Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Horsekeeping Simplified

by Laura Crum

Kate’s comment on my last post got me thinking about how I keep horses and why I do it the way I do. She referenced the way that all one’s time can be taken up with chores, and I have so been there and am not wanting to go there again. Thus, when I planned my horse set up, I purposely planned it so that I would have the minimum amount of necessary daily chores. My routines with my horses are also based on this premise. At this point some of you may be wondering just how I manage this, and I’m perfectly willing to explain. I did it by parting company with some of the most revered and time honored thinking about horse care that exists.

I’m probably going to step on a few toes with this post, so I’m going to say first off that the things I’m about to tell you are just the things that have worked for me. I’m not saying they’ll work for everyone, or that those who do differently or think differently are wrong. And I welcome hearing what you think, especially if you disagree.

What I want to do today is talk about various “myths”—things that most everyone in the horse world seems to think are truths, which I have not found to be true at all. Some of you are going to think I am a lousy horseman after reading this post, so I want to point out that despite my practices, which you may not agree with, I have an excellent track record when it comes to having sound, healthy horses. Several of my horses have been sound in their thirties. All of the saddle horses in my barn right now are sound and healthy—two in their twenties, two in their teens, one six years old. So what I’m doing isn’t working that badly.

OK, here we go. Myth number one: a clean, freshly bedded stall is a good place for a horse to live. Uhmmm, I so disagree with this. I never, ever keep my horses in stalls unless they need the confinement and shelter due to injury or illness. All my horses live 24/7 in large turned out spaces where they can run, buck and play at their own choice. The older horses who are not ridden live in big pastures where they can graze. I do realize that my climate is condusive to this and some horses (like lopinon4’s horse) actually prefer stalls. But overall, horses are much healthier, sounder and better behaved living turned out in areas where they can exercise themselves. This is also much easier for the horseman, who does not have the daily stall cleaning chore. Its win/win.

Myth number two: horses need their feet picked out regularly. Yes, I used to believe this. Like everybody else, I picked those feet every time I rode. Then I noticed that my friend and boarder never picked feet. I mean never..unless his horse had a problem. His horses thrived. They did not develop thrush or other problems any more often than my horses. They were all sound all the time. Being a lazy person, I gave this system a try. Guess what? Fifteen years later, and I have had almost no problems related to the feet. I check in with my farrier every time he comes and ask how each horse’s feet look. Perfectly healthy. No thrush, all sound. I have very light sandy ground and few rocks, and, again, I’m not saying this would work for everyone. I think the fact that my horses move around a lot helps my system work. It might not work on a stalled horse. But it works for me. If I am riding in heavy ground and I notice a ball of clay-y muck forming under the hoof, I pick those feet. If a horse limps at all, no matter how slightly, the first thing I do is pick the feet. On the rare cases where I have a horse who is developing a touch of thrush or is sorefooted for any reasons, I pick those feet several times a day; I apply appropriate product. I monitor closely. When the horse’s foot is healthy and he is not the least bit sorefooted, I go back to benign non-picking. I have had only two horses on my place develope a mild bout of thrush in fifteen years of steady horsekeeping here. Both cases cleared up easily and did not recur. I know a lot of people will not agree with this, but in my experience, no, horses do not need their feet picked out regularly, contrary to what we’ve all been told.

Myth number three: horses need to be groomed every day. No, they don’t. Horses need to be looked at every day by a competent horseman who can tell if a horse is off in any way. If a horse does not look just right, said horseman needs (among other things) to run his hand all over that horse, including down the legs and under the belly and places where an injury can hide. But, unless the horse is having skin problems of some kind or is being saddled (in which case one must at least groom the saddle and cinch area), grooming is not a necessity.

Myth number four: Horse poop needs to be picked up every day. Bologne. If you keep a horse in a stall or a small pen, you need to clean it up regularly or it will be a smelly muckhole, yes. But I don’t believe in keeping horses in such a confined situation, anyway. If you keep a horse in a big turnout (mine average 100 by 100) you can clean it with a tractor once or twice a year, as I do, and no problems are likely to result. I can attest to this. It is a huge time saver. We pile the poop by tractor,compost it,and haul it up to fetilize our vegetable garden. The horses all have plenty of clean poop free ground to stand on and/or lie down on all year round. We’re all happy. Win/win. (And when I did have to keep Henry in a stall for three months post colic surgery, I cleaned that stall three times a day—I am not a slouch about cleaning up when it counts—I just know when it counts and when it doesn’t.)

