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Can a dressage horse live on pasture board?

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  • #21
    Not digested and transported to the muscle?? Please. Digestion is aided by movement (which is why horses that are kept in have a tendency to colic).

    Lose their muscle strength while out in a field?? Walking around on uneven terrain all day long is far more likely to stengthen the muscle than standing around in a stall all day. Have you ever seen a horse that was previously in good form come off a few months of stall rest? No muscle tone. Bony. Wired.

    If your horse is happy and looks healthier out, then keep him out. If I kept my horses in the barn 20 hours a day, they would go bonkers. Completely, utterly bonkers. You know how your horse looks and feels better than anyone...so don't let folks convince you to do something that cuts against that.

    Folks in my barn compete at the highest levels of eventing and their horses go out. In herds. To eat grass. And, yes, sometimes they get hurt and somebody can't ride in the next *** or **** on their schedule. Somehow they manage to get over it.
    Treat Jockey for Spellbound and Smidgeon

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    • #22
      I worked for a PSG rider who believed in practically bubble wrapping her horses when they got to go out for their one hour supervised turn out- in the early morning during the summer (don't want to bleach out the coat ) and evening in the winter. The horses wore boots all around, bell boots, fly sheets or appropriate blankets, and fly masks just to go outside. They all had seperate paddocks with enough space between that there could be no nose touching. The horses all looked gorgeous and did very well at the shows, but I have never seen more illnesses and mental issues then I did there .

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      • #23
        I just wrote down my lifetime experiences with competition horses.

        Horses who are out 24/7 will become recreation horses within a few weeks. You have to control their feeding if you want to keep a horse fit and competitive for the dressage-arena <period>

        If you can control their feeding when they are out...... NO PROBLEM.

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        • #24
          My horse lives out 24/7 and I would not have it any other way.

          Before he got 4 hours ( minimum) t/o. Sometimes, even after I had ridden him in a hard training session, he would act like a nut case in t/o so much so that the foreman was concerned that he might harm himself ( think champion rodeo stock horse bustamove behavior) .

          Now he is full bodied , fit and I know lives as close to a natural lifestyle I can provide.
          _\\]
          -- * > hoopoe
          Procrastinate NOW
          Introverted Since 1957

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          • #25
            Originally posted by Horsedances

            Horses who are out 24/7 will become recreation horses within a few weeks.
            Theo, that is just not a correct statement. I've seen far too many horses throughout my life that were on 24/7 turnout and were still in heavy work and/or competition. The discipline makes no different - you made the statement that the horse's body cannot handle being on 24/7 turnout. So I go back to the endurance horse scenario. Certainly you cannot call them "recreation horses" when they can cover 50-100 miles a day through the mountains over rough terrain, climbing steep hills, fording through rivers, etc. all on a time constraint and metabolic constraint. If the horse shows metabolic stress, phhhffft, you're out.

            The fact is - people may prefer to have horses stalled for various reason, or it may be necessary due to available real estate, but saying it is healthier for a horse to be stalled constantly and his musclulature will be healthier is just totally incorrect. It might be your opinion, and your preference, but it's certainly not fact.

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            • #26
              Originally posted by Horsedances
              I just wrote down my lifetime experiences with competition horses.

              Horses who are out 24/7 will become recreation horses within a few weeks. You have to control their feeding if you want to keep a horse fit and competitive for the dressage-arena <period>

              If you can control their feeding when they are out...... NO PROBLEM.
              Excuse me, then, I must edit that "24/7" to 23+/7-- the horses are brought into stalls to be fed their concentrates.

              For optimal health-- and especially for ulcer prevention-- forage is available at all times, although some horses must wear grazing muzzles to prevent obesity.

              Important fact: horses were designed to be free-ranging foragers: they do not salivate without dental pressure (chewing), and they secrete gastric juices at all times, whether there is food in the stomach or saliva present to protect the stomach lining or not. This is why horses are such complusive chewers-- and the primary reason why horses on high grain diets and limited forage are so vulnerable to ulcers, laminitis-- and behavior problems, too.
              http://www.tunnelsendfarm.com

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              • #27
                I'm with Catalina.
                I worked for a BNT who kept here horses in ALL the time with the exception of a 1/2 hour-45 minute turn out. These horses looked gorgeous, no doubt, beautiful coats, wonderful musculature but had SO many vices. They were also prone to lameness because they'd totally freak out during that 1/2 hour that they were out.

