New to Minis, Lots of questions

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Shamrockmommy

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Well, I've been horse crazy since a child, going on almost 40 years now!

Dh has given the go for a pair of minis next year after we get some of our house projects done here, and build a little barn and put up fencing. First issue is: FEEDING:

The thing that is really scaring me at this point, is FOUNDER. I have some horsey neighbors and friends who make it sound like they will founder for sure and then be either euthanized or just pasture sound. I want to drive them, not competitively but for fun. Also want to play around with horse agility, and hiking/backpacking with them.

There is a show breeder near me, and I plan to just copy their feeding program, but I'm still not entirely clear on feeding. So what they do is an orchard/alfalfa mix hay, very soft and green. Their horses get it free choice since there are several in groups, but have told me that 1 flake a day per horse is all they need. Then each horse gets "maybe" a cup a day depending on condition of Purina Mini/Pony feed.

I've read it's something like 1.5-2% of the horse's body weight in hay.

They are kept on dry lot most of the time. Spring they say they horses are on pasture an hour or so and by the end of summer maybe 3 hours. I'm still confused, and would like to hear from any Northern VA, or north eastern US folks about their grazing schedule (as in month by month). The last thing I want to do is make these little guys sick
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I have space for a good sized dry lot, up to 60x60'. I have 3 cleared acres, and available area for pasture about 1 1/4 acre total. There is a good spot (90x100')for training or pasture even, but I have very mixed forage growing. There are several different types of grasses, as well as chick weed and clover.

I'm having the soil tested this spring to see how much lime and fertilizer it needs.

So I hear clover is high sugar, and there are some large patches of that in various spots. Should I kill it? (Clover is great for my chickens though, in tractors!) If I want to overseed, should I get orchard grass? Or just leave things as they are and feed hay/purina as the majority of the diet?

Next issue is fencing/paddock/dry lot. The area we want to put them on is an easement for power lines. They rarely come through, but they do once in a while. We have our 5 acres (partially wooded) fenced, but with large gates for their trucks to pass through. I really don't want to put anymore fencing on there... anyway, is a large paddock good (that would turn into dry lot eventually I suppose) or is something like a paddock paradise better? A PP will cost more in fencing, and I don't want to do electric fencing (don't want my kids shocked). But I hate seeing them just stand around all day, too. I want to be sure they're moving around.

If anyone has a PP, how wide are your trails?

And lastly, these minis are used to standing around all day, and are pretty tubby (at the breeders). I plan on teaching them to longe and then work up to pulling a cart. How much "exercise" do I start with? I assume it's like a human, where you work up to a certain amount?

And what's this about not letting a hot horse drink? Do you have to let them cool back down? So... let's say I take them for a drive somewhere, do I let them drink while they're pulling?

There's so much conflicting information... I'm reading a horse care book from the library and it makes it sound like all horses are delicate flowers!

Eep!

Despite all this, I really am thrilled to be FINALLY having my own equines
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<3

Thanks, everyone for the help!
 

Rocklone Miniature Horses

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Hi! Welcome! Well done for doing your research before you get your new additions.

1st - that management sounds relatively okay to me, but the breeder won't be exercising as much so that's maybe why they are a bit tubby.

2nd - I don't like electric fence myself so I use ranch, if you can't use that try some chainlink ?

3rd - I would start by long reining or walking out rather than lunging (lunging is actually very hard work) and do maybe 15/20mins building up to a 45min session. If you as lunging only do it for 20mins max and make sure each side is done for the same amount of time or you get an uneven horse.

As for founder, yes minis can be quite susceptible but no more than large horses of native breeding or poor diets. The key is diet - never over feed.
 

Reignmaker Miniatures

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I find slow feed nets and free choice feeding of hay to be a solution to the problem of how much to feed and helps to prevent waste too. I prefer a simple grass hay, without alfalfa (quite rich and more likely to put on weight) except with a nursing mare where the extra calcium in alfalfa can be useful.

I am goin to disagree slightly with Rocklone above, if you can't afford a good field and farm mesh fence please think twice about the chainlink. Horses often want to rub their heads against the fence and I have seen (and I think there have been posters on this site with personal experience) the horses catch their eyelids between the wires on chainlink and tear the eyelid. Its not pretty and they really do need the eye lid to protect the eye itself. Just a caution, many people still use chain link and I have to admit to having a couple of chainlink gates here myself. Exercise needs will depend on the horse and what you want from them. They can stay quite healthy with the freedom to roam in a small field but they won't be fit. One of the most common things I see with minis is people wanting them to be 'weekend warriors', standing around for 5 out of seven days but working hard on the 2 days the owners allot to horse time. If you will want more than casual walks with them give them a little exercise at least every other day and build up to the fitness level you will expect on the heaviest workload days.

