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Optimizing forage/reducing boredom in no turnout situation

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  • Optimizing forage/reducing boredom in no turnout situation

    Hi everyone. A bit at my wit's end here and unsure what to do. I'm in Europe in a country amazing for the sport but often very different in approach to the horsecare I grew up with.

    I'm on my third stable now that doesn't believe in turnout for sporthorses. Though not ideal, this didn't bother me as much when my horses were given hay three times a day, as neither has been in a turnout-friendly barn since being with their dams (long before I came along). However, now I've moved to a barn that feeds hay only once (and grains morning and evening) and I'm starting to worry.

    My question is this: Is there a way to optimize this situation? Two months in, my horses are still happy, in good condition, and vice-free. But their neighbors/stable veterans seem frustrated and bored (cribbing, weaving, attitude, etc). I'm worried about all the emotional stuff but also thinking about ulcers, colic, blood circulation, etc.

    Depending on the day, they get between 15-30 minutes on the walker and ridden five times a week. While the weather cooperates (so I'd say for another month or two, tops), I'm totally committed to hand grazing a minimum of 30-45 minutes every day I'm there. They've both got mineral blocks which last about a week and a half, maybe two. But this doesn't feel like enough, especially looking down the barrel of a long, cold winter.

    I'm looking into hay bricks (lucerne and mint) or a lucerne mix (timothy, lucerne, and linseed), and/or hay pellets.

    My thought was to give a brick (about 2.2 pounds) in the afternoon before I leave to help with chewing/digestion/boredom, plus a Likit Ball or similar dispenser with hay pellets/ lucerne mix and carrots/something low sugar.

    I'm pushing for a second feeding of hay. But even still, l feel 22-23 hours per day in the stall requires something more. This is a difficult one for me because the training is fantastic and the best I've found within my financial reach, but I love my horses. The owner is very set in his ways, and while I will speak with him this week, I've been told by the working students and staff that I'm facing a battle as far as changing his habits.

    If it comes down to it, I will change stables again, but I want to do everything to avoid that as I haven't been able to find a better option (ie: a trainer I can deal with on a personal level, quality instruction, affordability). So, is there anything else I can do? Any kind of supplement or hay alternative or boredom buster or respiratory aid or anything (anything!) any of you might suggest?
    Last edited by brightlights; Aug. 13, 2017, 11:00 AM.

  • #2
    In that situation, I'd hang a slow-feed hay net, large enough to last all day & fill it with some low-calorie hay. I have a horse who's rehabbing, and should have hay in front of him at all times, and this seems to keep him happy until turnout, and times when I can't be home to see that he has hay in his manger.

    Comment


    • #3
      When I boarded ( in the 1980's) my stable was a stall only . Horses were fed 2x a day and were in their stalls 24/7 unless the owner came to ride or take them out. We never gave it another thought as that was the normal for living in the city. After a while I was able to get my horses into stalls with attached paddocks ( 12X24).

      It is amazing that my horses did so well in box stalls all day . I made sure they got out daily and it helps. Of course I would never choose that again, but sometimes there are no other options available.

      I think that if your barn will allow it that a large hay net is your best option and the best thing for your horse. Once daily hay is a new one on me and I would have better peace of mind filling one for afternoon-overnight hours.

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      • #4
        x3 for a hay net. It's certainly supported that fasting is a leading cause of GI issues in horses. Having access to hay in a hay net keeps them chewing and producing saliva and aids in gastric buffering. Dexter is pretty much on stall rest with very limited hand grazing/ tiny paddock turn out nad were it not for his hay net and jolly ball he'd be a basket case. He also has hanging salt which encourages water intake with all the hay he eats. I just ordered another bag because the large shires bag gets down to a certain amount and it gets tough for him to get to the hay. Hoping I can just rotate them out and not have to run do refills so often.

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        • #5
          Oh my gosh, you all must have very calm horses! My horse would absolutely murder someone if he were kept in for 8 hours, I can't imagine 24! I think you're on the right track asking for a second feeding. After the horse finishes its hay, it is just stuck there with an empty belly and unable to stretch its legs. Ugh. I couldn't do it. I'd be asking for a hay net filled with an entire BALE of hay and replenished when it's empty. Barring that, I'd be feeding forage pellets and certainly adding maybe a treat ball filled with said pellets whenever you visit.

          Are there a lot of colics where you are? (Not impaction, I'm certain!). There must certainly be ulcers.
          "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".

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          • #6
            I'd make sure he has a full hay net 24/7. My horse would be crazy nut case being lockup in a stall 24/7 can't believe people have horses living like that. Seriously get several large hay nets to fill and hang in stall so he can at least have hay to eat all the time.