                Now I'm at a stable where the trainer believes in total turnout, with the exception of winter. Both her and her daughter's horses (all 4 of them grand prix and intermediaire) are turned out 24/7 during summer. In winter, they get minimally 8 hours and survive just fine and still maintain great conditioning.

                And while I am definately no grand prix rider (TL for one horse and 2nd level for another), I actually ride MORE in wintertime then in summer (and spend more time on the little detail simply because I can't say "meh, I'll go for a gallop instead!", and my horses are usually a bit more fit in winter, despite being out 24/7
                In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have. 1300 pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs - it's something you just can't get from a pet hamster.

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                • #28
                  it really depends on the situation and the horse.

                  i HAVE had horses that needed to conserve their energy for riding. that's not any manure pile at all. for MOST horses, for MOST riding, it IS indeed a manure pile, but you can't force horses to comply with your philosophy when they simply don't - there ARE horses like that. and you can't change them.

                  yes, i have had horses that needed to be in and wanted to be in - the higher the level you work them, the more i think they want to be IN. sleep, lie on nice soft straw, sit in front of the fan, be groomed and live the life of riley after work. flies? search for food? MUD? PLEASE. i'm a star, i'm an athlete. peel me a grape and make it snappy.

                  and i had one that wanted to be in the barn with the people and not outside with those INSIPID...what are they...LIVESTOCK? that was his attitude.

                  i had another one that believed himself to be the original Marlborough Man horse. we accomodated him. he was king of the wind or whatever the heck he fancied himself to be, as much as he wanted to be. we made sure he got out as much as he wanted to. he would be 'out on the range' and we'd grab him, slick him off, throw tack on him and take him to a show, scraped up legs and all. that was what he wanted. we'd even drive home every night if the show was less than a few hrs from home and put him BACK out in his field. that's what he wanted. RIP, tristan.

                  in any case, there are practical matters when a horse gets to be upper level. no, you do NOT want to squander that energy, and yes, i think it's unfair to leave an athlete out in a crowded pen with rocks, dirt, no grass, broiling sun, other horses beating him up, and then say to him, why the hell aren't you giving your all in this extended trot? not fair.

                  my upper level horse went out in happy acres, i called it. nice grass, friends near by but behind a fence, give him some peace, his own grass, and his own little disgusting wallow to sow in. but when they're tired from working, yes, i think they want to be catered to and spoiled. and that's what i do.

                  slc

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                  • #29
                    So all the dressage-stables in Europe are wrong ?

                    Let one of the dressage-stables who are boarding top horses tell me (here) their story about leaving horses out in the field 24/7. I know a lot of them but nobody will ever let their horses out in the field 24/7.

                    We have manyyyyy people over here who have their own stables and greenfields at home, and who do have a daytime job. They hire people to put their horses in the field (depending on the weather) at 08.00 and put them back in their stables at 10.00 or 11.00 or 12.00 (depending on the horse and the kind of grass on the field).

                    Very recently our nextdoor neighbour got divorced and couldn't pay stabling anymore, her horses are now at home and put in the fields before she goes to work at 07.00 and collected again when she comes home at 18.00. The performances of these horses has dropped from high 60% to low 50%. They are sweating after 10 minutes warm up and don't loke like the horses they were before. They are lazy and have to be ridden with much more pressure as before. (BTW She is looking for a rich and good looking man who could pay the bills for stabling her horses again)

                    You can tell me every story you want and do what you please, but this is my lifetime experience with horses who have to perform at competitions.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Horsedances
                      Very recently our nextdoor neighbour got divorced and couldn't pay stabling anymore, her horses are now at home and put in the fields before she goes to work at 07.00 and collected again when she comes home at 18.00. The performances of these horses has dropped from high 60% to low 50%. They are sweating after 10 minutes warm up and don't loke like the horses they were before. They are lazy and have to be ridden with much more pressure as before. (BTW She is looking for a rich and good looking man who could pay the bills for stabling her horses again)
                      And is the decrease in scores and decrease in fitness of the horses in any way related to the fact that maybe the horses aren't worked as consistently due to the changes in your neighbor's life?

