Stabling during the winter thoughts?

Winters100

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Who in here has year round turn out on grass? And I mean grass, not mud.
And where in the country are you?
There are NO yards anywhere around here that can offer any form of winter turn out that isn't mud or a surfaced pen.
And you're lucky to even have access to those.
Most yards lie and say they have all year turn out that is weather dependent, knowing very well that come November there will be no turn out. Or it is an hour standing in mud. Only the hunt yard is honest about it and say no turn out after October, but then their horses are worked very hard. Unfortunately their liveries' horses often aren't though.
I think that your big problem in the UK is that land prices and livery costs are mis-matched. Where I am land and labour costs a fraction of UK prices, but livery costs are similar - so tends to be more land per horse. My paddock is a sea of mud in the lower part, but the upper part is always dry, and they have hay and a shelter up there to encourage them to stay out of the muddy areas. Not perfect, but they seem happy.
 

crazyandme

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Who in here has year round turn out on grass? And I mean grass, not mud.
And where in the country are you?
Until last year, me and my sister did with our shared horse. And they were out 24/7 in the home counties, only mud was around the gates and trough, unless the horses were being idiots and churned it up.
But that was managed by having no more than 8 horses on 15 acres. Unfortunately lost it as the owner gained planning permission
 

[131452]

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Until last year, me and my sister did with our shared horse. And they were out 24/7 in the home counties, only mud was around the gates and trough, unless the horses were being idiots and churned it up.
But that was managed by having no more than 8 horses on 15 acres. Unfortunately lost it as the owner gained planning permission
Unfortunately due to the heavy clay we are on , 15 acres for 8 horses wouldn't be sustainable here, certainly not for 24/7 turn out in summer followed by winter turn out.
 

conniegirl

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My lad loves his stable, given a choice he will be in.
Even now he is a nightmare in the field and constantly paces the fence line until brought in. He has worn himself a huge track doing that, so even in summer he is in at night to try and rest his legs a bit and get some hay into him so he doesn’t end up a skeleton! Doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a huge field, if it’s a small one, if he has company or not, if he has very lush grass or even hay in the field, seems to get a bit better when he is in seriously hard work but doesn’t stop and his hind suspensories struggle with that level of work.
The winter just gone we managed to trick him by using a huge barn to turn out in winter in, it had a concrete floor that we deep bedded with straw and he coped ok with that and he went out for 4 hours a day every day then he started pacing.

Pop him in his stable and he is a happy pony, bright eyed, bushy tailed, perky and interested in the world around him.
 

popcorn1

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I would never keep a horse stabled full time personally, but I am a lazy rider. I might get out three or four times a week on a good week. It just wouldn't be fair.

If I was motivated and I just had all day, everyday for a horse and I could get out riding for at least two hours everyday then I guess it's doable. I would however, never choose to do it if there was another option. Horses should live in fields.
 

[131452]

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I would never keep a horse stabled full time personally, but I am a lazy rider. I might get out three or four times a week on a good week. It just wouldn't be fair.

If I was motivated and I just had all day, everyday for a horse and I could get out riding for at least two hours everyday then I guess it's doable. I would however, never choose to do it if there was another option. Horses should live in fields.
My yard has a couple of turn out pens so at least the horses can go out and have a roll etc whilst being mucked out but I'm prepared that come winter time , if I've found a horse that is, that I need to ride, lunge or at least hand graze or pay for yard to ride to make sure the horse is out every day.
I realise this will be hard but having the turn out pens are luxurious for this area , most yards offer nothing or mud.
 

ycbm

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But being in a field is preferable to being stuck in prison though don’t you think?
I think maybe ask the horse.

I recently bought a 7 year old who hasn't been stabled in her entire life. I have had to shut her out of the barn or she chooses to remain indoors for most of her day.