One last thing, don't forget to have fun, minis are sometimes a lot of work but they are also a great joy. Good luck.
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paintponylvr

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O, BOY, o boy oboy oooooo!!! A NEWBIE!! Welcome to the world of ALL THINGS HORSE. (I can tell it's pouring outside when I spend this much time on the computer..., hope u are OK with this)...

Welcome to the forum. Good info, lots of friends.

Well, I've been horse crazy since a child, going on almost 40 years now!

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Dh has given the go for a pair of minis next year after we get some of our house projects done here, and build a little barn and put up fencing. First issue is: FEEDING:

The thing that is really scaring me at this point, is FOUNDER. I have some horsey neighbors and friends who make it sound like they will founder for sure and then be either euthanized or just pasture sound. I want to drive them, not competitively but for fun. Also want to play around with horse agility, and hiking/backpacking with them.

Founder is preventable BUT also treatable with management. I'm assuming that when you said "they" above, you meant your friends & neighbors were referring to Minis? Yes, in very severe, previously untreated cases, it might require euthanasia. Building your knowledge before hand and being proactive in your horse's management is GREAT. Developing a good relationship with both an equine vet and a farrier is part of that management, too. Preferably with ones that are familiar with minis, but that is not absolutely necessary. Please understand that student vets don't pop out of Vet school w/ complete knowledge of minis UNLESS they've been previously involved with them (same for any other area of vet specialties, too). The best way to start your founder prevention is to start with performance bred (not show bred?) horses that show no early signs of laminitus or founder. Then follow thru with your management program(s).

There is a show breeder near me, and I plan to just copy their feeding program, but I'm still not entirely clear on feeding. So what they do is an orchard/alfalfa mix hay, very soft and green. Their horses get it free choice since there are several in groups, but have told me that 1 flake a day per horse is all they need. Then each horse gets "maybe" a cup a day depending on condition of Purina Mini/Pony feed. I've read it's something like 1.5-2% of the horse's body weight in hay.

They are kept on dry lot most of the time. Spring they say they horses are on pasture an hour or so and by the end of summer maybe 3 hours. I'm still confused, and would like to hear from any Northern VA, or north eastern US folks about their grazing schedule (as in month by month). The last thing I want to do is make these little guys sick
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This sounds like a halter show program, not necessarily a performance show program. The horses are having not only their weight, but also their coats managed to be optimal for showing. That means little to no sun or bug exposure during the day. Neither their feeding program nor their pasture time management will necessarily work for you - pasture, hay or feed.

I have space for a good sized dry lot, up to 60x60'. I have 3 cleared acres, and available area for pasture about 1 1/4 acre total. There is a good spot (90x100')for training or pasture even, but I have very mixed forage growing. There are several different types of grasses, as well as chick weed and clover.

I'm having the soil tested this spring to see how much lime and fertilizer it needs.

Sounds like you are covering all your bases. That is great. Mixed pasture grasses are good and offer more nutrients overall. Your overall set up sounds very DROOL WORTHY...

So I hear clover is high sugar, and there are some large patches of that in various spots. Should I kill it? (Clover is great for my chickens though, in tractors!) If I want to overseed, should I get orchard grass? Or just leave things as they are and feed hay/purina as the majority of the diet?

I'm not sure what the sugar content is on Clover in a natural state (Honestly there are other things I need to spend my time on). I imagine that it also makes a difference what type of clover. NO, I wouldn't kill it (I'm getting ready to seed our pastures w/ some clover - can't even remember the kinds I am going to get). You do want to watch the "Alslike clover" (think that's what it's called... will have to look it up). It does create sun sensitivity - can cause blisters on white areas of the muzzle and on the legs - especially if clipped (which it sounds like you'd only do on a performance basis at first - not a show clip, so not really a concern. Another way to prevent the burn/blistering is to make sure any dew or frost on the grass has dried up before horses turned out on it).

