Stabling your horse
Horses are naturally happiest when they're out in the open, and are perfectly content to be kept outside 24 hours a day.
However, this isn’t always practical, and even when it is you'll still need a sheltered space to keep your horse in the event of any health problems or injuries. You might be keeping your horse at home, or stabling it at a local livery yard - whichever you choose, make sure you know what to look for when seeking out your horse's new home.
The ideal solution is for your horse to live outside in a paddock the majority of the time - preferably with other horses for company. You'll need somewhere which offers plenty of grass for grazing, and enough space to allow your horse to walk around and explore. On occasions grazing may need to be restricted - for example if a horse is overweight or suffers from laminitis - so electric fencing can be used to divide paddocks. Before you bring your horse into its living space, make sure that the fencing is secure and that the paddock is free of potential hazards to your horse, including poisonous plants such as yew trees or ragwort.
You will need to make sure your paddock provides shelter for your horses, as they will not be able to seek it out themselves as they would in the wild. Make sure there is always somewhere dry for them to stand and sit down in - high hedges or trees may offer sufficient shelter, although you could also try a man-made structure. The entrance to this will need to be large and open, as horses are unlikely to enter confined spaces. Mobile field shelters, which can be moved using tractor pulls, are another option if practical.
In the UK our climate can be rather unpredictable, and as a result it's not always possible to provide everything a horse needs by keeping them outside all day. While they should be outside whenever possible, a dry stable is the ideal way to ensure that they remain comfortable and well-fed even when conditions outside are wet or there is little grass to graze.
Ensure that your horse's stables are well-ventilated, and that the temperature is consistent - look out for draughts and block up any that you find. Bedding should be of high quality and ideally dust-free; rubber matting has become more popular recently, especially in combination with wood shavings which are absorbent and much warmer for your horse to lie on. Straw is also a popular option, as it's easy to muck out, but bear in mind that as it's not dust-free it may not be suitable for horses with allergies!