Many horses appear to be perfectly content with full time stabling and an hour's exercise a day. Long ago that's how I kept a horse when I was working and in full livery. I never thought the horse was unhappy. It isn't how I keep horses now, but not everyone is lucky enough to have my facilities. If the choice was keep a horse stabled all winter for 23 hours or not have a horse at all, then if the horse appeared to be happy I'd do the same again.
.
 

scats

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Who in here has year round turn out on grass? And I mean grass, not mud.
And where in the country are you?
There are NO yards anywhere around here that can offer any form of winter turn out that isn't mud or a surfaced pen.
And you're lucky to even have access to those.
Most yards lie and say they have all year turn out that is weather dependent, knowing very well that come November there will be no turn out. Or it is an hour standing in mud. Only the hunt yard is honest about it and say no turn out after October, but then their horses are worked very hard. Unfortunately their liveries' horses often aren't though.
I have amazing all year grazing on the wirral, with no mud but we are probably one of the only yards to have this in this area. We achieve this by managing land well, moving fields as needed and turning out in pairs and not herds. There are only 6 horses on our yard and plenty of land.

Previously I was on a yard with limited winter grass (mud, basically), but we had all weather turnout pens for unlimited use so if you were savvy you could get them out morning and evening for an hour or two and also ride. Very do-able, but hard work when working full time etc.
 

splashgirl45

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it depends on where in the country you are and the availability of land, i am on the suffolk/essex border and we have clay so fields get muddy. we used to have them out all the time in the summer and change that as late as we could depending on the weather and have them in overnight. our horses seemed very settled with that regime, and we rode 6 days of the week and gave them one day off, it worked for us. the only time they were kept in was if it had frozen and was dangerous to get them to the field and we then cleared the yard so they could be walked round a few times each day. luckily this only happened about twice in 10 years....
 

Cortez

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I hear people often on here saying that their livery yards "lied" to them about winter turnout, but perhaps these people have never had to manage land in poor weather? In a good, dry winter it is perfectly feasible and preferable to have horses out, but with the winters we are having in recent years it is simply not possible, nor is it good for the horses. There is a reason most cattle farmers keep their animals in sheds over winter; better for the cattle, and much better for the land. I am 100% all for horses spending as much time out as is practical, but sometimes it is simply not possible and when that is the case people must be prepared to look after their horses properly and make sure they are exercised.

Someone up thread got a bit shirty and suggested that people just shouldn't have horses then. I completely agree; if you don't have the time, money or motivation then you shouldn't keep a horse. A great many people do not realise how much of all of these are really needed to do the job right.
 

paddi22

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Someone up thread got a bit shirty and suggested that people just shouldn't have horses then. I completely agree; if you don't have the time, money or motivation then you shouldn't keep a horse. A great many people do not realise how much of all of these are really needed to do the job right.
I honestly wasn't getting shirty at all. I love a good reasoned debate so I'd hate someone to read emotion in that wasn't there. My point is that morally I question why someone would think they are entitled to get a horse unless they can provide adequate conditions to keep it in, and a horse staring at four walls with no socialisation 22 hours a day isn't good enough. neither is a horse stood in two foot deep mud suffering from mud fever either. neither is right.

I really struggled to find good conditions for my horses in the first place I lived so I made a conscious decision to move somewhere where I could keep horses happily. this involved leaving my 9-5 job, starting a business and earning a fairly low wage and moving somewhere fairly remote where housing conditions were cheap and we could live cheaply. I sacrificed (and my partner did too) a huge amount so we could have the right conditions to keep an animal. I don't think anyone is entitled to get an animal just because they'd love to.

everyday in the charity we see people who keep animals in housing estates because they 'love the animal and are doing their best to care for them in the situation they are in'. I don't see any difference between that and a yard that does 24/7 boxing or miserable mud deep turn out.

at the end of the day we are responsible for those animals and if we can't be 100% honest with ourselves and say 'this is a good situation' then we shouldn't take them on.
 

paddi22

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better for the cattle, and much better for the land.
I know I look like I'm pulling your posts up to argue against but im genuinely not, I think you raise some great points for the debate. the case I would argue against that is that it's not best for the cattle. best for the cattle would be a farmer having ten cows on 14 acres. but then in a business world that isn't realistic.
 

