The Horse

JAN 2019

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse January 2019 47 physical contact is limited, the social experiences using other senses are enrich- ing and have physical and behavioral benefits, including lower stress, fewer stereotypic behaviors—such as cribbing and weaving—and greater compliance when handled. More communication with other horses also creates opportuni- ties for social learning." Grill-top dividers, which come in single units and kits, are ideal for this purpose and are one of the safest types. As with most top-of-the-line options, however, they are pricey, with some running well over $1,000 per divider. Livestock panels are affordable alternatives. These are made of heavy welded steel, are available in a variety of sizes and heights, and are strong enough to stay in place and resist minor impact. Vibration therapy plate. If I had to choose the ultimate addition to a barn that would benefit both horse and rider, it would be a vibration mat/platform. Whole vibration therapy is believed to increase blood flow to tissues, and own- ers and veterinarians use it to help rehab injuries, maintain horses' fitness, promote blood flow, and improve strength post- surgery (TheHorse.com/18900, TheHorse. com/195). The units are expensive— upward of $6,000 —and require profes- sional installation. Chore-Time Conveniences Heated and/or automatic waterers in stalls. Hauling water buckets to stalls is physically demanding. Automatic heated waterers are something most of us dream of but never own because, depending on the climate, the entire system must be heated to prevent freezing. The upfront cost, depending on system and electrical service, is around $1,000 to $3,000 per stall. Additionally, utility costs rise sub- stantially with these systems in use. A horse vacuum. A backpack or stand- alone vacuum can be indispensable for cleaning dust and dried mud from horses and dirt and debris from tack rooms. Most horses adapt to it quickly and even seem to enjoy the massage effect. There are several on the market for household use, which we have found to be the most economical and lightweight. Prices range from $75 to $200. Larger industrial types can cost up to $600 or more. Stall-waste composting bays. Tired of that pile of manure behind the barn? Stall waste is actually a valuable commodity that you can leverage. "The benefits of composting horse ma- nure are many and include reducing the possibility of parasite reinfection in your horse, reducing odors, reducing the vol- ume of material you have piled up, and providing you with a valuable soil amend- ment for your pastures, garden, or yard." says Alayne Blickle, director of Horses for Clean Water, in Nampa, Idaho. Locate a composting area or bay far enough away from the barn to avoid odor, heat buildup, and insect problems but close enough to access easily with a loaded wheelbarrow or muck cart. It should also be accessible with a pickup truck or loader tractor. You will need to turn the pile occasionally, and it should have good air circulation and moisture for aerobic decomposition. The location must be well-drained and not allow runoff into adjacent streams or gullies. Walls can be constructed of wood or concrete, but these are primarily for aesthetic purposes. A floor slab of concrete and low walls can make turning and removing compost with a loader tractor more convenient, but it is not essential. The cost can be minimal or it can run several thousand dollars for a concrete containment system. Attached paddocks or runs that connect to the stalls for chore efficiency and turnout safety. Paddocks that attach directly to the barn can reduce time spent leading horses to and from turnout. "This chore-efficient arrangement gives the horse free access to the stall, plus you have a clean, dry, convenient place to feed," says Blickle. "Keeping horses sepa- rate also helps monitor their eating, water consumption, and defecating." At our farm, we have a run-in area in the corner of the barn with access to pad- docks. We let horses in from the run-in directly to the barn aisle and their stalls. This eliminates chasing them around to bring them in to feed every day. Paddocks attached to each stall are a luxurious alternative but might not provide enough mental and physical benefit as full turnout. Paved barn aisle. My first dream ame- nity was a paved barn aisle. I had built and remodeled a few barns for my own use, and the budget always seemed to run out before getting to the aisle. Once I had the resources to pave it with exposed ag- gregate nonslip concrete, it was like a dif- ferent barn in terms of dust and general cleanup. Other options include coarse asphalt and rubber pavers. In any case, make sure the surface is nonslip. It will cost about $8 to $20 per square foot. Stall mats. Rubber mats provide an easily cleanable base for stalls, making mucking easier and reducing bedding needs. These typically cost a couple hun- dred dollars per stall, whereas mattress- style mats designed to provide horses Open-style stall dividers allow horses natural socialization as well as improved air flow and visibility. ALEXANDRA BECKSTETT/THE HORSE

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