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1st turnout after long layup

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  • 1st turnout after long layup

    I plan to turn my 6 year old TB out after being stall bound for a hoof injury since September. For the last few weeks, I have been longing him in a roundpen to get crazies out. He's sound enough in the mind now that he doesn't need tranqs to longe.

    For the first turnout, I plan to tranq with oral dormosedan and leave him out until it wears off and he's awake. (Unless others have suggestions; this worked really well to ease him into longing)

    My question: do I turn him out in my sacrifice paddock (~40'x100') with minimal grass (but still some, its not a dirt lot, just really grazed down) or the large field with plenty of grass but more "dangers" such as a pond, numerous old tree stumps, soft spots/holes, and room to gather gallop steam? Option A limits space for mad gallops and subsequent crashes but has little grass for entertainment, option B has lots of grass to graze to potentially (key word here) keep him occupied but provides ample opportunity for him to kill himself if grass doesn't keep him occupied. A note, all 3 of my horses, him included, are not that fond of the grass here (we just moved to the gulf coast from the north). They'll eat it, but with far less enthusiasm than I'm used to seeing.

  • #2
    Small lot, and don't leave him alone. As the tranq starts to wear off, you may need to bring him in if he doesn't stay calm. It may take a week or so to work him up to staying out after the tranq wears off.


    • #3
      Keep it small. As long as there is some grass it may occupy his mind. I've always used Ace, it takes about two hours to wear off, plus or minus depending on the horse.
      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.


      • #4
        I would prep him as you have been and turnout in the round pen. Wean him off the dorm and in a few days, when he seems reliable(bored, over the excitement of being "free!") in the roundpen, try the small grass turnout. Use some drugs again if you think you'll need them. Take your time to get to the big turnout, you've already invested several months!


        • #5
          Small lot at first, make sure he's good and hungry and scatter a few small piles of yummy hay out there. If you can, just leave him out for a few days until "OMG I'M OUTSIDE!" loses its novelty.
          Click here before you buy.


          • Original Poster

            Unfortunately the horse has developed a tolerance to ace. Had to bring out the big guns with the dorm.

            BO won't allow turnout in the roundpen or arena, therefore I am bringing him home to turn him out (no roundpen or equivalent at home). In addition, even if I could, the roundpen and arena are not within sight of other horses, which has caused him to regularly freak out from separation anxiety. I can't guarantee he wouldn't try to crash through a fence to get to friends. At home, the small lot backs up to the barn and he can touch noses with my other horses over stall walls.

            deltawave; that is what I am thinking. Just kicking him out and leaving him out, since I have the ability to do that at home.


            • Original Poster

              UPDATE: Now what?

              Alright, so the horse has successfully (read: he's not dead) been turned out in the small paddock for 4 days now. Not 4 full days, but for 10-12 hours/day. He's spent 98% of his time hanging out by the back of the barn, clearly hooked on my other two horses in their stalls (he can touch noses with one of them over the stall wall).
              There were only a few minor explosions, and every 30 minutes or so he would wander a few steps away from the barn, only to squeal, spin, and gallop back.

              So I opened up the paddock into the bigger fields, just to see what he would do, fully expecting him to not leave his new BFFs.
              To my surprise, he meandered out there, wandered at a walk for a couple minutes, broke into a trot, canter, and then gallop. He "happy" galloped (those big, lofty, floaty strides) for a few minutes, everywhere, including all the way around the pond several times. There were only 3-4 times he would gallop back to the barn, only to turn right back around to go back into the fields.

              I let this continue for ~5 minutes, until I saw the "crazy" kick in, and the galloping became more frantic. At which point I simply closed the gate behind him on one of his dashes back up to the barn.

              This excursion seems to have given him confidence, as he's not utilizing more of the small paddock area and not staying glued to the barn.

              So how should I handle this now? Every day turn him out in the pastures for a few minutes, then a few minutes more? Turn him out and let him run himself to death? He was heaving when I shut him back in, so I'm not sure how much more he would've had in him, but he is a TB so I don't want to underestimate him.

              ETA: I'm anxious to get him out in the fields so I can at least turn my two other horses out in the small paddock. They've been locked in their stalls while Crazy McGee gets used to nature again.


              • #8
                If the hoof is fine, I don't see how galloping is going to make it not fine. Let him out if the footing is good, preferably when he's hungry, and if you can get his pals nice and tired first so they're less likely to join him in being a dingleberry. Or work him first as well so he's already got the jitterbugs out.
                Click here before you buy.


                • Original Poster

                  I'm more concerned with the "happy" galloping turning into frantic-I-can't-handle-being-free galloping. As I said, after a few minutes I could see the horse start to lose control on reality, and while I feel better that my Ramm fencing won't cause as much injury as the mesh wire that original got us into this mess, I'm still really attached to my new beautiful Ramm fencing and am not sure I want to risk him trying to crash through it.


                  • #10
                    At some point, some day, the horse is going to have to make that transition from formerly-injured and not allowed to be loose to . . . a normal horse, no? You, as the owner, need to make the same transition. What are you waiting for?
                    Click here before you buy.


                    • #11
                      If you were planning on turning him out with the other horses, can you give him a buddy?

                      Having someone to hang out with might help the frantic galloping, and keep him chill...esp if "been turned out for a while" friend is giving him the WTF are you running around when there's so much yummy grass look.


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                        At some point, some day, the horse is going to have to make that transition from formerly-injured and not allowed to be loose to . . . a normal horse, no? You, as the owner, need to make the same transition. What are you waiting for?
                        Touche, deltawave.
                        Sigh... I guess I just need to rip the bandaid off, turn him out, and walk away. I'm just so nervous (the story of my life). I've already decided if this horse injures himself to the point of requiring rehab again, he'll just be chucked in a pasture or euthanized. He was that dangerous, since he couldn't have tranq's.

                        I do have a calm buddy, but I'm not sure I'm willing to risk my 27 year old Morgan (who I've had for 20 years) who is 3 hands shorter than the 6 year old TB. At the moment, they aren't members of each other's fan clubs, either, and the Morgan is a unilateral cryptorchid with a bad habit of trying to beat up ponies bigger than he. I may see if I can hold onto the old Morgan near a gate with a quick evac plan if things get too crazy.


                        • #13
                          Can you borrow a friend? Old retired pony, Shetland, something? Really well mannered quiet anything but not crazy about turning out a cryptorchid with a Napolean complex out with him... I do not see how that would be comforting!