Myth number five: Horses need grain. Some horses doing some jobs may need grain. Your average riding horse does not. Every single horse I have except the very old ones who need equine senior, do fine on a well chosen hay ration. Team roping horses, young horses in training, trail horses used for two to three hour rides included. No horse I have had in the last twenty years has needed grain on a regular basis. All my horses are slick and healthy with plenty of energy. They are all QH types, and I realize that other breeds may be different, but it is totally a myth that all horses need grain. Not feeding grain rations saves time and money. My feeding routine is really simple—a flake of hay to each horse. The fatter horses get a light flake, thinner horses get a heavy flake. One thing I am fanatic about is monitoring weight. I run my hands over every horse at least a couple of times a week and feel for slight changes in either direction (which are much easier to feel than see). The easiest rule of thumb is that one should be able to feel but not see ribs. If I can see even the faintest shadow of a rib, feed is increased. If I can’t easily feel those ribs, feed is decreased. I think that keeping a horse at the proper weight is vital to health and soundness. Regular worming is essential.

Myth number six—Horses need shoes. We could argue this one all day—and some folks do. But my experience has been that most horses can go barefoot and stay sound for medium riding on good ground. I have shod plenty of horses in my life, and there are situations when I would shoe certain types of horses again. However, I am far more likely to give a horse a chance at being barefoot now (thanks Mrs Mom) and all of the horses in my barn, including my boarders, including the competitive team roping horses, are barefoot, sound riding horses today. This saves a little time and a lot of money.

There you go—six things that many horseman think are true that I have found to be myths. Debunking these myths has saved me much time and money and I don’t believe my horses are any the worse for my practices. As I said, you may now think me a lousy horseman, and I will admit straight up that a lot of my choices are made because I simply do not have time to do all these things for all the horses I own. But my horses are healthy, sound and happy—they are all quite well behaved riding horses. So I must be doing something right, no?

Now, here’s my list of horse care stuff that I do prioritize. This is the stuff I think is truly important. All my horses get looked at carefully every day by someone knowledgable. Problems of any kind are addressed instantly. Thus the minor eye injury is healed, the slight lameness does not progress, the little colic (usually) does not turn into a big colic, the little swelling is diagnosed and treated before it turns into a big problem. My horses eat clean fresh hay (I’m fanatic about good quality hay), usually a grass hay blend, and if they do not have pasture, they are fed twice a day at minimum—mostly its three times a day. They are wormed and trimmed regularly. When possible, they go barefoot (they are all barefoot now). They have constant access to fresh water. If they are riding horses—they are not used day after day with no rest—they get plenty of days off. If they are kept in corrals, I try to turn them out to graze several days a week. They all live in corrals that are big enough for them to run and buck and play, and they can socialize over the fences. The fences are pipe corral panels, sturdy and safe, and worth every penny. The five saddle horses all look pretty darn happy and are always glad to see me and easy to catch. They are well behaved riding horses, even after plenty of time off. I think they like their lives. I enjoy caring for them, and even though I have five here at home and five retirees in the nearby pasture, the time burden is not too great, even with a life that is filled with other activities. Win/win.

OK, those are my horse keeping tips. Anybody have any other insights to share?

20 comments:

Breathe said...

Thanks for all of these. I'm using this as my guide when I look to set up my own horse property (someday, someday). It's the work that discourages me from looking - I'm not sure I could handle daily stall mucking, but the rest is no problem.

I think a good number of our conventions on horse keeping are outgrowths of a certain climate, type of horse, or even an individual's preference. Then, before you know it, we're all doing the same thing, whether it applies or not.

Reminds me of the roasting pan story. If I get a chance, I'll send you a note with it...

Laura Crum said...

Breathe-- I totally agree. It took me a long time to let go of my perception that I "had" to do certain things with/for my horses--just because most other people did them. Now, after eighteen years of keeping horses here on my property, I can attest that the things I am doing work well for me. But I did design the property with the goal of "easy" horsekeeping, based on all the chores I had done at other barns that struck me as unnecessary and not truly beneficial to either horse or human involved.

