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Can a dressage horse live on pasture board?

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  • it doesn't bother me if people fuss over their horses, i don't feel it's my business to dictate how fussy other people are, i just decide how i should take care of my horses.

    alot of fussiness is in the eye of the beholder, or the employee. frankly, nearly all of what you describe, isn't that unusual, and i would say that nearly all of it wouldn't bother a horse at all. horses get used to whatever routine they're in. if someone doesn't want their horse all beat up looking or wants to keep their coat nice, the aspca isn't exactly going to get called out to that farm.

    again, this goes along with the group that insists to 'really be happy' a horse has to be eating grass 24/7, and anything less than that is 'cruelty' or 'unfair to the horse' or 'unnatural' or 'causes ulcers'. there ARE ways of keeping horses, not on pasture 24/7, that keep them very happy and healthy.

    in fact, about 99% of the horses in the world aren't on grass 24/7, either because there is no grass, there is no pasture, or there is no room for the horses in the pasture, or simply that they need to work all day. this 24/7 pasture or it's bad for the horse is a particularly american, and particularly affluent american, thing, and pasturing animals is a particularly bad use of scarce land; and of course a large proportion of land simply isn't suitable for pasturing horses.

    most horses, around the world, just aren't kept that way. and aside from the usual froth of roth it brings down on my head, i will still say that i don't feel that that necessarily has to be bad. sure, a horse that is stalled 24/7 is going to be restless and develop bad habits, and of course, it would be better if he got out, got exercised and had some green food - keeping a horse stalled instead of turned out involves a certain level of responsibility, such as getting the horse out of the stall for a couple hours a day and training it, working with it, giving it attention, getting it with other horses.

    race horses are worked briefly and explosively for a few minutes a day, but alot of the restless behavior you see may be because they are selected for speed, rather than placid dispositions, and because many of them are fed on a steady diet of steroids and other stuff to make them run faster that doesn't engender calmness, and that and their feeding schedule and what they are fed (often pure alfalfa), may have a great deal more to do with ulcers than how often they are on pasture. they do quite often get green feed. my office is across from one of the leaky roof circuit tracks and even at that track, i regularly watch trucks full of fresh cut green pull in.

    it's also a matter of opinion as to whether wearing a fly mask causes a horse to have mental problems. you may see it that way, i don't. i think people can dress up their horses however they want; how they ride them and what temperament the horses have is probably a lot more important in determining mental health than if they have a fly mask on or not.

    i've gone thru periods where i've been very fussy about the horse's care and periods in which i haven't been at all fussy. as far as i can tell, it makes very little difference to the horses, except that most of the fussiness they regard as extra attention. the idea that it causes mental problems in horses to have them wear different stuff, i think that is a bit far-fetched.

    slc

    Comment


    • Originally posted by slc2
      i wonder what it would take to have a 24/7 pasture year round that wasn't a muddy pit if horses were on it year round. here, the best way to turn a piece of land into a hog wallow unfit for horses, is to put horses on it 24/7. not everyone has 2000 acres of sandy high ground. how many people that board have a boarding barn that provides 24/7 turnout?
      slc, by no means do you need "2000 acres", or even 20 for that matter to keep your pastures from being a mud pit. My next door neighbors have 2 pastures that are 1.75 acres a piece, and with 3, sometime 4 horses together at a time and even in the height of the rainy season in spring, there was somewhere in the pasture those horses could go to get away from the mud. They rotated the horses every 2 weeks to let the pastures recover, and only the very front of each pasture would get muddy at a time. The horses would not stand in these muddy areas 24/7 either, they tended to stay in the middle/back areas for grazing, etc. where it was grassier and rarely did I see them with excessive amounts of mud up their legs this spring.

      Right now in this part of the season, those pastures are totally covered in lush grass and the horses coats are absolutely spotless and have the healthiest glow. They have had them in one pasture for the last 4 weeks now and haven't had to rotate them to the other one yet.

