Do horses NEED to be pastured??? - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 71 Old 08-21-2013, 03:00 PM
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And what about humans? We evolved to cover many miles every day, and to do manual labor. In the movie 'Tombstone', there is a scene where Wyatt Earp sends his brother off at the train station. That happened. And then, since he didn't have money to spend on a ride, he WALKED back to Tombstone...got a lift in a wagon about 10 miles out of Tombstone. It is 70 miles from downtown Tucson to Tombstone, with plenty of hills.

How many modern men would even consider walking 70 miles non-stop? How many of us walk thru 20 miles of terrain looking for tonight's dinner? THAT is "natural" for a human, but has nothing to do with modern life.

There are health problems that result, and we are physically weaker than our roaming ancestors (including those just 100 years ago). Most of us do not live on farms or ranches. I don't walk the 5 miles to church, or to get milk from the nearest store. So I have a bit of a gut. So modern life may impact my health, although I'll live longer than many people in the 1800s.
I'm not sure I understand your point - it seems to me you are just validating what I have been saying. Humans have survived transitioning to a sedentary lifestyle - just as horses can transition to confinement. But at what cost? Diabetes, heart and arterial disease, and obesity are off the charts. Sure we live longer due to medical advances and a far higher birth survival rate, but we are soft, weak, and far less healthy a species than when we were living under more natural conditions.

Specific examples are meaningless. Whether this horse or that horse or my horse or your horse was this or that is irrelevant. You don't hear me saying I have bred and owned horses - and lots of them - for over 50 years without a single health or behavior issue. Why? Because my horses and experience are statistically not a blip on the radar.

Some horses with the best of care develop issues - just as some horses with the worst of care manage to get by. I doubt anyone can argue that, because we have all seen specific examples of each. The same can be said of people or of other animals. But the best odds - by any measure - are to keep a horse in as close to a natural environment as possible, and then add those things we can do such as deworming, vaccinating, and insuring a balanced diet, to improve on mother nature. Personally, I would not own a horse if I had to stall it or keep it in a small paddock, and when I was breeding, I NEVER sold a horse to anyone without (in my view) adequate facilities - and believe me, I turned down a lot of sales because of it. But that is just my personal opinion. As I said earlier, people are free to do what they like...
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post #32 of 71 Old 08-21-2013, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by beau159 View Post
So just devil's advocate here because I'm feeling like it:
How did the wild herds of Nokota horses survive in the Badlands before the Medora park board started feeding them hay in the winter, if horses cannot survive on pasture alone in the snow? The horses were there long before the park fenced them in.
Either they dug through the snow and ate what they could find or they migrated and returned in the spring.

Grass in the wild is not the same as in a pasture that we would provide. In the wild, grass gets long. We mow pastures to maintain them (depending on how big your pasture is).

I would love to have enough land to have enough pasture for our horses. They do have enough room to run around and frolic but not enough that grass will grow. It would be cheaper in the long run and we wouldn't have to buy hay. That's just not possible in our situation.

What we do have would probably be enough for two horses. But there's a saying that fits, "Horses are like potato chips. You can't have just one (or two!)".
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post #33 of 71 Old 08-21-2013, 03:31 PM
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A pasture doesn't guarantee good quality food, nor is there a guarantee that it's been picked up and won't infest your horse with parasites from the other horses. It's interesting to me that Clinton Anderson buys his forage from a hay business in Idaho that grows, processess and bags the hay according to the specs of the client.
Right now my pastures grew back a LOT of clover from last year's drought. I have bought at least 1/2 of next winter's hay (which I start feeding around Halloween) from a cutting that had gone to seed. This is how my original herd seeded their pastures bc the biggest one was a harvested corn field when we moved in in October, 1999, and the grass hay would shed seeds. They starting taking the very next year.
My 3 are between 5-6 on the Apgar scale and they are eating no hay right now, just on pasture.
It's great when it's good and it's nice and convenient to have pasture, but it is not at ALL necessary.
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post #34 of 71 Old 08-21-2013, 04:50 PM
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I'm not sure I understand your point - it seems to me you are just validating what I have been saying. Humans have survived transitioning to a sedentary lifestyle - just as horses can transition to confinement. But at what cost? Diabetes, heart and arterial disease, and obesity are off the charts. Sure we live longer due to medical advances and a far higher birth survival rate, but we are soft, weak, and far less healthy a species than when we were living under more natural conditions...
Diabetes, heart and arterial disease, and obesity, are off the charts because of how we eat, combined with a sedentary lifestyle. That, and we now live long enough for our hearts to suffer.

If I fed my horses grain & sweets and didn't give them exercise, they would get fat too.

But until I was hurt 4 1/2 years ago (thanks, Mia), I was running 4-5 miles daily. It took about 45 min/day, and in return I could do a 6 minute mile at 50. I was able to start up running again in March, and while it is tougher to start at 55 than 15, I'm slowly getting back in shape. And that is all it takes to keep my heart in shape.