OneDandyHorse said...

Here's my insight:

Horses do not want to be in stalls, unless they clearly show that they are more comfortable in them. Mine... they do not want to be near them. Dandy destroys things when left inside, the rescues have vices if left inside! They are only stalled if injured and it's always a nightmare.

They live on a 40 acre pasture with full choice grazing, fields after fields to run in and a shelter. I live in Canada and all of my horses have spent every winter outside 24/7 with access to shelter.

Barefoot is the way to go. If it hasn't worked out for you, you need to get a qualified barefoot trimmer. Pasture trims and barefoot trims are 2 very different things. Remember that there might be an adaptation period and that some horses with leg issues may not be able to go barefoot, but otherwise, I don't see why not! Always look for an alternative (boots, urethane shoes, etc.) metal shoes are so detrimental to hooves.

I never pick my horse's hooves. They are barefoot and clean themselves out when the horses romp and play in the pasture. I check each foot before I go on a ride and when we come back, that's it. It has never caused a problem, given proper farrier care. Same goes for brushing and grooming. I do it before and after a ride except for shedding season where I can be spotted brushing them for no reason! They all get a bath after every big ride in the Summer.

I do not grain my horses at all. Sometimes for a treat, never daily. The only time I am enclined to give them grain is when it's 30 below outside.

I do not blanket my horses, I feel it is a waste of money and a hazard since they are out all day and night. They grow a nice thick coat for that. I don't want to find my horses caught up in a fence or injured because of a blanket.

I have 2 Standardbred rescues that were as thin as they can come and I only rehabbed them on pasture grass and hay. Within 2 months, they were in normal weight, they do not get grain. I have a Percheron X QH that has lived her whole life on grass and hay, nothing more in winter. I have a yearling colt that lives the same as everyone else, we get compliments on how big and strong he is and I have a brand new Paint filly that's lived on grass and hay all her life too.

I never clean the pasture (40 acres) since there is no need for it. I do harrow it once a year in Spring. I clean the shelter and common areas like near the waterer and places they might stand for long periods (around the shelter, etc.).

My horses are all thriving, very happy and run up to see me in the pasture. They are easy to catch, no need for lead ropes, they just follow me around. The standardbreds are a little more sour, but don't often make me run after them and come to visit when I am not holding a halter and lead! They appreciate pats instead of treats.

I just know they would hate to be confined and I know they are super happy as is. They are willing to work and calm under saddle. I support your management theory 100%... mostly because that's how I do it too!!

Kate said...

I pick hooves every day because we have a nasty clay mud/rocks combination that leads to rocks in every foot. I agree on stalls and turnout/herd interaction, unfortunately I don't have my own place and my horses benefit from work everyday, and in our climate that means an indoor, and almost always that comes with stalls and less than full-day turnout. I also have a mare with recurrent grass laminitis (she gets no grain), so she needs dry lot turnout. When the grass is more dried up later in the summer, she can do a bit of hand-grazing, that's all. I don't disagree with anything you say - but sometimes circumstances lead to a somewhat different arrangement, and I believe that that can be OK too.

Laura Crum said...

Kate--Yes, I meant to go on several more paragraphs worth about how one's circumstances often dictate how one's horses are kept (I just ran out of time). For years, when I worked in training barns, my horse had a stall or small pen there, and I rode him virtually every day for exercise--mostly in an indoor in the winter. Gunner did fine with these conditions for several years. I am not saying it is wrong to keep horses like this. I guess what I am saying is that I have worked out a system which is much easier for me, timewise, and I think it is also better for the horses. I brought it up because I think some folks are "scared" to keep horses like this, fearing that there is something wrong--that the horses "need" to be kept in stalls and fussed with daily. I actually heard a woman tell me that she'd like to have a horse (she had a pasture) but didn't want to do the daily hoof cleaning that was so necessary. When I said that it wasn't necessary and that I didn't do it and all my horses did fine, she looked at me as if I were some sort of evil horse neglector. So, I guess my point is that there are easier ways to keep horses than some people seem to believe--and these ways can work for both people and horses. OneDandyHorse has obviously worked out a very similar system to mine.

Shanster said...