twiggy2

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Who in here has year round turn out on grass? And I mean grass, not mud.
And where in the country are you?
There are NO yards anywhere around here that can offer any form of winter turn out that isn't mud or a surfaced pen.
And you're lucky to even have access to those.
Most yards lie and say they have all year turn out that is weather dependent, knowing very well that come November there will be no turn out. Or it is an hour standing in mud. Only the hunt yard is honest about it and say no turn out after October, but then their horses are worked very hard. Unfortunately their liveries' horses often aren't though.
All three yards I kept my mare at in essex had year round turn out, clay soil etc etc, one place I had just under an acre for her, I strip grazed and fed hay all year round, lived out in summer amd at least 8hrs out in winter, she was in work and being worked 7 days a week often twice a day there, one place year round group turn out on a fair sized average age was here when she was backed, the place I had her before I sold her 24 hr turn out was avaliable in summer and at least 6 hrs turn out in winter- she was in full work here. I would not have a horse if it had to be in its stable with no free loose turn out.
I hear people often on here saying that their livery yards "lied" to them about winter turnout, but perhaps these people have never had to manage land in poor weather? In a good, dry winter it is perfectly feasible and preferable to have horses out, but with the winters we are having in recent years it is simply not possible, nor is it good for the horses. There is a reason most cattle farmers keep their animals in sheds over winter; better for the cattle, and much better for the land. I am 100% all for horses spending as much time out as is practical, but sometimes it is simply not possible and when that is the case people must be prepared to look after their horses properly and make sure they are exercised.

Someone up thread got a bit shirty and suggested that people just shouldn't have horses then. I completely agree; if you don't have the time, money or motivation then you shouldn't keep a horse. A great many people do not realise how much of all of these are really needed to do the job right.
I work with cattle and they are in in thw winter to save the ground, gain weight faster and for farmers ease when feeding/calving etc in most sheds they end up losing a lot of coat and wearing a fair amount of shit. They do like to have the weather off their backs and something dry to lie on but most cattle sheds are pretty wet and shitty most of the time
 

indie1282

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Who in here has year round turn out on grass? And I mean grass, not mud.
And where in the country are you?
There are NO yards anywhere around here that can offer any form of winter turn out that isn't mud or a surfaced pen.
And you're lucky to even have access to those.
Most yards lie and say they have all year turn out that is weather dependent, knowing very well that come November there will be no turn out. Or it is an hour standing in mud. Only the hunt yard is honest about it and say no turn out after October, but then their horses are worked very hard. Unfortunately their liveries' horses often aren't though.
I have year round turnout. The only bit of mud in winter is around the gate and by the water trough.

Each field is about 3 acres and mine are out together.

Im In Cornwall.
 

Pippity

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Who in here has year round turn out on grass? And I mean grass, not mud.
And where in the country are you?
North west England.

They don't get 24/7 turnout in winter, and may miss a day or two due to weather, but it's unusual, and it's never been more than one day at a time. The fields are semi-foggage at the start of winter, which helps keep the mud under control. By the end of winter, they're grazed right down but still enough grass to keep them occupied, and the only mud is around the gateway.

First pic is December; second pic is April, just before they moved to summer grazing. (Obviously, they get hay at night. The field isn't their only forage.) Apologies for the tight cropping, but I didn't want to include any horses other than mine.

1595627544802.png

1595627626988.png
 
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indie1282

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I think maybe ask the horse.

I recently bought a 7 year old who hasn't been stabled in her entire life. I have had to shut her out of the barn or she chooses to remain indoors for most of her day.

Many horses appear to be perfectly content with full time stabling and an hour's exercise a day. Long ago that's how I kept a horse when I was working and in full livery. I never thought the horse was unhappy. It isn't how I keep horses now, but not everyone is lucky enough to have my facilities. If the choice was keep a horse stabled all winter for 23 hours or not have a horse at all, then if the horse appeared to be happy I'd do the same again.
.
But you have a large indoor barn where she can walk and even trot around if she wants. She may not be so keen to be in if she was shut in a 12 x 12 stable?

