Normalizing restricted turnnout ?

bouncing_ball

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None of the horses at the riding school I helped at as a teenager in the 70’s turned anything out and when I moved to Germany they thought I was odd because I wanted turnout. It was so limited I rode 6 days a week for hours in the forest and surrounding countryside and thought nothing of hacking 6 miles to a lesson and then hacking home again. Now my two get turned out daily but if they have to stay in because the field is so wet they get hacked out for a couple of hours to compensate for standing in.
If you work full time, in winter, do you hack for a couple of hours in the dark?
 

bouncing_ball

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Exactly. Mine are out every day, but still they need work, and I don't mean half an hour in the arena in walk, trot and slow canter. They need to be tried after work. I often hear 'oh you do work them hard' (real meaning 'you work them too hard'), but they need to be fit to feel good, and while they are in hard work I can feed ad-lib hay even to the good-doer, which I feel is much the healthiest solution for them.
Surely if a horse is fit for the work it’s doing, unless you are intentionally training it to be fitter it won’t find work particularly tiring?

I hack for several hours, do raised poles / in hand with / hill work / gallops / schooling etc. But once my horses are the equivalent of event fit they don’t particularly tire during their work.
 

Michen

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I really think horse owners are slightly deluded to be honest. They want unlimited turn out, but are unwilling to pay decent livery costs a lot of the time. So naturally yards will end up over stocked.

I am very lucky with the turnout where I am but if something changed I'd accept either I need to pay substantially more and find a yard that can offer what I want, move the horses somewhere with more land or make the effort to ensure my horses welfare is looked after (i.e they are "worked" in some form both ends of then day). Which I don't think is the end of the world.

I think our European friends would find this obsession with turning horses out, often for them to stand in knee high mud looking miserable completely ridiculous.
 

Gingerwitch

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I really think horse owners are slightly deluded to be honest. They want unlimited turn out, but are unwilling to pay decent livery costs a lot of the time. So naturally yards will end up over stocked.

I am very lucky with the turnout where I am but if something changed I'd accept either I need to pay substantially more and find a yard that can offer what I want, move the horses somewhere with more land or make the effort to ensure my horses welfare is looked after (i.e they are "worked" in some form both ends of then day). Which I don't think is the end of the world.

I think our European friends would find this obsession with turning horses out, often for them to stand in knee high mud looking miserable completely ridiculous.
Working a horse properly twice a day is so far away for many who own horses that stand in all day every day in winter. I am it saying that this is not achievable and at one yard I was at I hot there at 2pm and left at 9pm. On sat and sunday it was all day as I would take them to hand graze too. I had 4 at the time and that winter was make or break. I was selling up until I found this yard. I did move but ended up going back due to distance but 5he way I see it is would I rather drive an hour or break mucking out at 8pm with grumpy horses who are stuck in.
 

bouncing_ball

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I really think horse owners are slightly deluded to be honest. They want unlimited turn out, but are unwilling to pay decent livery costs a lot of the time. So naturally yards will end up over stocked.

I am very lucky with the turnout where I am but if something changed I'd accept either I need to pay substantially more and find a yard that can offer what I want, move the horses somewhere with more land or make the effort to ensure my horses welfare is looked after (i.e they are "worked" in some form both ends of then day). Which I don't think is the end of the world.
.
I keep my horses a 50 minutes round trip away for well draining chalk turnout as most of the local yards are clay turnout. But it does rule out DIY.
 

Michen

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Working a horse properly twice a day is so far away for many who own horses that stand in all day every day in winter. I am it saying that this is not achievable and at one yard I was at I hot there at 2pm and left at 9pm. On sat and sunday it was all day as I would take them to hand graze too. I had 4 at the time and that winter was make or break. I was selling up until I found this yard. I did move but ended up going back due to distance but 5he way I see it is would I rather drive an hour or break mucking out at 8pm with grumpy horses who are stuck in.
No, it means you either need to have access/use of a walker or you need to be prepared to pay someone to do it.

I work a full time job that involved me travelling extensively. For a month it meant I was hand grazing and walking my rehabbing horse both ends of the day mid winter (until covid hit). It was hard going, I was there at 4.30 am at times, but needs must.