I remember thinking that I should be "more" and do "more" with my horses back in the day... in my early teens when I thought having glossy show horses in stalls with 4shoes was the "right way"... but I didn't have the $ and my horse always stayed in the pasture board situation barefoot. I could only go out to see him on the weekend so he went all week without grooming or hoof picking and seemed to do just fine.

I never knew different cuz I couldn't afford it but now that I'm older, I keep it that way on purpose. Our horses have access to 3 sided run in sheds for shelter...

We do feed a beet pulp mash at night... it started out as a way to keep weight on the old horses - beet pulp and equine senior...and to put weight on the TBs without making them hot - beet pulp with a handful of grain. We discovered it's a nice way to stretch our hay a bit too. And if we need to medicate them, it goes in the mash and they can't pick it out! Score! And it's easy to call them in from pasture at night when they hear the mash buckets they come in without me having to go get them. (lazy me!) We just sort of like to do it now but we know it's not necessary.

I pick my horse's feet before I ride but I think it's out of habit - they aren't off and I've never found anything there that worried me...

I brush them before I ride but again - it's habit and part of the ritual of riding for me... other than that? They are ungroomed beasties!

We clean their pens weekly - I sort of like being in the sun scoopin' poop once a week. It's calming and routine - we keep them drylotted in spring to allow our 3 rotational pastures on 5 acres time to grow and our dry lot pens aren't as big.

Otherwise they are out on pasture in the day and we bring them in at night. We harrow our pastures in spring to help the grass grow more evenly... we have our manure pile either spread in our pastures or hauled away 2x a year.

I have blankets for the horses but it's rare that they wear them. Last night we had a spring storm with heavy snow and rain... they got soaked to the skin and they were shivering. They got blankets.

I only use blankets if they are truly shivering, wet to the skin and/or if we have wind. We can get 40mph + sustained winds in winter and spring. Other than those instances, they go nekkid as jaybirds even in below zero weather and are quite happy and fuzzy in their winter coats...

I haven't had an issue with my horses feet and they go barefoot. I suppose if I was a trail riding machine in rocky areas I would put front shoes on if they became sore... but shrug. I'm not so it's a non-issue. They all seem pretty happy and sound barefoot.

I also let them have days off as life just gets in the way... I don't have a schedule of riding. I ride more if I'm preparing for a show or after a clinic to solidify things but generally I'm NOT a type A personality out there every day at a certain time.

Laura Crum said...

Shanster--Sounds like we keep horses a lot alike. I do exactly as you do with the blanketing. My horses have pasture sheds that they can go into at their own choosing, and I only blanket if they're shivering or we have a really cold storm with lots of wind. I've had to blanket the thirty year old horses about half a dozen times this last winter/spring--that's it.

A lot of the reason I keep the horses the way I do is that I have so many demands on my time right now that I literally can't ride as much as I'd like. Two or three times a week is max. And with the rainy spring we've been having out here, a lot of the time its less often. One good thing about all the rain--there's lots of grass on my place to turn them out on. Funny thing--I think they like mowing grass better than being ridden (!)

Shanster said...

I'm expecting things to sprout like crazy now that we got some good heavy wet snow... tho' I suppose that includes weeds. uck.

I imagine they quite like their "riding lawnmower" status! :)

Susan said...

I agree completely. Animals do not belong in cages, and that's what horses in stalls are. We own one blanket that someone gave us for an emergency that has never happened. Horses don't need shoes unless they're ridden a lot on hard/rocky ground.I can't imagine spending the time on horse care that a lot of people do. I believe that a sandy place to roll is much healthier than daily grooming. We also worm with diatomaceous earth (check out my blog post on the minerals we feed if you want healthy horses without having to paste worm (yuck).

You have to check out the latest review of my book! You can get there from my blog. I am really excited about it.

Susan said...

The post on minerals is the last one I wrote in April (have to get one of those archive deals that show subjects one of these days).

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Your post makes me so happy.

I often feel guilty and neglectful because of the care I give/don't give my horses, but in fifteen years of backyard equine ownership, I've only had a few sick horse vet calls (pigeon breast 2X, 2 foalings, both times the mares retained the placentas, and one fatal kick). I can't remember when, if any, of my horses have been lame. I only pick their feet when I ride and grooming is random at best. I can't remember the last time I've given them a bath (I live in high altitude desert and the water is ALWAYS cold!) I minimally grain for treats and I certainly don't muck the stalls daily. The horses are all barefoot and spend much of the day in a dry lot because there just isn't much grass available in the Southwestern USA. I feed off the ground and can't remember when they've had colic. Maybe I've been lucky, but the soil is more clay based than sandy, if that makes the difference. I have started feeding psillium every day for one week of a month just as a prevention, however.