I think some horses except and cope better than others bring stabled but personally for me, keeping a horse in for 23 hours with only one hours exercise would not be acceptable.
 

Apercrumbie

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Here we go again.....Keeping horses stabled is perfectly OK if, and only if, you exercise and work them sufficiently. If you are not able to do that then you really should not have the horse. Most horses do not get enough work, and also get fed too much which is a dreadful combination, but if properly cared for they will do fine stabled. As examples: the Household Cavalry, police horses, most horses in Spain, Germany, lots of other countries, etc.

Leaving horses out in sodden mud pits all winter is not exactly kind either, and whilst most people do look after their horses well, many do not and there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, with a combination of the two (turnout and stabling) over winter being my preferred option.
I have only quoted one of your posts, but I am responding to others you, and others, have made.

I agree with you, however most people don't have lives that allow them to work a horse with no turnout sufficiently to avoid problems, and I don't think we should criticise them for that because it is a lot of work!

My view is that a horse's ideal state is outdoors with plenty of space, grazing and company, to simulate the environment that they have descended from. (Obviously there are some with horses that hate being turned out, or hate company, for whatever reasons - however surely they realise that their horse is different to the majority. They should manage them appropriately, but it's not exactly relevant for 90% of horses.) If we take this view, I find it a bit unfair to criticise owners for not being willing/able to compensate for lack of turnout through eg. slow & steady hacking in addition to their usual work, and consequently to say that they shouldn't have a horse, when in reality the horse just needs more gentle exercise that is more easily and more appropriately provided through usual turnout.

Basically I think it is an unfair criticism to levy at horse owners - by the admission of many on this forum a horse kept in 24/7 needs many hours of work a day. Would you limit horse ownership to those who either have them as their livelihood or who don't need to work/have other commitments? It feels overly judgemental to me to criticise people's commitment, when arguably the majority of horses would be better off anyway in a routine that prioritises turnout in addition to other work.

Disclaimer: I understand that some are in situations where decent turnout is impossible - I am not judging them or saying no turnout is universally cruel. I do believe it is an undesirable situation though, and I find the implied judgement of laziness on those who deem it cruel to be a bit odd.
 

ycbm

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But you have a large indoor barn where she can walk and even trot around if she wants. She may not be so keen to be in if she was shut in a 12 x 12 stable?
She stands in the same place all day. She ambles eight metres to eat some straw, eights metres back to her spot again for another two hours, and repeats. I'm sure she'd love a stable. She’d probably love to be in Spain where ridden horses are kept in full time. She seems to have picked up a genetic desire to be kept in.

I used to be in a livery yard of sixty horses kept in full time in winter, most of them with an hour exercise per day. I can't remember any of those horses ever seeming unhappy about it. Certainly not to the extent that I would tell people who can't find a livery which turns out on decent grass all winter and can't exercise more than an hour a day that they shouldn't keep a horse at all.
.
 

Foxychops

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I have to keep my horse in over winter as he just won't stay out, even for an hour. He becomes a danger to himself. He is perfectly happy in and worked. If I was in your situation, knowing what hard work it is keeping one stabled, I would forgo the riding unless hacking, and turnout where you are. It's only a few months and if your pony is happy where you are then I would stay there. Could you box to use an arena?
 

magicmoments

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Not all horses enjoy turnout, that is true, it's about knowing your horse and trying to accommodate his/her preferences. For me it is about socializing/mental well being, as much as movement.
 

Amymay

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Who in here has year round turn out on grass? And I mean grass, not mud.
And where in the country are you?
There are NO yards anywhere around here that can offer any form of winter turn out that isn't mud or a surfaced pen.
And you're lucky to even have access to those.
Most yards lie and say they have all year turn out that is weather dependent, knowing very well that come November there will be no turn out. Or it is an hour standing in mud. Only the hunt yard is honest about it and say no turn out after October, but then their horses are worked very hard. Unfortunately their liveries' horses often aren't though.
I’ve always had year round turnout on the yards I’ve been on (Wales).
 

