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Complete change of lifestyle...

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  • Complete change of lifestyle...

    Interested to hear stories about your experiences with how horses have handled major lifestyle changes.

    Horse in mid-teens, has spent entire life at a "show barn" in a stall and small attached run, limited (dependent on weather) daily turnout in individual paddock, shared fenceline with other horses in paddocks on either side, in full training program of six days/week work. Barn with full fly spray system, hot/cold wash stall.

    Horse would transition (and yes, with full precautions in place...e.g., muzzle, separatedat first then slow integration with herd, etc.) to backyard barn with 24/7 pasture turnout and ability to come in stall as desired, become part of a small herd (2-3 other horses, all older than him), no auto fly system (except battery-operated Country Vet misters and fly spray), cold water only baths, average 4 days a week of work (more in summer, less in winter). His "individual turnout" to start off by himself would be close to 2 acres. I have pictures in my head of him ripping and roaring and doing something dumb (as his species is prone to do). Then I have another vision that he'll see all that grass and put his head down and sigh with happiness.

    FWIW, in his current environment and travels to clinics/shows, he's a fairly laid-back, pretty sensible dude. Share your experiences...have others you've known adapted well? What helps ease the transition?

    TIA
    "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

  • #2
    I'd be more concerned if it was the other way around. I think he will enjoy the transition, it will be great for his body & mind.

    We had an older gelding come to our place from a hard core AQHA facility. He lived stalled 23/7, a lot of the times he was tied IN his stall ( so sad ) His joints are not the greatest but has the best brain and is the most patient animal. He now lives out 24/7 with a small herd and he is SO happy. The same chiro works on him now that also did when he was kept in all the time. She said the positive changes in his body have been so dramatic. The only difficulty we had was that he was kept under lights so he never grew a coat in the 16 years of his life. He promptly grew a coat in the middle of the winter after having regular turnout and really didnt want to let it go this spring. We had to body clip him two weeks ago but is now shedding slowly

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm no pro or anything but here's what I went through.

      When I bought my horse he was also on a limited turnout. He transitioned to his new herd and being outdoors mostly well. For a little while he did enjoy his new freedom a little too much and became difficult to catch (took me 15-20 minutes where previously I would just walk up to him) but it resolved itself in under a week.

      He gets fussy about being outdoors in the rain/snow and won't share the run in shed but doesn't like to be in the barn alone. The barn has a very small paddock he can stay in for turnout. It's too small for him to run in but he doesn't run much in the rain or snow anyway.

      So that's pretty much it - got a little hard to catch temporarily and developed a dislike for being outdoors in the rain and snow.

      Comment


      • #4
        Rough 20yo TB, spent 15 years in a barn with 2-4 hours turnout a day. He moved to a situation where he worked up to full time turnout.

        he was never "bad" about it, but after "his time" was up, he'd be standing at the gate to come in. He never fretted about things like that, never paced or screamed or anything, but his internal clock said "time's up, let's go".

        Over time, he would be in the field but not come to the gate until he saw me.

        Over MORE time, I'd have to go get him

        It's very individual how they make that change.
        ______________________________
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by seabreeze View Post
          Then I have another vision that he'll see all that grass and put his head down and sigh with happiness.


          My mom bought a 6 year old park harness/park saddle Morgan from a show barn. We had the farrier out to rip off his shoes, chopped off 2-3' of tail (it was dragging on the ground that much), unhitched his bustle, and put him out in a large pasture with a couple new friends. He had never been turned out in his life. He figured it all out quickly and safely, but I attribute that to this place having no place to really get in trouble. Even the very large run-in shed was a circle (the center was used to store hay), so he couldn't get cornered unless the two others split up, which never happened.

          Horse is still alive and kicking today, 14 years later. The only remnant of his show-horse days is that he is obsessive about pooping in the same spot in his stall.