      I am not a "24/7 or nothing" freak, I am sure there is the right balance of turnout for every horse. But I also know that 24/7 TO can be managed very well on small acreage with the right balance of horses per acre.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by slc2
        i wonder what it would take to have a 24/7 pasture year round that wasn't a muddy pit if horses were on it year round. here, the best way to turn a piece of land into a hog wallow unfit for horses, is to put horses on it 24/7. not everyone has 2000 acres of sandy high ground. how many people that board have a boarding barn that provides 24/7 turnout?
        Well, I board 1-2 horses at a time and I provide 24/7 turnout. The horses come in to each 2X a day (low-starch ration balancer, supplements), and they get hay in turnout. I am just as finicky about care and safety as a barn that keeps the horses stalled.

        You're right -- I don't have grass all the time. But that's GOOD. Horses are not actually meant to eat lush pasture, and as we all know, too much of that particular good thing causes problems (laminitis, etc.). At this point in the summer, I have a little grass left, but not much. The horses have to work to get it, which is how it should be. They also have hay all the time. The pastures are narrow and are linked together and the creek flows through, so that in order to move from one area to the other, they really have to MOVE. They're not just standing in one spot all the time. Even the hay is spread out around the pasture to encourage movement.

        Do we have mud? Yup. Quite a bit in the winter. Other than aesthetically speaking, it's not a big deal. There are always higher, drier areas they can go to, and they have a run-in shed. The horses are all BF w/ good performance trims, so their feet are not bothered by the mud at all.

        An excellent resource on this topic is Jaime Jackson's new book, Paddock Paradise, available here:

        http://www.star-ridge.com/
        Hoofmaiden Performance Barefoot

        Comment


        • Mine are out 24/7, well rugged in the winter and absolutely thrive.
          Doh!

          Comment


          • BTW, for anyone who cares to hear it, pea gravel at gates and water troughs makes your pastures somewhat mudproofed if you rotate well enough. Plus, it's good for their feet.
            "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
            ---
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

            Comment


            • Didn't read all your responses, but have dealt with Intermediate Level 3-Day horses, and FEI level dressage horses, and they were or are out as much as possible depending on time of year, and weather. Even in almost blizzards, they go out.

              First, last and always, they are horses.
              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

              Comment


              • I would say that a horse that lives out on pasture won't be drained of energy to work; that being my experience. I keep all mine out 24/7 and one was a former halter showhorse that had not EVER been outside till she was 2. All are brighter-eyed; and have had way less health issues as well as being more willing to work undersaddle than when they were in their stalls for days on end(crappy weather at old boarding stable would have em in 24/7 for up to 21 days)

                I decided to just take my chances with the show horses getting any blemishes from getting frisky in the pasture. I also keep them in a herd of 4-5; 1 gelding and 4 mares.

                Comment


                • Sure, horses will adapt to different routines and despite what people say there is not just ONE right way to do it.
                  Yes there is - it's just not always an available option.
                  Success is a journey not a destination.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Phaxxton
                    PRECISELY what I was thinking.

                    Most people who pasture board take MUCH better care of their horses than that. Heck, most people, regardless of turnout, take better care of their horses than that. Don't blame the 24/7 turnout - blame the poor management.
                    and others who responded to my post.

                    That was my only experience with the out 24/7 pasture (not paddocks). In this light, I think when we are talking about the out 24/7 we need to keep in mind that not all pastures are created equal. The owner of those horses is the avid out 24/7 advocate and her pro-pasture reasons sounds really good. I was totally convinced by her, until I experiences the reality, not just words.

                    Now I'm still a strong believer in the long turn out, but I'm also a strong believer in the good shelter, dry place for horses to eat and lay down, and for the plenty of nutrients if the horse is at the pasture - more nutrients than the horse needs than if he is at the stall. Also, after witnessing how dangerous the barb wire, loose laying old equipment or unfenced big ditches are, where horses can fall in to - I think it's not safe to have those at the pasture. If those needs are not met I'm against pasture.

