horse keeping winter

Keeping horses at your own place can be a daunting task. Going out in freezing/hot and humid/pouring rain/ snow storm weather is not for everyone. Early mornings and late nights, staying home when others go out/on vacation/sleep in (occasionally) can be enough to keep most people far away from barn management. The work is physical and thankless and it MUST be done regardless of your mood or health condition, because the horses depend on it. 

So, in contrast to all the negatives, here are a few positives that keep us going when everyone else is enjoying their leisure time.

8. Feeling the "bright and early" (in the dark of winter) crispy air freshness drag you out of your first-thing-in-the-morning-sluggishness before even the birds start chirping!

7. Hearing the soft, encouraging "Welcome! Now get our breakfast going" nickers as you walk in the barn.

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6. Hanging on to the lead rope, speed-walking beside the bright-eyed, perky-eared, energetic horse on a mission to the paddock - every day is a new discovery!

5. Listening to contented munching sounds mixed with occasional heartfelt snorts as the horses start on their hay breakfasts.

4. Getting a chance to "read" the stalls to know how your horse spent the night and is feeling in the morning.

3. Knowing what is fed and when it is fed - no arguments/negotiations to deal with about the feed you want your horse to have!

2. Being at the barn at least twice a day makes for an easy "check" to make sure all is well with the horses, and a good excuse to ride since you're already there.

1. No gym membership needed - especially after moving the hay bales and mucking stalls (strength training), walking back and forth to and from the paddocks (cardio training), interspersed with wheelbarrow dumps (interval training). It's all covered each and every day!

What are other perks that you enjoy as a "keeper" of horses?

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You might enjoy these posts as well!

Zen and the Art of Grooming: This was a guest post I wrote on - how grooming "...has a way of taking our work to a new, more happy place while getting in touch with our equine buddies.  Namaste!!"

Because of Horses: Horses can change your life!

Softly Determined: A beautiful poem worthy of being printed off and hung in a frame at the barn.

Starting to Breathe Again: A post written shortly after Hickstead's win at the CN International in September 2011. Now even more poignant in retrospect.

A Recipe for Living: What do you need to create a rich and fulfilling life?


  1. I don’t keep horses at my home, but I work at my barn on the weekend. There are 22 horses there. I absolutely love the morning when I walk in and they are ready for their breakfast. Then the silence after they are fed while they munch on hay.
    And you are right about going out to the pastures! They love it, but then when it is time to come in, they love that too!
    And I really enjoy the interaction with all the different horses and breeds.

  2. After boarding for years, I adore having my boys in my front yard. Last night the wind chill was in the teens by 10PM. I popped up to the barn to throw blankets on them so I could sleep well knowing they were comfortable. Were I still boarding, I’d have been worried sick and/or driven the half hour there and back to blanket them.

    I don’t think the work is thankless at all. My barn is not fancy but it is clean, comfortable and well managed. When I need to get in and out quickly, I know where everything is and how to get my work done efficiently. I know my horses will know the routine and don’t mind a quick morning or a leisurely “spa Sunday” with lots of grooming and fussing. The barn cats come out of hiding to welcome me as I fill feed and water buckets. It is incredibly gratifying to have calm, happy horses and formerly feral cats greeting me every day.

  3. Oh, sigh! I do miss it. This is where I found who I really am. And at times, I had to dig deep to find the energy. But where do you find all that you need in one place? In my barn, I did.

  4. I love the smell of fresh hay and shavings mixed in with the aux de horse and knowing that the rest of the world is dressed in a suit stuck in traffic, while I’m in my Pj’s doing what I love.

  5. My favorite is watching playtime from the porch or upstairs window, galloping, rearing, mutual grooming, play fighting…. Just yesterday my neighbor stopped in and was in the garage talking to my husband, the horses in the South pasture went galloping up the hill toward the barn-everyone stopped to watch them run past-I never get tired of watching them!

  6. Oh, I do love it! It is hard to tell one day from the next, I often say to myself, “Didn’t
    I just do this like 20 seconds ago?” (like make up feed, pick stalls, paddocks, etc…, fill hay nets, sweep, dust, rake, pick more poop, make up more feed, fill more hay nets, turn out, bring in, fill buckets, more buckets, oh yeah, forgot, give love, hugs, smooches, scratches, carrots, oh, time to hand graze, time to ride, time to groom, bathe, trim, scratch, hug, smooch… and then there is night check… !!!! Love those ponies, wish they would not poop and eat 24/7, but hay, it is more than worth it! Thanks for the great article, I think my favorite is #3. Nothing is better than being in control of their daily needs, never having to explain, defend or argue your point about what is best for them. We can make our own mistakes but thankfully, the ponies don’t judge us, and if we listen carefully, we have so much to learn from them. I am grateful for this time with them, nothing lasts forever and while they are with us, I am going to appreciate every moment, no matter how tough, how early, how cold/hot, exhausted…

  7. Looking out the window and seeing my beauties in the pasture (still a dream, but, hey, it’s a perk!)