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Turn-out: Is it necessary?

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  • Turn-out: Is it necessary?

    Is turn-out necessary to keep a horse physically and mentally happy?

    I'm interested in hearing both sides of this argument from you COTHers!
    Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.

  • #2
    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


    • #3
      Very improtant IMO! I have seen horses from both backgrounds, and my own included would not be happy without turnout
      RIP Traveler & Tesla <3


      • #4
        I have kept horses both ways, although I have never kept a horse in just a stall, they have always had at least a run and could get outside. .
        I think they are much healthier and happier when they can have pasture turnout with other horses.
        Sometimes that is not possible.
        Nina's Story
        Epona Comm on FB


        • #5
          Of course. How can it be good for an animal designed to move and graze all the time to be locked in a stall constantly?
          Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
          Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
          VW sucks.


          • #6
            IMO, yes. Not only turnout, but also socialization in a herd.


            • #7
              Well, you have to define "necessary".

              It is natural (as much as domestication is "natural", and turnout is how we best replicate the state of "natural" in domestic settings) and the way it's meant to be. However, most creatures have amazing abilities to adapt to the unnatural. One can keep a human being away from social contact and deprive him of any means of using his marvelous brain, and he will very likely survive and even possibly be "healthy" and "happy" if he doesn't know any better. But it's more likely a human being allowed to do what comes naturally is going to be healthier and happier.

              And you also have to define "turnout".

              Is a horse that's allowed to eat lush green grass 24/7 until it founders "healthy" and "happy"? Is an animal starving on a 50 acre dirt lot with no companions and no shelter "healthy" and "happy"? Is a horse that's kept in otherwise impeccable conditions with hand-grazing, trips on the horse-walker and the very best of feed, care and husbandry NOT healthy or happy?

              Points to ponder.

              But for the sake of brevity (not my strong suit) I'll make like ChocoMare and say YES.
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8


                • #9

                  I have been in both situations, stall with 12x12 paddock attatched (somtimes bigger), they only got turnout if someone elses horse wasnt in the arena or hill (no one liked using the hill though, a horse broke his hip out there). Some of the horses would develop bad habits (kicking the stall walls for attention, a few would play with the stalls, one would pick up the mats and through them around if he got bored, one couldnt be turned out bc she would go NUTS). A few cribbed but that has a habit they already had.

                  And now both of my horses are on 24/7 turnout and they are very happy and healthy. A few of the above mentioned horses moved to diffrent barns where they had turnout, but where in stalls at night, and there bad habits went away. They stoped kicking the stalls, throughing mats, even the cribber wouldnt crib nearly as much. Also a I know a horse that would weave and weave and weave, now that shes on 24/7 turnout, she does it only if she gets SUPER SUPER nervous. horses that had lameness, got sounder because they could move around as much as they want.

                  I could never go back to having a horse in a stall all the time.

                  The ones that are in a herd are also much happier, my friend has her stallion prospect in a herd (no mares as hes realized hes a stallion, but had been before he realized that), and he doesnt freak when he sees another horse (start calling and jigging like a lot of other stallion i know). he can touch noses with mares and other horses and not try to clobber them. I have seen other stallions brougt up and in this situation and they are the same way.

                  None of the horses have aggrestion or behavioral problems.
                  Last edited by faluut42; Jun. 3, 2008, 10:24 PM.
                  "Let the fence be the bit." - Phillip Dutton


                  • #10
                    Yes, no questions asked.

                    There are individual needs that should be addressed, but the far majority of horses do require turnout for mental and physical health.
                    Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

                    Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!


                    • #11

                      Mind you, I've seen and ridden at barns where there was no or very rare turnout. Mostly back in the 60s to early 70s. Typically, lesson horses ridden 2 x daily, stabled in tie stalls, and boarders in box stalls. It 'can' be done...but in my experience the more turnout, the 'happier' the horse- my preference is 24/7 turnout w/shelter.


                      • #12
                        In Europe, there is no extra space, so people live crammed in cities, horses in stalls.
                        Then, people and horses are not stuck in a little room/stall all day, they go do other things in other places all the time.

                        Adult horses in work spend all their life in their box stall or standing stall, but they go out several times a day to give lessons or go on trail rides.
                        Those horses are cared for to the n-th degree and healtier and sounder than many horses here, that are underworked and overfed.