                    That said, I was looking for a place to have my mare at the safe pasture and didn't find it. What I found was

                    1. Pastures perfect for retired horses or for young horses, with out shelters and all of them have mud at the several months rainy season of N. California. Very inexpensive.

                    2. Large paddocks with the shelters or "mare motels" with the large runs. All of them smaller than 1 acre, all of them for 1 horse (+baby) almost the same price as stalls.

                    I was looking for the barn that had a covered arena and none of them offer a pasture board. A couple offer mare motels or paddocks with the shelters. May be California is not a good example; b/c the price of the land is so high. I ended up putting my mare in the 12x12 stall with the 12x14 paddock and 6 hour pasture (that has a shade cover) turn out 7 days per week. Let me note that this barn use to have an option for the pasture and for the paddocks, but decided to discontinue doing that, b/c of the mud – they put the French drain in the pasture and paddocks and it still gets muddy in the rainy months and they close the pastures and paddocks for that time to give the land a rest.

                    For those of you who have their horses at pasture, can you post photos? Do you have covered arenas? How much do you pay for your pasture? If the pasture price would be the same as the price of the stall with the paddock – would you still choose the pasture?
                    Last edited by Dressage Art; Jun. 7, 2007, 02:16 AM.

                    Comment


                    • From personal experience, my two horses seem to be at their best with "some" stall time particularly in the summertime. Living in the carolinas, I can get away with more turnout time for most of the winter. For me in general though, 1/2 day turnout and 1/2 day stalled is the perfect situation. Yes the horses would actually prefer to be able to come and go as they please but that isn't always an option and not always the best for their coats (call me vain if you will, but I don't think I am sacrificing my horses health to have them stay in the stall during the day in the summertime). An absolute must though is that they have good hay in front of them all the time at the very least when in the stall.

                      What I have found around here though, is that it is hard to find a good quality 24/7 pasture board care. They either are not handled enough to really get a good look over or checked thoroughly to make sure nothing is wrong.

                      At the place where I board it is $500 for full pasture board with a stall and $300 for pasture board. This is on the higher end of board costs in my area.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by ToN Farm
                        I do agree that a competition horse ideally should be treated differently than a 'recreation' horse for a few reasons. Competition horses do best on a strict program. While I can't explain it, horses that are on this strict program have a better work ethic than those that live out 'being horses'.
                        The work ethic could have absolutely nothing to do if they're stalled or not. Work ethic comes from training, handling, and the expectation we place on the horse. Why do you think there is some connection?

                        My opinion is that no horses should be 24/7 pastured boarded. They ideally should have a stall when they choose and to go out when they choose.
                        That IS pasture board: living outside and given a shelter to use when needed. Am I missing something?

                        Originally posted by janet
                        With a sacrifice paddock. 24/7 TURNOUT is not the same thing as "turned out in the same small pasture the whole time." Even when it isn't wet, my horses spend part of each day in the sacrifice paddock.
                        Why isn't it the same thing? The keys here are that horses (1) are not trapped in a small stall (2) have access to forage most if not all of the day and (3) get social interaction with other horses. While I agree hay isn't the same as grass, nobody in my region can offer grass in January but that's about the only big difference.

                        Originally posted by slc
                        the best way to turn a piece of land into a hog wallow unfit for horses, is to put horses on it 24/7. not everyone has 2000 acres of sandy high ground.
                        It's a management issue. I don't think anyone here has 2000 acres to turn their horses out onto. I have a 15 acre farmette with only a few actual open acres. It's all about managment, rotation, reseeding, & a sacrifice lot in winter when no grass can grow.

                        Originally posted by slc
                        how many people that board have a boarding barn that provides 24/7 turnout?
                        Every barn in my area offers 24-7 turnout. Why wouldnt they? I'd be shocked if I found a barn that didn't allow it unless I was in Manhattan

                        I keep most of my horses at home but the two barns I had to board at both do 24-7 turnout for all horses. The one place I boarded did have a sand ring for boarders to use, but it wasn't covered. Personally I'd rather ride outside then in, assuming the footing is good and it's not thunderstorming. A little drizzle or cold never stopped me from riding.

