Need help making a decision - 24/7 or 12/12 turnout?
I am having some major issues with my mare. I have owned her for a 1 1/2 years, she is a 10 yr. old, green, OTTB, and she is generally a hot horse but is usually manageable. She was on 24/7 turnout and her energy levels were solid (quietly jumping 2'6") but her feet weren't doing so great, pulling shoes about every other month. I decided to switch her to stall board (this past winter) with 12/12 turnout and it helped her feet tremendously, she hasn't pulled a shoe in over 6 months.
My problem now is that her energy levels have skyrocketed. She must work 6 days a week to maintain sanity (we have stopped jumping for now because she runs at them, some days we w/t only because she feels so explosive/spooky). I am positive it is the energy that is causing her mis-behaviors because there was one day that got fed up with her and lunged her for 45 minutes and got back on her that afternoon and she was great. She was relaxed and actually able to pay attention to me, she still had plently of energy but it didn't feel frantic or explosive.
It is very frustrating for me, this is not the horse I know and love. I feel like her energy clouds her mind and she can't focus on me at all, I know I am not the best rider (I am sure a better rider could push her through it) but this is not the horse I bought. I would not a have bought a horse like this but I am willing to try every option available because I truly believe she is capable of more.
So these are my choices:
Barn A (currently at):
12/12 turn out (goes out at 6:00 come in at 6:00)
Wonderful BM who stays on top of everything
Only one pasture-mate (who is ridiculously herd bound to my mare)
All the hay she can eat
Only 7 horses ( I know she gets appropriate attention)
Other boarders are absolutely wonderful
Large tack room that I can keep my tack trunk in
Barn B (was at last year from January to November):
24/7 turnout on not-so-great grass (3 times as big as Barn A's pasture)
turned out in a herd of 4 other mares
feet problems would probably return
She will start to drop weight because of the not-so-great grass and sweating in the heat all day
She is a dark bay so she would bleach out tremendously
School barn - 20 some horses and kids running around, very noisey not the peaceful barn atmosphere that I have grown to love at barn A.
BM is nice and works hard but it is hard to keep up with 20+ horses and my mare would probably be over-looked at times.
no tack room space - trunk would have to be on the isle (kids in my stuff, gets dirty easily)
I just wouldn't be happy boarding there but I would do it if I had to.
Just to add,nothing else has changed since we switched to the 12/12 barn last year (tack, feed, etc).
My only other option (which I'll be trying first) is to ask Barn A if I could pay for the stall but not use it and request that my mare be left out durning the day. I just worry that they will not allow it since Barn B and Barn A are on the same farm and they will want the stall for another border who will pay full board (I am a working student, I pay 1/2 board).
I really appreciate any advice or comments. I would love to hear of anyone whose horses do better (energy-wise) on 24/7 turnout. If I can't get her energy levels settled I am going to have to send her to a professional (which I can't afford) or sell her (not that anyone would buy her).
It sounds to me like Barn B has too many negatives to make it worthwhile, despite the turnout situation.
My TB mare is essentially "turned out" 24/7 (at my home barn) but she only has access to her paddock and at times the arena during the day; but the pasture is only available overnight. [She is in a herd of 3 horses]. Even though she CAN go out during the day (they have access to their stalls at all times) she doesn't go out most of the time. In fact, this time of year she will come back in once the pasture is opened around 6-7pm if the flies bother her, because she prefers the cool comfort of her stall to the sun, flies and heat.
So, I think that 12/12 turnout is really great. Also, especially in summer, my mare is so tired from overnight turnout that I choose not to ride her in the morning when it is cooler, and sometimes end up not riding her if the evening is still too hot. You might find that 24/7 turnout in the summer might be more turnout than even a "hot" horse might want.
I think I'd try the 12/12 turnout and see if it helps. I definitely think I'd avoid the 24/7 option at the other barn, for other reasons, though.
