Welcome! And thanks for visiting our website. Many people have shown an interest in our horses since we moved them to this property. If you'd like to learn more about them or how we care for them, read on.



Herd Wingman



Herd Maestro



Herd Optimist



Herd Newbie

Your Questions, Answered

Is Manning Farm South open to the public?

Thanks for your interest, but no. We are a private home and cannot accommodate visitors.

Can I board my horse with you?

Unfortunately, we do not currently have boarders and don’t foresee that ever changing.

Can I ride, pet, take photos with, or feed your horses?

No. Our horses are not lesson horses. Some of them are young and/or in training. We do not rent them out or allow other people to ride or handle them. It isn't good for our horses and it's not safe for people.

Why do your horses sometimes wear colorful boots and/or masks in the summer?

Flies are a fact of horse life, but we take steps to reduce their numbers and mitigate their impact on the horses. The boots protect a horse’s legs from flies and reduce stamping and stress. Mesh fly masks worn on the face protect the eyes from flies. (The horses can see right through them.)

One of your horses is on the ground. Is it dying or dead?

When horses lie down, it is not a sign of distress. It is actually the opposite. Although horses mostly sleep standing up, to do this they need to keep part of their brain awake. Horses can get the majority of the rest they need this way. But they do need a small amount of time to let their entire brain sleep each day.

Since horses are prey animals, they will only lie down if they feel safe. This means knowing that other horses are on watch to alert them if there's danger. When our horses lie down, it means they are relaxed and resting. Horses that are too stressed to lie down or don't have room to do so develop serious emotional problems and stress-related health conditions.

Some dangerous conditions in horses (such as colic) will causes horses to use the ground in an attempt to relieve the pain. Horses in distress do not lie still. They will roll repeatedly (going down and getting up again four or more times in a row) or nip at their sides while lying down. If you see one of our horses on the ground and moving a lot for more than a few minutes, please do let us know! But if one of our horses is just rolling (see below) or lying perfectly still and looking like a corpse, there is no cause for alarm. He is simply having a glorious nap.

I saw one of your horses squirming around on the ground. Is it sick?

Horses love to roll. They roll in dirt and mud (when they can find it) and grass. When a horse rolls, he will drop to his knees, flop onto his side, and push onto his back, sometimes flipping from one side to another. This works grit into the coat if he's rolling on dirt, which feels good. Or it coats him in mud, which helps protect from flies and heat. Or it works grit or mud out of the coat if he's rolling on grass. Healthy horses roll every day, often more than once.

More About Horse Care and Wellness

Many people who don't have experience owning horses have misconceptions about their needs. This section is designed to help educate anyone who'd like to know more on the topic.

Why don’t your horses have a barn?

Our horses do not have a barn because they have a windblock, which is a more effective method of sheltering horses than most barn structures. While barns are both popular and common, they have their downsides when it comes to offering protection to groups of horses. Most particularly, barns create choke-points, which can be very dangerous. If multiple horses have access to a single indoor space, the dominant horse might not let others in, leaving one or more horses vulnerable in harsh conditions. Horses can also end up stuck in corners or up against walls. Both scenarios can lead to serious injury or even death.

Many horses prefer not to go into barns anyway because they feel confined and unsafe when they don’t have a view of the horizon. In short, some people think horses need barns because people like to be indoors. But horses don't need the same things humans do. We should not confuse what is comfortable for us with what is comfortable for them. Horses confined indoors have much higher instances of ulcers, colic, and anxiety-related behaviors such as cribbing and weaving than horses allowed to live outside.

Are you sure about that? A lot of horses live in barns.

Equine behavioralists universally agree that horses need three things to be happy and well. These things are called the Three F's: Freedom, Friends, and Forage. Horses who are forced to live in circumstances where they lack one or more of these basic needs become mentally and physically unwell. Ideally, every horse on earth would have access to at least 100 acres of arid grassland and several dozen other horses. This is impossible to provide in Iowa. In truth, almost all domesticated horses suffer from want of the Three F's to at least some extent. But most horse owners do the best they can. In our case, everything about how we have designed our space is designed to maximize the Three F's and thus give our horses the happiest life we can offer. Barns are fundamentally incompatible with a horse's need for freedom.

Why are your horses all in together? Is that dangerous?

Horses maintain complex social relationships. Herd hierarchy is at the core of what helps them stay happy and healthy. Isolated horses (even if they have other horses on the other side of a wall or a fence) experience much higher levels of stress and are more prone to health issues. Horses thrive when they are able to have buddies and be physically close to them. They enjoy running and playing together. They also protect each other from insects and weather by sharing space. Since our lot is large and does not include choke points or doors or tight corners, there is little chance of one horse harming another. Our horses have been together for many years and are very good friends.

But don’t horses need shelter?

Our windblock is carefully designed and placed to provide protection from many different types of weather while allowing horses to remain close to one another. It blocks wind from every direction, allows horses to share body heat with herdmates, and does not interfere with their ability to move freely and see into the distance. Horses do not need a roof to be comfortable and safe. Given a choice between being indoors and sheltering by a windblock, horses will almost always choose the windblock.

What about storms and wind?

Horses are safer outside in storms. In high winds, large buildings and three-sided structures are especially vulnerable to being damaged, crushed, or flipped over. Horses inside have no ability to escape these disasters. Most experienced horse owners choose to turn their horses out when a severe storm is coming to increase their chances of survival.