                        My own horses aren't dressage stars, but they're valuable to me so i try to do what is best for them. They live on 24-7 turnout year round. I built them a nice run-in shed for bad weather, and the funny thing is they rarely use it.

                        I am unhappy that one of my horses is on stall board 24-7 at the moment due to surgery to both front feet. He is bored. There are still bugs in the barn despite the BOs best efforts. And I dont care what anyone says it is hotter inside the barn (even with his fan going) than outside, and this is a well built wood barn w/big fans at either end. I cant wait for him to graduate to turn-out. Poor guy!
                        Veterinarians for Equine Welfare

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by MayS
                          That IS pasture board: living outside and given a shelter to use when needed. Am I missing something?

                          Why isn't it the same thing? The keys here are that horses (1) are not trapped in a small stall (2) have access to forage most if not all of the day and (3) get social interaction with other horses. While I agree hay isn't the same as grass, nobody in my region can offer grass in January but that's about the only big difference.

                          It's a management issue. I don't think anyone here has 2000 acres to turn their horses out onto. I have a 15 acre farmette with only a few actual open acres. It's all about managment, rotation, reseeding, & a sacrifice lot in winter when no grass can grow.

                          Every barn in my area offers 24-7 turnout. Why wouldnt they? I'd be shocked if I found a barn that didn't allow it unless I was in Manhattan
                          Not all of the pastures offer the shelters - you are missing that.

                          If the pasture is a knee high mud pit and has no forage at all - what forage you are talking about?

                          Some barns don't have an option of rotation and don't care for reseding, but still call it a pasute board.

                          MOST of the barns in my area DON'T offer the 24/7 turn out, b/c they don't have the land for that. They make more money on the stalls rather than on pasture board. Most of the pasture board around here is on the unbildable hilly land, still surounded by barb wire and converted from the cow pastures.

                          Every pasture situation is very different - you can't put all of them in the same pile and call all of them the same name. Again I'd like to point out that most of the pasture situations are not benefitial for sports horses. Most pasture boards are benefitial for the mare and babys, retired horses, recreational horses or horses under 4 years old. For sport horses you have to have an exeptional pastes to live in.

                          Comment


                          • FWIW: The horses here have grass year round: winter rye (annual) in the winter, orchard grass mostly in the spring and fall, and bermuda grass during the worst of the summer. I recently had gutters installed on the shed and barn roofs to further reduce the mud (I've been using gravel for years)-- not to mention the waterfalls on my head when I have to feed in a downpour.

                            Until I read this thread I was naively bewildered as to why people expected "pasture board" to be dramatically less expensive than stall board, considering how much better it is for the horses and how expensive it is to maintain good pastures. Silly me, I had no idea that "pasture board" meant throwing horses out to fend for themselves in barren/muddy fields with wire fencing and no shelter.

                            Fact is, it takes a lot of work to maintain a horse properly, in or out of a stall. People on this thread have written sad stories of horses turned out and neglected. I could tell much worse ones of horses kept in stalls and similarly neglected. As others have mentioned, if a horse is stalled, it becomes not so much uniquely possible as absolutely essential to monitor diet, ventilation, hygiene, etc., while to providing ample exercise, relief from boredom, etc., etc. to compensate for the horses' removal from anything resembling their natural habitat. You don't need to look very closely at many barns to realize that finding places where all of these tasks are performed as scrupulously as needed to keep horses in optimal health is far from easy. Good ventilation alone can be hard to find-- at least that's not a problem with the horses outside!
                            http://www.tunnelsendfarm.com

                            Comment


                            • Dressageart, I don't think anyone here thinks a poorly managed pasture is an ideal situation for any horse, let alone a show horse. The assumption is that the pasture is well maintained, with no barbed wire or other dangerous things in it, some shelter, etc. I am curious about where in NoCal you are, though...my horse is in Elverta.
                              Jennifer Walker
                              Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
                              Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

                              Comment


                              • I'm very glad to read that pasture board can be safe and benefitial for the horses. Love to see the photos of your pastures.