            Never heard of only feeding hay once a day most boarding barns here do twice a day. There are a few barns who feed free choice hay. I'd never keep my horses where they had to live in a stall 24/7, so not right for many reasons.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thank you all for your input! It's beyond helpful. All of this has been strange for me, having ridden in the states throughout my junior years. You guys have confirmed my feeling that the second feeding of hay (in a net, with enough to get them through afternoon/evening) is non-negotiable, so thank you again. It's certainly a lesson learned a bit late in responsible ownership not to assume the flashy barn will be on the same/right page.

              It's so frustrating to be uneducated about this, because barring this situation, I've always been at stables with quality care and have never felt such a need to question the methodology... so I really am at a point where I'm having to teach myself about the different types of hay, grain, how they effect each horse, the frequency of feeding, etc. The philosophies I've encountered here are quite different, so as an amateur buying horses in Europe (after a long break from riding), I adopted a just-go-with-the-pros kind of attitude, which in hindsight has been irresponsible.

              The lack of turnout bothers me, but I've yet to find an international-level showjumping barn over here that believes in doing it universally, every day. The hot walker and hand-walking seem to be the rule of thumb, and turnout seems to be seen as the best way to injure your horse. Or make it "lazy". I suppose in a small country dominated by professional riders producing horses for sale and visibility, not doing it is seen as pragmatic. But it is completely exasperating

              As far as the horses going nuts with energy and being rideable, they mostly seem to have adapted by the time they've reached relative maturity... most are brought in from the field at 3 or 4 and go straight into training. But yes, on the whole, I've found the horses here to be more difficult than I expected. I was told pretty quickly the quiet ones are sent to America and elsewhere.

              Regarding colic, in eight months between three barns, I've seen one minor case... but she only needed an injection and came out fine. I'm apprehensive about it at my new stable with the limited hay. We definitely have one major cribber, which as I understand it, is likely due to ulcers, so yes, they are a problem.

              I've ordered three different type of pellet/treat dispensing balls, a hay slow feeder, a stall pacifier, himalayan salt licks, and will pick up the hay cubes and pellets this week. Now to sell a kidney to afford the board hike I'm sure I'll be paying for extra hay... hopefully my trainer will come around.
              Last edited by brightlights; Aug. 14, 2017, 11:02 AM. Reason: typos

              Comment


              • #8
                How about you purchase your own extra hay and store a bale or two at your home and fill the nets yourself for when you're at the barn? And maybe just leave extra nets for BO to feed when you're not there. I used to carry a full bale of hay in the trunk of my car so I could give extra after I rode. Tried leaving it at the barn but it mysteriously disappeared.
                "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

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                • #9
                  Isn't it amazing how adaptable horses are, and how top notch care varies around the world? I think it's so interesting to hear how it's done elsewhere Best of luck brightlights! Do share more about your experiences abroad!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Maria, thank you! It's crossed my mind. If all else fails, that's what I'll do I've honestly been up tossing and turning for the last few nights over this hay matter... it's super nice to have another horse person give me permission, so to speak. Feeding philosophies and all levels of barn management are so extremely personal here. I feel like I'm always on the verge of stepping on toes/ being "so" amateurish (fine by me, I'm a dang amateur!)/ being American. Moving on... I do love so much about the horse world here. Questioning policy is just a bit like talking about religion or politics...

                    And yes, Simkie! Horses are amazing! Getting back into them has been the joy of my life.

                    Thank you for the well wishes. It's been so interesting to start riding again in a new country and see all of the changes to the sport in the last 5-10 years, as well as all the different approaches in Europe to just about everything. I honestly have no gauge for what it's like in America anymore (so forgive me if I embarrass myself, haha). A-shows ruled and there were a lot fewer junior riders doing the big grand prix classes when I stopped!

                    We seem to have amazing show facilities around every corner, several national and international shows within an hour's drive every week, and the big shocker for me: Unless it's a multi-day show, aside from the one class they're entered in, the horses stay on the trailer (and are totally chill about it) the entire time.

                    It's such a professional-driven industry over here that it was difficult for me to find a trainer as an amateur coming back into the sport. Boarding client barns aren't really a thing (I'm generalizing... but hardly) unless it's a stable for pony riders, a farmer/ hobbyist renting out boxes, or a big name, world cup type rider charging the moon and stars.

                    I will say that it's a super small world and everyone knows everyone else's business, but that's not so different from what I remember

                    There are fantastic, multi-year college programs for grooming (and of course equine science and stable management programs) with work placement in most of the top barns. It's wonderful. I'm aware programs exist in America, I just hadn't known anyone who'd attended!

                    I have also ridden so. many. stallions since I've been here. And they've all been lovely, [reasonably] well-mannered, and not at all the ogres I expected.

                    Finally, everyone breeds horses. So many riders have at least a few homebred horses every year, and so many good horses come from hobbyists and backyards. I've learned as much about bloodlines and embryo transfers and pairing complementary traits as anything else.

                    It's really an adventure. The good outweighs the bad, but I will say my horses are my babies and that's not a super popular position over here!

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