Owning and managing your own barn is a dream of many horse owners. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have horses in your backyard? When Karen Rudolph of Frost Hill Farm Miniatures in Hampstead, New Hampshire, partnered with Classic Equine Equipment to build her very own miniature horse barn, she was able to turn that dream into reality. So what is life like when you’re next-door neighbors with your horses? As ideal as that sounds, it’s not all fun and games – even miniature horses require a lot of work. Karen was kind enough to share her personal experience with us.
“Since I was 12 and got my first horse, I’ve been able to keep them at home,” Karen recalls. “When I got married as a teen, I continued to keep the horses at [my parents’] barn and care for them twice a day.”
Though Karen has been lucky enough to keep her horses at her parents’ barn over the years, she has always remained responsible for their care. “I live just two miles from my parents,” she explains, “so the commute to feed and clean twice a day wasn’t horrible. But it’s certainly amazing having [the horses] in my own backyard now!”
At Frost Hill Farm Miniatures, Karen breeds, trains, and shows her miniature horses – endeavors that all require significant time – in addition to caring for them. She describes managing her own barn as “an obsessive hobby” that requires multiple hours of commitment each day. “I show my horses on the World/National level and it takes plenty of work to fit up and condition a miniature.” Specifically, Karen notes that feeding her horses is “like an art, as they tend to get fat on air.” Her miniatures learn to jump so that they can show in hunter and jumper classes, while some of them also serve as driving horses.
In addition to showing, Karen’s horses have side jobs and play a heartfelt role in the community. Lucky, her World Champion gelding, is also her granddaughter Scarlett’s pony. In Lucky’s spare time he visits nursing homes, providing equine therapy to their residents. Soon he will add middle schools to his travel itinerary as well, as part of Frost Hill Farm Miniatures’ “Learning with Lucky” program. Students will be able to practice their reading skills by reading stories to Lucky.
Since Karen’s horses are so involved in showing and the community, they require a lot of attention. The accessibility of Frost Hill Farm Miniatures makes it possible for her to devote adequate time. Having a barn in your backyard eliminates the commute to a boarding barn, and it can be easier to make brief trips throughout the day to treat an injured or sick horse. It’s important to keep in mind that as happy as it may make you to see your horses on a daily basis, you will also assume all of the responsibility for their care.
As the owner of your own barn, the horses aren’t the only thing you are now accountable for – you’ll also have to maintain the barn itself. Since the winter months in particular create challenges, Karen recommends that barn owners in colder states invest in heated buckets. “By far that’s the worst part of winter horse ownership. I was always leery of heated buckets, and was worried about the safety aspects. But the heating elements are inside the buckets and if the cords are properly attached so that the horse does not have access to them, the buckets are safe. They are worth their weight in gold,” she explains. Barn owners have to consider practical elements, such as the water in regular buckets freezing, and find solutions to these challenges.
For Karen, owning and running her own farm is rewarding and satisfying. Her passion for her horses is apparent in the care that she took in her miniature horse barn building project. Having horses in your backyard will certainly change your life in numerous ways, but for many people the benefits outweigh the sacrifices.
Image Source: Frost Hill Farm Miniatures
Original Source: The Day-to-Day Life of a Working Miniature Horse Farm