Normalizing restricted turnnout ?

PapaverFollis

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My horses have been iced in for over 2 weeks now. We were managing daily turnout by leading over the iced up hardstanding since Christmas because the field was still ok. Then a few twists in the weather and the field became and ice rink too. So they've been in stables overnight and out in a pen and big barn area during the day. I can't have them all in together because the boy chases the girls when he's bored and the pen is too unevenness slippy for that. Fine for the girls to gently mooch. They're bored, I'm bored and worried. Tried to let them back out in the field once the snow was deep over the ice but the big mare failed to corner and did an impressive slide through a fence instead. None the worse for wear amazingly but it's rather put me off trying to turn them out until the snow and ice have completely cleared! If we hadn't had the ice rink situation they could still be going out because if they'd had consistent turnout they wouldn't be being as stupid.

Currently hand-walking for movement and praying for spring.

Hoping next year will be easier as I'll have another 4 acres to play with.

I have been on a yard where there was no turnout in winter at all. I would not do that again. It was a needs must situation and we mostly survived. Barely. But still.
 

hollyandivy123

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for me the perfect yard has changed over time...............now i would like a pole barn open to one side, a few acres i can set up as a track so they can come in to the barn as part of the route, an appropriate surfaced school, with direct off road hacking onto miles of well draining undulating countryside with bits of forestry....................a decent pub within a reasonable walking distance.
 

Tarragon

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It can be a horrible catch 22 situation. Horses that are stabled a lot tend to treat turn out time as play time, and the opportunity to get rid of excess energy, they therefore run around and can either have accidents or tear up the field and probably both. So, you keep them in more to reduce the risk of injury and to save the field. So, when turned out again, the horses have even more pent up energy and so the cycle continues. It is possibly counter-intuitive to appreciate that the more time your horse spends outside, the less likely it is to injure itself!
 

Tarragon

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for me the perfect yard has changed over time...............now i would like a pole barn open to one side, a few acres i can set up as a track so they can come in to the barn as part of the route, an appropriate surfaced school, with direct off road hacking onto miles of well draining undulating countryside with bits of forestry....................a decent pub within a reasonable walking distance.
My idea of heaven :)
 

Muddywellies

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Because it's normal and it's also nothing new. I stabled in a yard near Bristol in the mid 1980s where nothing went out between November and the hay crop.
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When I was younger and living in a different part of the country, winter turnout didn't exist. If you didn't ride (which was usual during the week as school had no lights) , they would get turned out for a half hour leg stretch in the school whilst you mucked out. This was completely normal and no one batted an eyelid. Interestingly, I don't recall any behaviour problems with the horses. It's only in the last 20 years or so that people seem to struggle with the no turnout thing. In fact thinking back to my youth, people kept horses in town in their back yards and didn't even have any turnout full stop.
 

Littlewills

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for me the perfect yard has changed over time...............now i would like a pole barn open to one side, a few acres i can set up as a track so they can come in to the barn as part of the route, an appropriate surfaced school, with direct off road hacking onto miles of well draining undulating countryside with bits of forestry....................a decent pub within a reasonable walking distance.
Thats what I have, Barn, open on one side onto hard standing, which is open to 6 acres which is hilly with a large flat area on the top. It has a track up until winter hits then its all opened up. It drains well but does get muddy round the hard standing. Field itself is completely dry though. The barn is split into 3. One area the size of 4 stables which has an earth floor. Its bedded down and the horses get hayed there. The other part is split into two both the size of 4 stables again and both concrete. One area is tie up area and where my chickens are and the other is storage of hay, straw, feed, tack etc.

I've got water but no electric and its a pain in the backside as its a good 5 mintues walk down a grass track so impossible to get hay delivered from about September onwards. Anything I need after September time has to be lugged down the track in a wheelbarrow which is fun but doable. But I have a fancy school 7 mins walk away included in my livery, miles and miles and miles of off road hacking direct from the field, that doesnt turn into a bog and I'm left to my own devices to get on with it.

