Monday, 6 November 2017

How to ... cope with restricted turnout.

Many livery yards restrict winter turnout.   As the night's draw in and the weather  begins to turn wet and cold yard owners like to save their turnout for the summer.  Horses make a lot of mess in fields, they poach up the ground around gateways where they often wait around and they cut up the ground when they are playing.  They seem to do a lot more playing in the winter, whether to keep warm or because there is less to munch on!  I think that their shoes cut the ground up more than bare feet but I may be wrong.  

We all know that horses are supposed to be free, to live in a herd and socialise.  Domestication has already brought huge changes for them but then put them in a stable all day every day and it is going to have an impact on their physical and mental well being.  This can result in vices or stereotypies - so what can you do?
Some yards will allow an hour or two turnout for each horse per day, which is better than nothing but still not enough. 

Be creative and get your horse out of the stable as many times as you can:

  • Take him/her for a walk (I would advise using a bridle) and perhaps a nibble of some grass verges 
  • Ride 
  •  Lunge

  • Long rein 
  • Ground school 
  • Can you turnout in the arena/all weather manege so they can roll and have a run around? 
  • Is there a horse walker on your yard? 
  • Is there a fenced in section of yard they can wonder around?

Things to do in the stable to break up the day:

  • Stretches, or pilates for horses - this is a great DVD 
  • Grooming 
  • Ensure there is plenty of forage, put hay/haylage in nets with small holes so it takes longer to eat, or put one haynet inside the another
  • Feed in a treat ball so that the food lasts much longer and feed several smaller meals rather than 2 larger ones
  • Put a haynet on each side of the stable 
  • Put in a salt lick 
  • Hang a swede or other treats on a string - see my video here
  • Put slices of carrot and or apple around in the bed so your horse has to forage around 
  • Put bits of apple in his water bucket - not too big that your horse will choke 
  • Give your horse a Likit or Horselyx- but check out my blog about these first 
  • Put a space hopper or boredom ball in the stable
  • Hang a plastic milk container from the ceiling, if you put stones inside it makes a great noise 
  • Screw a broom head to the wall for your horse to rub against
Above all, try to spend more time with your horse and that will make the time pass more quickly for them!

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Until next time!

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