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Learning Lab -  Pg2

Learning Lab -  Pg2

Set-Up From Scratch:

Set-Up From Scratch:

8 Acre Horse Property

8 Acre Horse Property

SWEAT THE DETAILS- IT SAVES SWEAT LATER  -- continued

THE PADDOCKS

The layout of the paddocks, water provision, gateways, laneways etc. is a whole subject in itself that had many considerations including the house position and orientation, topography, number of paddocks, shade, existing vegetation, soil type, usage etc. etc. and was specific to our particular land parcel.  We where very aware of the aesthetics of the property as a cohesive  whole and absolutely everything was planned, costed and drawn to scale. If I was doing this again on a suitable piece of land I would consider an Equicentral system paddock layout. If you are starting from scratch you will need a land capability study as part of your building permit. This will give you to-scale topographical drawings that you can use to plan your infrastructure and devise budgets, especially for fencing!

Our property had no internal fencing and we were fortunate to be able to afford professionally erected top of the range all electric fencing (plastic and graphite composite conductive plastic coating over wire) fencing, so the heavy lifting was done by our fencer. IMO because it was done correctly in the first place and is inspected and tensioned regularly it has required no major maintenance. I had previous experience designing electric fencing circuits and I personally did the hotwire connections to the fence-wire runs.   

 

Our fences consist of one wide ‘hotrail’ at the top and 3 strands of the wire as described.  The brand we installed was ‘Centaur’ from Winning Post Fencing. The suppliers were very helpful but in hindsight, whilst the fencing rails and wires were excellent, some of the fence fixtures and fittings could do with more thoughtful functional design.  I would consider looking at ‘Horserail’ if I was doing the job again.  Both these brands of fencing are ‘specialist’ and our fencer was not familiar with this type of fencing or electric fencing specifically, so he required a lot of advice and mentoring, I did a lot of hoverring.  We ended up with safe, secure and attractive fencing that will last. We also installed ‘horse gates’, in my opinion these have proven to be far safer than conventional ‘mesh style’ farm gates and have required far less maintenance.

http://www.winningpostfencing.com.au/categories/rail-fencing/centaur-htp.aspx

https://www.centaurdirect.com/Centaur-HTP.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/winningpostfencing/

http://www.winningpostfencing.com.au/categories/rail-fencing/centaur-htp.aspx

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These 5 Bar Horse gates are available from Norton by special order. 3 Bar gates are standard stock

We ended up with safe, secure and attractive fencing that will last. We also installed ‘horse gates’, in my opinion these have proven to be far safer than conventional ‘mesh style’ farm gates and have required far less maintenance.

We purchase a load of ‘council mulch’ each autumn and spread deep layers in the gateways and feed bin areas as our soil is ‘puggy waterlogged black clay’ and a very sticky in winter.

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THE RIDING ARENA

Again, you can never have too much drainage. We used the same contractor who did our driveway to construct our arena surface.  This man knew how to survey land, factor in slope, surface drainage and drains that direct run-off away from the arena. The base preparation is all-important; our contractor, whilst not familiar with constructing a riding arena, knew his stuff and had all the right heavy equipment to do it properly. However, I did learn that there is such a thing as too much topping. We have enough over-supply of washed river sand to re top our arena for the next 20 years!  The washed river sand is mixed with flaked rubber (which breaks down much slower than granulated rubber). The arena is not dusty and never requires watering. This toping may not suit horses in heavy daily training as some may consider it a little too hard, for me as a casual rider it’s perfect.

It’s easy to perseverate on the arena surface itself. I admit that the baseboards and fencing took second place. Our fencer did the fencing with 2 rows of the plastic wire rails (un-electrified!)  used in the paddocks and it works well and requires no maintenance other than painting the upright fence posts. We affixed the baseboards ourselves, they are necessary to stop the topping migrating out. This task initially looked easy but took quite a lot of wood and we chamfered the top edges and painted them all. A long slow job that we hadn't factored in.