I have to travel 20 miles to get there and it costs me double standard DIY prices. Its worth every penny!
 

Cortez

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It seems turnout became such a big deal just as leisure riding overtook more robust work for horses. Having limitless turnout seems to be a rare thing for most owners on here, but so does committing to proper exercise/work. Ideally there would be a balance and horses which aren't turned out a lot would get adequate work, but that doesn't seem to be an option with a lot of people. Why's that?
 

Littlewills

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It seems turnout became such a big deal just as leisure riding overtook more robust work for horses. Having limitless turnout seems to be a rare thing for most owners on here, but so does committing to proper exercise/work. Ideally there would be a balance and horses which aren't turned out a lot would get adequate work, but that doesn't seem to be an option with a lot of people. Why's that?
Because people have to work full time to fund having a horse, they have houses to run, children to care for, partners to spend time with, other hobbies. The list goes on and on. Its a hobby not a punishment.

I work mine every day, sometimes twice as she has a medical condition that means I need to. Its exhausting. Shes been roughed off for a couple of months as I burnt out with it all. Shes coming back into work this week and I'm dreading it. It takes the enjoyment out of it when you are racing around in order to exercise a horse twice a day in all weathers and I absolutely would not do it if it wasnt the only way to keep her in work.
 

scats

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Personally I don’t think that hard work is a particularly good alternative to turnout long-term. A few weeks, fine, but for yards that close fields for months on end, I don’t think it’s acceptable, even if a horse is in a lot of work. I totally understand that many yards been to restrict turnout due to land issues, but I do think that yards should try to provide some kind of area that horses can have even just half an hour to an hour a day in to have a mooch about, roll and interact with other horses. That, combined with a decent level of work, would be better than being shut in completely.
 

DabDab

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It seems turnout became such a big deal just as leisure riding overtook more robust work for horses. Having limitless turnout seems to be a rare thing for most owners on here, but so does committing to proper exercise/work. Ideally there would be a balance and horses which aren't turned out a lot would get adequate work, but that doesn't seem to be an option with a lot of people. Why's that?
I don't know it is the amount of exercise tbh. I once worked on a producing yard where nothing was turned out, the oldest was 7, most were 4-5yos and not in hard work, certainly not much harder than my leisure horses now, and I don't recall any high jinx at all. The odd baby spook as you'd expect but that was about it.

And my horses now are easy on whether they are turned out, kept in, ridden, given time off. And again they are young and not exactly dead between the ears types

I think my list of reasons why horses play up and are fresh are: training of horse, how horse is ridden, physical ailments, feed and then turnout.

Definitely nicer for the horses to have a decent level of turnout or at least group mooching opportunities, but I'm not sure lack of it can be blamed for silly horses.
 

ycbm

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I agree DD. In the 60 horse yard I mentioned above, I don't remember any horse playing up except mine, once, which was on walk only exercise for a splint and chucked off the groom. She was never a problem for me.

If I was to try and put my finger on it I'd say over feeding was responsible for most fizzy behaviour, not lack of turnout or work.
 

RHM

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Thats what I have, Barn, open on one side onto hard standing, which is open to 6 acres which is hilly with a large flat area on the top. It has a track up until winter hits then its all opened up. It drains well but does get muddy round the hard standing. Field itself is completely dry though. The barn is split into 3. One area the size of 4 stables which has an earth floor. Its bedded down and the horses get hayed there. The other part is split into two both the size of 4 stables again and both concrete. One area is tie up area and where my chickens are and the other is storage of hay, straw, feed, tack etc.

I've got water but no electric and its a pain in the backside as its a good 5 mintues walk down a grass track so impossible to get hay delivered from about September onwards. Anything I need after September time has to be lugged down the track in a wheelbarrow which is fun but doable. But I have a fancy school 7 mins walk away included in my livery, miles and miles and miles of off road hacking direct from the field, that doesnt turn into a bog and I'm left to my own devices to get on with it.

