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Turnout/pasture size - play room

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    Turnout/pasture size - play room

    I know this REALLY varies across the country, but what's the consensus for the appropriate size turnout/pasture for large horse(s)? Background - I have a very large QH (16.3h, ~1300lbs, 6 yrs old). He's used to be out in good size pastures (3-10 acres) either by himself, or with up to handful of other horses - ie a large enough pasture to run/play. I'm thinking of moving him to another local boarding facility, and we really have little options in our area. I believe the BO is knowledgeable, but her pastures are fairly small. She has multiple for small herd turnout. He'd probably be out with a similarly sized horse in about an acre size paddock. There could be a 3rd with them, I'm not sure. I'm quite likely overthinking this - but guess my concern is with a smaller paddock, are they more likely to get hurt if they can't get out of each other's way? Although we've had plenty of bump and bruises from him playing in the large pastures, perhaps too hard....
    Last edited by hokie98; Jul. 4, 2020, 02:48 PM.

    #2
    My smaller field is just under an acre, and yeah--sometimes it's a little heart stopping watching them all get going in there. There is so much stopping and turning at the fence. No one has gotten hurt, but we're talking about four horses that have been a herd for many years.

    My preference is always more space and I do think there's less risk with more room. But as with everything, it's all compromise....especially boarding!! As long as the barn owner has a plan for introductions and doesn't overload those small spaces, risk is probably pretty low. If the barn is otherwise a good fit, that alone would not keep me from boarding there.

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      Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Simkie View Post
      My smaller field is just under an acre, and yeah--sometimes it's a little heart stopping watching them all get going in there. There is so much stopping and turning at the fence. No one has gotten hurt, but we're talking about four horses that have been a herd for many years.

      My preference is always more space and I do think there's less risk with more room. But as with everything, it's all compromise....especially boarding!! As long as the barn owner has a plan for introductions and doesn't overload those small spaces, risk is probably pretty low. If the barn is otherwise a good fit, that alone would not keep me from boarding there.
      Thanks so much! Yes, unfortunately in our area, boarding options are slim....but otherwise she checks just about all of my other boxes (knowledgeable care, good size arena, etc.).

      Comment


        #4
        The situation at my barn is almost identical to the barn you're looking at. I don't think it leads to increased injuries, but my Appendix mare doesn't seem to really burn off her excess energy in that turnout. When she's fit, I put her in the large outdoor arena (it's allowed at my barn) where she can really get flying down the long side. She is kind of a pig, so I don't know that she would really get going in any size space that has grazing available, and I kind of prefer that she does her all-out running in the arena due to the better footing than the pastures, which are very cropped short grass with some bare patches. My 4 year old WB seems to just need to buck 2x and take a circuit of the pasture to burn off her excess energy, so it's not an issue for her.

        Comment

          Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by outerbanks77 View Post
          The situation at my barn is almost identical to the barn you're looking at. I don't think it leads to increased injuries, but my Appendix mare doesn't seem to really burn off her excess energy in that turnout. When she's fit, I put her in the large outdoor arena (it's allowed at my barn) where she can really get flying down the long side. She is kind of a pig, so I don't know that she would really get going in any size space that has grazing available, and I kind of prefer that she does her all-out running in the arena due to the better footing than the pastures, which are very cropped short grass with some bare patches. My 4 year old WB seems to just need to buck 2x and take a circuit of the pasture to burn off her excess energy, so it's not an issue for her.
          I think he's mellowed the last few years, and he's more on whoa than go under saddle. Two years ago he was in a huge, hilly pasture with a handful of other big geldings. He'd run and romp, flinging shoes, you name it. I'm sure he had a fantastic time 🙄. That boarding barn closed, so now he's at a private farm with 1 old gelding in his pasture and they really don't interact. I think he may take off for a run occasionally, but most of the time when you turn him out, he just heads straight to grazing. But, if there isn't as much grass readily available...and he has a willing playmate, maybe he would get more rambunctious than he does now.