                      I agree that if I had a top-level international dressage horse, I would probably NOT turn it out 24/7. I would like for any horse I own to get out at least 4 hours a day, though.

                      I like my horses to be out as much as possible but my main riding horse stays in 12-14 hours a day now because the heat will kill her otherwise.

                      But, I think for MOST AMATEURS that are competing at a regional level (even if they are competing FEI), their horses can be turned out a good portion of the day and their performance is not going to suffer. For most amateurs, their riding ability is probably more limiting to the horse than turnout is. There are exceptions, of course, and I have known some horses that literally don't like to be out all day.

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                      • #31
                        Originally posted by Horsedances
                        Let one of the dressage-stables who are boarding top horses tell me (here) their story about leaving horses out in the field 24/7. I know a lot of them but nobody will ever let their horses out in the field 24/7.
                        So they must be right, and we must be wrong?
                        We have manyyyyy people over here who have their own stables and greenfields at home, and who do have a daytime job. They hire people to put their horses in the field (depending on the weather) at 08.00 and put them back in their stables at 10.00 or 11.00 or 12.00 (depending on the horse and the kind of grass on the field).

                        Very recently our nextdoor neighbour got divorced and couldn't pay stabling anymore, her horses are now at home and put in the fields before she goes to work at 07.00 and collected again when she comes home at 18.00. The performances of these horses has dropped from high 60% to low 50%. They are sweating after 10 minutes warm up and don't loke like the horses they were before. They are lazy and have to be ridden with much more pressure as before. (BTW She is looking for a rich and good looking man who could pay the bills for stabling her horses again)
                        Yes, I see. Correlation must imply causation?
                        You can tell me every story you want and do what you please, but this is my lifetime experience with horses who have to perform at competitions.
                        Yes, I have a lifetime experience with horses as well. But your opinion must be the right one, yes? Your European horses only live to be in their late teens, early 20s. Poor care might have something to do with that!

                        For the vast majority of horses, 24-7 turnout is best. They should have shelter, clean water, their fill of hay. Keeping horses inside is the best way to insure their early demise!

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                        • #32
                          I think most dressage training stables (here and in Europe) are run as businesses. As such, they are managed in the most efficient way they can be while maintaining the well being of the horse. This means that compromises are made. It is surely better for a horse to be out as much as possible. But this means much more time is spent; taking horses to and from turnout, additional grooming etc.

                          In the situation you describe, Theo, I think there is probably a lot more going on than simply the horses used to be in a stable and now they are in a field. When people have big changes in their lives (like divorce) horses are often put on the back burner. They become a lower priority.

                          Having them in the field almost facilitates this because you don't feel bad that they have been locked in a stall all day. There isn't the same pressure to get them out to stretch their legs. I am struggling with this myself at the moment. So it isn't the fact that they are in a pasture that makes them less successful in competition but rather the way they are managed, IMO.
                          See those flying monkeys? They work for me.

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                          • #33
                            Tee hee slc, I think I own Tristans brother

                            There is a happy medium between the pasture board that most people envision, and the 24/7 stall/minimal turnout situation. It's called the ass-kissing version of pasture board, which is what I do, that is totally based on whatever the horse needs. Lunch? No problem, I'll bring them in for it. A hosing off and some fan/stall/rest time? Sure, no problem. That's my theme - what does it take? But the basis for the lifestyle IS turnout - turnout in big, grassy fields with just a friend or maybe two, a shady treeline to hang out in, refreshed cool water provided by yours truly at noon.. you get the idea. Even the grape eating variety of horse settles into it pretty well.

                            The biggest PLUS factor I see to them living this way, is that they maintain an overall fitness level that I just don't think a stalled/minimal turnout horse can have. They move more with less impact. We have a refreshing lack of tears, strains, tweaks, whatevers... of course now that I said that... I will shut up now before I curse myself.
                            "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                            ---
                            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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                            • #34
                              I have a 14 yr old OTTB with whom I do dressage. Since mid October, we have been at a barn where he is out 24/7.