I have to travel 20 miles to get there and it costs me double standard DIY prices. Its worth every penny!
I promise I will do all the heavy lifting if you let me move in! My idea of heaven!
 

spotty_pony

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I am lucky enough to have complete control over the turnout of mine as I keep them at home. They live out in the summer and in the winter turn out most days. The amount of time they get generally depends on the weather and whether they are being ridden or not (I try to ride in the mornings before they get muddy). They stay in on very wet days but then I take them out for a quick 20 mins round the village if the weather allows. At the moment they are going out for about 4-5 hours per day as they are ready to come in after that.
 

Littlewills

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I promise I will do all the heavy lifting if you let me move in! My idea of heaven!
Deal! I am so over wheeling things up and down that track! Next year I'm going be better prepared and buy the winters hay off the field in summer, and make sure I've got my feed etc down there before its too wet to take a car down. Lessons have been learnt this year!
 

Gingerwitch

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When I was younger and living in a different part of the country, winter turnout didn't exist. If you didn't ride (which was usual during the week as school had no lights) , they would get turned out for a half hour leg stretch in the school whilst you mucked out. This was completely normal and no one batted an eyelid. Interestingly, I don't recall any behaviour problems with the horses. It's only in the last 20 years or so that people seem to struggle with the no turnout thing. In fact thinking back to my youth, people kept horses in town in their back yards and didn't even have any turnout full stop.
But horses were not over fed with all sorts of sugary salted e number crap then. Oats maize bran chaff and hay was the basics and no oats unless in work. Haylidge was for cows.
 

Goldenstar

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It seems turnout became such a big deal just as leisure riding overtook more robust work for horses. Having limitless turnout seems to be a rare thing for most owners on here, but so does committing to proper exercise/work. Ideally there would be a balance and horses which aren't turned out a lot would get adequate work, but that doesn't seem to be an option with a lot of people. Why's that?
I don’t know .
It seems to me you should not get a horse if you can’t provide it in normal circumstances with enough movement .
If you can’t get a horse enough turnout and by that I mean size of field and hours of turnout then you must provide the horse work .
If you have non ridden horses retired or pre work they they must have enough space and time out .
ATM of course things are difficult my horses are going out every morning coming in about 12.
 

Leandy

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I am lucky enough to have complete control over the turnout of mine as I keep them at home. They live out in the summer and in the winter turn out most days. The amount of time they get generally depends on the weather and whether they are being ridden or not (I try to ride in the mornings before they get muddy). They stay in on very wet days but then I take them out for a quick 20 mins round the village if the weather allows. At the moment they are going out for about 4-5 hours per day as they are ready to come in after that.
This is the secret to being happy with how your horse is kept. If we were all in control of the decisions on exercise/stabling/turnout/land management we woudl all find our own balance (which judging from these threads would all be different). The problems come with keeping horses at livery and not agreeing with the yard owners views on land management in particular and the need for one rule for all on turnout or not regardless of the varying needs of the horses and owners concerned. Manage it all yourself flexibly according to the needs of your horses and your own constraints is the ideal.
 

Tarragon

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I agree with Leandy above. I found it hardest to get the balance right when I kept my two native ponies at a DIY livery yard where they were mostly large horses, so the rules around turn out etc were all based on the needs of large and rather expensive horses (so too much grass in the summer and restricted turn out in winter). We were a poor fit. It now works because I have found a livery which allows me to work with the needs of ponies that really don't want much grass in the summer but can live out quite happily in the worst of the weather.
 

LEC

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Unlimited turnout is no guarantee on behaviour either. I used to have no facilities but unlimited turnout. They would go out from 7am - 5pm in the winter. I lost more shoes, had more stupid injuries and the horses were the same behaviour wise. Now I have an all weather turnout and facilities. I don't lose shoes, don't get stupid injuries and they are pretty consistent in their behaviour. I always thought turnout and grass was the bastion of all things sacred in horse ownership but my opinion has been changed in recent years. As long as they have enough space to roll, muck about and get out of the stable then I am happy. I think our turnout cost £7k this year to put in and its great. I would rather have an arena now and a all weather turnout paddock now for winter than loads of field turnout and no arena.

