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View Full Version : How do you take the winter off?



Ready To Riot
Dec. 27, 2011, 11:16 PM
I have spent an entire month away from my horses. Completely away. I went to the barn to pet them for about 10 mins on Christmas day while I was at my parents, but aside from that I have had no horse contact. I kind of feel like a bad horse person, but I have had a rough time with everything going on in my life the past 6 months and horses just weren't fun for me anymore, So I opted to just quit... Cold turkey. I have gone on the occasionally trail ride up until Dec. 1st, when I moved from my parents to a nice little house about 15 mins away. I have taken this month to just relax. Get accustomed to living alone and figuring out my budget so I can decide how often I can afford to drive out to the barn. I have been fixing up my little house, focusing on my and my "adult life" really. It has been nice, plus it has given my mares some time off.. of course one of them didn't actually need anytime off, but she is getting it.

I have been thinking about spending January away from the horses too. I miss riding a lot, but I dont think I am ready to start again.

I was just wondering, when you give your horses the winter off, do you go see them often? I have the luxury of my mom watching out for them. Her and my dad will put round bales out there and mom waters everyday, so I really have no need to go out to check on them because they are being well taken care of. Thoughts? Am I a bad horse owner?

candysgirl
Dec. 27, 2011, 11:46 PM
My horse got last winter almost entirely off. He is in my backyard, so I do see him and the others to feed twice a day, every day, but I didn't ride more than a handful of times all winter. Most of those were just hop on and putter around bareback for a few minutes or to go ride the fence line after a couple storms. I don't feel like that was being a bad owner. He was perfectly happy to wander around with his buddies and not be ridden. He had good food, friends and shelter. That's really all most horses want.

This winter he's gotten a lot less time off because we sold one of our 3 to my friend and she's been coming up to ride with me. Last winter, I didn't have anyone to ride with and my outdoor arena isn't ridable for about half the year. I feel much better about riding out when I have someone to go with me.

If the horses are in a good place being well looked after, quit feeling bad about not seeing them. The vast majority of horses don't pine away for a human even if they do enjoy that human's company when they are around and most really don't mind not being ridden for periods of time. Get things straightened out and then go back when you want to.

Georgia_Love
Dec. 28, 2011, 04:07 AM
My mare has gotten the past month off and will likely be getting at least part of the next month off as well. She can be a bit of a stressful ride (MAJOR mare attitude :P) and as a student, I just couldn't handle any additional stress during finals time. I work out at the barn where she lives three times a week though and quite honestly, I don't know how to stay away from the barn, so I still go out and see her every day. Most days I also either lunge or hop on her bareback as she has a tendency to get bored. I really thought that by now we would both be going stir crazy with boredom, but we're really quite content! That's not to say that I don't intend to start putting her back to work soon, but a little "mental break" is definitely nothing to be ashamed of! Personally I'm a bit paranoid and I wouldn't trust anyone to keep as close of a watch over her as I do, so I'm out there every day, even if its just to give her a bit of grain and say hi. If your horses are happy and with someone you trust though, there is nothing wrong with taking a break. We devote so much of our lives to these animals that its healthy to take a break every once in a while and sort out the rest of your life before returning to your furry friends. When you're ready to come back, you'll know. As the saying goes "absence makes the heart grow fonder" :)

Highflyer
Dec. 28, 2011, 11:05 AM
I wouldn't not touch the horse all winter, personally. I think they do much better with regular handling, apart from everything else. Can you at least go out 1-2 times a week, catch the horse, groom, and fuss over it a little bit? I know horses are horses and are pretty content as long they have food but I do think my boy would feel neglected without the odd treat and face rub since he is so spoiled the rest of the year!

Auburn
Dec. 28, 2011, 11:09 AM
Getting shingles has forced me to take time off. I had slowed down to riding 2-3 days per week.

I have been completely off for two weeks, with no end in sight. My plan had been to keep her in shape and go to Aiken the first of February. I will be lucky if I make it there in March.

