A little debate: Older horses. Are they better off in or out?

Puppy

Well-Known Member
Joined
2 February 2006
Messages
31,649
Visit site
I am interested to see two very different schools of thought on here when it comes to the matter of older horses and their management in winter.

Some people seem to say "He's old and arthritic, so I bring him in to keep him warm", whereas others seems to believe in keeping them out to keep them mobile and stop them getting stiff.

I personally am off the latter opinion. In fact, Star, and Will when he was alive (both in their 20s and living out 24/7) are/were noticably LESS stiff in the Winter, when the ground was softer in the field, than they tended to be in the Summer, when it was warm but the ground was hard. Not that I ever work them on hard ground, (I'm really quite precious about that
blush.gif
) but I think this just shows the impact of the surface they spend their days standing on. I suffer from arthritis myself, sometimes quite badly, and standing on the concrete holding horses for the farrier for a few hours antagonises my joints something terrible. Even with thick soled boots, (or in the horses' case a thick bed), I just feel how the concrete sends the cold up my legs *shudder*
crazy.gif
The same goes for being stuck still at a desk or lecture - it really causes me discomfort. This is how I feel a stabled and stiff horse would feel. So for this reason I keep my horses out
smile.gif
I had this discussion with my vet friends recently, and one of them said it is just shocking how many leg problems can be attributable to over stabling
crazy.gif


A friend of mine last winter, (whose family have a hunting/racing yard) when he delived me some hay in the snow, expressed total shock that my old girl had been out in it. He even said "awww, has she been out in this?" like I was being cruel
confused.gif
Personally I think it's rather unfair that he keeps his hunt fit horse stabled 24/7 and then gets cross at it for bucking.... But we have agreed to disagree on the matter
smirk.gif
grin.gif


So what do you all think?
smile.gif


Distract me. I am supposed to be reading about sentencing criminals.
tongue.gif
 

TheresaW

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 January 2006
Messages
8,842
Location
Nottinghamshire
www.justgiving.com
Well, Mac is only 11, so not old, but he does suffer with arthritis. Since diagnosis, he has been out 24/7 and shown no stiffness at all. (He used to be quite stiff most mornings when I got him out of stable). He will continue to be out 24/7 all through the winter providing he is happy. At the moment, I couldn't get a happier horse.
 

ecrozier

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 October 2006
Messages
6,174
Visit site
My arthritic mare (only 17) is much much better out all year! She does occasionally have to come in overnight, and is definately much stiffer the next morning. She is either unclipped or just a bib and belly depending on how much work she is doing, but never clip her legs, and she has a lovely toasty rug and plenty of feed/hay. She currently has a field shelter but when we move they won't, although in a much more sheltered location.
I'd try very hard never to have to keep her in again, for her legs.
 

Blizzard

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 September 2006
Messages
7,760
Location
South Africa
Visit site
Lance is 18 and lives out all year round, the only time I bring him in is if his thrush is starting so his feet can dry out. He likes being out.
 

jumpthemoon

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 May 2007
Messages
4,092
Location
Leicestershire
Visit site
At a yard I used to be at there was an older horse who suffered from arthritis. If he got really bad his owner would put him on box rest
confused.gif
which I completely disagree with! I think it depends on the individual situation - if the ground is reasonable and the horse doesn't mind being out and they can have plenty of hay outside, then I think they are better off out. I think if it is hammering down with rain though, of if the ground is really boggy then they are best in at night (for as short a period as poss).

I think each situation is different really and also depends on the horse - my mare HATES being out - she would happily stay in 24/7 - I have to virtually force her out in the field and if it rains she weaves!
 

Stoxx

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 July 2007
Messages
3,027
Location
Essex
Visit site
I think it is very dependant on the horse. My old pony is out 24/7/365, which is mainly due to her being a terrible box walker. If i had my own way when the weather got very wet I'd bring her in to dry off etc but she has other ideas!! She is happy so that is what we do.
However my horse is stabled all winter, our turnout gets completely closed (apart from the retired folk with no shoes on) when the weather is horrid. So he stands in for months on end. I have just bought him some very very thick rubber matting, with the hope that the cushioning of that will help and keep his joints warmer as he gets older.
 

Chex

Well-Known Member
Joined
31 October 2006
Messages
4,024
Location
Scotland
Visit site
I think they're probably better out...but I keep mine in (hypocrite or what lol
smirk.gif
). He's not lived out for at least 14 years, and he hates the wet weather. The main reason he stays in is because he has bad frogs, and they really start to disintegrate around this time of year from all the wet.

BUT he has to be out at least 12 hours a day, the norm is 14 hours (half 6 till 9). He's only in at night for 4 months usually (dec-mar), with thick rubber mats and a huge bed. The last 2 years his stable has been 25x30ft, but I think this year it'll be a normal sized stable unfortunately.