 

Make sure you factor into your budget equipment to maintain the arena and paddocks. These implements aren’t cheap but are very necessary. We settled on a tractor, arena rake, ride on mower with trailer and they all get a heavy work-out, especially in spring.

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DRIVEWAY

I know I have already mentioned the driveway. As it is such an important feature of any property it’s worth mentioning again. We used a contractor who had experience making country roads, he understood drainage and the forming of a roadway and also put us onto a driveway topping that is used on country roads. Over 8 years our driveway has required no maintenance, has no potholes and withstands all weather (and no, it isn’t bitumen). Again, it’s a case of do it right once and don’t skimp on the topping. Our driveway wasn’t cheap but it also wasn’t expensive.

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SO WHAT’S MY ADVICE?

  • Ask the locals who are the good contractors in the area, get references and see their work if possible. It's preferable to use a fencer that has experience with horse and electric fencing as they will know to factor in safety measures such as no exposed bolt ends etc.

  • Walk your land and know what's there. The amount of dangerous wire,rock and rabbit holes that we found was surprising.

  • Use the land specifications and diagrams in your property’s title  to get the shape and scale of your property and use your land capability study drawings and Google Earth screen captures for topography and vegetation to create exact to-scale plans of everything, with measurements.

  • Don’t overlook council permit applications and requirements get them done ASAP.

  • If you have weeds get on to them early, get a soil test and perhaps apply the appropriate nutrients. The new grass can be growing while you build. Get some trees in A.S.A.P. (not near the builders!) for the same reason.

  • Remember to budget for equipment as well as infrastructure, everything is easier with the right equipment.

  • Have exact to scale diagrams and descriptions available for all contractors and brief them clearly for written job quotes. Be precise with the quality and type of materials required.

  • Assume nothing- whilst your builder, fencer, earth-mover may be brilliant at their crafts, they are not necessarily horse people. They probably won’t recognise a dangerous protrusion, where something extra is needed, a logical modification etc. What is obvious to you will probably not be obvious to them - Check their work and get them to amend it promptly.

  • Regularly check your other contractors work and get them to  fix oversights and issues as they happen. Do some of the easier jobs yourself if you have the skills.

  • Use the equipment while it's on-site, fence post hole diggers make digging holes to plant trees super-fast. Get those holes dug for the manure pile and shavings walls. 

  • Plan the sequence of what needs to be available, and done.

  • The devil is in the details –

    • where is the manure pile, can you manoeuvre the tractor/ trailer there?

    • Can your water tanks gravity cross feed? Can your tractor fit through the arena gate?

    • Do you have a turning circle for your float/truck?

    • Can your float/truck fit under your shed’s doorway/roof?

    • Is your shed’s downpipe and guttering at a compatible height for the tank?

    • What about the tanks? Has your plumber shrouded /used metal pipes and fittings for the stable and paddock waterers- horses like to chew.

    • In your concreted horse wash have a water drainage pit that you can get to and clean out rather than just a hole that will block up, you may need a number of pits along the drainage pipe length.

    • Plan where your electric fence energiser is plugged in and where you need trenches for the underground insulated wire, try to share trenches with other services.

    • If your stable includes a hot water service shroud the water pipes ( including the cold) with water pipe insulation if you are in a cold area. Water doesn't flow when it's frozen.

    • Have you budgeted and planned for the little things- electric fence energiser, stable feeders, water troughs, tie up point fixtures, means of locking your stables/shed, perhaps a solar powered front gate? All these things add up.

 

  •  If you have some skills and don't mind hard work you can save some costs. We painted our paddock poles before they were put in, this was easier and faster in the long run. I did all the electrical connections for the fences.

  • Make sure you are insured to cover contractors.

  • Use certified, insured contractors and get electrical compliance certificates.

  • Remember that delivery will up the materials costs when you are located regionally.

  • You can never have too much drainage.

Have fun, now is your chance to get it right and reap the benefits

 I am available for property set-up help for free (Victoria up to 10 acres) , use this contact link to enquire.

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