Shelter (Safety, Ventilation)

STEVE: If you’re in the Southeast United States: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, right along the Gulf Coast; it typically is a very, very mild climate. It doesn’t get really cold. You can get away with something as simple as a run-in shed. As long as you still maintain your horse; check their feet, do the normal maintenance and checking on your horse regularly, as far as grooming, you can house a horse there fine. The further you go up into the Northeastern United States, Central US, the winters can be really difficult. We’re in Kentucky, we do get some snowfall. I’m not saying that horses can’t live outside in this weather, but it’s difficult, especially if you’re going to use them for anything during those winter months. You probably have to house them inside, and you’ve got to have adequate, safe, comfortable, convenient housing for that horse. It depends on where your location is.

We used to live in California, and horses could live outside 24/7, 12 months a year, out there in Southern California because it’s a desert environment. It wasn’t a big problem there. The worst thing you’d have is it be hard ground every now and then you would get foot abscesses, and that’s about it.

ALEX: I think geographically speaking, that’s the problem with a place like California that’s so dry, or South Texas where I live, we’ve had a drought for 4 years. The ground can become an issue if your horse is living outside. I think in the bitter temperatures and deep snow, I think you want to control that environment a little bit more. It’s really all about safety for having your horses housed somewhere.

The width of the stall door, the type of bedding they’re on, but also, the composition of what the flooring is under the bedding, the drainage of the water, and the doors that can close at either end of the barn need to be open in the summertime to have air come through.

STEVE: You’re in our barn right now. My wife built this barn, by the way, on my recommendation on certain things, but she did a great job. This barn is probably as close to ideal for maintaining horses. These are large, spacious stalls, they’re very comfortable. We have a good mat system that’s very comfortable on the floor. We utilize shavings for bedding. We used straw for a long time, but we use shavings now; they’re very comfortable with that. We have great ventilation. There’s no bedding or hay storage directly over-top of the stalls, so there’s great ventilation.

This can be a complication or problem where these food stuffs or bedding, if you use straw or dry, dusty hay, can basically create a tremendous amount of particulate matter that is filtered that’s filter down into their breathing space on a regular basis. It can become either chronically heave-y if it’s an older horse, respiratory infections, coughing. That’s not the case here; we have complete overhead clearance. We have big, large, spacious doors that we can open up and allow good free-flowing ventilation. Our stalls…the center aisle as you can see, is squeegee brick, which is really, really high-quality flooring. It’s very safe, horses don’t slip on it, and it’s beveled and has drainage so we can wash this down so it keeps the area really clean.

Having a clean, healthy, sanitary environment that is easy to maintain is really a good thing to keep your horse in, as far as stabling and maintaining their health.