If I had my own place, he'd live out but with a proper shelter with a bed in it, and his haylage.
 

Baileysno1

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 October 2006
Messages
1,148
Location
Newark
Visit site
Bails is in his mid twenties, he is stabled at night, out all day and is excercised most days hacking or in the school. He thrives on this routine and only suffers with stifness if he has time off work, last year when he returned from his loan home where he was out 24/7 with access to a stable he was a bit of a state this was mainly due to his much lower work routine he was only hacked at weekends and I belive this truly aged him.

This summer he was out at night and looked well for it, I think so long as he has consitant work being staled at night through the winter will not be detrimental and because he lies down most nights I think it suits him.
 

scrat

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 February 2006
Messages
712
Location
hampshire
Visit site
My horse is at least 25 and lived out last winter quite happily. He is rugged according to weather and has a stable if needed. He comes in during the day for feeding etc and he is still ridden lightly. His routine means that he has a chance to be in his stable for a couple of hours to rest quietly or keep out of the flies but loves going out again. I would keep him in overnight if the weather was cold driving rain as he would hate that. He also has COPD so living out has improved his breathing. I also think he just likes to be with his fieldmates as they love to groom each other.
 

suestowford

Well-Known Member
Joined
13 July 2005
Messages
1,849
Location
At home
Visit site
I used to keep mine out, with a rug on. Without a rug he tended to stick himself under the hedge and not move, defeating the object of keeing him out. However, he also had a shelter which he could go in & out of as he pleased, he had a warm dry bed in there too. He did spend a lot of time in there, and if it snowed he would not want to go out at all.

I don't think you can set rules about things like this. It really depends on your horse & what he or she is like.
 

JadeWisc

Well-Known Member
Joined
24 July 2005
Messages
22,549
Location
Wisconsin, US
Visit site
I am of the belief that most all horses regardless of age are better off out than in.
I will add a disclaimer that individual situations may make me feel otherwise.

SO my answer is YES in general to out and NO to out for specific cases
 

reynold

Well-Known Member
Joined
8 August 2007
Messages
1,740
Visit site
absolutely - horses for courses

my 24 yr old is stabled, clipped out, rugged and worked but little turnout - hates it and much prefers nice warm stable with EVA mats - softer, thicker, warmer than rubber

31 yr old out 4 hrs in winter during day unless tipping down, out longer daytime in summer - never out 24x7 as he loses weight and turns into a hatrack

he's on liquid cortaflex all year round as was showing stiffness when just on the powder and has magnetic boots for times when it is really penetrating damp - when I feel my arthritis and put on my magnetic wraps I put his on as well.

happy in his routine
 

Emma123

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 January 2006
Messages
1,738
Location
Bristol
Visit site
We had loads of retired horses at our yard (auntie tended to keep all her ponies or buy them back
blush.gif
) and all lived out, or had a stable to wonder in and out from!

Most have sadly past away now, but we have a 40 year old pony, a 19 year old horse and a 25 year old pony who all live out all year round. They have a very sheltered field and a massive field shelter which they never use!

All are definitly happier living out and if we ever stand them in (i.e. waiting for the vet) they go crackers
blush.gif
 

jesterfaerie

Well-Known Member
Joined
21 January 2007
Messages
11,178
Location
Yorkshire
Visit site
Although my old boy (22) doesn't suffer from anything really he is much better outside (slightly stiff for the first few strides if he has been in over night) but absolutly no stiffness at any time when he is out 24/7. He preferes it outside providing he has a rug on in bad weather (he is still a bit of a wimp).
 

Grey_Arab

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 May 2006
Messages
1,857
Location
Cotswolds
Visit site
My boy (17 nearly 18) is out during the day in summer and is then in nearly all winter as the grazing we have closes. He doesn't seem to suffer from stiffness other than when he first comes out of his box and I couldn't leave him out 24/7 as he hates being out longer than 6 hours, anymore he comes and stands by the gate. (showing the logic of horses, he'll stand by the gate and whinny and mob anyone that goes in to bring him in and then goes mad and guzzles his haynet when he comes in cos he's hungry despite having been stood in a feild of grass!)
 

Tia

Well-Known Member
Joined
21 January 2004
Messages
26,100
Visit site
In almost every situation I think that old horses are generally better off being out 24/7. So long as they are wrapped up and given ad-lib hay, they should be better off keeping moving outside than stuck inside for hours at a time, getting cold and stiff.
 

Leary

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 July 2007
Messages
337
Location
Dorset
Visit site
When I bought my 15yr old mare in July, she was in most of the time and she had quite noticeable stringhalt in one hind leg. Since I have had her she has been out 24/7 until end of September, and her stringhalt seemed to have disappeared. Now when I turn her out in the morning, I can see the stringhalt again, so think standing around may not be great for her.
 