Gingerwitch

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I think this is hard as an owner to do, twice daily visits, a full muck out both ends of the day and then riding. I would never inflict this lockdown on my horses again. I was on a yard with all year turn out.... Oct they were in for a few days a week, by November they were in all day everyday bar a Saturday and that stopped as the horses were being loons they were kept in til April. I can honestly say I would cry when I got to the yard as you hope they had gone out and find they were in. I nearly gave up horses it was unsustainable.
 

indie1282

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She stands in the same place all day. She ambles eight metres to eat some straw, eights metres back to her spot again for another two hours, and repeats. I'm sure she'd love a stable. She’d probably love to be in Spain where ridden horses are kept in full time. She seems to have picked up a genetic desire to be kept in.

I used to be in a livery yard of sixty horses kept in full time in winter, most of them with an hour exercise per day. I can't remember any of those horses ever seeming unhappy about it. Certainly not to the extent that I would tell people who can't find a livery which turns out on decent grass all winter and can't exercise more than an hour a day that they shouldn't keep a horse at all.
.
But the point I was making is that she has the choice, and 8 metres is a lot bigger than a std stable. Maybe she would like to be stabled all the time?

The the majority of horses in this country are not bred to be kept in 24/7.
 

ycbm

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The the majority of horses in this country are not bred to be kept in 24/7.
And yet when I've been in very big yards where it happens, I don't sense a load of very unhappy horses. Unless they are in American barns with no external view and little daylight, when it radiates from a lot of them.

Nobody is saying it's good, but some people are saying that a horse should not be kept at all if they have no turnout for half the year, with an hour's exercise. If that was my only choice, as it used to be long ago, I would still do it if the horse appeared happy about it.
.
 

indie1282

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And yet when I've been in very big yards where it happens, I don't sense a load of very unhappy horses. Unless they are in American barns with no external view and little daylight, when it radiates from a lot of them.

Nobody is saying it's good, but some people are saying that a horse should not be kept at all if they have no turnout for half the year, with an hour's exercise. If that was my only choice, as it used to be long ago, I would still do it if the horse appeared happy about it.
.
Unfortunately American barns are all too common now! I also think horses on very large yards probably do get slightly institutionalised and do cope better when it's the routine for evey horse.

Its not a choice I would make for my horses, plus I honestly couldn't afford it and wouldn't be able to invest the time in to exercising both ends of the day.

I think the yard that the OP is talking about has no fields so no turnout all year, which is definitely a no go for me.
 

Gloi

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Until the last couple of years I have always kept my ponies out all winter at a friends place. I was lucky that were they were had once been a poultry farm and there was a lot of grassed over concrete and areas of hard standing in the field where buildings had been. We are in a heavy clay area and most fields are unuseable in winter. We had a summer and a winter field. The winter field we used as strip grazed foggage which depending on the weather would last till between Xmas and the end of Feb. Once that was eaten up they got hay on one of the areas of concrete by a building wall and until they moved back to the summer field they rarely were seen away from that spot. They stood there waiting for hay in the morning, ate their hay there and laid down there. Occasionally one would wander off to check if any grass had grown and then return. There didn't seem to be a lot of exercise going on, they were natives that know that winter is for conserving energy.
When I got my young lad I wanted him somewhere where there were facilities so I could train him through the winter. This meant once winter came he had to be in apart from going out in turns on sand turnout paddocks. I was worried how he would cope because he had spent his first 3 years in a herd on a moor. He coped surprisingly well. He gets turned out, rolls, does a couple of circuits of the paddock, and then stands at the gate waiting to come back in. If the weather is unpleasant he will shout to come in. I'm surprised how soft he's got, maybe he had enough of being wet when he was little . At least, being retired, I'm free to spend plenty of time with him doing things.
 

Cortez

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I have only quoted one of your posts, but I am responding to others you, and others, have made.

I agree with you, however most people don't have lives that allow them to work a horse with no turnout sufficiently to avoid problems, and I don't think we should criticise them for that because it is a lot of work!

