Horse care at Millhaven
WHAT'S THE TURNOUT SCHEDULE?
Turnout is determined by the weather. When it's mild outside, horses are in the pasture 24/7, except at mealtimes. On hot, humid days, horses are in with fans on and are out overnight. In winter, horses are in overnight and outside all day. We keep horses in if heavy rain, a bad storm, icy conditions or very frigid temperatures are predicted.
HOW DO YOU INDIVIDUALIZE CARE?
Horses have individual personalities and quirks. If a horse needs to stay in the stall for any reason but is anxious alone, we provide a buddy in an adjoining stall. If a horse needs medication intended to be administered in feed but won't eat it, we syringe it. Some horses need their food soaked, so we serve them "soup." These are just a few examples of the individualized care we provide.
HOW ARE HORSES FED?
Horses are fed in their stalls morning and evening. A few horses in the barn that are aged and hard keepers receive three meals daily.
Stalls are hayed daily and again during late night check when horses are in the barn overnight. When the weather is inclement and horses are in their stalls for a prolonged period of time, we hay three times — morning, evening and late at night. We hay generously since more fiber and less grain is healthier.
The amount of feed and hay each horse receives is determined by individual needs. We watch weight and make adjustments as needed.
WHAT TYPE OF FEED DO YOU STOCK?
Some horses receive modest amounts of sweet feed with 11% protein. We stock a wide variety of premium feed, such as high fat feed for hard keepers, low starch feed for horses that need a low-carb diet and senior feed for older horses.
We surcharge for premium feed and fat supplements because they cost far more than sweet feed, which is included in board.
WHAT TYPE OF HAY IS FED?
Usually grass hay, sometimes mixed with timothy. We use square hay bales provided by a local hay grower with beautiful, well-maintained fields. We do not use round bales.
ARE THE FIELDS HAYED?
Semi-private fields are hayed anytime the grass gets sparse. The large, general turnout field has adequate grass in warm months and enough for daily turnout in winter, but if snow is on the ground, all fields are hayed. We spread flakes out to prevent squabbling.
HOW ARE SUPPLEMENTS AND MEDICATION HANDLED?
For supplements, most boarders use the SmartPak system and have the supplements delivered to the barn. If boarders don't use SmartPak, we ask that daily doses of supplements be provided in Ziploc-style, snack-sized bags and that each bag is labeled with the horse's name.
Administration of medication varies with the drug and protocol required. We work with boarders and our veterinarian to see that medications are administered properly.
ARE GELDINGS AND MARES TURNED OUT TOGETHER?
In the big general turnout field, yes, and we encounter few problems. We strive to let horses be horses, within reason. Horses that cause problems in the big field, however, must be switched to semi-private turnout.
ARE HORSES HAND-LED TO AND FROM FIELDS?
Yes. They are walked individually or two at a time.
HOW IS THE FARM CLEANED AND MAINTAINED?
Stalls are cleaned every day except Sunday. They are re-bedded often with sawdust or shavings. Aisles are blown out daily. The wash stalls, a favorite place for boarders to visit while they groom and tack up, are power-washed weekly.
Water buckets are dumped and refilled daily and are scrubbed as needed. Water tubs in fields are kept sparkling clean. Our staff does a great job seeing to it that horses have clean, fresh water at all times.
The indoor and outdoor riding arenas are dragged periodically. Fencing and stalls are repaired and the pastures are periodically fertilized and seeded as needed.
HOW IS MANURE HANDLED?
Manure is hauled off the property. This keeps the farm cleaner and the fly population down.
DO YOU HAVE RODENT CONTROL ON THE FARM?
Yes, we have a busy barn cat named Ellie.
IS SOMEONE PRESENT ON THE FARM AT ALL TIMES?
Yes. Our home is built above the main barn. We have a resident who lives in a separate apartment built over the barn who helps with the horses. We can look out our windows to check on horses or run down the steps directly into the barn. Our staff lives on the property and homes surround our pastures.
Anytime horses are in stalls overnight, we conduct a late night check. Each horse receives more hay, water buckets are refilled if needed and we simply make sure that each horse looks healthy and happy.
DO YOU HAVE RESTRICTED HOURS?
