Do Horses Need Holidays?

Tobiano

Well-Known Member
Joined
1 August 2010
Messages
4,236
Location
Norfolk
As title.

OK so I know that eventers and hunters are roughed-off for a few months each year and then come back in to work.

What do people think about a horse that just does RC level stuff? Mine has one or two days off every week and seldom works for more than 2 hours at a stretch. But do people give their horses a whole week off, or two, or a month, except for veterinary reasons?

Just interested in peoples opinions and experiences.
 

Tern

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 December 2012
Messages
2,608
Location
Gloucestershire
Depends entirely on the horse. If they have been competing a lot then I may take shoes off and give them 3 weeks in the field, if they are getting bored of the work and just generally shutting down then I may give them a couple weeks off to just relax.

I think that some horses do need holidays, others cope just fine without.. what is your horse's temperament like and how much does he compete?
 

FfionWinnie

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 July 2012
Messages
17,010
Location
Scotland
My horse cannot have a single day off. I just vary things as much as possible. She loves people, isn't that into other horses and loves to work so thrives on our routine.
 

Tobiano

Well-Known Member
Joined
1 August 2010
Messages
4,236
Location
Norfolk
ha ha Tern… he is very laid back and I think in the year I have had him we have "competed" twice. at 40 cm xc (!) and unaff prelim dressage. He doesn't really have a lot of stress in his life! :)
 

Tern

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 December 2012
Messages
2,608
Location
Gloucestershire
ha ha Tern… he is very laid back and I think in the year I have had him we have "competed" twice. at 40 cm xc (!) and unaff prelim dressage. He doesn't really have a lot of stress in his life! :)
Ahh! He sounds brill. :) My mare can fry herself to death with schooling so sometimes mid summer time I give her a week or so off just to relax, this year I hope to event and show a bit more so she'll def be getting some times off at the end of the summer or I may end up in hospital.. again. :eek:
 

Jo1987

Well-Known Member
Joined
9 June 2013
Messages
879
If mine has worked hard he gets 2 - 3 days off but not usually more as he starts to get silly to handle and is awkward when I want to get back on! Really depends on the horse though I think.
 
Joined
15 June 2009
Messages
6,414
Location
Was Surrey, now West Berkshire
I have owned quite a few ponies/horses, but the main two I have had have both benefited from time off. My old mare, who I had for 30 years, always came back from a few weeks break better than she went away, but if she had two to three days off when in regular work, would be fizzy, but not nasty. For Cam, it makes little difference. As I am a busy Mum and fit horses in between everything else, he is perfect. I can leave him for a few days, then pick him up again and he will be no different to whether he is ridden the day before. I have not managed to keep him going over a winter yet. The first two years, it was a positive decision as I had no facilities and fitting Christmas, children, family staying, winter etc, in just became too complicated. The day he was sat on after 2 months off, was no different to any other day, and after a few days he came back better than he was before. I am (touching every piece of wood I can!!!!!) not expecting any issues with bringing him back into work after his injury. We all benefit from a bit of down time, and I think that applies to our horses too! Good luck. :) xx
 

nikkitodhunter

Well-Known Member
Joined
21 March 2015
Messages
53
Location
Durham/Newcastle
Definitely depends on the horse, some will tell you when they need a break! The yard I take lessons at has one or two horses that every year, around the start of winter, get very sour and are clearly not enjoying the lessons - as soon as Mark, the instructor, notices it he gives them a good holiday (a week at the very least) to just let them 'be horses', and they always come back in great spirits!! They get days off etc. usually, but when they signal that they need a break, they get it. It's a matter of knowing the individuals I suppose.
 

Fools Motto

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 June 2011
Messages
6,300
My mare doesn't need any time off, she's the same with or without breaks, BUT, I need a holiday! AND, I don't see the point in hacking over the winter, where time is limited, and weather is bad. I haven't got money for competing either. So, on that basis, she has November - about now, just being her out in the field. She is 19 now, and it works fine for us.
 

