24/7 outside vs stalled - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 08:21 AM Thread Starter
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Location: CT, USA
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24/7 outside vs stalled

I always get into this debate with other horse people. My current barn has the horses outside 24/7 with free access to hay and water and they are put on grassy fields in intervals. Growing up, I always went to barns that had the horses stalled at least at night if not during the day as well.

After experiencing my current barn, I don't think I'll ever stall my horse. It's not their natural habitat. It's isolation and lack of movement, neither of which is healthy for horses.

What are your thoughts?
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post #2 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 08:59 AM
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I prefer my horse outside 24/7/365 but he does not share my opinion.

I think horse owners need to keep an open mind and do what's best for their horse. My horse does not like nor want to be out in the rain or snow and would prefer to stay in - even if he's the only horse in the barn. He's made his preference clear so I oblige it.
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post #3 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 09:10 AM
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^This. Be aware of what your horse wants/likes. My gelding LOATHES a stall. He will tear down the barn to get out of one. So we threw him out in a field 24/7 365. Most of the horses where I board at are out 24/7, and IME most don't want to come in after they've had a taste. I agree that it's more healthy and IMO makes saner, happier horses. So I think it's best to leave the stall for special cases. :)
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post #4 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 10:48 AM
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I think most horses prefer to be outside and with other horses. However, some horses who have always been kept in a stall may have come to feel more secure there.

I knew one woman who had always kept her horse in a stall until her husband said they could no longer afford to do so. She found a friend who let her keep her mare in a field with the other woman's gelding. The next time I saw this woman, she mentioned how her horse's hair no longer had its former luster, and how part of her mane had been rubbed (or chewed) off. I asked, "But is she happy?" The woman replied: "Oh, Yeah."

This woman went on to describe something else, however. There was a barn in the field which remained open. In bad weather such as a heavy rain, the gelding would remain outside while this woman's horse took shelter in the barn. The woman said her friend laughingly referred to her mare as "your sissy horse." The woman responded: "My smart horse."

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post #5 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 10:55 AM
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Mine is on 24/7 pasture board. She does have a run in shelter which she shares with a TB, a mini and a donkey. She loves it. I have the option to put her in a stall for a day or so if needed. Recently, I put her in a stall for an hour as I was waiting for the vet to arrive. At first she seemed excited, sniffed everything, looked out the window...but after 20 minutes she was bored and ready to go back out.
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post #6 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 11:01 AM
Green Broke
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Location: Kansas, USA
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Mine is out 24/7 year round. He gets hay in the winter because of snow but he has two pastures to graze in (except when we're letting one grow) and access to the woods if we let them into the other pasture. Sometimes we let him and the cows graze in the big hay field during calving season or before it gets really cold. Mine has access to the shed which is pretty big but sometimes he'll stand out in the rain or in a blizzard when there's plenty of room in the shed, like he'll stand right outside it in the snow. Lol
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post #7 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 11:05 AM
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I've never experienced a problem with stalled horses, even during many years at large show training barns of up to 150 stalls - if properly managed, most stalled horses will fare absolutely fine. If improperly managed, even horses turned out 24/7 can experience issues. There is no one best option across the board, it has to be what's best for the individual horse.

When I bought my horse, I boarded him in a paddock w/3 sided shed so his 20 month old body had the option for constant movement. He was MISERABLE when fly season hit, covered in welts, blisters, and rubbing himself raw from itching no matter what fly control methods I tried, even though the other paddocked horses were fine. Once it hit 100F, he also started with excessive sweating and a constantly elevated respiration rate, so I moved him to stall board. A year and a half later, he still gets turned out 16 hours a day in the Texas summer, but spends the hottest part of each day in a stall under a fan. He's happy as a clam and super healthy! During the winter, he's in the barn if it's below 30F (a rarity in Dallas) or raining/snowing/muddy/icy, but otherwise turned out and still happy as can be.
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post #8 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 11:25 AM
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we have 30 head of horses they are outside 24/7/365. I don't know if they like it or not non of them have ever said if they like it or not. Here in Montana we can get down into the -30's and lower in the winter. I feed hay all winter and they all do fine. It is something a horse has to be used to to take a stalled horses and throw them out all at once I feel is wrong it should be done slowly over time.
It would be nice to have a stall or two for when horses are sick or needing doctored.
The only time I feel sorry for my horses is when its cold and rainy as long as they are dry and have a belly full of hay they are fine. But man when its just above freezing and its raining that sucks.
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post #9 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 11:42 AM
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Every horse is an individual and should be treated as such. Generalizations and broad statements across all individuals will always be met with plenty of "exceptions". Each horse will have different preferences between stalls, shelters, outside, etc.
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post #10 of 32 Old 08-22-2014, 12:05 PM
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I agree it is "best" and most natural for the horse to be outside 24/7. However. Our are always shut in a paddock in the barn, and when I was caring for them were always in for the night.

I like to give them bedding to encourage them to lie down. It is easier to feed them separately without needing to back out late at night. I like knowing they are safe and secure while I am not able to be watching them.

We have a lot of predators, including mountain lions, in the immediate area and due to that and possible storms/downed fencing, just general "not watching" at 2 am we will always keep them close to the barn.

My Arab LOVES his stall and LOVES his massive pile of bedding. He was kept in a stall for 13 years.
My Foxtrotter dislikes his stall. He is well behaved but makes a mess and spends a lot of time with his head over the door wanting out. He was a ranch horse from out west.
The Icelandic would prefer to be out but given the option (with the door open) would probably end up inside anyways. She's definitely in between. She was imported and I am guessing not stalled much in Iceland. The lady we got her from had her in at night and out during the day.

Definitely a part of it is what they are used to and ultimately what they prefer. Also, due to that some horses just cannot tolerate one or the other.
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outside board , stall

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