Bollocks to your trainer.Coming from a country where 99% of horses are out 24/7 on pasture I can tell you they do a bloody good job conserving their energy in the paddock .I have 2x WB & 1x TB that during the summer are out 24/7 & they all have enough energy to do anything I want to do.My neighbour has endurance horses out 24/7 ,rides 6 days a week & competes most weekends.What level are you training at & how long & hard is your trainer wanting you to train for him to think this way?
I think pasture board is the best way to go. I've seen a lot of show horses get very bored/irritated/depressed when they are stalled too much. Then the only place they have to act out on that is when you are training or showing. Not always a good thing. Horses with lots of turnout just seem more mentally fresh to me.
West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
I'm with indyblue - bollocks to your trainer!
Horses are individuals. I have some that you can't chase in from pasture in a hurricane, and others who're done with turnout in an hour; less if it's sprinkling rain. If your mare is happier outside, keep her out! And what should the requirements for Third level matter, now, anyway? That's at least a year or so away, from your statements.
I was talking to a BNT/R many years ago. Anne Gribbons, maybe? I really can't remember, but whoever it was, I think they were judging/riding at the Festival of Champions at USET? Ah, whatever, who it was isn't that important.
The point is, we were discussing turnout. A key issue apparently becomes (when one rides at the uber levels and is preparing for things like, maybe going to the Olympics with a horse who is very, very hot and you have spent gazillions dollars keeping them fit and healthy) is injury.
The horse we were discussing only went out for an hour or so a day in a dry turnout. Supervised. Which meant that someone SAT in a CHAIR and watched the horse. And if he got too up or something set him off, they brought him in. I wouldn't be surprised if this were a relatively common practice.
I think for those of us persuing goals that do not require us to ship our horses to Europe, 24/7 turnout is a spectacularly good option. Mine is out by choice 24/7. She always has access to a stall and 10 acres of lovely grass (and I have a dry lot in between I can lock her in if I need to). Perfect! Her coat is gorgeous and she is fat and happy.
If she were worth a million dollars and I were planning to head off to the WEG, I sincerely doubt I would leave her out like that.
You may want to find and loan to your trainer that old issue of *Dressage Today* which so clearly explains the numerous ways in which stalling horses sets them up for gastric ulcers.
My horses are out 24/7 (with access to shelter). Even when I was showing my colt at the hunter breed shows, he only came in for a few hours in the evening to promote early shedding.
Perhaps your trainer is one who prefers "brilliance" over relaxation/calm, and likes dressage horses to look like they're about to explode (like many of those presently winning at GP) or something???? If that's the goal, most certainly, stalling will "help"--- but is that what YOU want for your horse and yourself?
I think it depends on the horse. My gelding was out 24x7 and he wilted like an old flower. I used to get charlie horses from trying to make him GO after all that grass & sun. My young mare, on the other hand, would probably do better in that situation. She is young and I may find as she progresses that she benefits from stall time, but for now, I'm actually looking for a good pasture board situation for her. And hey - cuts the costs, too!
"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince
IN general, yes - there are also a lot of people who have long-term stable horses that say their horses cannot go out because they go nuts - nuts with happiness to be sure.
I think that there are some horses who may do better with SOME stall time. Like my TB needs alone time to eat peacefully and he is a big sweater in the summer - so I need to sit him under a fan. In the winter, they all come in at night and on very cold nights I blanket the TB at least - the WB I blanket him though it is more for me than for him. He looks at me like I am nuts.
Turn out all the time by themselves can help keep their tails and keep from getting nibble and knicks but that also robs them of some of that comradery time they love. I find that when I put my 4 horses together - they bicker more - when I split them in 2s - they do MUCH better and tend to not have any (or little) boo boos. But I still have to pull my TB away and give him some alone time with some extra food and a fan.
Except for bad weather - I feel guilty if I leave them stuck in a stall - as they look out staring at 20 open acres. And what do I get for that besides they tend to stay cleaner? I get to clean stalls! YIPPEE! naught.
Maybee this sounds very arrogant, but the answer is very simple.
Horses who are trained every day and compete will lose a lot of their power/muscle-strenght when they are out in the field for more then 2-6 hours (depending on the color of the grass and who many food they take in the fields). Yes they will still eat the special food in their stables, but it will not be digested and transported to their muscles.
Ellen Bontje answered this same question in a clinic with the words.
First make your descission if you want a horse for recreation or a horse for competition. If you chose for recreation you can go for the 24/7 out in the field discipline, but if you want a competition horse you have to guide his feeding process, day in and day out.
Maybe Horsedances is thinking of horses that are pasture boarded where they have to fight over their food, etc. etc? That is not the same thing.. you cannot have a working horse in that situation.
My horses are all fed separately/individually, with the same care given to their nutritional needs as that of a stalled horse.. but they have the benefit of eating good quality grass also, AND moving around as nature intended a horse to do with their head down/back up.
I also find that horses that live out are much less prone to tendon and ligament injuries too, the constant movement over varying terrain strengthens them like no work in a flat dressage arena could ever do.
If you keep a horse stalled, you have a BIG responsibility IMO, to work them every day and then also take them for a long walk again later.. or before... standing in a stall for 23 hours is IMO unacceptable. I doubt that top level riders who keep their horses in do it like we do here in the USA, where the horse is standing the other 23 hours... I bet they have grooms and working students who get those horses out and moving. I also think the stalled situation in Europe can be simply a result of not having land to turn them out on and so the situation has been adapted to work for them. But that doesn't make it preferable, just necessary.
My horse still has a ton of energy although she is turned out all day. She comes in at dinner and goes out at breakfast. She is grained twice a day and fed hay three times. She goes out on grass for two hours and then is rotated into a grassless pasture. My trainers FEI horses, the same thing.
Ulcers, respiratory problems, colic, arthritis, tying up, stable vices such as cribbing are all less in horses that get a lot of turnout. If your horse is too mellow for dressage if s/he is turned out, maybe this horse is not cut out for dressage.
I agree with Theo that high level competition horses may not do well turned out on grass all day, but I don't see any reason why they cannot go out. Some people are so worried about injury, but if it is a good pasture with safe fencing, I will take that risk. I think the risk of colic or ulcers or other issues is bigger for horses that never get out.