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Transitioning a horse back to full turnout

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  • Transitioning a horse back to full turnout

    A little background first. My TB spends November through April at a boarding barn, where turnout is a bit limited during the winter months. Horse is ridden 6 days a week and has no problem dealing with the limited turnout once we're there.
    The rest of the months he's at backyard barn. I have 2.5 acres of forest pasture (essentially, a giant dry lot with shade — there's very, very little grass) that he's out 24/7 on during the summer.
    It's the in between that's the problem.

    Last year when we brought him home I turned him out in the 100x50 sacrifice paddock (no longer exists) for a day or two and then put him out with another horse that he'd been out with before. Two days later, horse had managed to skin his stifle enough that he wouldn't put any weight on it and he needed an emergency vet call (he was fine, just a wuss). I'd like to not repeat it this year.

    My question is how should I transition him to being out again without him hurting himself? He is a pretty silly, playful horse who enjoys his turnout. I have a smaller sacrifice paddock that's about 50x50 beside the big turnout that I was planning to put him out in at first. Asides from that, I'm not sure where to go. Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Try riding him first? Or if you have access to electric tape, section off the paddock so its not as large, until he gets used to it.
    Proud mother to Matt, a 18 year-old TB gelding.



    • #3
      Leave him in the small lot for a week before turning him out on the larger lot?

      Or Ace him for the first time (or 2) that you turn him out on the larger lot. Is what I do when turning out a horse for the first time that's been on layup for suspensory injury.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by NRB View Post
        Leave him in the small lot for a week before turning him out on the larger lot?

        Or Ace him for the first time (or 2) that you turn him out on the larger lot. Is what I do when turning out a horse for the first time that's been on layup for suspensory injury.
        Thanks. I was looking for a reasonable time frame, sorry if I didn't make that clear.

        I like the riding idea though, that could definitely help take the edge off.


        • #5
          Ride first and turn out with a bunch of hay.


          • #6
            Re-acquaint buddies gradually, if possible, over a few days..put them in adjacent stalls, move to adjacent paddock before you turn out together. A horse, especially a playful one, cant just go from 0 to buddy+freedom and be expected to remain unscathed. Or ace them well for a few days if you dont have means of gradual letdown


            • #7
              Ride or work the horse and turnout buddy (if he has one) if you can, and put them out a bit hungry with lots of scattered hay or in small hole hay nets so they can't scarf it all at once and get bored. Hungry horses spend time eating, tired horses rest. Also, gradually reacquaint the buddies and definitely try to separate off a small paddock to put him in so he can't get up a full head of steam.


              • #8
                I'm not offering a cut and dried time frame. I think you need to watch your horse and not be afraid to go slower. the only thing you know is that 2 days was not enough...

                But there are so many other variables.... Spring and fall horses are usually extra frisky....its the change of the seasons I guess.

                I agree that a tired hungry horse (on ace) is one that is less apt to get into trouble. I don't mean cripple him with work... but keeping his mind engaged, body worked can help. You didn't say if he was in work after the move or not.

                But I would add that ace can help alot. I'm not into over medicating.... but after having 2 different horses on layup and rehab from soft tissue injuries I'm all for a little chemical assistance.