I have had horses a long time and lived in the same area all my life. The weather had changed for the worse thanks to global warming and its virtually impossible to do all year turnout now where I live now, the fields just get trashed and we had 100 acres to choose from for just two horses, now I have smaller amounts of land (10 acres) and 3 horses so its a no brainer not to ruin the fields. We have far more rainfall now instead of the colder winters. I used to hunt a lot as a kid and you would lose the odd day here and there but now we lose days and days to wet weather where the land is too wet to chew up. I rode across a piece of field on a bridleway the other day and it was fetlock deep. We used to canter across that field in the winter with no issues around 7 years ago.
 

Widgeon

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I agree with Leandy above. I found it hardest to get the balance right when I kept my two native ponies at a DIY livery yard where they were mostly large horses, so the rules around turn out etc were all based on the needs of large and rather expensive horses (so too much grass in the summer and restricted turn out in winter). We were a poor fit. It now works because I have found a livery which allows me to work with the needs of ponies that really don't want much grass in the summer but can live out quite happily in the worst of the weather.
Yes I agree, this is a really good point. The needs of ponies / cobs and "big horses" can be very different, and finding somewhere that works for your animals is a big part of keeping them happy and in good shape.
 

sherry90

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My horse was his fattest and unhealthiest on a yard where he was turned out approx 6am-4pm and in overnight in winter and 24/7 in summer (everyone else followed this otherwise he’d be in on his own during summer) whereas now he’s fit and healthy on a yard with better facilities and less turn out. They go out everyday and only stay in when it’s very dangerous to get them out. They’ve had about 3/4 days in so far this winter - on those days he gets a hand graze, hand walk one end of the day and ridden the other end of the day. The days also aren’t consecutive that they stay in thankfully. The icing on the cake for this yard would be all weather turnout areas that are accessible without risking the horses or handlers but we can’t have it all 🤷🏻‍♀️
In summer he follows the routine of the yard with overnight turnout so 6pm til about 9am and then isn’t on his own during the day when stabled. He simply can’t go out 24:7 unless I had him on a dry lot/no grass with hay which no yards offer nearby so he’s stabled part of the day year round.
I struggled on previous yard because we either only had the outdoor arena, which luckily didn’t freeze, but no floodlights. Even if I could work him it would be a slog for us both so moving was the better option.
 

Cortez

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Nothing on earth will persuade me that it is normal or acceptable to keep a sociable herd animal in a box for most of its life
Well, an open mind is a useful instrument. I have worked on yards where nothing was ever turned out, and have owned horses which came from such environments and didn't like being out in fields at all; those particular horses were content in their environments and not any more or less happy than horses which lived out or were turned out more. The most troubled, neurotic horses that I've had to deal with have been either highly strung by nature, or spoiled witless by over indulgent owners.
 

milliepops

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I don't know it is the amount of exercise tbh. I once worked on a producing yard where nothing was turned out, the oldest was 7, most were 4-5yos and not in hard work, certainly not much harder than my leisure horses now, and I don't recall any high jinx at all. The odd baby spook as you'd expect but that was about it.

And my horses now are easy on whether they are turned out, kept in, ridden, given time off. And again they are young and not exactly dead between the ears types

I think my list of reasons why horses play up and are fresh are: training of horse, how horse is ridden, physical ailments, feed and then turnout.

Definitely nicer for the horses to have a decent level of turnout or at least group mooching opportunities, but I'm not sure lack of it can be blamed for silly horses.
agreed. First "yard" i had horses on (as opposed to rented field) there was no turnout from October to March. Part of the land was rented and it was not available until spring. Most of the horses were hunters, there were a couple of ponies including mine and they were all settled and well behaved - mine was a livewire in other circumstances but the lack of winter turnout didn't seem to have any impact at all. the hunters ate high octane straights, the others had spillers pony nuts and got trundled out round the lanes most days :p

2 of mine are mostly in at the moment, occasionally the TB has a spin round when i turn them out but generally they just potter about and have a nice roll, are ready to come back in a few hours later. It's not what I would choose but like others find, the combination of year round turnout and facilities are hard to come by around here so compromise is necessary.