If it was not so far away, I would go visit my mare more often. My son drove me down on Monday to do suppliments and help me fit my Christmas present (Micklem Competition Bridle :)). It took all of my strength just to do that little trip. :(

OP,
You are not a bad mom. Every horse and rider are different. If you need a mental break, then take as long as you need. Riding should be a joy, not a chore. :yes:

Ready To Riot
Dec. 28, 2011, 11:50 AM
I wouldn't not touch the horse all winter, personally. I think they do much better with regular handling, apart from everything else. Can you at least go out 1-2 times a week, catch the horse, groom, and fuss over it a little bit? I know horses are horses and are pretty content as long they have food but I do think my boy would feel neglected without the odd treat and face rub since he is so spoiled the rest of the year!

Mom does pet and treat them. Our old mare is out there and mom grooms her everyday, so if nothing else the other ponies get a little treat when she goes out there to catch old lady!

smay
Dec. 28, 2011, 12:01 PM
Well it shouldn't probably be THAT tough to visit them from time to time, even if you don't ride them. Unless you trust your mom completely to check them for bumps, bruises, burrs, rainrot, cracked hooves, eye goop, etc.... the things horses get into when left to their own devices outside in the winter.... I suppose that you probably feel a little guilty about not contributing at all to their care, that's all. I'm sure they are fine with fresh water and a round bale, but I would be a little worried if I went months without even laying eyes on my horses. But that's because in MY case - I AM the mom, and I DO all the work with our horses, including cleaning 4 stalls, feeding and turning out, blanketing and unblanketing, checking boo-boos, night checks-- you name it. Just the other day I noticed our Morgan had gotten some burrs in his long forelock, which were knocking against his eye, and had caused some eye irritation. If that had gone on longer than a day, it might have been pretty bad. Stuff like that...

Ownedbyhim
Dec. 28, 2011, 02:02 PM
my horses love going "feral" in the off season. they live in turnout with a blanket,and have hay tossed to them. they do not need treats or fussing with and since her mom is her eyes and can see things like feet needing to be picked or the burrs in forelock...she is covered. not all horses actually enjoy being hot house flowers. i have retirees here that never see a stall unless its pouring and blowing...yet they were pampered show horses their whole lives...my stallion lives outside everyday, turned out with a massive draft gelding for company. horses need to be treated like horses,not pets and time off from human issues is often good for their mental health and physical selfs. my horses are running advanced this next year....they are not neglected by long weeks of turnout and no grooming/pampering..they come back into work fresh and full of themselves and happy. all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. true for horses as well as humans. watch videos of riding, read a couple good books on riding, really clean and oil your tack and get repairs done...winter is great for alot of reasons and leaving your horses alone is just one of them in my opinion.:) trust your mother.

deltawave
Dec. 28, 2011, 02:08 PM
I have taken entire YEARS off from horses, and numerous chunks of many months over the years. Life does not always guarantee us the time or the means to have horses in our daily schedule. :)

As long as their needs are being met (feed, water, shelter, someone looking after them, etc.) they don't give a hoot if you go pet them or not. Really. :)

A bad horse owner can be defined in many ways. This does not seem to be one of them.

Dispatch guilt. One of the nicer things about growing older is that it becomes easier to do so, but there's nothing wrong with practicing. :D

EqTrainer
Dec. 28, 2011, 02:11 PM
I have taken entire YEARS off from horses, and numerous chunks of many months over the years. Life does not always guarantee us the time or the means to have horses in our daily schedule. :)

As long as their needs are being met (feed, water, shelter, someone looking after them, etc.) they don't give a hoot if you go pet them or not. Really. :)

A bad horse owner can be defined in many ways. This does not seem to be one of them.

Dispatch guilt. One of the nicer things about growing older is that it becomes easier to do so, but there's nothing wrong with practicing. :D

Amen!

smay
Dec. 28, 2011, 02:32 PM
Yes, it's all fine and good if your mommy agrees to do all the work. You're covered. Go shop for curtains or whatever is keeping you so busy that you can't help out.

