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How bad is it not to train your horses?

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  • How bad is it not to train your horses?

    Provided the horses are kept in a herd in fairly large and varied paddocks/pastures (24/7 in the summer, stabled for 8-10 hours in winter), and not overfed, how bad is it not to ride or otherwise train them regularly?

    Would like to hear your personal views on this. What is negative about it? Do you think it lessens the horse's longevity?

  • #2
    The "bad" thing in a situation like that is more about the quality of the horse's life if their living situation changes. For instance: 10 yr. old untrained pasture puff's owner passes away, goes bankrupt or moves. Now you have a horse with NO "job skills" and very few options for a good home.


    • #3
      Do you just have them as pets? Or just don't want to ride in the winter? I can sympathize with the last one. Here in the Midwest it is brutal. But just to keep a herd as pets seems kind of eccentric. As far as their longevity and happiness, I bet they all think they are in horsey heaven. Sounds like a nice setup, as long as you can afford it and don't mind all the work that goes along with it.

      Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare


      • #4
        Honestly, as long as the horses are able to be handled for routine vet/farrier and any emergency care necessary- the horses won't care.

        The issue is that most people aren't independently wealthy. If you lost your job and couldn't care for them anymore, they don't have any skills to make them placeable much less sellable.


        • #5
          If they're well broke to ride and you just prefer not to ride, then the horses probably don't care if they're not ridden regularly (or at all).

          If they're never trained in the first place or are very green and then never worked with again - I think that's a problem. It isn't a problem while they're owned - because the horses probably don't care. It is a problem if something ever happens to their owner, because finding a home for an aged, untrained horse is nearly impossible.
          Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

          Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com


          • #6
            Originally posted by arlosmine View Post
            The "bad" thing in a situation like that is more about the quality of the horse's life if their living situation changes. For instance: 10 yr. old untrained pasture puff's owner passes away, goes bankrupt or moves. Now you have a horse with NO "job skills" and very few options for a good home.
            Exactly this. The situation you describe is actually quite healthy for horses and won't negatively impact their lives at all. The problem only arises if you ever can't pay for the horses anymore or don't want to. Then they are just a herd of unbroke adult horses that will have little value to anyone else.

            IMO, one of the best things you can give a horse is job skills. A horse that can do a job and do it well has a better chance of finding and staying in a good situation if you can't care for it for the rest of its life.


            • #7
              Agree with the above. I think it is our duty to teach our horses "usable" skills. Much better chance for them to have a crack at a "better" life if the original owner gets unexpectedly hit by a bus. The 12 year old pasture puff that you can barely halter will have a much harder time finding a new home.
              Likewise, everyday skills such as being tied, picking up their feet, getting in a trailer might well save their lives in case of a vet emergency where they have to be handled and doctored or a wildfire or flood when they need to get evacuated.
              (If you are talking about a well trained horse getting a few months off, that 's entirely different. Good training will stick.)
              "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


              • #8
                It is a horse by horse thing.

                Some horses can go years and not forget a thing they learned, other horses have the memory of a goldfish.

                If I saw an ad for a 1 owner 8 year old halter broke but un-backed horse and the owners excuse for the lack of training was "I never got around to it." It wouldn't put me off but I would use it as a bargaining point.
                A pussycat of a horse with a chewed off tail won the triple crown, The Cubs won the world series and Trump won the Presidency.
                Don't tell me 'It can't be done.'


                • #9
                  Training is life insurance for horses. If horse owner is hit by a bus tomorrow, his or her feral pets are going to end up in a can, unless she is enormously wealthy and has a well-funded and legally sound pet trust set up to keep them in their feral fat & happy state for the rest of their lives.

                  Since most of us are not wealthy (cuz we have horses, ha), see my first point. And those untrained horses sure as hell better not be reproducing freely, because more unsellable horses doesn't make the situation better.
                  I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                  I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


                  • #10
                    Totally agree with LoriB's statement that training is life insurance for horses. I have three that live mostly a horsey-heaven sort of life. However, between myself, the granddaughter and a professional (though affordable) trainer, we keep their job skills up, and even improve them, during good riding weather. Eli could probably earn his way as a schoolmaster for a few more years if necessary, Cooper has enough dressage training on him now to be a fun ride for a dabbler, and Rocky can probably always find a home as a bomb-proof kid or husband ride. My plan is for them to never leave the farm, but I think about how they might fare should I somehow fall on hard times and be forced to re-home them. It would break my heart, and theirs ... but I think they all have a good chance of landing on their feet.


                    • #11
                      That'd be some pretty contented horses, heck I'd even sign up to hang around if they added a pool, some pina coladas and a good book.

                      But pretty much everybody has pointed out there is a downside and when it occurs. Whenever the circumstances change a well kept horse with some skills has a larger potential pool of new owners. Not too many people shop for pasture pets and a lot of people can't look beyond witches' knots and dirt unless the horse has some spectacular skills that can be easily accessed.
                      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                      Incredible Invisible


                      • #12
                        I agree with everybody else... however, I'm sure that there are a lot of older horses out there that would love to live out their time in a nice pasture. Consider a few of those...maybe some that are considered unadoptable because of soundness issues.