All grasses in your area will be high in sugar (LUSH) in the spring when it is first growing like crazy AND anytime you are hit by a late or early frost (pasture OR hay baled after a frost). When ever I get hay or have pasture that has been hit by frost, my farrier and I joke about "sugar feet" as we DO see some differences - in a short amount of time. Some of mine have developed some sensitivity or experience some soreness - it is noted and watched - amazingly it's usually on the younger, under 3 yrs of age, ponies, not the older ones. Frost on hay can be a killer issue with cattle, not that bad with horses, but something you do want to be aware of.

Next issue is fencing/paddock/dry lot. The area we want to put them on is an easement for power lines. They rarely come through, but they do once in a while. We have our 5 acres (partially wooded) fenced, but with large gates for their trucks to pass through. I really don't want to put anymore fencing on there... anyway, is a large paddock good (that would turn into dry lot eventually I suppose) or is something like a paddock paradise better? A PP will cost more in fencing, and I don't want to do electric fencing (don't want my kids shocked). But I hate seeing them just stand around all day, too. I want to be sure they're moving around.

Allowing for movement is always better. Horses in the wild cover A LOT of territory, returning again and again to the same areas later. Mini horses will still need to do exercise. Even in your dry lot/paddock, you can encourage movement by feeding hay in one (or several different) spot, water in another, feed in another and salt somewhere as well. They will move to each spot to do what they do. Some will even poop in the same areas - sure makes clean up nice and easy. Others will go where ever...

Why no hot wire again? Something wrong with teaching children to respect it just like you will need to teach the horses it is hot? After you tell them so many times, they will only get shocked once (if you have a child with developmental problems, that's different, but I don't "see" that child being unsupervised at all for any moment in time, right?). Hot fencing is more affordable for PP type arrangements and is/can be portable. It is still expensive, too. I know this because we are having to go back to it.

Our ponies are destroying our fencing completely here on our new property - and I'm tired of working on fences!! I want to be able to actually groom and work ponies instead of constantly dealing with fence repair (of course there is regular fence maintenance - even for hot wire). Winter coated ponies, when it hit 90* 2 weeks ago - rubbed their whole bodies along the fence lines - bending the field fence down and pouching it out, breaking wire and zip ties on the 16' steel panels. Wood fencing has changed over the years! It's not what it once was. Our ponies put their heads/necks thru the boards and push until the fence tilts over (sandy soil - event cemented posts 3' deep move when subjected to this abuse) or break the boards. I was not happy to go out to the barn and find a whole group of ponies missing one morning. Gathered up the "treat bucket" and some halters and leads and headed towards the drive way only to hear honking. The school bus coming down our neighbor hood road (a connection between 2 highways actually) had the whole group of 6 trotting along in front of it... They turned into our driveway and galloped (& bucked and played & shook their heads) right up to the gate to be let back into the correct pasture (they knew which it was)... CRAZY PONIES! But good for a laugh too once my heart returned to my chest (ponies & minis are no different than kids - THEY WILL FIND TROUBLE - ESPECIALLY IF BORED. Much more so than full size horses. I can't explain why on that one).

We will be putting hot wire up around this place AND around the chain linked back yard. Having issues with our dogs here, too! If hot wire is totally unacceptable or you are afraid of being able to (NOT) see it - there is hot rope and various types of hot tape now too.

If anyone has a PP, how wide are your trails?

When we moved to our new property, it had a fence around about 7 acres. They had had 2 full size horses originally (I think?) then they re-fenced when they got 4 minis (about 6-10" smaller than most of our Shetlands). No hot wire. I've put up 16' stock panels in two "paddocks" so far (one for boys and one for girls). The one with the boys has two stud pens in it as well as the ability for a 3rd. Because my eventual dream is to have not just a PP, but an obstacle course sized for both our small ponies and minis AND for full size horses, plus wanted to be able to have large equipment able to get in/around the pastures (manure spreader, rig w/ trailer to drop large round bales) - even the service trucks for the power line that also crosses our property, our interior fences are set 30' off of the perimeter fencing. Corners on the interior fencing are also angled - allowing for easier navigation around the paddocks. Not all the interior is done yet - but it will be the same. Eventually we will have fencing around the exterior of the whole 21 acres with trees cleared away from the fencing to be able to drive both vehicles and horses/ponies next to it if desired or needed. We don't plan on actually clearing any more paddock/pasture areas, but we do plan on doing some trail clearing in such a way as to go up and down hill, cross a stream, cross back on itself etc. The trails will need to be wide enough to allow draft horses to pull BIG wagons thru and again vehicles to allow for maintaining the tree heights... We haven't crossed that bridge yet and I don't know how wide those trails will be as of right now. After almost 15 months in this house, we are still trying to get everything situated, LOL. BUT gives both hubby and I something to dream about (his don't involve the ponies, LOL).,..

