What you are offering sounds very much
like the arrangement we have: our four horses, and three belonging to
a friend, are kept in fields about 8 miles from our home.
Things to think about:
1. Are your ponies suited to living out
24/7, as you do not mention any stabling? (Being native types, they
should be, but if they are getting older or have always been stabled,
it's worth thinking about.) Is there sufficient shelter for them in
the way of hedges and trees?
2. There is a whole host of things that
you will need to keep at the fields: rugs, headcollars, ropes,
grooming things, feed, buckets ...etc. etc. etc. Where is this going
to be stored? Is it secure? (We bought a number of garden sheds and
erected them at our fields for this purpose.)
3. Are you going to keep your tack at
the fields? If so, you need a secure place for it. If not, you will be
carting it up and down all the time: do you have a suitable car for
lugging it all about?
4. Do you have a horsebox? If so, where
is it going to be parked - at the fields, or at home? If at the
fields, is it going to be secure? If at home, are you actually able to
do so? (Not just from the point of view of having sufficient
hardstanding, but also many modern houses have restrictive covenants
in their title which would prevent you from doing this.)
5. Where is your hay going to be
stacked for winter? How are you going to protect it from the elements
if there is no barn?
6. How are you going to get water to
your horses if the standpipe (or whatever supply is laid on) freezes?
7. Are there water troughs already
there? If not, what are you going to use to hold water at the fields?
(We use big plastic tubs with rope handles which you can buy at places
like the Early Learning Centre: they're intended as toy boxes, but
they fit the bill very well.) If this is at some distance from your
stand pipe (as ours can be: we have several hundred metres of
hosepipe) work out how you're going to move water when the hosepipe
freezes up (which it will do long before the standpipe freezes). We
use an "aquaroll", which you can buy at any good camping
8. Plan your winter paddocks carefully.
Depending upon the soil type, expect them to get very muddy. Be
prepared to have a "sacrificial paddock" which can get
completely churned up. And take precautions against mud fever - such
as feeding NAF "Mud Guard" starting very soon. And work out
in advance what you are going to do if one or both of your ponies should
come down with mud fever and need to be moved to dry ground for
9. Is there anybody who lives near /
overlooks the field? If so, MAKE FRIENDS WITH THEM, shower them with
gifts (if they're keen gardeners, they may be delighted with the offer
of some of your muck!!) and give them your contact telephone number
and that of your vet. They are your first line of defence in an
emergency, and you REALLY REALLY REALLY need them on your side. If the
horses should get out at 10.30 at night, it's far better to find out
by having the people living next door ring up and say "I've just
seen your horses walking down the road" rather than next morning
, when you arrive to feed and find the fields empty!
I think that's all for now. It can be
made to work, but it's not easy. Get it right, however, and it can be
very rewarding. You are your own master, in control of your own
destiny (and your horses' destinies), marching to nobody's tune except
your own (and, of course, your horses').
Oh, and one last thing, if you decide
to breed, be prepared for the expense of sending your mare to stud for
the foaling. It's not fair on the vet to ask him to attend a foaling
in the middle of a dark, muddy field!