                        To be a bit callous, if you did go bankrupt or have to downsize, you would feel much less guilty putting an older horse down than a 9, 10, 11, etc. y/o. IMO every horse needs to know how it feels to be just a horse, and what better gift to give an oldster than that?


                        • #13
                          It depends on the horse also.
                          Some horses thrive as pasture ornaments, others become way too nervous from all that energy not going anywhere.

                          We have had both and generally, the younger a horse is, the more of an outlet it needs for it's energy.
                          I did have a 20 year old that I had to sell when I started having health issues and he just would not settle without being in steady work, but fretted, picked on other horses, just wanted to do more in life than graze and nap and nap and graze.
                          He is owned now, for the past two years, by a girl that gives him rides regularly and shares her water bottle and coke with, both happy as larks, looking at their FB stories and pictures.
                          He has not been the first one over the years, but most other horses have been fine without steady work.

                          There was a Craiglist ad here lately with a pasture full of horses for sale, most untouched, very nice adult horses, that the owner just never got around to "domesticating".
                          I think they probably many went on a one way trip to Mexico.

                          If the OP is asking because some of her horses are going to be idle for a while now, it depends on the temperament of those horses if they will be happy without work, managed right for exercise, not warehoused in some small pen, unless they are the more nervous type.
                          If they are the kind of horse that "needs to have a job", then see about providing it.


                          • #14
                            Riding a horse is optional. Training is not.

                            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                            • #15
                              I think most people have already said what I am thinking. Horses should have training for some sort of useful job as long as they are physically capable of that. If your situation changes and they need to find new homes, this gives them a far greater chance.

                              If you are acquiring horses for the sole purpose of keeping them as pets, consider taking in or adopting horses that are not physically suitable for work. There are so many of these horses out there and not nearly enough companion-only homes.


                              • #16
                                I think what the other posters are trying to say is this: If your horses are trained to do something that someone interested in buying a horse would want - i.e., they are trained to be ridden on trails, trained to jump, trained to drive, trained so that they would serve a useful purpose, then in case you became ill or God forbid died, they would have an easier time finding another home. Whereas if they are not trained to do anything other than be haltered, led around, pick up their feet, and tolerate grooming, if anything would happen to you your horses would not be very marketable, and would be at risk of being sent to the auction and bought for meat.
                                What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


                                • #17
                                  Yes, we were!
                                  What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by HHH
                                    Wow, so many replies already - thank you all! You said it very well - training is life insurance for horses. For me personally, that is not the problem. All the horses have excellent manners and are (fairly) well educated (schooling training-second level depending on age, lots of trail experience, some jumping). In any way, I have a clause in my will, stating that they will be put down when I die (and have made detailed arrangements with several people to insure my will be respected).

                                    It is more, like someone here suggested, the troubles of letting them go more idle than what I consider ideal. I struggle with bad conscience. Some of it because of the physical aspects, but most of it because I know training makes them even happier.

                                    What do you consider possible physical idleness issues, and are they really worth worrying about? For example, stiffness and one-sideness that increases, older horses that may irreversibly "drop" their topline...
                                    Possible issues are one bored horse tends to pick on others, to the point of making their lives less peaceful and even maybe hurting them.
                                    That is an issue we didn't have with our 20 year old while he was being ridden regularly, but started after four months of him being a pasture ornament with nothing much to do all day.

                                    Many horses are fine just being horses, some are more ambitious and really need the mental stimulation they are used to as working horses and won't easily learn to chill out, day after day, month after month and that really is not a good quality of life for them then.


                                    • #19
                                      Just a point of view from another angle:

                                      Horses will live healthier and longer if its more muscled or kept fit.

                                      A older horse that has no muscle tone will have more trouble laying down and getting back up on its feet.

                                      Someone I know had her older mare in retirement. 20yrs old pasture puff. She lacked of muscles in the back and got stuck on the ground from lying down to sleep. The vet suggested to the owner to lunge her at least twice a week for 20min each time w/t/c. It built up some more muscles in her back and she lived happily up to 30 yrs old.

                                      Someone at my barn is (IMO) kinda neglecting her horse. He's a big boy but never really been 'exercised' much and totally lacks of muscles. He's 8 now and I can't stop thinking how hard it would be to bring him back to a 'rideable' -'normal' condition. He has a huge hay belly but no top line at all. He's 17.2...
                                      I don't see how this is healthy and wonder how long he will live in such a state.
                                      He goes out a lot a get brushed and fed properly but IMHO that is not enough to be healthy.
                                      ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                                      Originally posted by LauraKY
                                      I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                                      HORSING mobile training app


                                      • #20
                                        I feel the same way that you do OP. I have an older but sound, sane, and well trained gelding. Because of my work situation at this time, I'm lucky if I get to ride twice a month. The horse is on pasture and is well taken care of. I just feel guilty that I'm not able to give him the attention that I feel he deserves.
                                        Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                                        My equine soulmate
                                        Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding