahead of the broken boards is a considerable task with horses. They kick them, they chew on them, they run into them accidentally. Sometimes they run into them on purpose. Just a herd of wrecking balls with legs… that’s horses.
There were a few top boards down between the various paddocks, and Twister, who apparently has discovered a hitherto unknown talent deep within himself, jumped INTO the paddock with Ares and Nikita the other day. Ares had no real problem with that, and so in the end we just went along with Twister’s preference and moved him in there. Nikita is completely blissed out now of course. She adores Twister. Truly, completely, and ecstatically. I looked out yesterday and saw Twister grazing with Nikita standing beside him resting her chin on his withers. Should’ve been on a postcard it was so cute.
I scavenged some small walking gates to make things a little more accessible in the winter. They are chain link gates that were cast offs. 10 and 12 foot farm gates are great if you need to get tractors through. But they really are unnecessary and unwieldy in the winter when there are big snow drifts to contend with. So we put two of those in. One in the little side paddock (aka the “fat pony paddock”) with the small lean-to shelter. And the other beside the back door of the barn to make it easier to get to the manure pile.
The run in area of my barn is really just one stall at the back of the barn with the front stall wall removed, plus the aisle in front of that stall. A second stall can be opened up to give them access to that. When I built it originally, I only had a couple of horses here. So it’s no longer really big enough for everyone. However, I came up with a plan to build a windbreak at the back of the barn to enlarge the comfort zone. The back door faces south. The prevailing winds come in from the west, over a large field. And as it’s all on the very top of a moraine (high ridge), those winds really do prevail. So we ripped out the old (rather rickety) fence section, and built a solid wall, instead of a fence along that west exposure. Hopefully, that will make the area just outside the barn quite sheltered for whoever cannot find space inside (that would be everyone but Dressy). We also added the small walking gate, and replaced the old (wrecked) farm gate with a new and slightly smaller farm gate.
As you can see, the wall is made from reclaimed lumber from my junk lumber pile. So it’s a little scruffy. But I think it will be quite good shelter from the wind. And there is the new walking gate right next to it.
We rebuilt the big sliding door at the back, which the horses knocked down one day and walked all over… punching hoof-shaped holes through the plywood. It’s patched with leftover plywood bits and pieces, but at least it is solid and strong again if not too pretty.
I bought a cheap farm gate to replace the front wall of the stall that was opened up for the run in area. I will keep that folded back against the wall normally. But this way, if there is bad weather, I can close the gate to create a temporary stall. That will give me four stalls (Twister and Nikita can go in one stall together), plus the half of the run in that is left, which becomes a quasi-stall when I close the sliding door at the back. Plus the little run in shelter in the side paddock. So seven spots. For seven horses. They’ll be packed in like sardines of course. But it will do in a pinch.
The little side paddock where I keep the fat ponies in the winter had a big farm gate too. But it was very difficult to get such a long gate open in winter. The snowdrifts tend to build up there and it’s a lot to dig out. So we put an extra post in and put in the smaller walking gate. I truly TRULY hate to write this next bit… however, we discussed the issue of not having a bigger gate to get the tractor into that paddock. But since I plan to put another slightly bigger gate on the other side of that paddock, I decided that it was no problem. At that point we were all very tired. Really tired. Okay… stupid with exhaustion. Because we were all standing there looking at the tractor. The tractor that I’d just finished digging a post hole with. INSIDE the damn paddock. Not one of us clued in and drove the tractor OUTSIDE the paddock before finishing the fence. We had to take down the temporary boards over the gate-to-be on the other side to get it out afterwards.
The horses were all quite beside themselves with curiosity while all this activity was going on. They were locked out in the main pasture, but spent most of the weekend staring longingly over the gate at all the people milling about. And at all the new STUFF to check out. Once it was all done, they scampered in and inspected it all with great care and interest. Nosy devils were probably planning future destruction….