I wish I could feed them more often as I'm limited to the 2X daily because of my work schedule. I read somewhere that if you vary the feeding times they are less likely to colic so I do that, sometimes by necessity, as much as a couple of hours and more, with no ill effects.

My mares are 27 and 17 years old. Both of them are underweight to me, but I have always believed a slightly underweight horse is far healthier than an overweight one. I I'm pretty sure they need to get their teeth floated and am currently figuring out a time for a "spring shots" appointment with the vet.

I let all my horses get shaggy and only blanket my thin skinned mare when she gets shivery. I do put them into the barn in bad weather but they all have runs attached to their stalls so they are free to go in and out and walk around at all times.

I do believe they are happy and I think of them as family members. They are always eager to meet and greet me and anyone else that visits them. As far as riding goes, I can ride them or not. They are broke well enough for me or others to ride, except for my high strung Annie, at any time, and I can expect them to behave relatively well, at all times. No horse is perfect at all times but I don't feel that I need to train, train, train. Nowadays, I play, play, play when I ride.

Laura Crum said...

Voyager--I, too, sometimes feel guilty when I don't get my horses ridden very often. I have to take a step back and look at the big picture. Are my horses healthy and content looking? The answer to this question is almost always yes, and it reminds me that's the bottom line. I do think the horses are happier when I have time to get them out several times a week, whether its to mow grass or be ridden. And the pasture horses really love it when I have time to visit and rub on them awhile. So I do my best to make that time. But just as you say, sometimes other demands reduce me to the most basic horse care. Still, when I look at all the horses in this world who are bought and sold like commodities, ending up on that truck to slaughter when they are no longer conevenient or useful for the owner, I know I'm giving my horses a pretty good life. Just the other day I heard a woman I know talk of selling her horse to a horse trader because she was no longer riding that much. When I said, "But then you won't know what becomes of him,", she shrugged. I was totally baffled. She really didn't care. And this was a horse she'd had for several years and really enjoyed riding.

And Susan, I'll try to get to your blog and read what you wrote. I have heard others say that they do not like the chemicals in paste wormers, but I know very little about this. I have used paste wormers at regular intervals throughout their lives on several horses who lived into their thirties, with no apparent ill effect. All my horses show an increased bloom and a slight weight gain after being being wormed. You have to have a good eye to see this in a healthy horse but it is there. By this I deduce that the wormers are a benefit.

lopinon4 said...

Laura, you're a sweetheart. :)

I do believe that if I were to get my hands on some land, I would build CJ a run-in that was so much like a stall, he would be happy in there. If he had 40 acres outside of that "stall", and the door was left open 24/7, I think he would eventually wander out into it...at least, I hope he would! All I know is that when I tried pasture board with shelters, he glued himself to the gate. He didn't eat, he didn't sleep, and he didn't socialize. He waited. And waited. He lost weight. I moved him before it got uglier. He gets turnout, but after several hours, is pining to come back inside; especially if it's really hot or buggy or raining or snowing..he's a wuss. I think he has LEARNED this behavior from before I owned him, but...that doesn't matter now.

I have always preferred my horses to live outside (with shelter), and I accredit the long healthy life of my first horse to living outside a good portion of his later years. He had great feet, a great coat, and mischief in his eyes to the end. Was he always muddy and full of burrs? Absolutely! Which brings me to another thought...

Aside from boarding situations (folks make more money from stall board, so why offer pasture board?), I think that many people have their horses stalled so they can feel in control. Many times, the thought of how much they have spent on buying this accident-prone animal is enough to make them want to lock them in a padded room and attend (personally) to their every need. No one wants to spend $5K or more for a horse and have it break a leg while running through a pasture the next week, do they? The absolute BEST way to prevent that from happening is to lock 'em up. It's sad, but I know it's true. These people mean well, and in their minds, they ARE giving their horse the best of care. Does anyone else think this is the case sometimes?