Bernster

Well-Known Member
Joined
14 August 2011
Messages
6,224
Location
London
Ours, including the exracer, have January off for no other reason than its a hard month and it just makes it easier
There's a lot to be said for that, for horse and rider! Might give it a go next year as Jan is a rubbish month.

I tend not to, other than the odd week unplanned when I'm not around. Current one needs a good regular exercise programme and previous ones just didn't seem to need it. I think if they get rest days, have decent turnout and down time, and aren't in heavy work, then they can keep going all year round if you want them to.
 

laura_nash

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 July 2008
Messages
1,616
Location
Ireland
If I had a shod horse again I would give it a month or two out of shoes every year, which might mean a reduction in workload (or using boots for a month). Otherwise unless they are doing a lot of travelling and competing I'm not sure it is necessary.

Mine has had two long holidays (due to me not him) and it made no difference to him, no positive or negative changes, but he is that type. I got back on after 9 months off when I had my daughter and took him for a hack, he was obviously a bit unfit but otherwise no different.
 

Lyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 October 2010
Messages
823
Mine have 3 weeks mooching in December (our summer, because the season ends late November and doesn't start again until the end of Jan) I still handle them most days, they still get fed but not worked.

My training regime has at least one rest day per week, but I will periodically give them a short break if I feel they need it. Sometimes a week or two of time off plus hacking revitalises them in body and mind :)
 

twiggy2

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 July 2013
Messages
9,447
Location
Highlands from Essex
mine has had holidays in the past due to my life having busy or difficult times, she always comes back better for it. If I go on holiday she gets a break and I have a holiday planned in september so she will get a week off unless I get my instructor to ride her.

usually 10-14 days of in a block in the summer holidays so I can spend some tie with the kids too
 

rowan666

Well-Known Member
Joined
12 February 2012
Messages
2,063
Location
cheshire
mine get all winter off, mainly because we dont have lights or an indoor arena but they would still get time off anyway. all they do the rest of the year is hack and showing so they dont really need time off, they have a very easy life!
 

moleskinsmum

Well-Known Member
Joined
21 January 2010
Messages
3,923
Location
Up t'dale
Have always found that young horses benefit from the odd week off, especially when they have a lot of new stuff to process either as part of breaking or part of starting to get out and about. They seem to go off, let it all sink in, and come back ready to carry on where they left off but usually are quicker to learn something new.

Current horse is better if worked - for some reason he becomes stroppy to handle, rather than ride, if not kept busy. That said, if I couldn't ride for some reason, I would not worry about giving him time off. His fieldmate, on the other hand, wouldn't be bothered if he had a permanent holiday!
 

Orangehorse

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 November 2005
Messages
11,133
Some need riding lots, others are the same if left for 2 weeks.

It is harder to bring an older horse back into work if it has a long holiday, so for teenage horses it is probably better to keep them ticking over, but a couple of weeks off doesn't do any harm. I don't do much riding in December, for instance, maybe at weekends, and then if you go on holiday the horse can have a break too.

I seem to remember reading some research from Australia with very fit horses that found that if they weren't ridden for 6 weeks they didn't loose fitness.
 

Steorra

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 June 2010
Messages
732
Location
Cambs
My old horse seemed to come back re-energised from a week or so turned away in the big fields in summer with nobody bothering him (just basic checks in the field). While he never got sour about working he'd come back brighter and better from a little holiday. Now that he's mostly retired and only hacked very gently a couple of times a month he's the same whether he was last ridden yesterday or two weeks ago. Always keen, though.
 

