Should Horses Be Turned Out 24/7?
This is a topic which is widely debated within the equestrian community. It’s certainly one that most of you will have considered at one time or another. Especially when thinking about the welfare of your equine friends.
Turning Out - The Facts
In the wild, horses live in herds and will roam over large distances. So it’s tempting to think that 24/7 turnout is the obvious choice. However, keeping your equine friend in a stable at least some of the time offers many practical benefits for both of you.
For your horse, the stable is a safe, secure, warm and dry environment. For your part, your horse is more easily accessible and you will have greater peace of mind. You can ride without having to bring your horse in every time. He or she may well remain cleaner for longer and save you a few grooming sessions. However it will increase your mucking out sessions.
Turning your horse out full time is likely to make it more prone to injury and accidents including bumps and scrapes, thrown shoes, and even chipped hooves. Although horses are naturally adapted to living outdoors in most weather conditions, these risks are something every horse owner must consider. But time spent outdoors could help your horse to maintain good mobility.
Many people also find that allowing their horse to remain turned out 24/7 is beneficial for the animal’s mental health. The extra freedom leads to fewer behavioural problems and also makes the horse easier to train. Boredom can be an issue in the stable. However, this can be overcome by choosing a stall close to your horse’s best friends and providing .
Know Your Horse
The personality of your horse and the land you have available are significant factors when deciding on your turning out schedule.
You may have the ideal set up for turning out your horse – plenty of well-drained grazing land, access to water plus secure fencing and shelter. In that case, turning out 24/7 could be a good option. But if your horse is poor at regulating their food intake or has troubled relationships with the other horses that share the same land, then more restricted turnout could be a better option.
That’s a lot to think about!
The decision whether or not to turn your horse out 24/7 should be carefully considered and based both on the facilities you have at your disposal and the character of your horse. Turning out in the day and stabling at night is always a good compromise. No one knows your horse as well as you do! Ultimately you will have to trust your instincts!
4 Must-Haves for Turning Out
- Natural shelter such as trees and bushes or an open barn to enable your horse to escape the extremes of the weather.
- Access to water is essential and multiple water sources provide the best environment.
- Forage for your horse throughout the seasons.
- Well maintained land free of holes, trip hazards, dangerous plants including , broken fences and barbed wire.