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Stables boarding vs. Pasture boarding

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  • Stables boarding vs. Pasture boarding

    Who here has a stabled horse that transformed into a pasture horse?

    How was the transition? Were you worried about too much grass? Did they only eat grass (Spring-Fall months of course)or did/do you have a feed schedule as well? Run in shelter I assume but was/is your horse happy in bug season with only the run in hence flys etc. still on them. Did your horse go ape poop over the freedom?

    Does/did anyone have a stabled to pasture horse that being pastered did not work out for?

    Are your pasture horses shod? I am talking rideable horses. I get the retirees with no shoes.

    Do/did you keep them out 24/7? Or keep them in during the hot of the day and out at night?


  • #2
    My TB Vernon was intended to be a racehorse.
    When he failed his 2yo speedtest he spent the next 5 years as a pony horse for the trainer who bought him at the track so he was stabled with the racers.
    I bought him as a 7yo and boarded for the next 15 years until I brought him home, so he was stalled all that time with varying daily turnout.

    Once home he became "pasture-kept" immediately.
    Quotes because he had a stall if he wanted one, free access from pasture.
    Turns out he seldom wanted in.
    Not crazed with Freedom, but he was happy to be out yet agreeable to being stalled for reasons like the shoer or vet coming.

    In the 5 years I had him home I think I stalled him & my other horse overnight maybe half dozen times.
    And those times were in the dead of Winter when blizzard conditions made me worry about them getting soaked through their blankets.
    Actually I only blanketed when we had icy rain so their coats wouldn't get soaked through to the skin.

    My pastures were former beanfields and sparse in grass so I never stopped feeding hay & enough grain to get supplements in them.

    I never retired him and continued to clinic (no interest in showing since 1992) and trail ride as well as school in my indoor.

    No shoes either, I evented Vern barefoot (schooled to Training) and only once had Cash (my other horse ) come up footsore after a weekend trailriding 6h+ at Brown County right after a trim.
    My Bad

    My current horse was a GP Jumper so I imagine his turnout was fairly limited when he was competing.
    He also settled right into being a pastured horse.
    Same routine for him & his pony companion as for the previous 2.
    All had (and have) 24/7/365 turnout with access to stalls if they wanted.

    Hope this helps
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


    • #3
      My gelding went from stall board to pasture board in the last two months. I didn't have any problems at all. He went out on grass 24/7 without any issues. He has actually gained a little bit of (needed) weight. The only issue that came up was the fact that the flies are much worse away from the barn where there is typically fly control of some sort. He was having tons of fly bites on his legs, so I did do some spot-on treatments to help with that. Other than that, no problems at all!


      • #4
        I'm not sure how to answer, since there are so many kinds of both 'stabling' and 'pasture' board. For example, a lot of stabling includes a certain amount of turnout every day (up to 12-14 hours), so getting used to grass and freedom are nonissues.

        A couple things I've noticed:
        -Easy-keeper horses/ponies on enough good-quality pasture may not need supplemental feeding during the green season. Many, or even most, horses get some kind of supplemental feed, whether it be as simple as a ration balancer right up to quite a bit of concentrated feed for extra calories. And hay, obviously, if there isn't enough pasture to easily meet their forage needs. I have mainly TBs who are on about 5 acres of good grass and clover per horse, but I also feed free choice orchard grass with a little alfalfa in the barn to keep weight on them. Otherwise, they'll stand inside and not eat all day in the summer. In winter, they still have pasture, plus the free choice hay, plus some concentrated feed.

        -Most run-in shelters are not deep enough to keep the inside dark and shady, which is what keeps a lot of the bug activity down. Sure, horses can survive the bugs, but they might not be super-happy. Mine have free access to the main part of the barn and choose to stand right in by the stalls all day during bug season. Our barn is cooler than the run-in shed or under the trees, and they know it.

        -IME, shoes depend on the individual horse and rider, rather than how the horse is kept. Plenty of pasture-kept horses have 4 shoes. And plenty of horses are sound and happy for their disciplines with no shoes at all.

        -I've seen horses be unhappy with various kinds of boarding situations. I know of stables that don't turn out over the winter, or maybe give the horses 10 minutes a day in the arena, and some horses just can't handle that. I know of pasture situations where too many horses are put in the field, so half the horses can't even get into the run-in shed and, since nobody is separated for feeding, a number of horses didn't get enough food. Either kind of boarding can work out very well--it's just a matter of making sure the horse's needs are being met properly. Personally, I like for my horses to come and go as they please, have really good shelter when they want it (or need it), and always have good free-choice hay and grass. They're sound, healthy, and relaxed.


        • #5
          My horse spent the first 14 years or so of his life in a stall with daily turnout. His prior owner put him in a pen with one or two other horses where he still got grain 2x every day and has a round bale. He's been there 4 years and is thriving. When he was stalled again with a cut during a muddy spell, he was very unhappy. We do monitor his weight (he's 18) carefully and adjust grain as needed. We also are very careful who he goes in with as he's pretty mellow.
          A proud friend of bar.ka.