                              From being a hard keeper, he has blossomed. In fact, HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE INSIDE. Yesterday, even in this heat, I brought him in, hosed him off, thought I'd spend the time scritching, but NO. he made it clear he wanted OUT (since we obviously weren't going to ride).

                              He is incredibly chilled, relaxed, happy. I'd rather spend the money in gas and eat up the miles than ever have him stalled again.
                              www.specialhorses.org
                              a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

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                              • #35
                                Originally posted by EqTrainer
                                Tee hee slc, I think I own Tristans brother

                                There is a happy medium between the pasture board that most people envision, and the 24/7 stall/minimal turnout situation. It's called the ass-kissing version of pasture board, which is what I do, that is totally based on whatever the horse needs. Lunch? No problem, I'll bring them in for it. A hosing off and some fan/stall/rest time? Sure, no problem. That's my theme - what does it take? But the basis for the lifestyle IS turnout - turnout in big, grassy fields with just a friend or maybe two, a shady treeline to hang out in, refreshed cool water provided by yours truly at noon.. you get the idea. Even the grape eating variety of horse settles into it pretty well.

                                The biggest PLUS factor I see to them living this way, is that they maintain an overall fitness level that I just don't think a stalled/minimal turnout horse can have. They move more with less impact. We have a refreshing lack of tears, strains, tweaks, whatevers... of course now that I said that... I will shut up now before I curse myself.
                                Indeed, there are many options, and I've found it works extremely well to offer them outright to the horses:

                                I.e., I forgot to mention that my 23+/7 "out" horses, all have free access to stalls, with fans and electrolytes in the summer, heated water in the winter, bedding, etc., in addition to grass, shade trees, etc. Those who want to come in, do, when they want to-- and then go back out when they wish, all with the convenience of mutual-grooming, companionship, etc. (unless I have one who does not do well in company, in which case s/he has individual paddock with shelter, fans, etc.) I've been taking care of horses for over 30 years, from expensive race and show horses to retirees, done so using many different approaches from full-care stalling/100% controlled exercise, to 24/7 exclusively pasture boarding (and everything in between), and gradually came around to this-- after considerable research (including courses in equine nutrition and readings in exercise physiology), because it works best in every way. The horses are happiest, healthiest, soundest, and with minimal alteration in the sytem, they can still be kept sleek enough to show at any level of competition.

                                I have an email friend, BTW, who's bought non-winning racehorses and transformed them into winners by turning them out to-- and running them off of-- pasture. (My friend is a professor of equine exercise physiology at a major university. I highly recommend his and his colleagues' articles on the damage stalling does to bone density.)

                                I'm afraid the ways in which "elite" equine athletes are traditionally kept has much more to do with convenience, economics (esp. land availability) and snob appeal than it does with improving health, fitness, or performance.

                                For the second time, I would like to recommend that article in *Dressage Today,* entitled "Are You Giving Your Horse an Ulcer?" We have, indeed, selectively bred horses to run, jump, etc., but not altered one iota the fact that they EVOLVED to be free-ranging foragers who cannot be confined to boxes without posing multiple risks to their health.
                                http://www.tunnelsendfarm.com

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                                • #36
                                  since riding began, horses have been taken off pasture so they have more energy for the work at hand. it is a simple fact, as horsedances states, it has to do with rest and with diet. the horses are sweating after 10 min of work. because they have a belly full of water, fiber and it weights them down and affects their ability to work, restricts their breathing, etc. read symmerhays, read anyone who has managed working horses - hunters, post horses, cavalry horses, large numbers of them - he has managed them for decades longer than any one here has been alive. read how the horses were managed. you can't remake nature to suit your whims. sure, a horse on field 24/7 will be fine for light work, but you won't take them to the olympics in any sport.

                                  physiology is just physiology. you put horse on grass all day, it don't work the same. horses are kept up part of the day in stalls to allow them to work more efficiently.

                                  Go to Golden Corral. Put some of everything on your plate. STAY at Golden Corral for 23 hours, continue eating, and then go run the Boston Marathon, and tell me where you finish.