                        So, no, you don't need to have turn out for horses, they do fine without, although we people may rather watch them be a pasture ornament that, gasp!, be kept in a stall.

                        It depends on the management.
                        Good management can have healthy and happy horses living in stalls 24/7 all their lives, as happy as those living 24/7 outside or any inbetween can be.

                        I have to say that I have seen more colics by far and lame and injured horses since coming to the USA than I ever saw in all the thousands of horses I worked with in Europe, all stalled, where I saw ONE mild colic in all those years.


                        • #13
                          mine are in 24/7 not by choice current barn doesnt allow turnout... but in 2.5 months they will be starting to go out 24/7 (gradually switching over) i can say that have doing 24/7 turnout and then moving into 24/7 inside i thought would make my guys go crazy and it hasnt they do just fine. both are healthy and rather happy ( a little to attached to each other now tho) i do take them on plenty of walks thru out the day and both are ridden daily. But my choice will is to have them out all the time but right now the option isnt there
                          MIDWAY SOCCER 08' First Season!!!!!!


                          • #14
                            I also say Yes!!
                            A Merrick N Dream Farm
                            Proud Member of "Someone Special to me serves in the Military" Clique


                            • #15
                              Gee, necessary? I'll go with Deltawave and suggest that other factors apply, including the personality of the horse. I have one who resembles that 'Monk' character and hates nature of any kind. He gives me the stink eye when it's turn out time and looks back with such a longing look at his stall. He doesn't mind working, enjoys it even, but loves to be in his own apartment with his own fan, his neighbors, his shavings, watching all the goings on in the barn. On the other hand, there are a couple who can't wait to kick up their heels, roll, run around and occasionally graze. For the rest it's just part of life at home.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                I have to say that I have seen more colics by far and lame and injured horses since coming to the USA than I ever saw in all the thousands of horses I worked with in Europe, all stalled, where I saw ONE mild colic in all those years.
                                Agreed, I never saw a colic when I rode in France, including those in standing stalls. More work, though, than turnout with a shed!


                                • #17
                                  Yes- but some horses cope with less than perfect circumstances better than others. My last three years in law school, I had summer jobs in Manhattan- so my horses didn't have a choice but to move with me for the summer. With very limited options in easy daily driving distance, they are having to deal with 1-2 hours of small turnout per day by themselves when they are used to anywhere from 8 hours to 18 in warm weather. My older horse acts no different, seems just as happy making friends with children in the aisle, no different under saddle, etc. Younger one just isn't happy. She runs in turnout, acts distracted when she sees other horses in the ring, and has to be longed more often. Fortunately it is only necessary for 10 more weeks then I can get them both back into more ideal conditions.


                                  • #18
                                    Does the average American who boards their horse need to consider turnout important? I say yes. Why? Because your average American boarder does not work a horse nearly enough.

                                    If you were riding twice a day for 2 hours? Your horse might be happy with stall only.

                                    But most of us don't DO that.

                                    Horses are very adaptable creatures. I don't think it's IDEAL to be in a stall all the time, but if they're getting worked, I think it's more likely that they can adapt.

                                    Me? My ideal is a horse turned out 24/7 weather and health permitting.

                                    But that is not possible in most places--again, horses are adaptable. In my mare's lifetime of 17 years--she began life outdoors and stayed that way 24/7 until she was 13. Then was introduced to stalling either overnight or during the day depending on weather. She adapted. Then back to 24/7 turnout. Then back to stalled 10-12 hours a day.

                                    Most horses can adapt to situations that may be less than ideal.

                                    Heck, she adapted to a month in a sling and 3 mos stall rest after an injury....could all horses do that without going mad? No, probably not. But most can.

                                    Do not take me for an advocate of stalling 24/7 and feeding up like so many around here do with their halter horses. Hate it. But--they do adapt.

                                    So. Do they NEED it to survive? No. Is it IDEAL? Yes.
                                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                    • #19
                                      Well, if by "necessary" you mean "required to survive," then no. I've known many horses who stayed in 24/7 and lived healthy (at least physically) lives.

                                      But as far as being mentally healthy, and providing the best possible environment for the animals in our care? Turnout is absolutely a must.
                                      Proud member of the EDRF


                                      • #20
                                        I think a sound horse with no turnout borders on cruelty, unless it is being worked very frequently.