And lastly, these minis are used to standing around all day, and are pretty tubby (at the breeders). I plan on teaching them to longe and then work up to pulling a cart. How much "exercise" do I start with? I assume it's like a human, where you work up to a certain amount?

Some of my best riding lessons have been on a lounge line - both mine and others I've taught. I grew up using lounging as a training AND exercising technique for the horse. It works for me - always has and always will. I teach others how to do it. I train horses to do it. I espouse that you can spend just 5 minutes at a time to start with when conditioning, but if you are just starting training a horse to lounge, especially if it's also your first time, it's gonna be much longer than that. The difference? You aren't working the horse to death in circle after circle - you are teaching it with control. If you don't have any control, then that's what you need to figure out first - so that the horse ISN'T running crazy wild on that circle (killing your neck, arms and shoulders in the process as well as posing injury for him).

I have also learned how to do some of the Natural Horsemanship type lounging - and I DID injure not one but several horses when working by myself. Because I am a rather aggressive person, I had a hard time learning to "read" the horse(s) in a different context than what I was familiar with (years' worth) AND these were high energy, high stamina horses w/ no give or quit (Arabs & Arab Xs). Several NH types refuse to work with Arabs, actually!! I went and got some more training FOR ME. I learned what I was doing wrong and HOW TO FIX IT. I still prefer to do "on-line" work over "free work". Maybe someday, I'll learn how to work with mine completely at liberty, but maybe not. I have a lot of ponies and also not a lot of time to spend on each individual - that kind of work takes more of a bond in my opinion and I don't use it enough to get it to "click" for me. Same for "clicker training" - though I have seen MANY wonderful examples of that training. I do incorporate many of the NH techniques but honestly I've been using those same techniques with horses since I was 5 yrs old and that was what I was taught LONG BEFORE it was called "Natural Horsemanship"...

And what's this about not letting a hot horse drink? Do you have to let them cool back down? So... let's say I take them for a drive somewhere, do I let them drink while they're pulling?

Basic horsemanship. No, a hot sweaty horse is not to be allowed to drink - especially large amounts (and that can be hard to regulate once they start). Now, that said. Here's the confusing part. Athlete horses (Endurance, racing, conditioned & fit, used to going long miles at a fast, steady gait or shorter distances at high speeds) ARE stood in buckets of ICED water at their stops/breaks. Large muscle groups are swiped w/ iced water or that water is poured over the horse (and rider). The horse can and usually is offered water - though that is usually warmed by the sun or heated by a heat source so it's not too cool AND by the sip. Internally, you don't want a hot horse drinking water BECAUSE it can cause cramps that result in colic. A hot horse should never be turned loose on pasture either, IMO. But you learn as you go. I find that by the time a horse is walked enough to cool him down, just like me, that he isn't going to cramp or colic when offered that first few sips of water. If they are really wet with sweat - I hose them down to remove the sweat if it's warm enough (at least over 60* and now we are on a well, ours prefer it to be warmer out - that water is COLD!) and if it's not, then I use towels & blankets to remove the sweat and dry the coat.

I've always let my hot horses cool off before offering them a drink - usually when we are back at our trailer and they are being unhitched. They can and do drink from ponds, lakes, rivers & streams while driving - if they are really hot and sweaty and I know where the water is (how far to get there) - I incorporate a cool down walk BEFORE we arrive and then yes, I let them drink. I don't allow them to "gorge" - that takes learning your horse to know how much is too much. I think too little, in most cases, is better than too much if they are hot. Especially if you are a long ways away from your trailer.

This pair is too hot in this picture to just go drink. They were actually heaving for air at this point - we'd done some serious uphill trail work for a bit of extended time (new trails to me) w/ a lot of weight in the wagon. When pulling a load, it's not a good idea to stop on the hills you are going up. I refused to drive off until their breathing returned to normal (peeved my passenger off, but oh well) and some of the sweat had quit dripping... Neither wanted to drink when we got to the trailer (they were very hot, though not sweaty any longer) and I used that water to sponge them off - over their heads, chest and backs & haunches. About 30 minutes later - they did both drink enough to make me happy - before we loaded them into the trailer and headed home - a 45 minute drive away. When we got home they were hosed off, swiped dry w/ a scraper and turned out. They both rolled (normal behavior) and then headed to the 100 gallon water tank and drank to their heart's content (also normal behavior)... This was November 2011 and the girls hadn't been trace clipped to allow for working in hotter weather. I know that I was wearing a tank top and I wasn't the only one!

