Tips to keep horses happy whilst living out all through winter

alexomahony

Well-Known Member
Joined
12 January 2015
Messages
562
This is going to be my first winter doing this - to help on costs, time and to give them some proper time off barring the grey going for the odd hack on a weekend. Any tips to help keep them as happy as possible? They have plenty space, are together for company and will have grass plus ad lib hay once grass gets a bit more sparse.

There is natural shelter and the field doesn't seem to get too boggy which is great.

Thanks in advance!
 

alexomahony

Well-Known Member
Joined
12 January 2015
Messages
562
Sounds like horsey heaven, why would you need to do more to keep them happy?
Thank you this is lovely <3 I guess we just worry a bit about them! Though I've just found another thread from Sept on this exact subject so please don't worry about responding again anyone!!
 

Mister Ted

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 August 2012
Messages
387
Sounds like they will be very happy ! .Ad lib hay will generate its own warmth inside their bodies so they wont need excessive rugging. Keeping the water trough free of ice will be something to keep any eye on as they will be drinking more with eating hay. You seem well prepared.:)
 

emilylou

Well-Known Member
Joined
2 February 2011
Messages
192
As long as they are rugged well and you have dry spares for when it gets really wet I think they prefer it! My hunter lives out in a herd all winter, is clipped out and well rugged and he is as happy as can be.
 

MrsMozart

Just passing through...
Joined
27 June 2008
Messages
38,080
Location
Not where I should be...
Hay if ground is covered in snow.

Good shelter. Ours use their shelter a lot - it gives good shelter from the wind and rain, sort of like an open ended barn.

Firm up the land around the water trough and the hay (if you have any) as otherwise it'll become a bog.

Buy yourself some waders! They'll make you so happy, or at least not as miserable as having a muddy wet ar$e will make you.

A shelter to keep your headcollars dry and to hand.

Covered hardstanding of some sort if you can for vet and farrier visits.

Think about lights. You'll need something and using car headlights becomes old hat very quickly.
 

HashRouge

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 February 2009
Messages
6,256
Location
Manchester
Second thing is a decent 1200D waterproof rug!
Actually so long as they have enough to eat, they may not need rugging at all. I have one who never wears a rug and one who does - it depends on the horse. But making sure they are warm enough for the weather conditions IS important.
 
Joined
27 December 2011
Messages
4,509
Location
Shropshire
I can only echo all above. Mine live out and have a similar set up to yours OP with the added bonus of a large field shelter. Huge hedges and trees keep them well sheltered also.
It can get a bit wearing at times with all the mud, nothing seems to stay dry for long and the ground turns to mush 😥😥 But it's worth it, I genuinely believe that most horses are happier living out :)
 

alexomahony

Well-Known Member
Joined
12 January 2015
Messages
562
Thanks all - super tips and hints :) The one that is joining this weekend was clipped out last month and is a cold arse so he will be well rugged, though I'm hoping after a bit of roughing off and fattening up on hay I'll be able to reduce this. The one in my avatar is fat and wooly so he'll stay naked as long as possible! They've got plenty grass atm, but I plan to give ad-lib hay starting end of this month so they don't trash the field too much... this will be placed under the tree (their shelter!) so they don't need to leave that to eat :)

I'm lucky that it is also a livery yard so hard standing and lights aren't an issue though I think I will rig some kind of light attachment to the tree for when I don't bring them in to check over.

You know what - I'm really looking forward to the break (I never thought I'd say that!)

x
 

MrsMozart

Just passing through...
Joined
27 June 2008
Messages
38,080
Location
Not where I should be...
It's bliss. In some ways I miss the mucking out routine, and am debating putting a bed down in the shelter so they can have a comfy bed (more for me than them?), but overall they look happy and I have some time back to actually enjoy them.