                                  there is, indeed, some sort of commonsense middle ground between keeping animals stalled up 24 by 7, and sending them to the Boston MArathon after spending 23 hrs in the equivalent of the Golden Corral Buffet.

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                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by slc2
                                    since riding began, horses have been taken off pasture so they have more energy for the work at hand. it is a simple fact, as horsedances states, it has to do with rest and with diet. the horses are sweating after 10 min of work. because they have a belly full of water, fiber and it weights them down and affects their ability to work, restricts their breathing, etc. read symmerhays, read anyone who has managed working horses - hunters, post horses, cavalry horses, large numbers of them - he has managed them for decades longer than any one here has been alive. read how the horses were managed. you can't remake nature to suit your whims. sure, a horse on field 24/7 will be fine for light work, but you won't take them to the olympics in any sport.

                                    physiology is just physiology. you put horse on grass all day, it don't work the same. horses are kept up part of the day in stalls to allow them to work more efficiently.

                                    Go to Golden Corral. Put some of everything on your plate. STAY at Golden Corral for 23 hours, continue eating, and then go run the Boston Marathon, and tell me where you finish.

                                    there is, indeed, some sort of commonsense middle ground between keeping animals stalled up 24 by 7, and sending them to the Boston MArathon after spending 23 hrs in the equivalent of the Golden Corral Buffet.
                                    slc2 - this isn't the same. Please remember that their guis have evolved quite differently than ours - for one thing, there's no emesis. In fact, they have evolved so that they keep moving - after all, we don't doze standing upright with one leg cocked just in case someone's going to swoop down on us.

                                    And stuffing your face with the stuff on serve at the Golden Corral hardly compares with grass in a pasture, or hay. Period.

                                    Edited to add: bet if we did the true comparison, with competitive horses kept stalled vs pasture on the same excercise regimens, the pastured horses would, in general, survive far longer and be healthier than the stall bound horses, and thus perform better.
                                    www.specialhorses.org
                                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

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                                    • #38
                                      not if they're made to work on a full belly.

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                                      • #39
                                        In my opinion and experience, horses are put up for part of the day to let PEOPLE work more efficiently.

                                        It is only horses that are deprived of forage that act like nutcases at feed time. Horses that are allowed to eat as they wish don't pig out. It's the ones kept up and then given their fix that act like junkies about food.

                                        Now, are we talking about an Olympic level athlete or your training level horse or your mid-level athlete? I would venture to say, having never had an Olympic level horse in my barn - and who here has? - that they might have interesting *caloric* needs. But that the majority of them probably don't get turned out due to fear of injury - which is funny to me, because the worse injuries I have seen (I don't mean cuts that needed stitching, I mean torn tendons and ligaments) happened WHILE the horse was in a stall. Indeed, anytime one of my horses gets down and rolls in a stall I watch with dread, holding my breath that they don't get cast. In fact, I won't hang buckets in my stalls - lost a hind suspensory to a hung bucket once. That was enough for me!
                                        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                        ---
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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                                        • #40
                                          Horses can be kept at the highest levels of competition with 24/7 turnout...I've seen it done. As for having a bellyful of grass, water and whatnot...horses have very small stomachs which is why nature intended them to eat small quantities (think grazing) often...not large meals of concentrates and a little bit of hay and stand with nothing to eat all day(think ulcers, cribbing, weaving, etc...) Most of those mainly stalled horses I'm sure have hay available at most times and water...so that's kind of a silly argument to say their stomachs are less empty than a horse on turnout 24/7. Keep in mind too that horses that get too fat on grass can be kept in poor or dry paddocks very successfully and still receive the benefit of gentle constant exercise.

                                          I do know that before a hard cross country gallop or a race many upper level event riders/trainers will pull the horses water a few hours before so they do not drink too much right before that level of exertion, but we're talking only before a race, heavy training, or competition...not on a day to day basis. Most upper level event horses do not gallop hard very often.

                                          Most people I know just don't feed a large meal of grain before working a horse (at any level) but to suggest that a horse that has been gradually feeding itself all day on grass and gently exercising is at a disadvantage at the upper levels does not make sense at all.

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