I am new to the board, and I hope I do not create any enemies right off the bat, but just I wanted to get something off my chest that I have been thinking of for a while...
Does anyone think it is...not cruel...but....not smart to keep a horse stalled?
I say this, not because I'm some animal rights activist, or some crazy conspirator, or anything like that, but simply because of a mare I purchased about a year ago now....
She's a beautiful 21 year old arab, who had her career caring for one young girl to the next, letting them live their dreams of owning a horse, and competing in one of the most popular sports in the horse world- jumping.
Now, of course, every horse who has been used in competition is going to come out with "battle wounds" such as arthritus, and ligement problems, especially being older...however, most horses can ride well into their late twenties possibly, as I have once met, into their thirties (though I admit this is rare)
Sam however, who was stalled for nearly 15 hours a day, in a 13x13 stall with concrete floors (no padding or shavings) is now hardly ever ridable (I trail ride), as she seems to be in pain when I get on her, especially bare back...(she weighs 875 pounds, I weigh 95)....she collicked several times, including once requiring nasal/gastric tubing with her previous owner, however, has never collicked on me, even after abrubt changes in food.
My point is this:
-A horses' anatomy is designed to move constantly: movement aids their digestion and flexes the muscels and keeps them loose.
-Stalling a horse prevents alot of this necessary movement, when confined for long periods of time- causing collic, sore muscles, and arthritus, especially when thrown in a stall after a hard work out. (don't you cramp up in the morning after a ton of work in a field fixing fences, lifting buckets, and lounging horses until dark the previous day?)
-a horse is designed to eat food while the head is down
-corner buckets, and hay nets aren't natural positions for a horse to eat, and, again, a stall prohibits alot of the movement necessary for gut and bowl movement.
-horses in the wild are free to roam about.
-Civilization brought these horses into these artificial confinements for practical reasons (easy to catch, and be near the horse; horse remains in one area; it remains clean etc.)- not because we were actually thinking of the horse itself.
I don't say that NEVER stalling a horse is a solution, as it is convenient at times, especially on hot or cold days, or before a show if they're neatly groomed, or especially if a horse is injured or sick. But stalling for hours, I feel, is a step backwards?
Another proof I have, is a stable used for children very close to me. I went to a clinic there for showmanship, and didn't have a trailer to bring my arab with me. So, I used one of their horses, whom they said was a champion at showmanship, but had arthritus. I thought nothing of it, until I went to walk the horse, and the horse was at least three steps behind my every move, and I noticed another girl who also borrowed one of the stables' horses, had the same problem. I took the liberty afterwards to take the horse back myself, and saw that the horses there were standing on pure concrete pads with no bedding or even mats.
I feel very strongly of this, however, of course, it's just an opinion. But am I wrong? I would love to be set straight if I am. I'm just applying what I know, and what I've seen. Any thoughts? Please join! I would love to hear what you all have to say about the subject. I know there are plenty of horse owners who stall their horses and they are just fine. So, as I said, I may be wrong. What do you think?