Hawks27

Well-Known Member
Joined
21 October 2009
Messages
526
My horses is life is practically a permement holiday lol till we get going properly again hes only a happy hacker though I would love to find a nice rider to keep him fit and in more regular work but at best we ride 3-4 times a week but sometimes he has a week off here and there sometimes a month or 2 either due to him having a problem or me being too sick or injured (not because of him I have djd) but thankfully he is a rather chilled horse I got on yesterday after hes had 4 months off and we had a 20min walk round the woods bareback and he was totally chilled and happy except for the one sideways bounce after a leaf in the hedge gave him a funny look!
My previous mare preferred 5+day week of hard work to keep her mind occupied or she became a stroppy unmanageable madam. but she would usually have a little holiday in the summer I found she overheated when out 24x7 in the height of summer and tired much easier and enjoyed a few relaxing days off then with out going bonkers but in winter she wasn't good with more than a day off and we usually lunged/free schooled or walked out in hand on her day off
 

Goldenstar

Well-Known Member
Joined
28 March 2011
Messages
37,093
In my view horses need their shoes removing for part of every year, I aim for three months minimum .
They have a holiday at the start of that and the time I give them varies I have two with shoes off ATM .
Fatty will get eight weeks rest he hunted over 35 days and needs to let down and have a chill he will then work with out shoes until get him shod when autumn hunting starts Tatts will do the same but we will leave him out longer he wintered out and hunted out the field my guts tell me he needs a very easy spring .
J is overdue a break he's been in work since January 14 and his set of shoes will be his last before a shoeing break .
He will get two weeks and then start work in school and schooling field he will remain in light work for as long as it takes for me to get his feet as I want them .
I am a fan of the mini break , three days ,I use this quite a lot .
I like my horses to work in cycles of harder and lighter work during the year , lighter work will be schooling at home and light hacking .
I always know in head which part of each cycle each horse is in .
For the ones that hunt is timed round producing them in optimal shape for the hunting season.
 

misskk88

Well-Known Member
Joined
1 June 2012
Messages
923
After having a very hectic few weeks, I haven't sat one of the horses I ride in that time. Got back on yesterday and he was certainly much more enthusiastic and better than before the time off! I think it depends on the horse, but in my experience with any I've ridden/owned, I think giving any horse a chance to just 'be' a horse and to relax with no expectations can do the world of good.
 

Dusty85

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 February 2013
Messages
1,931
Location
Wiltshire
Do we enjoy time off/holidays?

I love holidays, so therefore I think its only fair to give them a bit of a break too. I do think it depends on the horse, i.e. if young then i would prob give days off rather than weeks, but an older, more established horse then yes, most definitely.

If i was a horse, I can't think of anything nicer then to have my shoes off and turned out in a herd of the same type to go have fun and play for 4 weeks.

Regarding timing of said holiday- Id probably do a blanket/trace type clip as the first clip in the autumn, then the can have a holiday over December/Jan - just in time for it to be really miserable trying to fit in horses with work and dark evenings.
 

Firefly9410

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 November 2014
Messages
1,174
Mine do better without a holiday. They are only in very light work all year round. One gets miserable if not worked and starts biting and the other goes a bit loopy, work seems to take the edge off the spooks and keep her calm.
 

chestnut cob

Well-Known Member
Joined
24 November 2004
Messages
14,996
Location
Shropshire
Mine had a holiday at the end of last year. He had worked really hard last year eventing, did some team chasing plus all the training that went with it and SJ/ DR comps as and when. At the end of the season I felt he would really benefit from some time off plus I was started a new job so it was the ideal time as I expected to be away a lot with work.
He ended up having 7-8 weeks off out in the field, no rug, no shoes, and an ancient pony for company. Then got an abcess and had a further 3 weeks off. Was brought back into work slowly, lots of hacking in straight lines and up hills. He has come back into work feeling and looking a million dollars. He is the strongest and most supple he has ever been. On the flat now I can't give him enough to do because he's finding everything so easy, and his attitude is just brilliant. I've only jumped a couple of times but he's basically picked up everything where he left off.

He won't get a holiday of that length again this year as won't be competing that much, but he'll probably get a month off in the depths of winter. I didn't expect his holiday to have that much of an effect on him.
 
Top