Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pasture Board - for a horses health?

Oberon will be pasture boarded with a nice shed available to get out of wind and bad weather.  I like the fact that each pasture "suite" is partitioned in order to provide the utmost pasture rotation.  I am extremely lucky to have such a nice facility five minutes from my house.

In the afternoon, there is shade available in the grass pasture as well.  I have done a bit of research and I really don't understand why some people keep horses in their stalls for extended periods of time.  From what I have read, horses are animals meant to survive the elements of nature and I don't understand when I hear "it is too hot" for horses to be outside.  A shade tree works.  I guess some people are worried about their horses coat fading, but isn't health far more important?

Many horses end up weaving, cribbing and head bobbing and just plain become stressed out.  Isn't stress one of the leading causes of colic?    (I am truly asking this question, not being a smarty pants.)  Standing in a stall is terrible for a horses circulatory system as the body receives insufficient blood flow and the heart becomes stressed.  Horses are meant to move their feet.

I understand putting a horse in a stall overnight for "protection" depending upon where one lives, but I still think for most horses, pasture boarding (with a shed) is better for their health.  Is it true that horses in  captivity live shorter lives than horses in the wild?   I also read that a fluffy coat in the winter is much healthier than a blanketed horse - that we are actually harming their immune system.

What are your thoughts?  


Shirley said...

The closer to nature, the better for the horse. We put them in such an artificial environment because of our own needs, poor things.
I do blanket Beamer in the winter, partly because I usually ride in the winter, and partly because he actually seems to like his blankets. But then he's an oddball; he likes confined spaces too.

Cedar View Paint Horses said...

Turnout 24/7, unless something requires them to stay in. Ours come in for their grain and a quick inspection, then back out they go. We have a 12 x 60 shelter off the back of the shed that they seldom use.

NeighGirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NeighGirl said...

I keep all of my horses out all day every day. I don't know why people are so intent on keeping their horses inside, it isn't like the wild horses go into their stall at a wee bit of sun, and also, they do make a turnout sheet the is light weight and protects the horse from RV rays,i have heard that they work well.
I think that you are being wise to have a run in type barn.

P.s. colic is also caused from rolling( i had a horse that rolled and twisted his gut),
but there really is no way to stop that, and they only have one stomach and so they can't handle food as well as cows do.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a wonderful boarding facility!

Edward said...

You have asked lots of questions so I’ll be going on for a bit.

First of all people keep their horses in for so long mostly for competition purposes so they don’t hurt themselves some beautiful and talented competition horses have had to be destroyed because of paddock accidents, and as for people saying it is too hot for horses that is because some say if your horse overheats it can course kidney failure.

Stress can cause digestive problem in both horses and humans and obviously digestive problems can easily lead to colic, but colic is most often a result of improper feeding, and yes horses should move but most horses that are kept in have a daily exercises that keeps their blood flowing healthily.

Horses in captivity will always have the potential to live longer than horses in the wild and very often will, my horse’s sire is 34 years old and still going, many horses in the wild won’t even get remotely close to that.

As for rugging up or blanketing a horse, it will not harm the horses immune system but it will prevent the horse from growing such a thick coat, as the horse only grows as much as it needs so if you rug up your horse his or her need for a thick winter coat will be less. People will often clip a horses winter coat as it can be problematic when working the horse which is also often why people rug up, also some breeds of horse are not suited to hard winters without help from humans in the form of rugging/blanketing.

Anyway all that said my horses do live out most of the time, but I do rug up very often, a natural life style is good for horses but it is always good to step in and do your bit. Sorry about going on so much, good post lots to talk about.

Ed Pilolla said...

i used to work on the backstretch of racetracks among horses that were stalled for 23 hours a day, the other hour spent training on the track. many of them never got out to pasture. the sights of horses grazing is nourishment for my soul...

Margaret said...

Thank you all for your comments. As with everything probably a mix is the best solution. There is something in me that would like to bolt the barn door at 9:00 pm and have my horse "safe and cozy" in a fresh stall. And I do understand the fear if someone spends a huge amount of money on a show horse and is afraid of accidents, they might want to only let it out for a very brief amount of time - and most likely by itself.