My view is that a horse's ideal state is outdoors with plenty of space, grazing and company, to simulate the environment that they have descended from. (Obviously there are some with horses that hate being turned out, or hate company, for whatever reasons - however surely they realise that their horse is different to the majority. They should manage them appropriately, but it's not exactly relevant for 90% of horses.) If we take this view, I find it a bit unfair to criticise owners for not being willing/able to compensate for lack of turnout through eg. slow & steady hacking in addition to their usual work, and consequently to say that they shouldn't have a horse, when in reality the horse just needs more gentle exercise that is more easily and more appropriately provided through usual turnout.

Basically I think it is an unfair criticism to levy at horse owners - by the admission of many on this forum a horse kept in 24/7 needs many hours of work a day. Would you limit horse ownership to those who either have them as their livelihood or who don't need to work/have other commitments? It feels overly judgemental to me to criticise people's commitment, when arguably the majority of horses would be better off anyway in a routine that prioritises turnout in addition to other work.

Disclaimer: I understand that some are in situations where decent turnout is impossible - I am not judging them or saying no turnout is universally cruel. I do believe it is an undesirable situation though, and I find the implied judgement of laziness on those who deem it cruel to be a bit odd.
I would limit ownership of any animal to those who are knowledgeable enough, motivated enough and capable of caring for that animal properly. If a person is limited in that capability by the circumstances available to them then I would put the needs of the animal over the desires of the owner and so yes, that would exclude numbers of people who currently keep horses in a less than adequate fashion. The widespread ownership of horses is a relatively recent thing, it used to be the privilege of the well off and people with land with a tradition of horse husbandry and generational knowledge of how to manage them.
 
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chocolategirl

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Who in here has year round turn out on grass? And I mean grass, not mud.
And where in the country are you?
There are NO yards anywhere around here that can offer any form of winter turn out that isn't mud or a surfaced pen.
And you're lucky to even have access to those.
Most yards lie and say they have all year turn out that is weather dependent, knowing very well that come November there will be no turn out. Or it is an hour standing in mud. Only the hunt yard is honest about it and say no turn out after October, but then their horses are worked very hard. Unfortunately their liveries' horses often aren't though.
We have green fields all year round with 24/7 in summer. Granted, I wouldn’t say they had lots of grass in winter, and when the best of its gone, we feed hay outside. Gateways can be a problem so we hardcore them. I’ve used this regime for 24 years with no problems at all. I can count on one hand the number of mud fever cases we’ve had in all that time. Our horses have at least 7-10 hours out every day, no matter what. We do also recently have the use of a sand turnout pen, for those who don’t want to turn out in bad weather. It doesn’t get much use for this reason though 🤔we’re in Cheshire 👌
 

Pearlsasinger

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Our land was very wet last winter, in places, so we have bought some mud control mats to put down before this winter. They do stay in occasionally in snow/gale force winds/persistent driving rain but even then (except perhaps snow) go out for an hour or so while we muck out and set fair. We are in the southern Pennines on the W. Yorks/E. Lancs border and very exposed to the weather. I don't think any-one has a 'right' to own a horse that they cannot consistently provide the 5 Freedoms for.
 

JoannaC

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Who in here has year round turn out on grass? And I mean grass, not mud.
And where in the country are you?
There are NO yards anywhere around here that can offer any form of winter turn out that isn't mud or a surfaced pen.
And you're lucky to even have access to those.
Most yards lie and say they have all year turn out that is weather dependent, knowing very well that come November there will be no turn out. Or it is an hour standing in mud. Only the hunt yard is honest about it and say no turn out after October, but then their horses are worked very hard. Unfortunately their liveries' horses often aren't though.
I'm in Stafford and mine are out at night in during the day most of the year. We had an exceptionally wet Winter last but they still only came in at night for about six weeks in total (not in one stretch). I am lucky as have them at home and have the stables in a barn which they have access too and we turned the muddies part of the field directly in front of the barn to a sand paddock but I didn't have to restrict them to that although they spent a lot of time on it by choice. Parts of the field did get very poached but it soon recovered.
 
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