Horses, from everything I've seen, are even easier to keep in shape. If you feed them too much, leave them in a 12x30 stall and let the muck build up, you'll have a true "American" horse, with weight problems and heart problems. Hoof problems too. Keep the corrals clean, monitor their feed & ride them 4 times/week, and they'll do fine.

Heck, my DOGS are doing fine, and they aren't running 25 miles a day like a wolf would. This 'gotta be natural' stuff drives me up a wall. Nike has ruined my favorite running shoe because of a current fad for a 'minimal shoe' - ie, one that doesn't protect your feet and joints. So they cut back on the cushioning and support so some eco-turd can feel closer to nature, and my 55 year old knees were hurting in 2 weeks. When I'm running in the desert, the last thing I want is to feel like I'm barefoot...

The problem with your claim of needing pasture is the large number of fit, sane, relaxed, content horses without it. I don't know of ANY non-pasture living horses who have related behavioral problems or health problems if they are fed properly and ridden regularly. I don't think the problem is pasture/no pasture, but involved/uninvolved owners.

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post #35 of 71 Old 08-21-2013, 06:25 PM
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I don't think the OP's situation is ideal, but if the horse has been there for five I don't see an issue. I would feel bad about taking horse from where it had plenty of pasture to where it didn't, but if the horse is used to small paddocks then it's used to small paddocks.
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post #36 of 71 Old 08-21-2013, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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It's not just for board mucking out the stalls pays for, it's also paying for the her food. So the deal is that he will provide board and all the feed and I muck out the stalls for that, which I thought was pretty fair.

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post #37 of 71 Old 08-21-2013, 10:01 PM
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I don't know of ANY non-pasture living horses who have related behavioral problems or health problems if they are fed properly and ridden regularly. I don't think the problem is pasture/no pasture, but involved/uninvolved owners.
Well, I know of tons of horses with hoof issues, cribbing issues, COPD, nervous behavior, and so on and so on from over confinement. If you don't, your circle of horse acquaintances is either very small or limited to those who take excellent care of their horses. Perhaps living in Arkansas and Missouri I am exposed to more horse owners that aren't as savvy as the average Horse Forum person.

There is no question we can go a long way toward lessening the affects of confinement. Regular and long exercise - including actually running all out, extremely well ventilated stalls to lessen ammonia fumes and keep a constant supply of fresh air, regular hoof picking and trimming, a dry surface, proper feed methods in stalls and paddocks to eliminate sand colic and sinus issues, supplementation with minerals and clay that are missing from being off pasture, and so on. But remember that those are efforts we make to lessen the affects of confinement...the fact that we have to make those efforts in itself defines the issue. And while you and others may be savvy and responsible and have enough time to do those things, there are many that either only do them intermittently or not at all - I have seen it all my life...and not only the country hillbilly that doesn't know any better. There are neglected horses and horses being cared for irresponsibly in many of the very best of stables. And as we all know, there are horses on huge pastures that aren't cared for very well either - there are no absolutes.

Like I said earlier, if you take care of a horse well enough you could probably confine them in a chute and they would survive. But I am far more content seeing them being a horse doing what horses are born to do...
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post #38 of 71 Old 08-21-2013, 10:10 PM
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If this horse has been kept in that situation for 8 years, and no bad behaviors have popped up yet as a result, I see no reason to change it. We humans love to imprint our feelings onto other creatures, but if this is what this horse is used to, and it's otherwise happy, why mess with it? I work in New York City and wonder how the people who live there can stand those tiny apartments with no yards to play in, yet they seem perfectly happy because it's what they are used to. That's my 2 cents.
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post #39 of 71 Old 08-21-2013, 10:20 PM
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If this horse has been kept in that situation for 8 years, and no bad behaviors have popped up yet as a result, I see no reason to change it. We humans love to imprint our feelings onto other creatures, but if this is what this horse is used to, and it's otherwise happy, why mess with it? I work in New York City and wonder how the people who live there can stand those tiny apartments with no yards to play in, yet they seem perfectly happy because it's what they are used to. That's my 2 cents.
You have it hit it perfectly
Horses bred for top competition or racing are born in stables, handled from the minute they're born, most of them are never turned out with another horse because its too big a risk to them. Its all they know and actually taking them away from this can be really traumatic.
Thats not saying they cant adapt to a different life but these horses have no clue how to cope without humans or deal with the elements and insect life
I have two that lived like that and after an hour of being out they are usually standing by the gate pestering to come back in to what they see as normality
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post #40 of 71 Old 08-22-2013, 12:48 AM
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I do hate the wild horses argument, those horses took care of themselves, if one wasn't going to make it, then it died young.
Is that what we want for our horses? I'd think not.

My horse is a TB, and so not bred for his feet. But of course wild horses can live without shoes and self trim. Yea, my horse would have no hoof left.
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