          • #6
            We transitioned the pony we lease to pasture board last Fall. He seems much happier. He started out with a muzzle on at night and time in the "fat farm" during the day since he was out of shape when we got him. Once he was fit and trim he's been out with no muzzle.

            I admit I hated it over the winter and he did end up coming in to a stall for Jan/Feb during the worst of the snow/ice. But really that is because the BM wanted me to "be able to sleep at night" and knew I was the one that worried about him being cold. He was toasty in his blanket and perfectly happy out there with his hay and his buddies.

            This summer he is in a different field where they make better use of the shed. I don't think I'll worry about him as much this winter. As for the summer, I think there are less flies out there than in the barn sometimes and they get a nice breeze. He had to be in recently when getting ready to be stabled at a show and he couldn't wait to get back to living outside.


            • #7
              Hi, I just moved my 9 yr. old TB mare from being stabled 12 hours / pastured 12 hours to full time pasture board, in a big field with 3-6 other mares (group is larger at night, smaller in the day)

              Only 1 month ago!

              She seems to like it fine. Our deal is: pasture is wooded on one half, so they have shade (critical in this weather). The BO is building a big run-in shed soon. She gets grain & supplements in the a.m., and right now there's great and plentiful grass, so no hay. When the grass is less good, there will be round bales.

              She is shod all around, and already I have had her pull shoes and lose a couple fly masks. But now I've got her in bell boots, and that should protect the front shoes a bit.

              Of course, I still expect to buy a lot more fly masks, bell boots, and eventually, blankets, as time goes on. But the goal is for more turnout to help keep her more sound over time.
              I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
              I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


              • #8
                When I got my pony in November, I put him on pasture board for "mental health" reasons. He was previously stalled with approx. 2-3 hrs of turnout a day, which he did NOT deal well with! He had learned to break his stall guard and escape when he was bored, and was super-obnoxious all the time because he just could. not. handle. being inside. More recently my vet and I determined he also has PSSM, so now he REALLY needs to be out 24/7, but in any case the setup works super duper well for him.

                He is in a small dry lot with a big, deep run-in shed during the day in the summer, and at night in the winter. The rest of the time he is turned out in a bigger field with 3 other horses. The run-in shed is big enough to stay shady all day in the summer and block wind in the winter, and he stays quite comfortable in there. Bugs are a PITA, but he gets soaked in fly spray/SWAT daily and that seems to keep them from totally eating him alive. In the winter I keep him furry, blanket him with a sheet if it's super cold and/or wet, and he gets TONS of hay. He is on about fiftythousand supps/drugs so he gets grained 2x a day, and everyone gets fed good grass hay since the grazing is minimal-to-non-existant. Which is just great for him with his metabolic issues! I have him shod in the front, nothing behind, and he does great hoof-health-wise. (keretex hardnener helps a LOT with the extra moisture they encounter living out) Overall, my pony is VERY, VERY HAPPY living outside!!

                Adequate turnout is so important to me, in any case. I believe that the majority of horses should be outside, moving around, grazing, and socializing as much as possible. It's my (very strong!) opinion that it keeps them healthy and sound, mentally and physically. I plan on keeping all my future horses outside if possible, and barring any issues that may dictate that they live inside. (I do realize some horses just don't like the rugged life!)
                Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique



                • #9
                  I tried to transition my retired guy from 12 hr to 24 hr turnout. He hated it. Acted miserable, lost weight and had more injuries. He's back on 12 hr TO now as are the other 2 I have at home. The pony I have will do fine on 24 hr TO but needs to stay off grass and loves to lay down and nap in her stall each day. The third horse (the only one in work) was on 24 hr TO when I bought him but is on 12 hr by default now since the other two are. He's fine either way. I think it really depends on the horse, but most can deal with 24 hr TO just fine.


                  • #10
                    My mare was pasture-raised, and since I bought her I've had her pasture-boarded, stall-boarded, and mostly-pasture-boarded-but-if-she-really-wanted-to-come-in-at-night-she-could and now she's back to being pasture-boarded. She has lived in mare-only groups and in mixed herds.

                    She loves living out and is much happier in general, easier to work with, etc. She was said to be herd-bound when I bought her, but I have not had any issues with working her away from her herd, even in outdoor arenas where they are in sight. The ONLY herd-related problem we had was when we were trailering her from the pasture barn to the full-board barn, and her herd was in direct sight of where we were loading. Bad idea, and it took forflippingever to load her.

                    When she was stall-boarded, it was at a show barn that I worked at, and the horses got VERY little turnout. Because I was there 3-5 days a week, I could turn her out while I did my chores, and lived close enough to come and do independent turnout.

                    At the in-between place, she was out during the day and brought in at night initially, and once she was "trusted" to hang with the girls all night (she can be a snot at first), she stayed out all night. Going from little turnout to all day turnout made a big difference in her behavior and mood, she used to be a stall-kicker during mealtime, and that stopped pretty quick. She had the option of staying in at night if she wanted (no, really), but in the year we were there, while she was on voluntary night stalling, she stayed inside probably... 5 nights? All in the winter.