          Comment


            #6
            Personally I think it's more dependent on how many are out there (stocking density), how it's configured (ie, few places to get cornered) and the herd hierarchy. I moved from a large farm (my own with min 5 acre turnout and a few 10 acre pastures) to a small ranchette many years ago. My turnouts were limited to about 1/2 - 1/3 acres. I never had more than 3-4 in a turnout at a time and I was very careful in my groupings/pairings in terms of herd dynamics. If it was 4 at a time, it was usually two mares and their foals out together. I had only two pasture injuries in 16 years and only one of those had to do with one horse chasing another. I had more in the larger pastures with more horses turned out together. I now am in a much smaller place, actually own two. They each have one turnout that is 1/3 of an acre. I have no more than 3 out at one time. My guys do get to playing and running occasionally, It can cause my jaw to drop at times. I've only had two injuries in this type of turnout in 5 years and I have to say that both would have occurred in larger turnouts so I don't think the size of turnout was the issue. Of course I'd rather have more room but I've raised healthy foals (lots of running and playing) and young stock as well as maintained older horses in such a setting.
            Ranch of Last Resort

            Comment


              #7
              It is all so very dependent. The horses we have on rehab or vacation but heading back to the track to race generally get their outdoor time in a small paddock or large round pen - think 40' across or so. Some of the horses getting let down or looking for new careers or the babies will go out singly or in small groups on about 1/4 acre pastures. The retires, some of the other rehomes, and my horse rotate around some 3-5 (or so) acre fields. Everyone is fine. The ones in the roundpens/small paddocks go in there partially so they do not get to running to much and injure/reinjure themselves. Big, 17.2HH horses go in there. Everyone in the small paddocks runs around as they see fit. Rehomes in small paddocks versus big paddocks are due to a lot of factors. Small paddocks come in more, larger fields are out 24/7 and some do better coming in daily and just prefer that. Some rehomes are getting ridden more and the small paddocks are closer to the barn. Some rehomes are bit nutty and need more attention or are socially awkward so are better on solo turnout.

              I also agree with exvet - we have one field that is a few acres but the set up means it's a bit of an alley by the gate, where the water trough is and where we feed (outdoor horses get feed outside also) and we have to manage that pasture more than the one next door of the same size because a horse can get trapped by the gate and if there is an overly dominate horse or two horses constantly fighting for top spot there can be issues due to horses getting trapped in that area. We put horses with established dynamics in that field and more questionable ones next door.

              We were actually showing a horse to some nice people this week and joked that he goes out about 6hrs a day and maybe you didn't want him to go out more because he's so naturally lazy more turnout may mean they won't be able to get him out of a walk when they ride. I rode him once after being in for 36 hours straight due to weather and he was just as chill.

              Another horse went somewhere and came back stating it was unrideable - come to find out there was no turnout and that horse just thought they were back at the races and wasn't unrideable, just no longer beginner friendly. Very dependent on the horse.

              Comment


                #8
                As long as the fencing is safe they don't need a huge area to run and play. When I boarded there was no turn out, just stalls. We used the arenas for horses to run and play and it was plenty big enough.


                Good fencing and good footing and terrain will make all the difference in safety.

                Comment


                  #9
                  This really depends on herd dynamics. In a boarding situation, I don’t feel super comfortable with small fields.

                  The last boarding barn I was at sectioned their fields into several small pastures for rotation purposes. They would usually open gates to let the horses have access to a couple small pastures at a time.

                  When the horses got along, it worked fine. But when you had personality conflict, the small spaces exacerbated the problem. And with a boarding barn, horses were coming and going. Everything would be fine, then a new horse would disrupt the hierarchy.
                  Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                  Comment

                    Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks all! It's a small boarding barn (only 7 stalls, and a few pasture boarders), and I do feel like the owner is conscious of finding the right fit. I'd love the pastures to be larger, but again, boarding options are slim around here. We left one place with great pastures, but inept horse care & bad ring footing. Ah, boarding compromises! :-)

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