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Here they are working hard! This disk and my large "hiney" are meant to be pulled by a pair of DRAFT HORSES. But they did one full row - up and back, plus got the disk to the field and then pulled it back to where it started (a lot of pulling!!). They got tired, hot and sweaty.

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But do they look unhappy or injured here? They are BAR (bright, alert & responsive - a common vet and dr term). They were unharnessed and rubbed somewhat dry and sweat marks kinda combed out/over. Then led to a hydrant and given water in their own bucket. At first just a few sips and then I carried the bucket back to the trailer with us. a bit later they were offered more. And then finally they were allowed to drink as much as they wanted. They ended up spending the nite standing tied in that trailer with a whole group of ponies that night. We were 3 hours from home and when the plowing pics were taken, the tornadoes that swept thru our home, stomping grounds severely damaged the TSC and completely flattened the Lowe's Home Improvement store just 17 miles from the farm we were leasing. We ended up pulling into a truckstop and couldn't get any further as no electricity for fuel and such and trees down all along/over the highway. The next morning my hubby (who didn't usually go to the events with my friend and I) met us there with 2 fuel cans w/ diesel for her truck. We had water with us to water all the ponies... and hay in hay nets hanging in the trailer.

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I myself don't always like iced water or drinks - especially if I'm hot. I have been dropped by abdominal cramps by drinking water that is too cold while I've been overheated - while running and that was when I was 30 yrs younger and fit while active duty Army - in Korea & later a 2nd time in Germany. 2 of our 3 daughters will drink soda or tea (at restaurants) w/o ice. OOPS, guess that makes us "not southerners"...
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There's so much conflicting information... I'm reading a horse care book from the library and it makes it sound like all horses are delicate flowers!

yes, there can be conflicting information. Some books were written before a lot was known about horses. I can honestly state that I've seen some weird stuff, and can't remember all the titles/authors. Can we ask which book you are reading and when it was written?

Horses are different than other livestock and pets - due to their large digestive tracts being compressed and squished into a very small, compact area (the horse's barrel). Everything moves one way in horses. If it gets stopped for any reason, that can be a BIG problem. Horses are meant to move and to forage, not stand and eat concentrated feeds. Generally horses on pasture are going to be in better shape than those kept stabled or stalled - but that VARIES. AND now, there's a push for just drugs and a lot of "old school" info for good care of horses has been lost or is ignored.

Personally, you read enough books and info, you will learn and find a lot of commonalities that are truth. You will learn what works for you and your unique set up and horses. Asking on this forum - for each person who answers, there will be what works for THEM and may not work for you! You already started by stating where you are and pinpointing that you needed info for that area.

Eep!

No worries!! It will come. When you get your horses - START WITH GETTING the same hay/feed that they have (preferably they send you home with some of theirs).

Despite all this, I really am thrilled to be FINALLY having my own equines
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<3

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another mini
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Thanks, everyone for the help!

You are welcome. Hopefully, some of this helps.
 

Rocklone Miniature Horses

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I find slow feed nets and free choice feeding of hay to be a solution to the problem of how much to feed and helps to prevent waste too. I prefer a simple grass hay, without alfalfa (quite rich and more likely to put on weight) except with a nursing mare where the extra calcium in alfalfa can be useful.

I am goin to disagree slightly with Rocklone above, if you can't afford a good field and farm mesh fence please think twice about the chainlink. Horses often want to rub their heads against the fence and I have seen (and I think there have been posters on this site with personal experience) the horses catch their eyelids between the wires on chainlink and tear the eyelid. Its not pretty and they really do need the eye lid to protect the eye itself. Just a caution, many people still use chain link and I have to admit to having a couple of chainlink gates here myself. Exercise needs will depend on the horse and what you want from them. They can stay quite healthy with the freedom to roam in a small field but they won't be fit. One of the most common things I see with minis is people wanting them to be 'weekend warriors', standing around for 5 out of seven days but working hard on the 2 days the owners allot to horse time. If you will want more than casual walks with them give them a little exercise at least every other day and build up to the fitness level you will expect on the heaviest workload days.

