There are 3 systems of keeping horses – herd (pasture), stables and mixed (stable and pasture). They choose among them, taking into account the natural and climatic conditions of the region and the direction of horse breeding, within which they plan to work.
Herd keeping system
This is the simplest and cheapest way of keeping horses, which has been practiced from ancient times to the present day. The rearing of animals takes place in conditions close to natural, and mainly on natural feed. The natural instinct inherent in all herbivores is the means of such maintenance.
In contrast to the primitive system of ancient nomadic tribes, currently there are 2 types of herd keeping: improved and cultural herd methods.
Improved herd method
With this method, horses are grazed throughout the year and all individuals, regardless of gender and age, are kept in 1 herd.
In case of bad weather, simple portable structures such as fenced sheds are built, where the most valuable animals of the herd are sheltered – stud stallions, foals and lactating mares. The rest of the animals are hidden in natural shelters, using forests, beams, ravines, hills, etc. for this.
Hay and grain feed stocks are stored under light sheds made from scrap materials. Natural reservoirs are used for watering. The method can be used for productive direction.
Cultural steel road
With this method, animals are provided with more durable and comfortable shelters from the weather. In addition, the division of animals into different groups by sex and age is observed. Separate grazing is provided for stallions and mares with young animals. In addition, there are certain requirements for the number of the herd, depending on the direction of horse breeding and the nature of the pastures. So, for example, for a productive direction on a flat pasture, the recommended number of herds is no more than 400 heads. For the breeding direction, the optimal composition includes from 20 stud stallions, 100-150 heads of mares and up to 150 heads of young stock.
With this method of keeping in case of bad weather or cold snap, stallions are equipped with stables, young stock and foal mares. The rest of the animals are sheltered in simplified structures such as fenced sheds.
Stable maintenance system
With this system, animals are kept in specially equipped stables, the methods of placement in which may be different. The easiest is placement in a stall. Animals stand in 1 row on a leash. They are separated from each other by partitions.
A more comfortable way for horses is to keep in a stall – a small separate room for each animal.
The partitions between them are not made deaf, leaving the upper part of the lattice. The animal, therefore, does not feel isolated, but at the same time it is in greater rest than when kept in a stall.
The height of the doors in the stalls should be 2.4 m, the width – not less than 1.2 m, the height of the blind partition – 1.4 m; above it is made of poles, bars, etc. The gaps in the transparent part of the partition should not be wider than 6 cm so that the horse, rearing up, does not get stuck in them with a hoof. The optimal dimensions of the stall are 3 x 3 m, the gates should open outward (this applies in general to all exits in the stable).
In regions with a warm climate, horses can be kept in boxes, which are almost the same as a stall, but have access not to the stables, but to the street.
At the stable, it is advisable to equip paddocks – fenced paddocks in the fresh air, where horses walk during the day, which can be both individual and group.
The paddock should be spacious enough. The area of the group paddock is calculated based on the number of horses: each breeding animal must have at least 20 m2, the rest – 12 m2. Requirements for an individual paddock: for a stud stallion – 600 m2, for a trained young – 400 m2.
Paddock fencing is usually made of three rows of metal pipes 7-9 cm in diameter. Edged boards or poles can also be used. The height of the fence should be up to 2 m. Do not fence the paddocks with wire, as animals can get injured.
There are special requirements for the stables. The optimum ceiling height is 3 m. Stalls or stalls are usually arranged in 2 rows, between them there is a feed passage 3 m wide. On the sides of the feed passage, place slurry gutters. In addition, the stable room must be equipped with a ventilation system.
The floor of the stable is made of materials with low thermal conductivity, while it must be dry, non-slip, moisture-proof. Such qualities are possessed by adobe and wooden floors; in modern stables, they are often made from expanded clay concrete.
Horses are kept not on a bare floor, but on a bedding – a layer of sawdust, straw or peat, which absorbs all the impurities. Changing the bedding in stalls and stalls is required daily. When keeping horses in the halls, they make a deep bedding (45-50 cm) and change it twice a year.
Heating in stables is usually not provided. The temperature is maintained by the heat generated by the animals themselves, so it is very important that this heat is well conserved during the winter. Why use good heat-insulating materials when building a stable. The ceilings must also be insulated. The roof of the stable is made of waterproof material and covered with a fireproof covering.
Among other things, the following utility rooms should be provided at the stable:
- fodder (for storing a stock of concentrated feed for 3 days);
- a room for roughage;
- room for bedding;
- shower stall;
- harness (for drying the harness);
- mating arena (only on breeding farms);
- artificial insemination room;
- room for inventory.
Stable-pasture maintenance system
This system combines elements of stables and herds. In the warm season, animals are taken out to cultivated pastures, divided into areas for grazing groups of horses of different sex and age. The livestock of a group in one area is from 50 to 80 animals. In winter, they are kept in stables.
This method of keeping is used on large farms with a large number of horses.