DiablosHalo
Dec. 28, 2011, 02:41 PM
My horses have had the past 5 years off! Includes spring bath, fall bath and the occasional coming up to the barn in bad weather summer/winter. Other than that - they are on their own. They are happy - all 6 of them.

Ready To Riot
Dec. 28, 2011, 03:17 PM
Yes, it's all fine and good if your mommy agrees to do all the work. You're covered. Go shop for curtains or whatever is keeping you so busy that you can't help out.

Wow. Was that really needed? Not just my horses out there kid. Hers too. and No she doesnt mind one bit considering when i lived at home I did it all and paid for it all. She more than happy to give me a break for a month or two.

Arcadien
Dec. 28, 2011, 03:23 PM
Yes, it's all fine and good if your mommy agrees to do all the work. You're covered. Go shop for curtains or whatever is keeping you so busy that you can't help out.

:confused: Unless I'm missing some behind the scenes troubled relationship between you and the OP, this and your previous post seem quite unnecesarily rude & uncalled for. :no:

Nomini
Dec. 28, 2011, 09:24 PM
There is absolutely NO reason for you to feel guilty! During the competition season, I ride my T/P horse and my P/I pony nearly every day. I haven't been on either of them in the month of December, and probably won't be not for most of Feb. If not for the fact that they live in my backyard, I would probably not see them everyday. They need a break. I need a break. As someone who's major life decisions have revolved around her horses, I feel no guilt in not riding for 6-8 weeks. They are happy and sound come time to get fit for spring events (not burnt out). I work full time. Its cold and dark when I get home. In all my years of competing I have never felt "behind" come competition season.

Point is, take your sweet time. When you want to ride, you will.

yellowbritches
Dec. 28, 2011, 09:48 PM
I have given my horses a winter vacation for years. Even when I was a young, dumb, clueless teenager. Somehow, I figured out that my horse was A LOT happier the rest of the year, if he got some time to relax (of course, I couldn't leave him completely alone...I had to ride. But our vacation was tack free and ring free...I hacked him in a halter and lead rope with no saddle for a month every year! Made for some exciting rides...might be where my stickability comes from!!!!).

I have also tried to give them down time in the worst part of the summer every year. Maybe not as down as the winter break (which is usually mid November until the first of the year), but WAY less schooling, more days off, and a lot more hacking.

It is GOOD for most of them. Their bodies and minds need a break and there is no better time than the winter, especially the busy holiday season, to let them alone, and give them a chance to be horses. I have never gone as far as you have, mostly because most of my guys have gone into winter vacation clipped and fit from the show season. But I leave them alone, let them get dirty, and, on the odd occasion I ride them, it is a hack through the woods. I like to make it my mission to ride them on the buckle as much as they'll allow IF I ride them! I would not hesitate to chuck them out and let them be feral if I had the space and ability.

All that being said, I learned from my current horse that he does NOT vacation well. He's hell on hoof if he gets more than a day or two off in a row, and I ended up acing him for a week to survive the first rides back after his summer vacation (I'm not proud of that, but you gotta do what you gotta do to survive!). I highly doubt he'll get a true vacation ever again like past horses...it isn't fun OR safe!!!!:lol:

It sounds like you have a lot going on in your life and riding is a stress you can easily eliminate. If your horse is looked after and happy, try not to feel guilty. Most horses are happy if they have food, water, buddies, and shelter. Get out to give scratches when you can, but as long as someone has an eye on him and you trust them, don't worry. Do what you need to do, and go back to riding when you are mentally ready.

ake987
Dec. 28, 2011, 10:05 PM
If your mom is happy to take care of them and not struggling with the work (though really, horses turned out during winter with forage, water, and shelter don't require a ton of work!) then WHY feel guilty? If their basic needs are being met, and you are content with their care, they are fine. Don't worry. :)