It would not have been sustainable long term for me to do on my own.
 

Winters100

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Surely you only need to ride a horse as hard as it needs to keep it fit enough for what you want it to do? You don’t work it hard just for the sake of it? Why do they ‘need’ to be tired? I ride for my own pleasure.
As long as it’s not really awful weather my younger one is hacked 5 days a week and maybe lunged once and my oldie hacked 4 days a week. They don’t need to be eventing or hunting fit to do that.
It is a good question, but I just feel that they need to have proper work to feel good. I suppose just like us in the gym - we have to feel we have worked. Being tired from a workout does not necessarily mean we are getting fitter, but hopefully maintaining fitness. Sounds terrible but most days I don't really ride for pleasure, I mostly enjoy it, but even if I don't feel like riding I do it anyway so that they are fit. Many reasons for wanting them fit, including that I train with friends at weekends, and it would be tough for the horses if they were not fit, but also that I occasionally compete in both winter and summer, and in the arena needs as good fitness as grass. Also I just feel that a fit animal is a healthy animal - I run with my dogs for the same reason - they do not need to be fit, but I know that they are more settled when tired from exercise, and I believe that having weight under control without restricting food too much and strong muscles benefit them. Having been the last 4 days in quarantine in the UK I can absolutely say that physical exertion makes you feel much better - honestly I feel as if I am in prison, I usually sleep like a baby but last few nights have been awake and stressed every night, and I am firmly convinced that a big part of this is lack of movement.
 

Winters100

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Surely if a horse is fit for the work it’s doing, unless you are intentionally training it to be fitter it won’t find work particularly tiring?

I hack for several hours, do raised poles / in hand with / hill work / gallops / schooling etc. But once my horses are the equivalent of event fit they don’t particularly tire during their work.
OK, but do you do any fitness training yourself? And if you do is it not tiring to maintain your fitness level? I am pretty sure that if you are keeping your horses fit to this level then the training is tiring, albeit that they probably recover quite quickly.
 

bouncing_ball

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It is a good question, but I just feel that they need to have proper work to feel good. I suppose just like us in the gym - we have to feel we have worked. Being tired from a workout does not necessarily mean we are getting fitter, but hopefully maintaining fitness. Sounds terrible but most days I don't really ride for pleasure, I mostly enjoy it, but even if I don't feel like riding I do it anyway so that they are fit. Many reasons for wanting them fit, including that I train with friends at weekends, and it would be tough for the horses if they were not fit, but also that I occasionally compete in both winter and summer, and in the arena needs as good fitness as grass. Also I just feel that a fit animal is a healthy animal - I run with my dogs for the same reason - they do not need to be fit, but I know that they are more settled when tired from exercise, and I believe that having weight under control without restricting food too much and strong muscles benefit them. Having been the last 4 days in quarantine in the UK I can absolutely say that physical exertion makes you feel much better - honestly I feel as if I am in prison, I usually sleep like a baby but last few nights have been awake and stressed every night, and I am firmly convinced that a big part of this is lack of movement.
I do agree I’ve never in over 20 years had to restrict hay and for me being able to work horses fairly hard does massively help with this. (Realise it’s not the only factor). As well as turnout I like my regular hacking to be a decent aerobic workout for the reasons you mention above.
 

bouncing_ball

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OK, but do you do any fitness training yourself? And if you do is it not tiring to maintain your fitness level? I am pretty sure that if you are keeping your horses fit to this level then the training is tiring, albeit that they probably recover quite quickly.
I’ve tended to find after about six months to get my horses equivalent of eventing fit they seem to coast reasonably well in terms of not really sweating / changing respiration rate in work etc.

Myself I jog 5-10km but tend to be FAR more inconsistent and on and off with running than with my horses fitness. And whilst effort does change yes think tuning always tiring for me.
 

Gingerwitch

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Gingerwitch

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I completely agree, and mine are not "fit" these days.

On the other hand, I have quite a problem watching horses suddenly taken out on a pleasure ride four times as long as they usually do, drag hunted after doing almost nothing during the week, clinics where they are ridden two or three times over two or three days when they normally get ridden for no more than an hour three times a week.

