The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:38 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1622
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Here is a question for all of you....
What livery yard would you like your horse to live at and why? If you had the opportunity to have a small piece of land to make into a horse livery yard what would you install/build? What do you want at a yard and what can you compromise on or are not prepared to accept.

For me I want my horse to have plenty of room to move with friends in the same paddock. Open shelters, fresh water and good horse grazing or abundant oat hay. I want my horse checked every day (casting an eye over him at feed time is okay). I want a lockable tack room for my stuff, toilet and indoor social area with a kettle!!! A fenced off working area (preferably a small sand arena)........

so.......what am I missing? :D

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:14 pm 
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Your yard sounds nice! :)

For me there are some things that I find really important: big pastures where the horses can live together, with trees to stand under, access to water at any time, and enough hay for the winter. And of course a nice surrounding where we can go for walks.

There are a few things that are optional for me (but which I luckily have): hills in the pasture, wood for the horses to chew, natural things to play with like rocks or tree stumps to climb on, or branches to jump over, a shelter for the horses, a fireplace outside, and a dry place to put my stuff (for a while I only had a metal box and that worked as well, so it's not a must).

Some things I do not really need: Someone to check on my horses (as I do this myself every day), some sort of a house or room to sit in, a special area for training.

Things that I would like but do not have: a flat area where we can train (would not have to be fenced and with a special ground material, a place in the pasture would be fine as well), a sand area for the horses to roll.

My absolute dream would be to have a small forest in my pasture, and a pond and a stream.

And some things I would NOT like to have: other humans (e.g. boarders) who are there regularly, poisonous plants, a big road in visible or audible distance, a path that many people take every day in visible distance.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:18 pm 
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Ahh... so nice to dream about the perfect horse place! :)

Most of the important things for me were already said. I would add incentives to roam, like good distance between water-hole, resting place and grazing grounds. I'd like to see diverse qualities of ground: grass, forest, patches of gravel, water, sand. Also the terrain should vary: hills, plains, wind-cover, rocks, high ground, ...
Grass shouldn't be too lush. And winter paddocks should be large and diverse enough to encourage movement. Paddocks should be of dry ground, easy to muck out. Several slow hay feeders.

A riding arena would be nice. Also the surroundings are very important for me. Like nice paths to hike, nice scenery.
I really don't mind other boarders. In fact, I like nice, like minded people around to share thoughts and experiences with and top help each other out.

Well, and finally, I'd like to live right on the edge of the pasture, with a nice panoramic view of the premises right from the bedroom/kitchen/bathroom :alien:

P.S. Are you planning something Annette? ;)

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:22 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Yes, yes and yes and I am so excited!!!! Finally going to do this for myself and Morgan will get to roam......with his "new" friends....

I have been negotiating with a farmer who has 3 hectares he is not using. The best part is he has another 30 hectares (10 under conservation) that we can use for turn out, riding, exploring.....

On the 3 hectares is an old cottage and my darling husband is going to revamp it for me. It will have two large rooms, two small rooms and two run in stables at the back. There are two dams (one is actually a very cute pond) and a dam run off that runs about 9 months of the year. It is on a slope so great drainage, hard ground and about half has horse grazing (too much in fact...lol!) and the rest is forest and fairly sparse grazing (so will be known as the fat camp! :funny:).

I am busy moving materials there but will only be able to move horses on the first week of Jan. This all came a little sudden as the place where Morgan stays has just renewed it's lease and wanted me to start paying and the offer of land fell at the same time). I need to put in the 1st fence line (some 120m) to secure the whole property. Then as the liveries (horror of people....), arrive I can start to build the second and third fences and will end up with 3 large paddocks with lots/medium and little grazing plus the big chunk opposite (which is fenced all around) to rest paddocks or use later.