Two are nekked as they're fat cobs. The other one rugged as she's an old lady, though the way she was bobbing about yesterday that could be hard to believe :D
 

windand rain

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 November 2012
Messages
5,982
It isnt an easy/cheap method of keeping for the owner if you look after the grass and poo pick but is so much better for the horses good luck and enjoy. Must admit I would rather muck out 5 stables than poo pick daily for 5 in torrential rain but it isnt me that counts it is always the horses that come first
 

Tarragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
31 January 2018
Messages
669
My two native ponies are out all year round and in the winter (December to March ish) months they have a huge 10 acre field. I poo pick all the other months of the year but don't when they have the whole field. I would leave them unrugged if you can as you will then not have the "are they in the right rug" dilemma and there is less to go wrong.
Like MrsMozart, sometimes I miss the days of smart clipped and stabled ponies and riding in all weathers, but not that often!
 

tiahatti

Well-Known Member
Joined
19 October 2018
Messages
622
Mine are always out. I have a lot of spare rugs for the thin one, its sometimes tricky trying to judge just how mild it will be or how icy cold the wind will be.The fat cob doesn't wear a rug. They have hay but only pick at it, luckily they have ample grass. I check for mud fever, cuts to lower leg & sometimes put a bit of sudocrem or something on any areas I am worried about. Usually though I am not worried though. They seem s much happier being out all the time.
 

AandK

Well-Known Member
Joined
24 July 2007
Messages
3,149
Location
West Sussex
I try to have mine out as much as possible. The two oldies have lived out 24/7/365 barring injury related box rest for about 11yrs now (sadly down to one oldie as of 5th Nov). The 6yo is out from 8-3 in a small paddock at the moment as he is convalescing from an operation/injury. He has his next check 4 weeks Monday and hopefully will get the all clear to join my other gelding in the big field out all the time. He is nowhere near as hairy as the 22yo, but I have thicker rugs for him so hoping he will be able to winter out as I think they are much happier!

ETA - a head torch is your friend for 24/7 winter turnout! Couldn't do without mine.
 

annagain

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 December 2008
Messages
11,158
Having spent 15 minutes trudging the field in the pitch black and pouring rain last night to find the boys to get them in when they weren't in the slightest bit interested in their hay, food or stables, I'd say yours will do just fine! If my yard didn't insist on them being in overnight in winter I'd have them out all year.
 
Joined
2 February 2017
Messages
2,770
I leave hay out at night for the next day turnout as i can't get to the yard in the morning. So i leave a pile in a tub with a large tub upturned which keeps the frost off and the wet off. My horse knows how to upturn it with her nose when she's hungry. A good tip to carry a heavy hay net down the field is this: fill your net up. Take the string and thread it through one of the holes near the bottom of the net and then bring it back up to your hand. You then have a carry handle. My Dad taught me that.
 

Attachments

tallyho!

Wearing a headscarf intriguingly....
Joined
8 July 2010
Messages
14,346
I leave hay out at night for the next day turnout as i can't get to the yard in the morning. So i leave a pile in a tub with a large tub upturned which keeps the frost off and the wet off. My horse knows how to upturn it with her nose when she's hungry. A good tip to carry a heavy hay net down the field is this: fill your net up. Take the string and thread it through one of the holes near the bottom of the net and then bring it back up to your hand. You then have a carry handle. My Dad taught me that.
I get the horses to carry their own hay :D They take it in turns to be pack horse.
 

alexomahony

Well-Known Member
Joined
12 January 2015
Messages
562
Guys - the tips are amazing, thank you so much!

This is my first week not mucking out or heading up to the yard every morning and night and I'm very out of sorts but doing alright - it's strange how much comfort 'tucking them in' for bed brings us! Though on the plus side, i'm very much looking forwards to spending all day Saturday and Sunday with them!

They've got plenty grass atm, so are good and I'm getting messages saying how fine they are! Here's a photo from last weekend, and my cousin is down today to hide carrots around the field for them to find :D
S&W field.jpg

Obviously the leaves don't cover the full field haha - I'm going to be adding hay under the shelter of the tree to encourage them to spend time under there in the worst weather!

And here they are from a few years back carrying their own nets haha

Capture.PNG

The grey was clipped out two months ago so he is rugged up and will stay that way until fluffy enough to wean off them, or will stay rugged if he doesn't but I will take it off so he can have a right good roll and scratch when I'm there :) I have three rugs that he can swap between if he gets really wet as I don't really plan on rugging the chestnut at all at the moment.... might change when it gets really cold!
 
Joined
2 February 2017
Messages
2,770
Love the photo A. I couldn't do that with mine as she suffers neck arthritis but I have been known before now to put in on her back whilst leading her down the field. And she has carried rugs from the washbox up to the stable.
 
Top