Horses have the best of both worlds here at HHIA. They live on 56 acres of rotated pasture, have access to a 40' by 40' shelter, get a nutritionally balanced two meals a day, which are customizable based on the horses' needs and have regular hay access.
We believe in the highest quality of care and our feeds are no exception. We use Buckeye Nutrition to make sure horses are getting their multivitamin without requiring additional supplementation. Horses are meant to travel 50+ miles a day and to find their own supplements throughout their day. Modern horse farms, even a large one like ours, can't provide this except for through artificial supplementation. We believe a multivitamin should be the rule and not the exception for basic care in domestic environment and we therefore include it as a part of the base boarding fee.
Morning Feed: Horses are fed 2lbs of Buckeye Safe 'N Easy in their pastures each morning.
Evening Feed/Supplements: Horses are brought in for feed each evening. Their grain/supplements are customized for each horse based on their needs.
We stock the highest quality supplements for our horses and make it easy for owners: simply add the supplements you want to your invoice each month!
We don't leave owners to their own devices during and after injuries, illnesses or surgeries.
With over 20 years of horse rescue experience, we partner closely with our vet and farrier, but also can administer much non-prescription care ourselves. We understand that horses are rarely healthy for an entire year and that owners have lives outside of their horse, so we are prepared to provide day-to-day care for an injured or ill horse on an as-needed basis.
Because riding lessons or bodywork are a part of boarding at HHIA, we are uniquely prepared to assist a horse and it's owner through a trauma or illness: we know the horse and it's capabilities and needs BEFORE something happens, providing a baseline for that horse as a healthy animal.
Once recovered from the initial trauma, we work with the owner to bring their horse back up to par through ground work, mounted exercise and bodywork, all customized for the horse's specific needs.
If a horse needs to be pulled from the herd or put on stall rest, we have three locations: a stall in the main barn and two 1/2 acre quarantine lots, each with a 10' x 12' shelter set up like a stall with the ability to close their doors. There is an additional charge for long term stays in any of these locations to cover bedding and extra staffing.
Hay Access - We provide round bales year round for the horses that want it in addition to pasture access. There is a 5' no-climb fence that serves as a slow feeder to the herd. Hay is a fescue/orchard grass blend to prevent insulin spikes when the horses eat. Many horses on our farm came from EMS, laminitis or founder situations and this practice helps us control the herd's overall health.
Water Access - Horses have automatic waterers in summer and heated troughs in winter. Horses also have the option to drink water from four different runoff creeks throughout the property during rainy seasons.
We have customized board rates based on horse’s needs and lesson packages because we don't believe in unnecessary charges. Most boarders spend $350-$500 total each month for board, additional feed/supplements and lessons:
Originally a dairy barn from 1938, our barn and shelter were renovated in 2017 to better accommodate the needs of a horse farm, complete with french drains, waterproof flooring, stall mats, staging aisle for feeding, wash rack, 12’x25’ stall and 2 10’x12’ stalls with small turnout for injuries.
We have two lighted outdoor arenas (a standard small size dressage arena - 131'x66' and a half size - 66'x50') with all-weather footing, two round pens and over 3 miles of trails.
Each boarder is given a saddle rack, bridle/halter hook and space in our locked tack room for a tack box.
Feed Room Security - The feed room is separate from the barn, ensuring horses cannot break into it. It is also heated and cooled to preserve feed, supplements and medications. The room is kept locked at night with an access code lock.
Barn/Tack Room Security - The barn/tack room is kept locked at night. Boarders are given access to a key.
Our Blanketing Philosophy - We blanket horses in cold rains and under 20 degrees (the point at which horses have to each more to stay warm). Your horse will need a waterproof blanket. Most of our horses prefer medium weight.
Metal Shoes - We do not allow metal shoes on the property. Metal shoes cause a false herd hierarchy and cause many health issues including, but not limited to preventing the horse's from flexing and pumping blood from its lower legs back into its heart. We do allow composite (plastic) shoes. You can learn more by visiting our farrier's website: Big River Equine.
Fencing - Fencing is mostly polyrope and electric wire. We are upgrading from barbed wire. The remaining barbed wire on the property is so old that it is no longer sharp.
Salt Access - Horses are given 24-7 access to loose salt.
HHIA is uniquely prepared for record level flooding, which is becoming more frequent in Saint Louis. We are situated in a valley significantly above and away from the flood plains. We experience runoff during rain events that clears within a few hours after the event rather than settling and sitting on our property.
We are an established evacuation point for other farms in the area that experience flooding themselves. With the sheer size of our property and the fact that our pastures are divided by a center ridge, we are able to temporarily accommodate another horse herd during flood events.
Our supply chain is also prepared for flooding. If a flood event is predicted, feed, hay, supplements and other supplies are delivered to HHIA before their properties and shipping lanes are affected.