One last thing, don't forget to have fun, minis are sometimes a lot of work but they are also a great joy. Good luck.
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We don't have chainlink here, but i thought it was widely used there haha! sorry
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sfmini

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We have a mix of board, woven, and electrobraid. Nothing wrong with electric fence. Once they know the fence bites they stay off of it and makes life much easier.

A good book to read (yes, my name is in the credits) is Getting Your First Horse by Judith Dutson. Her intended audience is adult first time horse owners and everything in there applies to all horses, big and small.

Listen to podcasts by Horse Radio Network, especially Horses in the Morning and Driving radio, actually all of their podcasts are entertaining and very educational.
 

Shamrockmommy

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Thanks to everyone for their answers! Paintponylvr, great details, thanks!

The book I'm reading is The Complete Horse Care Manual. Kind of a generic horse book, really. I've already read Horse Agility Handbook and that looks like fun, too! I have a few others I've yet to crack open, one is about positive horse training, which I'm eager to read.

I have dogs, showed dogs in conformation, obedience and agility in the past (20 years dog training experience, taking classes, assisting classes, competing). The agility club is TOUGH to get into here (NoVA), and we've not played around with that for a couple years now. (Did agility/obedience/rally in CA before our move here.) So my experience with dogs- first dog was pretty much 'jerk and pull' type training that I was taught. Latest dog is very different, with some clicker training (I use the word 'yes' instead of a clicker, I can't coordinate a clicker, treats and the leash! LOL) The difference in current dog's willingness to work vs. first dog are night and day, so it does make a difference.

I do understand horse behavior is quite different, and I"m learning as much as I can there. 9 yo DD takes a riding lesson with a professional trainer, and she has been a great help in learning as well. I'm going to a groundwork/basic in-hand seminar with her this afternoon, can't wait! I told her our plans, she laughed and said she can't take on any more horses right now (not that I wanted her to!) and to 'watch and learn!' Oh, there is also a friend of the breeder who drives that I'll be meeting with.

I'm excited to have a new 'partnership' with a mini. I"m hoping I do a decent job of training the new ones to learn manners, get fit, do some horse agility type stuff, some trail hiking (wearing a pack), and then get to driving. There are some nice driving trails around here, which I think will be great fun to do with DD (keep those tweens busy and focused!)

We also homeschool so have the advantage of time to work with the horses.

For fencing, we plan on doing a 4 board fence on 3 board posts. It'll be a little shorter and the gaps closer together. I've heard about wire fencing being a hazard to them, although part of their pasture will have some wire fence there. It's relatively new and in good shape, stretched tight (red top brand).

I'm waffling.. with the easement issue, I was originally thinking a PP that would cover .9 acres area, and have the center be a rotational pasture. Part of the trails would be into the woods. Center of the area is slightly sloped, under a couple big trees and pretty poor/sparse anyway, so then I was just thinking a large paddock, 60x60... or could go up to 60x80. The easement would give us 2 pastures, 150 x 90, or thereabouts.

I should see if I can do a drawing at some point to show you the property. 5.25 acres total, 3 acres cleared, the rest is wooded. Those 3 acres are fenced for the dogs. There is a gate over the driveway, so it's totally safe for the dogs. House is plopped right in the middle of the 3 acres. So there is a front yard , good sized, there is a side yard, which I think will make a great training/arena area. AND, I think I can make a trail all the way around the property perimeter for walking/driving.

So that's my thoughts! Hope this is coherent! Got interrupted by Dh and dd a few times
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Oh, so let's say I'm working the horses 4 days a week. How would their feeding change? How do I tell what they need- watch body condition? What do I feed more of hay? Purina Mini? Really want to make sure these guys stay well and fit and happy!
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Shamrockmommy

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Oh also very interested in the Porta Grazers. I know they are $$ however, when it comes to human convenience (loading with hay, keeping hay clean, only filling once a day) I'm all for it!
 

sfmini

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It sounds like you have a great setup and the dog background will help you a lot. Horses are different though in that they are prey animals, not predators like dogs so big differences in instinctual behavior.

Something you might want to think about is Monty Roberts University. Monty is the original horse whisperer and has these online classes you can take (for a membership fee). Even after 40 years with horses, I am always learning something new from him.