We appreciate it if boarders riding at night try to finish up by 9:00 p.m. so the horses and residents can settle down for the night.
WHICH VETERINARY PRACTICE DO YOU USE?
We use Dr. Stuart Scheinberg (pictured at right) and Dr. Amy Wysoki of the Animal Medical Hospital at Glenwood, Maryland. The practice has provided excellent care to Millhaven horses for well over 10 years and has an excellent emergency system.
CAN I USE MY OWN VETERINARIAN?
You can, but we strongly prefer that boarders use our veterinarian. We schedule routine preventive care and it's easier and far less time-consuming for us to manage when one veterinary practice is involved; it's also easier for us to make sure each horse is on schedule for preventive care. Boarders may use another veterinarian as long as they take responsibility for scheduling appointments and make sure their horses are kept up-to-date with our health program.
WHAT IS YOUR HEALTH PROGRAM?
Horses at Millhaven are wormed every two months. Stool samples are taken periodically to check the efficacy of our worming program. After careful review and consideration with our veterinarians, we determined that so-called target worming is not appropriate for a farm our size; stool sampling demonstrates our current worming program is working well, with no signs of parasitic resistance.
Vaccines are administered annually for rabies and tetanus, and twice annually for Eastern and Western encephalitis, Potomac Horse Fever and West Nile viruses. We also vaccinate for flu/rhino. We will be happy to provide the exact worming and vaccination schedule upon request. We do not vaccinate against strangles; we've never had a case and there are concerns about the vaccine. Nor do we vaccinate against botulism because we do not feed round bales. Horses at Millhaven also receive routine preventive dental care annually.
WHAT FARRIERS COME TO MILLHAVEN AND CAN I USE ANOTHER FARRIER OF MY CHOICE?
Boarders may use any farrier they choose. We have several who come to Millhaven. These include Bill Ebberts and Mike Poe (Mike is pictured right, gray cap). They work with us to schedule visits and we see that horses are in the barn and available at the time each farrier arrives. If boarders want to use another farrier, we ask that they schedule visits themselves; if they cannot be here for the farrier visit, we will be happy to have the horses in at the appropriate time if we're given 24 hours notice.
HOW DO BOARDERS PAY FOR VETERINARY AND FARRIER CARE?
Veterinarians and farriers bill boarders and boarders pay them, not us, for the services rendered.
DOES MY HORSE NEED TO BE BLANKETED IN WINTER AND IF I WANT TO BLANKET, WHAT DO I NEED TO SUPPLY?
Unless horses are aged, ill or clipped, blankets are not necessary. In addition, Millhaven horses are brought into the barn overnight in winter and anytime there is inclement weather. In winter, when we close the doors to our main barn building overnight, it tends to be about 10 degrees warmer inside than it is outside.
Many boarders, however, prefer to blanket. In this case, we ask them to provide 1) a waterproof breathable sheet (a sheet has no fill) and 2) a light- or medium-weight waterproof breathable blanket with fill (about 100 to 200 grams fill). Heavyweight blankets are too warm for this area! If we have unusually frigid temperatures, we put sheets on over blankets. Blankets and sheets must be kept in good repair and labeled with each horse's name.
ARE HORSES REQUIRED TO WEAR HALTERS?
Yes. Halters help ensure that we can catch and control the horses, which is safer for horses and staff. Halters are left on at all times; with 40 horses, it would really run up labor time removing and putting on halters. However, we require that horses have a breakaway halter and that boarders replace them as needed. Non-breakaway halters (including regular leather halters) are strictly forbidden. Horses that get rub marks easily from halters may wear a breakable leather collar.
HOW ARE NEW HORSES TRANSITIONED ONTO THE FARM?
New horses that will be in the general turnout field are started out in a small, adjoining introductory paddock where they meet the other horses over the fence before commingling. If needed, we put a "buddy" horse in the introductory field with the new horse.
If a new horse has been receiving a different brand of feed than we'll feed, we like to have a few days worth of the "old" feed. We'll mix it with our feed so the horse is transitioned gradually to the new feed. We also like to get a bale of the hay a horse has been receiving to mix with ours. This helps prevent digestive upsets.