While tornadoes are unpredictable, they tend to skip over our meandering, narrow valley simply because of our geography. Regardless, if tornado weather comes our way, all pastures are opened to the herd through a fencing channel system, giving them access to the entire property.
Because they are kept as naturally as possible the herd is very in tune with their instincts and know to leave the buildings (in the event of collapse) and know how to identify a place in the valley where they will be safe. They tend to choose a place about 1/3 of the way up the hills, away from buildings, but below the high winds above the valley walls.
Worried your horse's instincts might be dulled from previous stall or small acreage care? Don't worry! Our herd leaders take their roles as protectors very seriously will makes them move to safety with the larger herd.
Climate change is handing us more and more unique weather. Bomb Cyclones not only bring 60+ mph winds and stormy weather, but also cause a 24 millibar or greater drop in atmospheric pressure in less than 24 hours.
We use the same practices as we would in a tornado, as well as provide each horse with a dose of a natural anti-inflammatory to help prevent headaches and muscular discomfort during the sudden and drastic barametric pressure drop.
Polar Vortexes are being forecasted with increased frequency. These cold snaps of arctic air currents can bring temperature/windchill combinations in the -20s to the Saint Louis area. None of the animals in the area are used to or prepared for such cold snaps. We work on our farm to help the horses, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkey and guinea fowl fare polar vortexes safely.
Hay/pasture access is maintained because horses convert food to energy and warmth. In arctic temperatures, Saint Louis based horses typically cannot eat fast enough to stay warm with food alone and so we make sure they are also blanketed. The combination keeps them warm.
Electric water heaters in troughs cannot keep up with arctic temperatures. Insulating troughs with hay, combined with water checks every 3-4 hours to break the icy surfaces with an axe has proven effective for our farm, where troughs are kept in the bottom of the valley, below the worst of the winds.
HHIA keeps a "Polar Vortex Box" full of the tools we need to be able to quickly, safely and efficiently set up the smaller animals for potentially life-threatening cold.
We abandon the chicken coop for the heated feed room, which covered in sheets to protect horse feed, the feed cart and other surfaces from the flock. They are fed and watered indoors until the temperatures break.
Our two sheep are moved into the tack room with old horse blankets, hay and water because their shelter cannot help them in such drastically cold temperatures.
Our four potbelly pigs are given extra bedding in their shelters and food/water is brought to them during water checks so they do not have to leave their shelters, other than to use the restroom. They have even learned to make a "wall" of hay for staff to throw over them when they snuggle in after feeding/watering so they can be completely buried away from the weather.
Power outages are an unfortunate side effect of severe weather. As farm infrastructure is further developed, we are converting much of the property to solar power with the goal to eventually be completely off the grid. Then, not only will we be operational during storms, using our own reserves, but we will not be dependent on the grid if it remains down for days after a storm event. Currently, our arena lighting and pathway lighting is solar. We also have a solar water trough heater in our quarantine space.
Our farm has two water sources during severe weather.
First, our well water depends on electricity to run the pumps. In case of an outage, we keep 250 gallons of water in reserve storage at all times for the herd's use. If the severity of a storm warrants, we also fill all water troughs, even during seasons when our auto-waterers are in use, to provide the herd with another 500 gallons of water. All combined, we can water the herd for 3-4 days without electricity.
Second, most storms bring enough rain to cause our runoff creeks to run. One of the runoff creeks is sourced by a reservoir pond located in one of the valley's ravines. Water from the reservoir pond can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the amount of rainfall And runs directly through the fencing channels the horses have access to at all times.
Increasingly hot summers and longer lasting heat waves are hard on horses in the Saint Louis area who aren't used to it. Not only is our valley routinely 10-15 degrees cooler than surrounding areas in the summer, it also provides various shade options for the herd. They have the shelters, but often prefer to find a stand of trees or go to the portions of the farm that are shaded by the land ridges.
We are continuously conscious of our dependence on the water table and practice water conservation throughout the summer. Older horses and others that need it, are bathed for cooling their core body temperature, using minimal water.
We also maintain a close relationship with our hay provider and can easily source additional hay if our pastures burn out.
As weather events become more extreme and droughts become more prevalent, we are keeping an eye to the future. Horsekeeping will become more and more difficult and expensive, which we are already seeing on other local farms that can't take advantage of our unique narrow valleys, runoff creeks and natural shady areas. Keeping pasture without annual reseeding and fertilization is becoming harder for farms. It's becoming normal to ship hay in for the winter from all over the country, also a costly endeavor. While these scenarios have not happened to HHIA due in part to our close relationships with our suppliers and our buying power from keeping such a large herd, we are well aware that they could become a reality in the next few years.
We are partnering with the Missouri Department of Conservation to develop our lands in a sustainable manner for both our geography and for successful horsekeeping in drought and other severe weather by removing invasive plant species and replacing them with trees, shrubs and grasses that will control erosion, conserve water and provide forage, shade and wind breaks for the herd.