Laura Crum said...

lopinon4--one of my old retirees (ET--who was never my personal horse) was kept in small pens all his life and had some trouble making the transition to the pasture--he stayed at the gate, weaving, for most of the day. What helped him was turning him in with another old horse, so that he had a buddy for company. Of course, that backfired in the end, because ET needs free choice equine senior to thrive and with a companion eating some of it, he got thin. (I guess you can't win for losing.) But it did get him used to the pasture, and now he's fine being solo in his five acre field.

As for your last point, I agree that its many people's perception that horses are safer in stalls. Having dealt with many stalled horses in the years I worked for horse trainers, I actually think this is not true. Stalled horses are more likely to colic and I think more prone to lameness, because nature intends them to move around more. Not to mention the number of nasty "cast" injuries I have seen. I totally understand why you would put your horse in the place he is happiest, including a stall, if that is what he wants, but I do truly believe that (overall) horses will be safer and live longer, sounder lives, in a turned out situation. It sounds like you think this, too.

As a sidelight on the broken leg issue--by far the largest number of broken legs that my friend who is a vet deals with are due to a horse kicking another horse in a turned out situation (usually the kicker had shoes)--often the space wasn't really big enough for more than one horse. Thus I don't turn my saddle horses in together in their corrals--even though the corrals are large. I do turn horses in together in a pasture situation (at least a couple of acres). No horse can have shoes. So far this has worked for me, and I have had almost no injuries worse than a scratch. (Knocking on wood here.)

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joycemocha said...

I'm going to be a dissenter here on a couple of things.

First of all, the hoof picking. As you point out, you live in a fairly dry climate with sandy, rocky soils. I had pastured, barefoot horses as a kid that needed regular hoof picking and monitoring of their feet to avoid thrush issues. Granted, the pasture was a swamp in places, so that was an issue. I also had to deal with abscesses in the feet of one of the horses out on that pasture. That said, I could amble out into the pasture, walk up to a horse, and pick a hoof without restraining the horse.

Certainly if you stall a horse, you'd best be picking feet daily. In wet climates it's also a dang good idea so you can monitor what's going on with those feet. Unavoidable if you shoe a horse.

Grooming is another area where I disagree. One purpose of daily grooming for me (whenever possible) is the training feature--interaction with the horse, developing a relationship with the horse, enforcing ground manners. The regular contact grooming gives you (plus the positive interaction with the horse in a manner it understands) builds consistency in handling and trust. I know my horse's body language well by now, and can tell when she's cycling (she's a mare prone to silent heats) based on her behavior on the ground. We have our own private body language communication, and to some extent I think the consistent grooming and attention has helped us under saddle.

Living in a climate which is damp and cold over half of the year, if I want to ride as much as I want, I need access to an indoor arena. Given my work schedule, that means stalling the horse, and managing the horse so that my time is minimized in keeping it up. That also means blanketing, stretching, and the like. I don't have the luxury of a year-round mild climate, and I grew up riding outdoors without an indoor. I prefer my indoor in cold, wet winters, thank you very much.

The other factor is that my mare is an easy keeper just begging to have a case of grass founder happen to her. I've gone through grass founders with other horses. I prefer not to err on the side of risking it again, and our climate here in Western Oregon is one of those that can set up a horse for it unless you're aggressive about dry turnout and monitoring grass levels. I've lost a horse due to complications of grass founder. It ain't pretty.

Laura Crum said...

joycemocha--every horse is an individual, and, as I said to Kate, circumstances often dictate how we keep our horses, as you describe. When I worked in training barns and did not have my own place, my horse lived in a small pen or stall and was treated very much as you describe treating your own horse. The way I keep horses now is based somewhat on my climate and conditions (as you point out), also on my observations of what works best for horses (overall), and on the fact that I am quite busy with other pursuits and have ten horses in my care. Half of these are retired, recued horses and the other half are well loved saddle horses. Do I need ten horses? Not at all. But I am committed to giving them all a good life, and that means eliminating anything I don't really need to do and prioritizing what's truly needed. Thus my horse program is what it is. If I had one horse I would probably groom it every day. I still wouldn't keep it in a stall unless I had to for some reason. I still wouldn't pick feet every day unless the horse needed it (and I agree with you that there are situations where it may be needed). I certainly would not turn any horse with grass founder issues loose to graze. I am very careful to watch the pasture horses for any sign of this problem. So far we haven't had it, though I know plenty of horses that are prone to this.