Horses are a lot like relationships. If you need to focus on yourself for now and get yourself in a good place, you are doing your horses a favor, not a disservice. Take care of you and don't sweat it while you know the ponies are being taken care of. You cannot dispense the quality of care you would like if you are not in a good place yourself. Best of luck to you and take your time. :) You can do it!

goodmorning
Dec. 29, 2011, 12:26 AM
Mine have had about a month off. I am out daily to do the basics, but, between school & work & the Holiday's I was lacking in time for much else. They are quite thrilled with life. Feral might be a good way to describe them at this point ;) The hard-keeper has put some extra weight on, the naughty filly is maturing & looking yak-ish. It's all good. They have chicken friends :lol: FWIW, if you're in a climate where indoor riding is a requirement, IMO the time off isn't a bad thing. Daily indoor riding quickly looses it's appeal.

I am really, really looking forward to putting them all back to work. I can't stand to have them sitting around. Actually praying for snow so I can at least enjoy some bareback hacking. And daylight would be greatly appreciated!

ohrebecca
Dec. 29, 2011, 12:32 AM
I have taken entire YEARS off from horses, and numerous chunks of many months over the years. Life does not always guarantee us the time or the means to have horses in our daily schedule. :)

As long as their needs are being met (feed, water, shelter, someone looking after them, etc.) they don't give a hoot if you go pet them or not. Really. :)

A bad horse owner can be defined in many ways. This does not seem to be one of them.

Dispatch guilt. One of the nicer things about growing older is that it becomes easier to do so, but there's nothing wrong with practicing. :D

^THIS!


Yes, it's all fine and good if your mommy agrees to do all the work. You're covered. Go shop for curtains or whatever is keeping you so busy that you can't help out.

WTH? Uncalled for, absolutely uncalled for.

OP, don't feel guilty. Your horse is being taken care of - take some time to take care of yourself. I gave my mare a few months off this year (granted, we are not and haven't ever been competition-ready, we are essentially backyard-hackers right now) and when I was ready to come back, she was much more relaxed and ready-to-go than I gave her credit for. Her mind was bright, she wasn't resentful, she wanted to work. She was ready for me to come back and ride, and in that time I took off, I still visited, groomed, gave her carrots/treats, and she lived outside 24/7. Just like ake987 said, get yourself in a good place so you can do the same for your horse. Your horse will thank you for it :)

monstrpony
Dec. 29, 2011, 08:05 AM
Just the other day I noticed our Morgan had gotten some burrs in his long forelock, which were knocking against his eye, and had caused some eye irritation. If that had gone on longer than a day, it might have been pretty bad. Stuff like that...

Proper pasture maintenance would prevent this problem.

(mp ducks and runs ... )

Ready To Riot
Dec. 29, 2011, 09:04 AM
Proper pasture maintenance would prevent this problem.

(mp ducks and runs ... )

If there were a like button, i would def like this! :)

lv4running
Dec. 29, 2011, 10:12 PM
Nothing wrong with time off for you or the horses. No reason to feel guilty either. So many people feel obligated to ride 5-7 days a week 52 weeks a year. When life gets in the way of that they feel guilty and sell the horse...then they become reriders 20 years down the road having missed their horses the whole time. :)

Personally I still see my horses that get time off in the winter but I grain in the evenings every night. I enjoy pulling blankets and grooming, picking feet, talking with them and scratching their favorite spots. Since your horses have someone to do those things you can feel free to focus on all the changes in your life right now. Nothing wrong with that.

bambam
Dec. 29, 2011, 11:15 PM
There is certainly no reason to feel guilty
If you need or want time off- take it! Sometimes you need it
The first few times my mare had time off it was involuntary on my part- it was either because she ror i needed time off for injury. She came back from these breaks so much more ready to work mentally and happy to do it that i started giving her time off on purpose.
My gelding gets bored when he is ridden but even he is fine with some time off and i do not consider myself a bad horse owner when he is not ridden:)