I know what I want, but I need liveries to make it a viable business rather than just a covering of costs. I don't want a riding school situation but private owners who are hopefully looking for an AND style lifestyle for their horses. Stress free where those that want can join us cutting trails for DAYS into the mountain!!!! We are in horse country (it's a 25min drive from my house), there is a polo estate next door with about 40 horses already there.
The farmer is fab and has two horses of his own at his house. He wants improvements to his farm and wants to see the land being used.
So.....any ideas and advice welcome. Later (year 2) I would like to have a "lecture/social" room and an arena to host clinics......(and Josepha had better come!!!!!!! :funny: ), in fact perhaps I can hold an AND worldwide meeting!!!!! :funny:

Romy, I already planned to put in a fire pit and have some great tiles I have been holding onto that would be perfect around the opening. I also have some cute powder blue shutters and other reclaimed/recycled materials. I don't have electricity so want to play with solar or wind later and am looking at a "dry" toilet. We want to retire to France one day (10 years?) and our dream is a small holding and to be as self sufficient and grid free as we can so we can get to try out alot of the stuff here and see what works, so that's very exciting too.
I've been researching herbs and plants that I want to put in for the horses, but in the meantime I have also looked at organic horse herb mixes. I want to move away from "bucket" feeding as much as possible and just add in what's missing from the grazing or hay. As natural and holistic as possible. I will build large open shelters.
I have a spot of land that is elevated, hard ground and on the edge of the forest that would be perfect for an arena (which gives livery clients a place to work (I'm hoping they will play AND games in there!), and will be great for clinics. It is close to the cottage behind which I will put simple stalls as holding pens (new/sick/visiting horses).
I'd like to build a natural agility course with bridge and stumps and banks as the forest is very uneven, could be lots of fun to do a liberty agility course....so much work to do!!!!

Problems I will have are ticks/snakes and heaps of hard work.....but I can't wait!!!!!! :D :D :yeah:

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:49 am 
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Wow, Annette! That sounds absolutely fantastic! :cheer: :cheer: :cheer:

What a great opportunity for you. I envy you, although I see a lot of work coming ;).
In any way, please keep us updated! That's such an exciting project, I want to hear (and see!) everything about it :yes:

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:20 am 
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Location: Israel
Whaoo, you are so lucky.
this is my promise-dream-goal for my guys - a big pastures, a varied natural big space.
i relate every thing that was written, but maybe i can add a thought to your building plans - a composting system.

maybe its a more burning problem on a small place, our place is rather tiny, we don't own a tractor and the stalls+paddock is just next to the house at the end of a populated neighborhood so we had to find a solution for the horse waste.
we are very happy with it :yes: , using some the compost in our garden and giving / bartering most of it to local organic gardeners.

the system we use is based on the O2Compost systems http://www.o2compost.com/content/Horse_Manure_Composting.htm from the US, utilizing Aerated Static Pile (ASP) method where the aeration process is achieved by activating a blower pushing air into the compost bins. you can control air/heat/oxygen and even to some degree the moister of the pile content by determining the length and recurring rate of the blower. the great part - there is no need to turn the pile content. you control the temp (+/- air) so you make sure that pathogens or any seeds from the hey are destroyed.

just a thought...
and good luck :f:

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:56 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1622
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Thanks Anat!
I do have a plan for the manure piles....something that I have implemented at the last yard. In fact I have all kinds of awesome vegetables in my garden at home grown in composted horse manure. The system you linked looked great but alas there is no electricity at present....later maybe I can get some solar panels. The other problem I have is that the place is fairly isolated and anything not nailed down will get taken at some point. I wanted to use a "dry" toilet but this being africa think perhaps it would be better to install a proper toilet with septic tank/french drain, as
I ran 3 manure piles covered in plastic, turned once a week and added to as necessary. The heat in the piles kills off everything and the manure turns to great soil underneath after a few months. I have a few local "gardeners" that fetch or have the manure delivered. At one stage I had free range chickens which helped tremendously with the fly/tick aspect but again I am now in open farmland with lots of predators and don't think chickens would last very long before they are eaten by something!!!!
Once the 1st fence line is up I want to ask the farmer next door if he can run his herd of cows in there for a few days to take down the long dried grazing and weeds. This will hopefully get rid of the stuff I don't want for the horses and let the short grasses breathe and grow again. :D
At some point I will take pics and then you can all give me ideas.......