TGM

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 April 2003
Messages
16,467
Location
South East
Visit site
[ QUOTE ]
If I had my own place, he'd live out but with a proper shelter with a bed in it, and his haylage.

[/ QUOTE ] I think this would be the ideal scenario for a veteran horse - plenty of room to move around and keep active but still somewhere sheltered and dry to go if necessary.

My old girl is out most of the time but if the weather gets really foul and wet then she will come in at nights.
 

Heidi1

Well-Known Member
Joined
5 November 2003
Messages
3,225
Location
Nottinghamshire
Visit site
My 19 year old gelding is still out at the moment 24/7, I used to always bring them in middle of September, but he seems alot happier out and the weather is really nice still and if I did want to bring the bugger in I would struggle because I can't catch him, I can check his rug, but as soon as I try to put a headcollar on him he is off like a 2 year old
shocked.gif
grin.gif
. He is out with my 3 mares and they seem to be loving it too.......
grin.gif
 

kerilli

Well-Known Member
Joined
1 April 2002
Messages
27,417
Location
Lovely Northamptonshire again!
Visit site
i'd always say than any horse is better off out, with good rug, ample hay/haylage, shelter with warm bed for oldies. unless the horse stands as the gate asking to come in as soon as it's dark... depends on the individual. they'll usually tell you what they want/need, if you listen hard enough, imho!
 

Happytohack

Well-Known Member
Joined
21 December 2005
Messages
2,968
Visit site
It really is up to the individual horse and situation. Mishky is 17.3, a heavy draft horse and arthritic. If he is out 24/7 he just stands and gets stiff - he doesn't keep moving about to keep himself warm and mobile. He would much rather be in at night doing this:
DSCF0139.jpg

He goes out every day whatever the weather.
 

Magicmillbrook

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 October 2006
Messages
3,163
Location
Norfolk
Visit site
My girl (18) is much better when out, she has arthritis & COPD. The advice for peole is use it or loose it, so I guess its the same for horses, if we have realy foul weather I will bring then in for the night to dry out on rubber matting and deep bed of shavings.
 

Dogbetty141

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 October 2006
Messages
2,157
Location
Derbyshire
Visit site
My 15 yr old is out through the day in summer but they have to stay in all the time in summer have about 2 hrs turnout a week! we do have a tiny turnout paddock which we use all the time so he spends time in there moving about. just mud so give him haylegh! He does get swollen legs after being in all the time in winter but i ride 6 days a week which improves it alot!
 

I_A_P

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 March 2005
Messages
5,869
Visit site
It is best without a doubt to keep them out as much as possible, my boy is 24 and he has to come in as cant possibly stay in the field as it turns into a bog, iv let him get really hairy this year and he wont be clipped and he still has a thin rug on so im sure he would be fine staying out even if it meant really rugging him up.

When he was first diagnosed with bone spavin in his hocka s well as just ebing all over arthritic i was told to put him on box rest for god knows how long-sorry but thats a stupid idea???!!!

as i say he does come in nights but he is stiff when he walks out in the morning so i know he would be better off out.
 

MagicMelon

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 November 2004
Messages
16,217
Location
North East Scotland
Visit site
Out I say. As long as they're rugged up well so nice and cosy. It's not good for ANY horse to be kept in at all.

My 17yo and 20yo ponies are still living out and always will be (with shelter and rugs).
 

Tir_Na_Nog

Member
Joined
23 October 2007
Messages
29
Location
East Midlands
Visit site
<font color="peru">Teq is an arthritic TB x CB and is just about to turn 27, and she's out 24/7/365 - even when she's had a hunter clip. We have no choice, as the stables were flattened to make way for a new lorry route
mad.gif
, but even if we did have stables I think she'd still be out 24/7.

She's perfectly warm, happy and healthy - and we regularly get comments on how well she looks/people shocked to hear how old she is.

She's much happier to be able to keep moving, even just being tied up for a couple of hours to be groomed etc can leave her stiff afterwards, so I don't think she'd fare well in a stable.

If it's cold out, we have plenty of good rugs, and she's yet to feel anything other than snug!

TNN
</font>
 
D

Donkeymad

Guest
QR
In general I believe with appropriate rugging/feed horses are better off out than in. There are some that for various reasons this obviously won't suit.
Our old lad has arthritis and lives out 24/7/365 - he would be awful if we stabled him.(apart from the fact he has RAO)
 

Shantor1

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 October 2004
Messages
241
Visit site
Depends on each horse and local climate I guess. Its fairly warm but mild where we live int he winter. My 35 yo is out all the time in the summer unless heat and flies are bad. In by night winter and out by day. He is arthritic and finds very cold days uncomfortable but I keep him rugged up with light layers rather than heavy rugs.
 
Top