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Arrival at New Iowa Horse Farm

Published: 6/10/2012
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

Around dinnertime after a second 12-hour driving day (nearly all on Interstate 80), we pulled into the horses’ new home. It’s a century-old homestead with a modest farmhouse and nine acres of fenced pasture.
In the month before our arrival, Steve Peters oversaw the construction of a 50 by 100 foot paddock, removal of a long stretch of four-strand, barbed-wire fencing, and the placement of a run-in shed to add to the shelter of the small barn.
The set-up is darned-near perfect, in my mind. It is safe, minimal, efficient, and includes my favorite feature – a slip space, allowing us to get through and letting no gate ever be forgotten. [See photo below.]
We off-loaded the horses and let them loose in the paddock. All ears, eyes, and noses got busy taking in their new environment.
I filled buckets, thinking the automatic waterer might stump them. Hardly. They ignored my water buckets and stood in line to use it.
We let them graze on the small amount of paddock grass until the next morning when they got their first honest turnout since last fall. We limited their pasture time to a few hours and kept our eyes out for loose poops and achy bellies for those first few days. Maybe those weeks of hand-grazing paid off. Maybe they’re just easy keepers. Either way, the shift to grass was seamless.

Click here for Trip Prep story.

Click here for Horse Transport story.

While the horses sussed things out, I cleaned and cleared the new digs.
The previous owner was a carpenter with ducks, chickens, alpacas, and horses. The stall area had a foot of old, dried multi-species manure. I carted a dozen loads to my newly-established manure pile, then I replaced it with limestone gravel.
There was plenty of room for tack, but first I’d have to empty the space of pallets, bundles of shingles, more manure, straw, and wood scraps. Dangerous nails and screws (for hanging his tools) were everywhere. Cobwebs got swept down. I found a garbage bin half full of old dog food and a half dozen mice who'd gotten in, gorged on the chow, then perished when they couldn’t get back out.


After two days, I was beginning to have a handle on how the space could serve us. I hung bridles, rope halters, and my tool belt. I brought in the saddles, grooming supplies, first aid kit, and other gear.
Two simple and vital feel-good elements of my old barn came with me: an old wooden box (safe to have around horses and great to sit on) and my dumpster-salvaged radio. They’ve traveled with me from barn to barn and bring me comfort in more ways than one.

The place was beginning to shape up.
It was time for the first ride.

CLICK HERE for first ride article

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6/13/2012 Kathie
Making it feel like home is so important. You certainly had your work cut out for you, but awesome place!

"It is the hardest pill for all of us would-be horsemen to swallow, but it is absolutely true - if the horse is not responding properly, we are doing something wrong" - Mary Twelveponies