Anyway, a lot of words to say I don't disagree with your points. We just have different circumstances. And again, I wrote the post to show that horses can be kept as I keep them and be healthy and content. It often seems to me that people think that all horses must be stalled, blanketed, grained, fussed with every day...etc. And this simply is not true. There may be horses and circumstances that demand this, but there are also lots of horses and circumstances where this is not the least bit necessary.

Thanks for the good points. I always appreciate hearing your views.

mommyrides said...

Hey Laura! Hope you don't mind one more comment. I'm a longtime horse owner, first time "at my own home" horse owner and to my delight we manage our equine friends in much the same way!! I have two smaller QH's and a 10HH pony on 2 acres, split into 3 paddocks. The horses have access to all three paddocks unless they are having their "supplements". Generally this means my 19 year old mare gets a senior feed to help her maintain weight and the pony and the gelding get a small helping of horse feed (not grain) to get them to leave the old lady alone till she can finish hers!!

I don't pick feet every day and I don't groom usually unless riding although occasionally I've been known to kick the kiddos outside to groom their horses, one: so they get outside and two: so their friends know that the kids can come around for nicer reasons then just hauling them out for a ride.

My horses are barefoot but here in southwestern Ontario most horses are without shoes. Also they are turned out 24/7 and only blanketed in extreme circumstances, the older mare more than the other two. I've yet to see them use the shelter, they seem to prefer being out and about.

I was wondering what to do with the manure situation. Right now I just go out and rake it out to dry and I have a rake like thing that I can pull behind my lawn tractor to really divide and conquer all those piles of fertilizer.

One thing I have added is grass hay as the pastures can take a beating with three horses grazing. But I have the hay in hockey nets suspended from the trees, along the trunk. The nets do up like a drawsting bag and hanging them keeps them off the ground and also prevents waste with the horses eating only the best bits and leaving the rest. During the summer months the horse are confined to a smaller paddock during the day; it has better shade and their shelter, as well as the three hay nets, because we all know that some horse can't share!!! At night they are let out to graze the pasture and wonder about more.

Thanks for letting me share a little about my horses home. And thanks for confirming that sometimes less can be more!!

mommyrides said...

Hey Laura! Hope you don't mind one more comment. I'm a longtime horse owner, first time "at my own home" horse owner and to my delight we manage our equine friends in much the same way!! I have two smaller QH's and a 10HH pony on 2 acres, split into 3 paddocks. The horses have access to all three paddocks unless they are having their "supplements". Generally this means my 19 year old mare gets a senior feed to help her maintain weight and the pony and the gelding get a small helping of horse feed (not grain) to get them to leave the old lady alone till she can finish hers!!

I don't pick feet every day and I don't groom usually unless riding although occasionally I've been known to kick the kiddos outside to groom their horses, one: so they get outside and two: so their friends know that the kids can come around for nicer reasons then just hauling them out for a ride.

My horses are barefoot but here in southwestern Ontario most horses are without shoes. Also they are turned out 24/7 and only blanketed in extreme circumstances, the older mare more than the other two. I've yet to see them use the shelter, they seem to prefer being out and about.

I was wondering what to do with the manure situation. Right now I just go out and rake it out to dry and I have a rake like thing that I can pull behind my lawn tractor to really divide and conquer all those piles of fertilizer.

One thing I have added is grass hay as the pastures can take a beating with three horses grazing. But I have the hay in hockey nets suspended from the trees, along the trunk. The nets do up like a drawsting bag and hanging them keeps them off the ground and also prevents waste with the horses eating only the best bits and leaving the rest. During the summer months the horse are confined to a smaller paddock during the day; it has better shade and their shelter, as well as the three hay nets, because we all know that some horse can't share!!! At night they are let out to graze the pasture and wonder about more.

Thanks for letting me share a little about my horses home. And thanks for confirming that sometimes less can be more!!

Laura Crum said...

mommyrides--thanks for sharing your tips. It sounds like your horses have a good life. I've noticed that folks who keep horses at their own place are more likely to do it the way I do it than those who board. Guess that makes sense. Boarding situations are often dictated more by the policies of the barn than the wishes of the horse owner.