TBH at the moment where it's alternated between snow and ice for several weeks, the stabled ones are more comfortable than the ones living outside...e.g. baby TB is feeling his flat feet on the frozen mud at the mo ;)
 

paddy555

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Well, an open mind is a useful instrument. I have worked on yards where nothing was ever turned out, and have owned horses which came from such environments and didn't like being out in fields at all; those particular horses were content in their environments and not any more or less happy than horses which lived out or were turned out more. The most troubled, neurotic horses that I've had to deal with have been either highly strung by nature, or spoiled witless by over indulgent owners.
possibly the horses who were happy not being turned out had been conditioned to that behaviour by humans, some of course can accept that. However that is not normal, natural horse behaviour. The lucky ones cope and the ones who cannot rebel in some way, from simple weaving moving onto illness.

I cannot see that "work"" and "turnout" can be evaluated evenly. A horse being riddn/lunged/and especially on a walker moves it's legs and takes exercise because it is being made to do so. If has no social interaction with other horses. If it is lucky it may get a roll in the sand pit afterwards where it can only roll at and for a specified time. If it doesn't roll then that is it's lot. Other than moving it's legs what does a horse get out of a walker. Hacking is a lot better, it can change paces, look at the countryside and get some variety.

However it's natural behaviour is to play fight, roll when it wants, pretend it is in the Spanish riding school as it moves down the field, groom its mates and all the rest.

Frumpoon said (sorry cannot do more quotes)
Nothing on earth will persuade me that it is normal or acceptable to keep a sociable herd animal in a box for most of its life

what is happening to the human population ATM, we are restricting their socialising, hugging, messing around with each other and for some they are having to live in a box for many months often alone. Many don't seem to like that so I'm not sure why horses would do.
 

Michen

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My horses are on day 3 of no turn out because the ground is frozen solid and poached. I've lost the will to ride properly as school is only ok to walk in and can't bear to take off warm wellies and thick gloves (Raynauds).

So I'm riding and leading them in headcollars with their rugs on.. two birds one stone. Neither give a damn, neither are silly and they are used to 9 hours a day turnout.

Not saying that would continue if this lasted a few weeks but I do think horses aren't as "desperate" to go out as we often think.
 

Littlebear

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My horses are on day 3 of no turn out because the ground is frozen solid and poached. I've lost the will to ride properly as school is only ok to walk in and can't bear to take off warm wellies and thick gloves (Raynauds).

So I'm riding and leading them in headcollars with their rugs on.. two birds one stone. Neither give a damn, neither are silly and they are used to 9 hours a day turnout.

Not saying that would continue if this lasted a few weeks but I do think horses aren't as "desperate" to go out as we often think.
I do agree with you, I have a 3yr old wb, perfectly happy to stay in, not fussed about going out or not, there is little barn he can play with a friend when in a few times a day though but horse is not in work. He has lived out his entire life until a few months ago, now happy to stay in and very chilled about it all.
Also had a Spanish horse that was imported a few years back, never wanted to go out, tolerated it but was much happier in.
Saying all that I have gone out of my way and compromised on other things to make sure I have the option of all year turnout available but it definitely is not a one size fits all situation.
 

paddy555

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because the ground is frozen solid and poached. .
the fields are exactly the same here. We have just about no snow on them and it is very windy. 7 of them are out playing, charging around and being normal horses. They came in at lunchtime for a drink and then off they went again. No reason for them to stay in, they are not going to damage the fields, they are too frozen for that. Can't ride as the roads are too icey.
The only one I have in, with the run of 4 stables where she can roll, is a 34 yo cushings. She has to stay in in case her feet get cold.
 
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