                                I'm in the Silicon Valley or East Bay or Plesanton. I'm not sure if it's OK to post the link to the barb wire pasture barn here, but below is the links of some of the dressage barns around my area and none of them offer pasture board.

                                http://arribavistaranch.com

                                http://www.denville-kanani.com

                                http://www.extendinc.com/greenville/

                                http://shilohwest.net/

                                http://www.lajollaequestrian.com/

                                http://www.yarrayarraranch.com/

                                http://www.leapoffaithfarmsllc.com/

                                All of those have a covered arenas, it's a must to survive the months of rein and still be able to train.

                                Comment


                                • Originally posted by twnkltoz
                                  Dressageart, I don't think anyone here thinks a poorly managed pasture is an ideal situation for any horse, let alone a show horse. The assumption is that the pasture is well maintained, with no barbed wire or other dangerous things in it, some shelter, etc. I am curious about where in NoCal you are, though...my horse is in Elverta.
                                  As I said, I've been for a year and a half with the 2 FEI horses (one I1 and other GP) who were/are kept in the poorly managed pasture all their life and their owner thought/thinks that it's the best for the horses, b/c horses need to be horses and any pasture is better than a stall or a cage how she calls it. She even convinced me that it's the best and I believed her for a long time. Why? B/c theoretically it sounds great and on the words everything makes sense. So obviously there are people who think like her and I think it's important to make a difference between the poorly managed pastures and good managed pastures. I see a lot of poor managed pastures around here, I can take photos of them and post them. It blows my mind how unsafe some of them are! If you pro out 24/7 – it’s important to educate people around you how to give a good out 24/7 care and pinpoint the problems and offer the solutions.

                                  Comment


                                  • [QUOTE=Dressage Art]I'm very glad to read that pasture board can be safe and benefitial for the horses. Love to see the photos of your pastures.[QUOTE]

                                    Gosh-- good idea. After reading this thread, I think I should take pictures of them for my (still to be made) website. The only one I now have that shows the grass well is the attached one (mainly of my colt). It was taken in the early spring, so the rye grass is still abundant, while the orchard grass is coming up.

                                    Regarding the need to educate people on how to keep horses properly on pasture, I think the same can be said regarding keeping them in stalls. I've walked into barns in this area where the ammonia smell almost knocked me over, seen supposedly high class barns in which the horses were standing over pits because the dirt floors were so eroded-- and it goes on and on. Unfortunately, trying to "educate" people regarding horse care is often like trying to tell other people how to raise their children. Most people tend to take a MYOB stance.

                                    I definitely understand the problem in California. Real Estate is so expensive there that the market value of my farm would barely buy me a condo in most areas I'm familiar with. I can't even imagine how much it would cost to try and reproduce what I have here in such an expensive state.
                                    Attached Files
                                    http://www.tunnelsendfarm.com

                                    Comment


                                    • Horse care and management is an ever evolving thing – what we know now (for example that the barb wire is not good for horses) was a common place only 20-40 years ago. I hope most of us somewhere in the middle of locking horses in the stalls 24/7 or muddy pastures with out shelters for 24/7. Unfortunately most of people are defensive about their horse care and I have no desire to march the streets for the better horse care, but if somebody asks an advice, I think it’s a good chance to share your experience and knowledge.
                                      And what a cute, cute baby you have!!!

                                      PS: check out this poll that I've asked on the other Of Course Forum:

                                      http://praha.planetsg.com/Forum/showthread.php?t=57983
                                      Last edited by Dressage Art; Aug. 7, 2006, 08:18 PM.

                                      Comment


                                      • Very interesting poll-- and it looks as though most of the horses owned by people on that forum have it pretty good (not too surprising, right? I mean, they are participants in a horse care forum ).

                                        Thanks for the praise of my baby.
                                        http://www.tunnelsendfarm.com

                                        Comment


                                        • Here is a pic of one of my pastures
                                          Attached Files
                                          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                          ---
                                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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