                    Now we are back to our original pasture place, and she loves it. She lives in a mixed herd (with a draft!) and is queen of her pasture. They have round bales and get grain twice daily. There are ample water troughs and two run-in sheds. I think there are 8 horses in her herd, on about 16 acres. I've never known of her to have a problem with the bugs. I only blanket her in winter when it's really cold. She is barefoot.

                    Since I bought her when she was 3, and she's now 7, I don't know how much of her "behavior modification" is due to maturation vs. difference in stabling, but honestly as long as she's happy outside, I'm happy. If I ever felt like her attitude or health/happiness were waning outside, I'd move her to a place with stalls.
                    The Little Red Mare: French Curve

                    and my non-horse blog: oh, rebecca!


                    • #11
                      the horse i bought 6 yrs ago lived most of his life in a pasture/shelter situation and when i got him, i was told he prefers it. He really does. Needed stall rest for 4 days and he lost 100 lbs just being frantic. I keep him out of pasture with a turnout. the quality of the grass is not terrific b/c of the horses eating the good stuff, yet the weeds still get in there. grass has not been a problem. Good luck deciding.


                      • #12
                        I pasture board. New horse hates it. She's too timid even in a group of three friends to eat her grain, and we are going to have to start putting her in a stall for feeding. This is the first time I have had a horse that really didn't fit in well and enjoy 24 hr TO.

                        On the other hand, all the other horses love it, keep their shoes on for the most part, and do need supplemental hay/grain for all but the high summer months when the grass is rich.

                        Your horse needs to fit in with the herd and have a buddy or two. Too aggressive, poorly socialized, or excessively timid horses don't do well in a pasture/herd situation.

                        As for disposition, they are calmer. Your worst problem will be herd bound behavior with some.


                        • #13
                          My TB mare was a show horse when she was younger and was in a stall part of the time and on pasture the rest(turnout day during the winter and night during the summer). When I quit showing so much, I moved her to a farm where she could be on pasture board. She is much calmer and cooperative when she is out 24/7. She has woods and a run in shed at current farm. Right now there is one other mare on pasture board as well. the other 3 mares in the pasture are on stall board. While she is ok in a stall, she definitely is noticably perkier if she is stalled part of the time. She is my riding horse and has shoes on front and back feet.


                          • #14
                            Jet went from having always been stall boarded to pasture board 2 yrs ago. (He's 13 now). He LOVES it. It's him and one other horse. He gets hay and grain twice a day. He shod all the way around because he is a wimp, and never adjusted to trying to go barefoot. He has a shade shelter. I blanket in the winter if it goes below 20 or below 30 with wind/rain. He only is brought into a stall if we get a bunch of rain so there isn't anywhere dry to lay down or pasture gets really muddy/deep/slick. He was brought in during our "freeze" where the high for 3 days was 15, and we had 45 mph winds.

                            I fly spray daily, or mosquito spray during wet times.


                            • #15
                              Be prepared for some nicks if it is group pasture while they sort things out. My horse "thinks" he should be top of the heap but in actuality he is lower down. But basicaly he likes being out. He has his buddies and he has learned who he needs to yield to. He is 19 and in a gelding herd. Before when he was in a mixed herd, he spent most of his time tending to "his" mares and eating less and got quite thin. Separated pastures works out better for him. Feed 2X per day and hay to occupy him when stalled (days). Xtra hay and feed in winter when pasture is bad.


                              • #16
                                I keep all my horses out 24/7. They have good size run-ins, which they only use in the summer.

                                My horses seem much happier and healthier being out in small groups in a pasture. I will never to back to stall boarding.
                                Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                                • #17
                                  My horse used to be boarded at a place that stalled him part of the day then turned him out part of the day (in during the day, out at night in summer, in during the night and out during the day during the winter). He was always okay in a stall (though he makes a mess!) but always ready to go out to pasture.

                                  I ended up moving and the new boarding place I found has a very small barn, the stalls are really only used if they have to be (stall rest, etc), otherwise, all the horses are turned out 24/7 (with run ins).

                                  I'm sure he's happier with the situation, and yes, he's barefoot. (he's been barefoot ever since I got him without need for shoes, even as a riding horse) He and his pasture mate do get some grain a day (though in his case, I've switched him to a small helping of alfalfa pellets) but otherwise, they've got grass and in the summer at least, don't need supplemental hay. The bugs got to him at first but that was more because we moved from Maryland to Georgia and the bugs simply are worse down here, especially the gnats!
                                  The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
                                  Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.


                                  • #18
                                    I didn't read everyone's responses, but I will give you a word of warning. Keep an eye on them in the beginning because some "stall princesses" go down hill even with plenty of grass. We've had two nice show horses that were used to stalls with minimal turnout that we transitioned into broodmares. When we put them out to pasture (with great grass) after breeding them they went down hill very quickly. They ended up needing to be stalled at night so that they could eat and just relax.


                                    • #19
                                      All but one of my OTTBs are much more content and relaxed being on turnout. Even in the heat of the summer, as long as they have shade they are completely blissful. The one "hot-house flower" guy is just too prissy to be bothered by the occasional fly so he is way happier being up during the day. All are barefoot and have great feet - even though all of them had been track-shod for years before I got them. I have found it is good for their bodies and souls to live like horses and be outside.
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