          I've also had the exact opposite, which was far more worrisome for me. Horse had never lived in a stall until I bought him and took him to shows at 8 years old. He could not handle being confined and it took a long time to adjust (he's 27 now). Funnily, the only remnant of his pure-pasture life is he's an absolute mess in his stall and poops wherever he pleases.

          Comment


          • #6
            6 year old Clyde used at an Amish buggy stand for tourists in Lancaster, PA, 15-20 miles a day, tie stall, no turnout. She was very well cared for, vet very happy with her PPE.

            Now, on 5 lush acres with a bossy QH mare, 12 x 12 stall at night, toting my butt around the pasture couple time a week, minimum 12 hours turn out a day. I did just buy a meadowbrook so that I can learn to drive but it will feel like a fly to her compared to the 10-12 passenger wagon she used to lug around on the roads of Lancaster county.

            When she came to my house she was not very concerned with the other horse in the next pasture she couldn't believe the grass Of course introduced it slowly, she thinks she died and went to heaven.
            "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

            "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks for your feedback, everyone. I tend to be a bit of a worrier when it comes to things like this (seem to worry more the older I get...lol). Probably wouldn't be as big of a deal as I imagine it could be.
              Last edited by seabreeze; May. 6, 2013, 09:03 PM.
              "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

              Comment


              • #8
                Chances are he'll tear around the field for all of 30 seconds, realize he can eat grass, and then pig out.

                Transition slowly, use a sedative the first time you let him out if you're super worried, and cut him way back on grain (unless he drops weight quickly), and handwalk him around his paddock before letting him loose.

                Most horses adjust quite well to pasture life, so don't worry too much!
                come what may

                Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

                Comment


                • #9
                  I took my mare from 4 hours turnout on dirt to a 6 hours on grass (gradually) and she was a hell of a happy horse. I mean, happier all the time! Then it changed again when I took her home for the summer. She went to 14 hour turnout with 2 friends and a roundbale.. and LOVED IT.

                  I went at like 4 or 5 to feed her dinner early the first day to make the meal time change less dramatic... lol she was confused as to why I was getting her "early"! She wasn't frantic to come in anymore, she loved hanging with the buds, and got along well with everyone. She was a very very happy horse and she did nothing silly outside. And these positive changes have carried through to her new home where she gets 5 hours of turnout. She's a much happier horse!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Opposite experience

                    My horse had some issues so decided to transition him from the show barn box stall with maybe 2 hours a day turnout in a sand paddock to a small grass pasture. Did it very gradually started with a stall and attached paddock - he never had a paddock before. Would take him out to graze for up to an hour. Turned him out in the pasture one day for about 2 hours and he was fine. The next day turned him out in the same pasture for about 3 hours no problem. The next day turned him out in the same pasture and in 15 minutes he was white lather. Brought him in and cooled him out. Tried again the next day and as soon as he was turned out he started to run. Tried going in with him on the lead rope and he was fine grazing away. Unhooked the lead rope and he started to run even when I stayed in the pasture with him.

                    He loves his stall and paddock and loves to graze at the end of the lead rope but take away the lead rope and he hates it and runs. I can turn him out in either of the arenas and there is no problem he runs a bit or just wanders around and rolls but none of the frantic running when we try to turn him out in a pasture.

                    So he is a stall/paddock horse and loves it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      All of my horses live at home now after been at show barns (except for on who was lucky to live at home before I bought him. All my horses adapted very easily to all day turn out. The biggest difference I see in horses who are out all day (or night) vs those who only get out an hour or two is that they don't tend to run like their tall is on fire when they are turned out. My horses are accustomed to being out all day, so it's not a big deal when I turn them out.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I moved my TB from a busy lesson barn in SE PA to my family's cattle ranch in South Dakota about 6 weeks ago. Horse was living out 24/7 besides bad weather in a dirt paddock with between 10-15 horses in the herd at a time. He did come in twice a day to eat and was pretty happy overall. Amenities were not fancy but there was an indoor, all different kinds of jumps, and care was good.