We seem to have lost sight of the guideline that in order to avoid injury, an athlete should have done a minimum of 67% in training of what they do in an event, which I personally think applies to horses as much as humans.
I agree with this but sadly see it too often. Mu old instructor yard owner would kick you out if a lesson if she knew you had not worked the horse since the previous week and made one girl run round the school several times so she realised how tiring it was as she had taken a very unfit horsr on a fun ride and it was only adrenaline that got it round.
 

Sussexbythesea

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OK, but do you do any fitness training yourself? And if you do is it not tiring to maintain your fitness level? I am pretty sure that if you are keeping your horses fit to this level then the training is tiring, albeit that they probably recover quite quickly.
No I don’t do any fitness training myself because I lack self-motivation in that department. :p I’m fit enough to do what i want to do at the moment just by doing it. If I wanted to do more then obviously I’d increase my fitness by gradually doing more with myself and my horse which I would do pretty naturally over summer with increased hours of daylight.

My usual plan would be to go for a nice hack and do a mixture of walk and trot and this time of year pop a canter in wherever to ground is decent enough. I would admire the countryside and enjoy just being with my horse. I wouldn’t be thinking I’ve got to do at least 15 minutes of trot with at least one constant session of 8 minutes solid trotting to ensure my horse is getting fitter. if however I decided I wanted to do a one day event or similar then I’d aim to increase fitness as well as do some schooling and actually jump something :eek: otherwise I (personally) don’t really see the point.
 

DabDab

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two hours a day twice a week !!!!!!!!
Yep. The turnout requirements really have made very little difference to how horses are kept in Switzerland. The thing that has made the difference is the requirement for time spent in social pairs/groups. I have relatives who have horses in Switzerland and they are turned out in a field considerably less than mine are.

As a completely unrelated aside, there also seems to be a real trend for walking horses in hand in Switzerland. Most people seem to regularly take their horses out for walks.
 

Sussexbythesea

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I think yard owners could learn much from the Swiss where it is illegal to keep a horse alone, amongst other was, and working horses must have a minimum amount of turnout.
https://womenofageridinghorses.com/events/news/do-the-swiss-love-their-horses-more/
Having read that i don’t think it’s much to aspire to unless it’s been poorly translated or I’ve mis-read it. An “Equid” includes goats and cows which are actually not “Equids”

They can hear see and smell other equids but nothing about touch.

Must not be kept alone. This does not translate to they must be turned out with company except in the case of young stock. Probably means you have to keep at least two horses at one location but one of those horses could be a cow or a goat and not actually a horse.
 

Winters100

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No I don’t do any fitness training myself because I lack self-motivation in that department. :p I’m fit enough to do what i want to do at the moment just by doing it. If I wanted to do more then obviously I’d increase my fitness by gradually doing more with myself and my horse which I would do pretty naturally over summer with increased hours of daylight.

My usual plan would be to go for a nice hack and do a mixture of walk and trot and this time of year pop a canter in wherever to ground is decent enough. I would admire the countryside and enjoy just being with my horse. I wouldn’t be thinking I’ve got to do at least 15 minutes of trot with at least one constant session of 8 minutes solid trotting to ensure my horse is getting fitter. if however I decided I wanted to do a one day event or similar then I’d aim to increase fitness as well as do some schooling and actually jump something :eek: otherwise I (personally) don’t really see the point.
That is nice, and you are lucky to have horses who can be kept in this way, and also lucky that you yourself can be in the shape you want to be in without training:) It would not work for mine as good-dooer would need his hay restricting, which I feel would leave him at risk of ulcers, plus I feel that mentally he is better having constant forage. Also I am sadly a good doer myself, so without restricting food and regular training I would easily become a burden to my horses!
 

PeterNatt

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I kept my horse in London and he had all day (and night if I wanted) turn out all year round. I had two sharers to make sure he got plenty of exercise and if his shoes lasted longer than 3 weeks that was a bonus! It seems that there are a load of yards these days that don't have enough turn out or too many horses compared to the amount of turn out they have. Also the horses are not given enough gentle exercise.
 

