I’m a big believer in turning horses out. I think 90% of the issues that horses and humans have could be resolved if the horse was just permitted to be more of a horse and less of whatever its human thinks it should be. I board my horses, which makes it somewhat of a challenge to find someone who feels the same way I do about horse care. I think that having a stall is nice and should be available during inclement weather, but really…I want my horses outside.
I never realized how important LOTS of turnout time was until I got a Thoroughbred. What seemed to be the normal turnout of 4-6 hours per day just wasn’t cutting it for my horse. At the 4-6 hour turn-out level, there were attitude issues, lots of extra energy and of course, the requisite lunging session before I could even consider riding. And so, I went on a barn hunt a few years ago to find turnout. I live on the outskirts of Indianapolis. There is a very large hunter/jumper population, a moderate dressage-riding population and a whole lot of “anything goes.” To me, this translates into
Option 1: uber-pricey ($600+/mo) boarding barns with 1-2 hours of private paddock turnout
Option 2: pricy ($350-$500) 4-6 hours of small group turnout on an acre or two
It took 4 barns in 1 year to find a place that was 1) within my budget, 2) within a reasonable driving distance and 3) offered the kind of consistent care I was looking for. And by consistent care I mean things like…
– clean water available 24/7/365
– regular feedings with quality feed (which I can provide, if necessary)
– quality hay or pasture (with grass on it) when turned out available year round
– 12+ hours of turnout each day
– an acre/horse (in other words, don’t have 30 horses on 10 acres and expect there to be any type of pasture)
– a responsible, horse-educated barn owner with good people skills and barn management skills
Okay…so that last one is the hardest to come by, but it has to be on the list. While it might seem challenging to find a place that adheres to all of the above items — well, it WAS challenging to find it — they are out there.
And something else…I consider my horse to be a show horse. I don’t have a trailer, so I don’t get to show and take lessons as frequently as I would like. However, that doesn’t mean that I consider my horse to be any less valuable than any horse that does get to show more frequently. When we do show, we are earning respectable scores (mid 60s) at first level dressage with our sights set squarely on 2nd level this fall. And aside from that, my eventing itch has resurfaced, so maybe we’ll be doing that too. I just think its silly when people think or say that their show horse just can’t be turned out. Hogwash.
Anyhow…I just wanted to share some photos of my horse and my foster horse enjoying the life outside. By the way, the picture at the top of this entry clearly shows a disproportionate head to body ratio, which is why you should never stand at your horse’s head to take a picture of him. 😉 Always stand perpendicular to their body. It will be much more flattering and your friends will think you’re a great photographer!
Here is Wilson hanging out up near the water trough and gate.
Now really…she doesn’t look too bad for a show horse that actually lives outside most of the time, does she?
And so…this is the life of my horses. I’ve been lucky enough to find a place that turns them out more than they’re in. In the summer, they come in 2x a day for a couple hours to have grain. Otherwise, they’re out on pasture – even over night! *gasp* In the winter, they’re out 10-12 hours, weather permitting. If they’re turned out on the dirt lot, they have multiple round bales to munch on. Round bales are also available during the winter. In short…they’re happy and I’m happy.