BUT, I must ask, is that really better for the horse? I have been watching my Oberon in the paddock with his "roommates" and I see the social interaction, the communication, and yes, a bit of squabbling at times. I was thinking this might be the best thing for their mind. Will it make a better "mental" horse in the long run? Now with that said, his roommates are laid back chaps and rather kind. I'm sure I would feel differently if this wasn't the case. I know of a recent accident where a horse's leg was broken by a well placed kick by an irritated horse. The horse has recovered, but it was a long process.

One point I noticed in researching barn vs. pasture board is that barns (windows, doors and vents) even in winter should be left OPEN for proper air ventilation and healthy air. Now, I grew up in the north and I often saw tightly shut barns. There are a few big stalls at the barn I board and they have what is called a "courtyard" barn. Open all the time except in the most severe weather cases.

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it.

New Horse Owner said...

Sounds as though you’ve done a lot of research into the best way to keep Oberon, he is a lucky horse.
We like 24 hour turnout ourselves but having said that there are situations where a combination of stable and turnout are v. useful. One example is if you have a horse / pony that has a weight problem and needs restricted grazing, often keeping them in during the day when the grass is sweeter and turning out at night will help. It also very much depends on the type of horse you keep, hotbloods (thoroughbreds & arabs) and warmbloods can’t always cope with the winter weather outdoors 24/7 even with rugs.
Full time stabling can cause behaviour problems which we describe as stable vices when the horse receives insufficient exercise and insufficient fibrous food. Horses evolved as trickle feeders and the practice of feeding large hard feeds and not providing enough forage can lead to colic. (Incidentally rolling doesn’t cause colic, a horse that is colicking will often want to roll which sadly can sometimes result in a twisted gut. There is a link to a useful video about colic in one of the earlier posts on my blog)
As for rugging versus natural winter coats, this will depend on your horse and the weather where you are and the amount of riding you want to do in the winter. A nice thick winter coat will cause you horse to sweat profusely when being worked, this is why here in England hunters (and other hard working horses) are clipped. Obviously if they are clipped they will need rugging. But as Edward mentioned rugging your horse and preventing the winter coat from getting too thick is an alternative to clipping. And then there is mud, horses love to roll and trying to get that caked on mud out of a horses coat before you ride can take a long time.
Most horses don’t really mind the cold too much providing they can move around to keep warm and have plenty of forage. (it ferments in the gut and keeps them warm) but they can’t stand a combination of wind and rain and our thoroughbreds have to be rugged up on wet & windy days even in the summer as they get cold and start to shiver. When they get cold they’ll start to drop weight and condition v. fast.
Horses are naturally herd animals and will always be happier in the company of others, even just being able to see other horses will help. You’ll find that Oberon will probably become firm friends with his field mates but sometimes this can also cause a bit of a problem as some horses suffer from separation anxiety when separated from their friend.
And yes you are quite right it is very important that there is adequate circulation of air in any form of stabling if not it can lead to all sorts of health issues

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

I'm glad you've made the decision to pasture board. Seeing horses in stalls makes me sad.

Margaret said...

New Horse Owner - thank you! I think I have a bit more of an understanding and yes, less judgmental attitude now, which is a good thing. Certain breeds in certain climates do not mix and there are other factors to consider.

Thanks everyone for contributing to this conversation! :)

allhorsestuff said...

Margaret, You have the BEST situation for Oberson...
me having been in 7( I am embaraced to say) boarding facilitlies in the past 5 years, seeking confident and professional care for my TB mare.

I Pature boarded for almost a year and that really seemed to be my mare's favorite thing..she got calmer and much more relaxed. Less handlers, the better I say. After that, my next two (including my current place) has the stall open 24/7 to a large run. So if the pastures need to rest or the weather is crap..they can walk about and be uninhibited in movement...mine..she trots to the end of her 150 ft run, and canters back, for pleasure!

Edward really hit the other specifics of why some stall all the time. Show barns and horses...they always stall and never turnout. Sad.

I love your digs!

Margaret said...

I do worry a bit about biting and kicking... etc, as he is in with other horses but I'm OK with it now because he really has great "room mates". (but a mother always worries, right? :)