Bernster

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I understand pressure on land, but then we have to find better solutions than shutting a naturally very active herd animal in a small box for 23hours a day. Stables with an outdoor pen, group housing in barns, increased provision of all weather turnout pens etc should all be prioritized as better solutions.
Mine have the set up below overnight at the moment as the land has been so wet. It cost less than stables to put in and doesn’t take up that much more space. Yes it's not a spotless, beautifully swept concrete Instagramable stable block, but it does contain very content horses!
This! I totally agree and wish there was more focus on this. I think what a lot of owners think is a great set up doesn’t really work for the horse. Not saying I have it right myself. I try and get the best set up I can but for what I need i do have to compromise. So it’s not ideal but they get daily turnout and are well looked after and exercised regularly.
 

greenbean10

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OK, but do you do any fitness training yourself? And if you do is it not tiring to maintain your fitness level? I am pretty sure that if you are keeping your horses fit to this level then the training is tiring, albeit that they probably recover quite quickly.
I run a few times a week and don't really find it that tiring. I am just doing it to maintain my fitness (and because I find it relaxing) so always stick to the same speed and distance.

My horses are show jumpers and I have to work very hard to make them tired in the school. Out hacking they start puffing if I do a lot of hills but in the school I'd have to work them hard to make them sweat. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable working my horses until they are knackered every time they are worked as I think that is also likely to cause injury and in fact ulcers.

I do enough to keep them ticking over while having fun myself. I believe that exhausting your horses on a regular basis will make them stressed and sour (I am not saying this is what you are doing). I'd do fitness training a few times a week if needed but I'd mix it up with easier days to ensure they retain a positive attitude towards their work.
 

GinaGeo

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I understand pressure on land, but then we have to find better solutions than shutting a naturally very active herd animal in a small box for 23hours a day. Stables with an outdoor pen, group housing in barns, increased provision of all weather turnout pens etc should all be prioritized as better solutions.
Mine have the set up below overnight at the moment as the land has been so wet. It cost less than stables to put in and doesn’t take up that much more space. Yes it's not a spotless, beautifully swept concrete Instagramable stable block, but it does contain very content horses!
View attachment 65367
This exactly. I have wet land and a small acreage. I have a similar set up. The horses are out all the time all year round with each other. My fields aren't trashed and are available in summer. It really really works. I don't have horses suffering with filled legs, I don't have to turn them out in the morning and hope that they survive the hooley round. I don't have to worry about frozen grass or frozen ground or mud or mud fever. I am lucky because I've been able to figure out what set up works for my horses and over time and with a lot of trial and error we've got it about right now.

But if horse owners keep asking for a 12x12 box and an individual postage stamp mud pen that's what yard's will continue to offer. How many used to have an arena? Demand changed and yard owners improved their facilities to keep up. Just wait until they work out that you can have more horses on less acreage with the provision of all year turnout. That they can cater for laminitics without having bare fields and that they don't have to spend money putting mud pits back to grass each year.

Winters are getting wetter and seem to be starting earlier and ending later. More land is getting built on and judging by current horse sales more people want to own horses and they haven't the time to ride them for multiple hours every day just to stretch their legs. We need to start doing it a bit differently.
 

saddlesore

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I guess it is very dependent on location. I’ve had horses for 30 years and year round turnout in herds has always been the norm. Some yards want them in overnight in the winter but I’ve never had a time restriction when they are due in etc. My current yard allows 24/7/365 turnout and they put haylage bales out in the worst of the winter. Most yards here have plenty of land so the grass always recovers well. I personally would sell if I couldn’t offer my horse enough time out in company. It doesn’t sit right with me.
 
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I'm lucky to have my own land. Only 1. 2 acres, but I can manage it how I like. We don't really have anywhere to ride at all in the winter (plus next door farmer has a shoot every Saturday 🤦‍♀️) so proper 24/7 winter turnout (ie not just standing in a small patch of mud) is top priority for me. I don't mind turning out on a smaller area/track the rest of the year because a) pony needs restricted grazing anyway, b) she gets far more ridden exercise in the drier months, c) she doesn't trash a smaller area in the spring/summer same as she would do autumn /winter.

This works well for my land and my pony and my lifestyle. BUT it costs me a fortune in hay, pretty much all year round. I guess if everyone were managing their land this way we'd actually run out of hay?
 
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