Make adjustments to your feeding program based on body condition. I personally prefer Purina Omolene 200. We have not fed a mini feed since the first one came out and we saw weight loss, dulled coats, loss of energy. A lot of folks on this board experienced the same thing. I can't remember what company made that feed but it didn't last long. Our minis actually walked away from it when we first started feeding it until they realized that was it.

Another favorite of people is Strategy but it's expensive for us with 25+ horses to feed (at the time we tried it we had 40).

Personally I would say start with a grass hay and oats (racehorse, rolled or steamed, not number 2). Try to get a few bales of hay from her current owner, as a matter of fact, find out where they get their hay and that will give you a start. The feed mill will be able to give you leads for hay as well. Most do sell hay but for premium prices.

Guessing based on personal experience and your picture, I would start with 1 flake of hay and maybe 1/4 cup of oats twice a day and just watch her weight and adjust accordingly. She looks a bit chubby but one lesson I learned the hard way, put your hands on her body to gauge weight since the hair can hide one that is too thin.
 

paintponylvr

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AH - thank you for the extra info!

Like the looks of the porta grazer, I have images of many other types of feeders - most of which can be copied or made yourself from various local products. I have sandy/poor soil and just sand held grasses at the moment. Our groups of ponies get feed free choice hay and when necessary, I've pulled some who needed more and have given them free choice alfalfa pellets and/or alfalfa hay. In pens, I've fed free choice small squares in hay nets and in the several different tub arrangements. I've never gotten around to having a type of lid or cover over the hay, so I"ve had a bit of waste on occasion

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I have several paddocks/pastures of ponies in groups and used to use cattle hay rings around our round hay bales fed free choice. I sold those and now use a $20 cattle/combo panel purchased from TSC locally. They work great for our Shetlands - not for the 13 hh 1/2 shet/Arab gelding or the Arab mare. Those two reach across the top and mash it down.

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Jazzy, the chestnut/wh NSH is no longer with us. The bay arab mare is now back out with her "partner" the 1/2 Shet/Arab gelding and the other boys. But you see the damage that the larger ones do to the panel feeder...

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There used to be several people who did the clicker training with horses and minis on the Forum, but I haven't seen them on lately. Since you already utilize clicker training with your dogs, I would apply it to training your future horses. Like I said, while it didn't wholly work for me, I've seen many wondrous things done with it. I have used it somewhat with dogs - but I just didn't do real well with it on my own. Alexandra Kurland has an extensive website with online courses (now) on Clicker Training specific for horses.

Was going to add more but now can't access the your post to write some more...
 

paintponylvr

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To keep your red brand fencing tight and "in pretty good shape", I would still consider a hot wire to make sure to keep the horses off of it.

Still LOVE the sound of your PP ideas and the way your property is set up. Sounds a lot like ours... Wish we'd found ours 15 yrs ago, when we were that much younger and our timing was different with our jobs. But things happen. It's just taking longer to get ours to where we want it and we move a bit slower now...

Like SFMinis stated - you will be ahead if you find out what your horse(s) are currently being fed/how much and start with that. I'm not good with feed amounts right now - my ponies have very different needs especially with some being significantly larger.

Currently we feed alfalfa pellets and Nutrena's Safe Choice Original (pellets). The other SF types didn't work for us when we tried them - ponies walked away and the products smelled bad to me as well (I feed wet). I have been recommended to go to Strategy, when it was on sale for a month, I tried it again. It didn't work for me for the girls - pregnant, open, youngster or older. However, the boys did great on it and I am considering keeping them on it for now... I haven't tried sweet feeds for our ponies in a long time, for now I really LOVE feeding pelleted feeds. Makes me think they are getting more nutrition out of thier feed...
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I'd love to go back to feeding straight oats, but they cost the same right out of the field here as the store bought feeds do. The purchased feed does have more nutrients - especially for the pregnant mares and growing youngsters. In the past, I've used Sr Feeds when needed. I prefer the Southern States brand(s) over Purina.

Feed choices are based on what is available to you and what your horse(s) needs are. I fight with our ponies being underweight rather than overweight, LOL.

When you get into the driving, I'd love to have an excuse to come that direction for driving!! Eventually will have all the stuff to do overnight camping, but for now would look into a hotel and overnight stall board for driving ponies. I know there are trails that our local riding group used to go to for riding in the mountains of VA, but not sure where since I wasn't participating at that time AND they aren't driving trails.

