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Anyone here give their horses the entire winter off?

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  • #21
    My horse gets 4-6 weeks off every winter. Last year it was late October to early December for personal scheduling reasons. This year it was late November to early January. It usually takes her about 6 weeks to get back to really fit, but she can do most things after 4. She's a good girl and having the time off is a nice break for both of us. Weather permitting, she is out most of the day during her vacation.
    "A canter is the cure for every evil."

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    • #22
      Originally posted by SquishTheBunny View Post
      For sure. However, I would consider more turnout time if he isnt going to be getting ridden. Thats potentially 19 hours standing in a stall.
      This brought back memories of one winter that was so bad that one week my show horse got "exercised" for 10 minutes a day by being turned loose in the 36' long barn aisle! It had sawdust footing so I just hopped on bareback with a halter and rode him back and forth. I also recall that week the manure spreader didn't go out either!

      The local Saddlebred barn pulled shoes and continued to work horses outside in the deep snow. But they also had a 30'-40' shed where the spreader was parked where they could turn horses out to play. Those were the days when the closest thing anyone in the area had to an indoor was a wide barn aisle.
      ::I do not understand your specific kind of crazy, but I do admire your total commitment to it::

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      • #23
        My horse got October off and a lighter December. However I have him on pasture 24/7. It would not have been good for his brain to have been stalled even with 5-7 hours of turnout with no riding unless maybe the turnout was in a pasture but even then. Plus they lose a lot more muscling in stall/paddock turnout than pasture turnout.

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          Thanks for the input, guys. Moving him is not an option. This is the first barn we have both been really happy at...in the four years I have owned him. Also, this is the best barn I have found in the area regarding turnout (most barns have them out for two or less hours per day).

          I'm thinking maybe some kind of hybrid...light work only and less days a week maybe? I'm not sure how that will work for him. He may be too fresh on the days he is ridden. Or maybe not. With him, you never know what you will get in winter (an additional reason I'm considering giving him the winter off). But it would be worth a try, I think. He does like to work, but he gets ring sour in winter and also gets claustrophobic with other horses in the indoor. I wish I could trail ride him, but his mind isn't really suited for it and we get a ton of ice around here.

          I really dislike winter and have come to realize it is partly that I hate riding in winter. He does have some hind end soundness issues (a combination of non-major issues), so I think I need to talk to my vet about the impact of some time off on those issues before I make a final decision. I know last year the vets wanted me to keep him in work. He's pretty darn sound at the moment, so I would hate to screw that up just because he is tough to keep in work during winter.

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          • #25
            You could do groundwork with him. Showmanship, leading him around, or just chilling with him in the arena and playing games. Spend lots of time grooming him and making him look pretty and building a relationship on the ground. He won't feel too overworked (unless you're braiding him 3+ hours a day) and you won't have to ride and can stay nice and cozy in clothes of your choosing.

            Practicing WT on the lead and doing little showmanship patterns can be good for them and you could freelunge him (if you have an arena and nobody is using it) to tire him out a bit beforehand.

            That's what I've been doing with the baby all winter (youngest horse in the barn, two years old). His manners on the ground have improved ten-fold which his owner keeps thanking me for and he's actually able to take a break from being in a high level training program 5 days a week.

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            • #26
              Motion is lotion. My teenager is sounder the more work he does. Of course, we are at a barn with fairly limited turnout - about 4-8 hours on good days - so he gets worked about 6 days a week, year round. We take a break from showing Dec - Mar.

              However, I do fantasize about sending him to another barn where they are out 12+ hours a day from November to March! If you have the facilities to compensate work with turnout, I would do it in a heartbeat!

              I do hear as they get older, it gets harder and harder to bring them back into shape and it may be best to leave them in consistant work. Anyone want to comment on that for those that have 15+ year olds?

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              • Original Poster

                #27
                I actually already do a lot of groundwork with thus horse because if I don't he gets ridiculously dominant on the ground. We do showmanship type stuff, including trotting in hand. He's actually really great at it and seems to enjoy it once we sort out any dominance issues that sometimes arise.

                Maybe he could do this a few days a week and get ridden a few days a week. Right now I also ride him on the days we do groundwork. I won't freelunge him both because it isn't allowed in our arena and also because he pulled a suspensory once running free in an indoor.

                The horse and I already have way too much together time, and he hates grooming. Part of my original idea was to give us a break from each other, lol.

                Originally posted by ladyfreckles View Post
                You could do groundwork with him. Showmanship, leading him around, or just chilling with him in the arena and playing games. Spend lots of time grooming him and making him look pretty and building a relationship on the ground. He won't feel too overworked (unless you're braiding him 3+ hours a day) and you won't have to ride and can stay nice and cozy in clothes of your choosing.

                Practicing WT on the lead and doing little showmanship patterns can be good for them and you could freelunge him (if you have an arena and nobody is using it) to tire him out a bit beforehand.

                That's what I've been doing with the baby all winter (youngest horse in the barn, two years old). His manners on the ground have improved ten-fold which his owner keeps thanking me for and he's actually able to take a break from being in a high level training program 5 days a week.

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                • #28
                  In the winter Mare usually gets worked lightly. Mostly because its dark by the time I get home from work. We go for a light ride in the field on weekends.

                  She is an OTTB who is on 24/7 turn out with her buddies though. She has the option of wandering into a stall (and actually, she really likes standing in a stall with her best friend LOL.)

                  She is pretty content with this arrangement!

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by FineAlready View Post
                    I actually already do a lot of groundwork with thus horse because if I don't he gets ridiculously dominant on the ground. We do showmanship type stuff, including trotting in hand. He's actually really great at it and seems to enjoy it once we sort out any dominance issues that sometimes arise.

                    Maybe he could do this a few days a week and get ridden a few days a week. Right now I also ride him on the days we do groundwork. I won't freelunge him both because it isn't allowed in our arena and also because he pulled a suspensory once running free in an indoor.
                    Horses man, they always find a way to get injured.

                    You have no round pen? Free lunging in a round pen is a littles safer. Or lunging on a biiiiig line. I usually lunge horses for a few minutes before showmanship and let them get out their excitement there, then I ask them to work.

                    The horse and I already have way too much together time, and he hates grooming. Part of my original idea was to give us a break from each other, lol.
                    It's an opportunity to work on grooming. But you could give him a break from it, sure.

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