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Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:11 pm 
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I just shoveled 60 buckets of rubble and spread it in the mud hole in front of our shelter. Now my body is a mess and I'd rather crawl than walk, but finally the area is dry and I am so happy. I feel so fortunate to be able to keep my horses by myself. What can be greater than having the possibility to just solve a problem that you see, instead of having to discuss this with some stable owner who perhaps has very different ideas? Being responsible for your own little paradise... I would never want to miss that again. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:40 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Yes I know that feeling....you start and sometimes wished you hadn't but somehow you do finish and then feel so great that the job and environment is so much better. Unfortunately it has always been on someone elses property and they reap the benefit when I leave!!! My poor husband has had to build/mend ramps/stables/feed sheds/fencing.....the list goes on and I so don't want to have to do it all again to leave it behind.........maybe one day when the property is ours!!!!!
Romy you are incredibly lucky and should feel proud (and sore!!!!) that you got it done.......you will forever remain fit.....lol...... :D

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:44 pm 
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A little bit off-topic, but I just wondered when I read about manure piles: has anyone here ever tried to heat with dried horse dung? In mongolia we used it for our campfires and it burned wonderfully - just wondered if that might be a way to recycle it...

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:08 pm 
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I have not tried it, but it sounds like a GREAT way to recycle the dung. However, doesn't it produce a lot of smoke? I was wondering, because our hay does when we burn it, and I guess our neighbours wouldn't be too enthusiastic if now I started producing not only regular smoke that comes in through their open windows but smoke that has this nice, decent manure smell. :twisted:

But we will try it. So Nora and Lena, if you are reading along... we have a mission! :alien:


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:23 pm 
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Haha, thanks Romy for the field test! Make sure it's really dry though. We used dung from horse and yak that lay in the sun for very long...

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:08 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:32 am
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Morgan wrote:
Thanks Anat!
I do have a plan for the manure piles....something that I have implemented at the last yard. In fact I have all kinds of awesome vegetables in my garden at home grown in composted horse manure. The system you linked looked great but alas there is no electricity at present....later maybe I can get some
solar panel. The other problem I have is that the place is fairly isolated and anything not nailed down will get taken at some point. I wanted to use a "dry" toilet but this being africa think perhaps it would be better to install a proper toilet with septic tank/french drain, as
I ran 3 manure piles covered in plastic, turned once a week and added to as necessary. The heat in the piles kills off everything and the manure turns to great soil underneath after a few months. I have a few local "gardeners" that fetch or have the manure delivered. At one stage I had free range chickens which helped tremendously with the fly/tick aspect but again I am now in open farmland with lots of predators and don't think chickens would last very long before they are eaten by something!!!!
Once the 1st fence line is up I want to ask the farmer next door if he can run his herd of cows in there for a few days to take down the long dried grazing and weeds. This will hopefully get rid of the stuff I don't want for the horses and let the short grasses breathe and grow again. :D

At some point I will take pics and then you can all give me ideas.......

You seems to have very nice plans..Were you able to implement them? I would love to work on similar plans so please share some information and sorry for old thread reply:)


Last edited by JamesRowe on Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:00 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1622
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Sorry James, I have just seen this now. Unfortunately I didn't go ahead with it. I got as far as moving poles/fencing/building materials and wanted to sign a lease before I started investing money. The farmer changed his original offer and the rental was going to be twice what he originally offered. It was not financially viable. My horse is living on a private farm and very happy so it had a good ending!

I have been invested in a few stable/yard environments often on a budget and have used and implemented a variety of things to better the lifestyle for the horses so if there is anything I can help you with please ask. Welcome here :D

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:50 am 
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I would want HUGE pastures full of (safe) toys, 20x20 (or even 30x30!) stalls w/ individual runs outside so they could have the choice of shelter or being outside and low enough walls so that they can communicate over them, a lunge pen and large arena, maybe an indoor for bad weather, and a locked feed room and tack room. Not much... :funny:


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