Does your horse like turnout?

Horses out in the snow
The horses don't seem to mind the cold, snowy weather

The first night I had Freedom was the last night he spent in a stall. When I came to check on him the next morning, I found that he had weaved so much with his head over the Dutch door that he’d rubbed a bloody spot on his neck. That was it. I turned him out 24/7 and he has been happy as a clam. The only time he stands inside is during the summer, when he wants to avoid the heat and the bugs. But then it’s on his terms: no closed doors.

But that’s not the case for all horses. My friend Suzanne writes in her blog that her mare is unhappy with the turnout situation at her new (temporary) barn:

Poor Sug, she hates turnout (yes, she really does) and here she is out from 8am to 3 in a nice big paddock in a place where she can see everything.  Every car, every person that walks the property in her range of vision is a potential staff worker… “Hey you…. yes you, can you not see that it’s time for me to come in… The sun is too bright/dark!  The wind is too brisk/quiet.  The air too warm/cold.  Take me in please!  Take me in now!”

And another friend mentioned that her horse used to jump out of his paddock so he could go back to his stall!

Horses sleeping in the sun
When it's warm, I often find them snoozing in the sun.

The four horses at our barn are out in all weather, all the time. They have the option to go inside, but they rarely take advantage of it.

What about your horses? Do they prefer the comfort of a cozy stall or are they happy to be out in the elements?

Before I moved to this barn my horses were turned out maybe 6 hours a day and if the weather was bad, maybe not at all. What is your horse’s turnout schedule like?

9 thoughts on “Does your horse like turnout?

  1. Thanks for the shout-out… The funny thing is that Sugar was raised outside 24/7 until she was broke to ride… I think she would really love a paddock with a runout shed… The shed would be stall like where she decided to come in or go out and the paddock big enough to kick around… That she would love!

  2. My boys are out 24/7 with a shed. I think they like the freedom of coming and going, and sometimes they surprise me with their choice to go in the shed. Yesterday, for instance, it was a sunny afternoon in the mid/high-40s, with less wind than usual, they both decided to nap together in the shed instead of out in the sun.

    I would love to have a set-up where they can both have individual stalls, and offer a little more comfort (fans in summer, more wind/rain block in winter) than a shed, but my situation won’t allow that right now.

    I am lucky in that they don’t seem to mind one way or the other — the old guy used to live in a more typical stalled environment, as was the younger one before I got him, and despite tasting the 24/7 freedom of pasture they’re content with the occasional nights when I have stalled them for some reason or another.

  3. If the weather is nice, the horses are out 24/7. My husband’s horse prefers to be out regardless of the weather. My new horse Winston seems to feel the same. Jackson used to be that way but when his feet hurt (laminitis), or it’s cold, he wants into his stall. Kalvin, the horse that boards at our place, would be happiest in a stall all the time. But, I think that is all he’s used to as well. After a year, he still spooks at his shadow in turnout.

  4. My horse is on 50 acres with 17 other horses. She is alot more relaxed and happy. Unfortunately she also gets filthy, marked up, and sunburned.

  5. My Fjord is happy to have some shelter–in the summer she utalizes the small pine “forest” in the big pasture and in the winter she shares a big run in shed with her buddies–another Fjord and an Icelandic. She never did settle into her box when she was stabled. She would eat what was in her bucket and then be all “ok, I’m done eating; can I go back out now?”. She ate her hay up overnight but she never ate much breakfast–she was too eger to get out and to the field to have much of an apetite. Taking her in in the evening was easy but she practically dragged some of the stable girls to the fields in the morning (but knew better than to try that crap with me or the more experienced staff). I’ll probably never keep her in a box again as it’s not really necessary and she doesn’t like it so why?

    I’m lucky here in Denmark (around Copenhagen) as there are a lot of what we call “luxus lystrift” (Luxus run in shelter) Icelandic only barns (most will happily accept Fjords as well) that have all the facilities: warm water wash racks, nice saddle rooms, indoor arenas, etc but the horses are kept in groups in large run in shelters/paddocks instead of boxes. Best of both worlds if you ask me. The horses are happy living out but I can take her in and wash her and tack up inside etc. Most of the farms have the paddocs arranged so that they have a gate that opens onto larger grass fields so letting the horses to and from the pasture is just a matter of opening a gate. It’s also becoming popular to have automatic hay feeders that hold a whole roundbale and have a gate that drives up and down to allow or restrict access so the horses get lots of mealtimes during the day with out being able to overeat/waste hay.

  6. My horses HATE stalls, my mare becomes a wreck and my gelding gets depressed. Putting them on pasture board was the best thing I ever did. They are so much happier and I save a whole bunch of money. Win win!

  7. My Thoroughbred gelding does like going out if the weather is nice but after his 4 to five daily hours he knows it’s time to come in and is waiting to be brought in. He’s a little emotionally immature and he really likes being inside because it’s his stall and very much in his comfort zone.
    He used to never go out in the rain because he’d gallop up and down the fence an scream to be let back inside but in the past years he’s finally relaxed enough to go out in the normal rain. If it starts dumping no one is out anyways.
    I had another horse that was older and would have lived 24/7 out but he was so fat he could only get a few hours of grass turnout too.
    I mostly try to cater to the horses while keeping my own facilities in mind.
    And when I get home from an Event that only had hand grazing they get the day off and extra pasture time.

  8. Mine can’t stand being in a stall, sometimes they refuse to even go in their run-in during bad weather.

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