Just editing to add that my mare is a 13 year old OTTB ex-broodmare, so a similar horse. If she were stalled most of the time she'd need TONS of riding to make her less of a lunatic. But overnight pasture in the summer works very well for us.
Ack. Re-reading your post and see that she's already on 12/12 turnout? Am I reading it right? Because if so, then that changes my post. Has anything else changed? Any other options rather than the 24/7 barn? Grr. Sorry.....I will go back and re-read and re-think my answers.
can you cut her grain? or change it to something that might be a little less energy? When my TB goes out on grass in the spring/summer I have to cut his grain down to a third of what he gets in the winter- and he is just getting fatter and fatter this summer because with all of the rain the grass has stayed so well, or else he can't even find his own feet through the clouds in his brain.
Can her feed be changed to something lower energy? There may be some help there.
Also, something I have noticed with nervous horses is that if they are kept secluded/ quiet, they are more nervous when something does happen. However, a horse kept in a busy barn with lots of activity will often mellow. They just get desensitized to all of the bustle. Then a little thing like a ride is not so exciting.
This is not always the case, and I know not really a solution; merely some food for thought.
"In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams
I have a hot, very green, 8 y.o. TB (not OTTB) gelding. His T.O. schedule is about 12/12. He goes out at night. I always lunge him before I ride him, but it is a worthy lunging session. We do lots of transitions, big circles, small circles. Right now I am not able to work him as often as I should or he would like, so the lunging is necessary to use his excess energy before riding. Your mare may benefit from a short turnout or lunging session before riding to get out her excess energy. I know that for me it feels like a 'crutch', but I ride my horses for fun and I don't like to have to fight each ride. I know that as my gelding gets more miles I will cut back on the lunging, but right now I know its better to have enjoyable rides than fights (which my gelding is very good at).
My gelding also gets no grain, only hay. We are in so. Cal, there is no pasture. I am about to introduce some grain (to aid in fly control), but I will make sure it is a low energy type.
Also as GypsyQ mentioned-My boy does better at more busier places. Now he is in my backyard-which allows for the TO- and he is more jumpy. When he was at the trainers busier barn he had no TO, but was calmer with all the activity.
Goodluck with your mare. I would find a way to make barn A work. It sounds like there are too many downfalls to barn B. L
My ideal situation for my TB's can't often be found for boarders I'm afraid - but maybe self care you could find something like this?
Anyway, my guys have stalls attached to their own individual "dry" paddocks. They spend 12 hours there, and 12 hours out on a 3 acre grassy field. From the field they have access to a run in, so they are never really "in" or "out" - perfect for our active roving TB's!
They are all so happy & well adjusted with this set up - they are never actually "stalled" unless there is a really nasty storm (usually only 2-3 times a year do I close the stall doors) or they go away to shows (and yes I had one that objected strenuously to being stabled at shows, so that could be a drawback, but he survived and all my other horses were fine with being stalled when they were away).
The dry paddocks are different sizes, but mostly 50-60' long by 30-40' wide.
Anyway, I know it will be hard to find this having to board, but I do know a couple places in my area that offer modified "self-care" (i.e., you buy the feed & clean up, but they will feed if you set it out for them) set ups that are a lot like this, so maybe if you look around?
The other thing I can think of, can you get a broodmare sized stall for her? It would cost more of course but might relieve just enough of the excess energy.
I would stay at barn A and try a changing her feeding program. I had an OTTB come to me, and even on 24/7 turnout at my place, he was pacing the fence and just buring up every calorie with nervous energy, as well as no attention span whatsoever. I really was quite frantic, feeling that he was completely unhappy at my place.
I switched him to a combination low carb feed/rice bran diet and he's a different horse. He's now very relaxed and happy, his attention span is much better and he looks fantastic! He also has trouble holding shoes, as does your mare, so I have him on a biotin supplement, and I also have a great farrier. He made it to just 2 days before his scheduled shoeing this last time around, and judging by how badly he tore up his foot, I don't think it was so much a matter of losing a shoe as yanking it off.