What about cold?

Horses live happily in the wild in environments like Canada, Greenland, and Siberia where the winter is harsh and there is little to no shelter from the wind or snow. They are innately equipped to handle cold weather with heavy winter coats and tails designed to block the wind. When possible, wild horses like to line up among trees, fluff up their coats, and put their butts to the wind. This enables them to create stored heat in a group even in extreme conditions. With our windblock, there is no chance of one horse getting left out because a more dominant horse won't let them through a barn door. There’s plenty of room for everyone. If you walked among horses sharing heat this way during a polar vortex (which we have done) you would be shocked at how warm it gets against a single solid wall. During cold periods, our horses also have access to heated water and all the food they can eat, which helps keep their body temperature at safe and comfortable levels.

Chihuahuas, on the other hand, have very different care needs and do not do well in the cold. This is why Tobi lives indoors and wears sweaters during the colder months. Also, he has an innate sense of style that cannot be denied.



Head of PR

What about heat?

Horses sweat in the heat, and the drying of that sweat is how they cool themselves. For this reason, being inside a building is worse for them during the summer. With less air movement and less ability to move themselves, the sweat can’t evaporate as easily. This can cause a horse to overheat, which can have severe consequences. In the summer, trees provide shade for our horses without reducing their ability to move or blocking the breeze like a building would. We also set up fans during the worst phases. Our horses also have unlimited access to cool, fresh, drinking water. Methods like misters or sprinklers or any other means of getting horses more wet are actually dangerous in humid environments like Iowa as they inhibit evaporative cooling.

If you see our horses sweating, this means they are sufficiently hydrated and are handling the heat well. It does not mean they are uncomfortable or in distress.

What about rain?

Horses are not harmed by rain. Most horses do not go under a roof when it’s raining even if they have one. Horses evolved in grasslands where there was no shelter of any kind. They lived happily for 55 million years and adapted in order to thrive in multiple harsh environment types before people started putting them in buildings.

Why don’t your horses wear blankets?

Horses can heat themselves much better with their own coats than with man-made alternatives. A blanket compresses a horse’s coat and destroys its ability to insulate while also preventing evaporation of moisture. A blanket also means a horse can't flatten their coat to dump heat and cool off. The result is that a horse wearing a blanket is often too cold or too warm, sometimes sweaty or with ice in their coat, and thus frequently uncomfortable. Blankets can also chafe, rub, or get caught on fences. Horses are happier and safer without them. The exception to this is horses with underlying health problems. Although sometimes rare weather events can make a horse’s coat less effective, these are extremely uncommon. That said, we do have a heavy winter blanket stored on the premises for each horse, and we monitor them constantly. We know how to tell if a horse is cold. Any horse that needs a blanket will get one.

If that’s true, why do so many horses wear blankets?

Many people blanket their horses to prevent the natural coat from growing in. They do this because a shaggy, warm, functional winter coat is considered unsightly, particularly among people who show their horses.

I can't see any hay. Are your horses underfed?

We feed our horses high quality grass hay in slow feeders designed to mimic grazing as closely as possible. We put out fresh hay twice a day and also allow them access to fresh grass when pasture conditions allow. Due to the rich nature of the soil here, most horses in Iowa are overweight, which is linked with bad health outcomes. Our horses are also often verging on the plump side. To feed them more would be irresponsible. Horses often take breaks from eating. Just because you can't see any food when you drive by doesn't mean they don't have any.

Your lot has some mud in it. Are your horses neglected?

For the vast majority of the year, our lot is dry and clean. Manure is removed on a daily basis and the lot is designed to drain. During spring in particular, however, the combination of lots of rain and not a lot of sun sometimes makes is impossible to keep the lot entirely free of mud. The only way to have horses in Iowa that never have to move through mud is to keep them confined indoors at all times, which everyone who has any professional experience with horses would agree is inhumane. Horses in stalls can barely move. They have no choice but to stand in their own feces and urine. This is equivalent to confining a human to a room with the dimensions of a full-sized bed. With no toilet. Not even prisons do that to people.

Clean mud is not at all harmful. Our lot is large enough that our horses always have dry spaces to stand and rest. When they are coated in mud, this is because they have left the dry spots and chosen to roll in the muddy ones. Horses truly enjoy a good mud bath. Herds of wild mustangs have been observed seeking out the edges of watering holes and playing in the mud.

Are you sure your horses are properly cared for?

Together, the people at Manning Farm South have many decades combined experience housing, training, and keeping horses safe and well. We’ve never had a horse experience illness, injury, or distress due to inadequate facilities or improper care. Our horses are well-fed, properly-sheltered, and monitored all day by video. They receive regular attention from a vet and a farrier. We know the particular needs and personalities of our individual horses very well. (We've owned one of them since 2008.) They are all thriving. But please send us an email if you’d like to know more!

I still want to know more about your horses.

Follow us on Instagram! We post photos and little stories about their lives.

I really love horses! Do you know a fun way I could continue to learn more about them?

It just so happens we do. We recommend Stefani Wilder’s books. They are fictional stories that nevertheless include accurate details about caring for horses and training them.

Tobi (see above) would be happy to answer your questions.
Just email: tobi@manningfarmsouth.com