Also, there should be driving clubs where you are at. Becoming a member could offer instruction and support, too.
 
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misty'smom

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IMG_0039.JPG I'm in Culpeper, Va and have had my girls almost 4 years, got them at 5 & 6 months old. I have been feeding them Orchard grass. Last year I found a family run hay farm great people. The first delivery I bought 21 bales of their 1st cutting, it was clean nice hay and my picky girls gobbled it up. Next delivery mid summer the same hay. Then in the fall I bought 2 bundles, 42 bales of second cutting. It was beautiful, soft, clean and green. After about 5 days of them eating it, Misty became lame, front feet. It happened literally overnight, her hooves were warm and she had a digital pulse. That morning she came out of her stall walking very gingerly and kept laying down and yawning a lot (signs of pain). I called my Vet after about 3 hours of observation, I was so worried and scared, I too had heard so, so many terrible stories of founder. My Vet confirmed it was founder, he put her on Banamine 2-3 times daily, no feed, she was on a textured grain which he said no grain for about 5 days!! I also had to soak and drain all her hay for 2 hours but neither she or her half sister would eat it. My Vet and I felt pretty confident it was the "beautiful soft green" hay. I am so fortunate that the hay farmers were willing to swap out all the hay for their first cutting hay, they did not charge me a cent, how nice was that!!!!! Then we switched their feed to Purina Well Source L/S (low starch, sugar). Knock on wood we have not had a problem since!!! This was very scary but founder can be managed in the minis if action is taken quickly and you can figured out what is causing it. I think it should be easy enough to find some good orchard grass here in Va.

Here are pictures of the small barn we built and the fencing we had but in.......

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Shamrockmommy

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Misti's mom, how big is your fenced area? Is it still green grass or have they eaten that down to dry lot?

I can do a 60x90' turn out/dry lot area, and then can have two 150x90 pastures to rotate.

Do you just do hay and feed, or do you graze them too?

I'm a little ways from you.

I DO have a neighbor who hays his couple acres. I've used a bale for my guinea pigs (RIP) and bunny and they liked it. It's mixed grass, I guess what you'd call meadow grass, but I've no idea the carb content, but they are two houses over
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Miniv

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A thought about the second cutting hay.......We prefer first cutting because most farmers don't fertilize their fields until after it's cut, to encourage

the second cutting to grow faster. We're not sure if it's the chemicals or the fact that the fertilizer causes the grass to grow faster which creates

a higher sugar content? Maybe someone can answer that.

I do know that a few hay farmers toot that they grow "organic" hay, meaning they don't use the chemicals.....
 

Chamomile

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Welcome! It's so exciting to think about adding a couple of minis to your family. Don't let all the information scare you away. It's actually not as hard as it all sounds once you get going. You can get really serious about the feeding thing and spend many many hours studying and learning, or you can keep it really simple and just follow what some of the others here are doing. It's important to remember that there isn't only ONE way to do any of this
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There are many ways and many answers. I find that people can get so confused and frustrated with all the conflicting information before they even start. We all do things our own way. If the minis are happy and healthy then that's a good way! If the ponies are struggling then things need to change. You will learn as you go. Your minis will teach you. It sounds like you have people close by that can help as well. Follow your gut instincts and you'll do fine!
 

NewToMini's

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Misty'smom, your barn is beautiful ❤

Shamrockmommy, what are your plans for the shelter? I would highly recommend putting stalls in, they are so useful even if you don't think you'll need them.

And for fencing, I like the board idea. I have a filly who doesn't respect the electric fence very well, and has actually jumped through it twice when it was off. I also think boards are safer if your horse runs through the fence (which hopefully won't happen, but is always a possibility).
 

Shamrockmommy

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Newtominis, we are planning on a lean-to addition to our little red "barn" (12x20" mower shed). The addition would be something like 20x12, with 2 stalls that are 6x8' and then a storage area and an overhang so they can stand under there for shelter and shade.

Fencing I was thinking about 4 board fence on the post meant for 3 board fence (a little shorter, gaps in fence would be closer). This is what the breeder uses.

but on the visit to the mini trainer, she suggested finding an already trained mini instead of totally green horse, so now .... meh. Not sure what to do. I've already gotten to know several of the horses at the breeders.

I know I need to be practical, as I'm green myself. I need to figure out if I actually WANT to drive them, or if I just want them as pets that I can play around with training things like horse agility.
 

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