                        So yeah, he now lives in an 80 acre pasture with two geriatric cowhorses. There is no designated "ring" although there's a couple of corrals that work just fine. And I have permission to ride anywhere, including the pastures where the cows are turned out for the summer (one 400+ acres, one about 650 acres if I feel like riding the two or three miles to get to them). I've been mainly doing hill work--there are tons of them! Horse is super happy, although he was confused by how big his summer pasture is!

                        I was worried about how he would react to cattle, and this was the first time he'd ever seen a bull.........and the first time the other horses and bulls that were with them had ever seen a blanketed horse
                        https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...8&l=47e212b88c

                        Better view of his summer turnout.
                        https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...8&l=26b33b344d

                        ETA I've known a fair amount of horses who went from minimal turnout to lots of turnout (12 or more hours) and most adjusted quite easily. Most likely your horse won't bother looking up from all his grass
                        Last edited by billiebob; May. 7, 2013, 12:29 AM. Reason: added info and fixed links
                        I love my Econo-Nag!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          So far none of the horses that have come to my barn have had any problem adjusting to 24/7 turnout, but I do have a really nice run-in so if they really feel the need to come in, they can do so as much as they want. Though what usually happens is that the residents who are used to all that turnout have no desire to go in, and then the new horse just decides to stay out with the rest of the herd.

                          And most of the horses who come here from places where they had little or no turnout and/or grazing do just want to stand still and stuff themselves, so the dietary change is generally the biggest concern, but it sounds like you've got that part all planned out already.
                          "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                          -Edward Hoagland

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think after reading a few more posts, I think horses might do better if turned out with a group, especially if their buddies are calm. I know that really helped my girl, she loved her friends and they were all super super quiet horses that just chilled all day. So that made her chill all day!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              He should be fine. My racing warrior was on the track for 8 years before he came home with me. He never did do well with 24/7 turnout and loved his stall, but if my setup allowed free access to his stall he would have been fine.

                              It's just an adjustment at first.

                              I've had one go the other way too. He went from my place with lots of turnout in a herd to a show barn with 2 hour individual turnout in a limestone paddock. It fried his brain.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thank you for all your thoughts--very helpful! New horse would have free access to his stall and would share a fenceline with his future herdmates. All three future herdmates are very sensible (well, there's one who will act a fool for about 10 minutes...snorting, galloping, flagged tail, airs above the ground...until he exhausts his fat-boy self...endurance is NOT his forte...maybe he's the one that needs a sedative...).

                                I've brought new horses home before, and it's never been a big deal. He's just the first one I would have who has not been part of a herd before, so I guess that is what makes me nervous.

                                Again, thanks so much for listening to me fret and giving me your feedback. It's reassuring to hear your stories of how it has worked out, one way or another, for all of you. I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill.
                                "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by norcalammie View Post
                                  My horse had some issues so decided to transition him from the show barn box stall with maybe 2 hours a day turnout in a sand paddock to a small grass pasture. Did it very gradually started with a stall and attached paddock - he never had a paddock before. Would take him out to graze for up to an hour. Turned him out in the pasture one day for about 2 hours and he was fine. The next day turned him out in the same pasture for about 3 hours no problem. The next day turned him out in the same pasture and in 15 minutes he was white lather. Brought him in and cooled him out. Tried again the next day and as soon as he was turned out he started to run. Tried going in with him on the lead rope and he was fine grazing away. Unhooked the lead rope and he started to run even when I stayed in the pasture with him.

                                  He loves his stall and paddock and loves to graze at the end of the lead rope but take away the lead rope and he hates it and runs. I can turn him out in either of the arenas and there is no problem he runs a bit or just wanders around and rolls but none of the frantic running when we try to turn him out in a pasture.

                                  So he is a stall/paddock horse and loves it.

                                  or maybe he's running into a lather because he FINALLY gets to decide when, and how much, he runs.

                                  They gotta have time to be a horse.

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