Really good article on horses and cold... - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 02:54 AM Thread Starter
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Truthfully I believe that there are several ways to skin a cat - or in this case keep a horse.

My comment was only intended to indicate how it was interesting how the same passages led us to very different conclusions - I did not to intend to provoke a discussion on horse management.

Regardless, I believe that there are different ways of doing things and not everything needs to be ranked as good or bad. I also don't ascribe to the theory that there is only one way or a horse will die. Personally, I prefer to keep my horses grazing 24 hours a day as I think that is best for their metabolic health. You are absolutely correct to say that there are million of horses that do fine stalled and receiving hay 2-3 time a day that thrive (or any mix of the above) and I did not indicate in any way that they suffer. I have kept horses in both situations each has its benefits and drawbacks- like many things in life. Just because I said I found the advise in the article well founded does not mean that I am so closed minded to believe there is only one way to do things and no other way could possibly work.

Personal anecdotes to not prove a fact - there are outliers in every experiment. Your comment indicating that my assessment is not true to fact is amusing to me. There is plenty of research on horse management. And the fact is that there are several different opinions that are drawn from those facts. Much of what I have read indicates that the metabolic health is dependent on constant use of the horses digestive system. The article was describing how this system also helps to heat the horse.

Your guess that I have never seen a rain soaked horse... Rain? -that is when water falls from the sky right? I do live in the dessert but it does rain here too- shocking I know. That being said my experience has been more similar to what was described in the article. I do not doubt your experiences at all when it comes to horses and shelter. Horses are like people they are individual - some walk in a shelter some do not. There isn't any overarching theory that applies across the board to all horses in all situations etc.

The biggest thing I have learned in the horse world is every one is an expert - with their very own facts! And the lesson this has taught me is to listen to each of these experts because they almost all ways can teach me something or at least give me a new perspective but it has also taught me not to be critical of others and attack their methods or thoughts.

I am sure what ever you chose to do for your horses works well for you or you wouldn't do it. We all find what works in our own situation and for each of our horses. When I see someone with different way of doing things I don't assume they are wrong just because they are different - but then again I am rather open minded and progressive.

My intent in sharing the article was simply in the hopes someone else would enjoy learning something knew (as I did) and enjoy the article. Peace.

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post #12 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 03:21 AM
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Oh, about rain soaked horses - I live in a Northern country, where 9 months of 12 consist of rainfall, hail, snow and sharp winds. The horses could not bother more with the shelters, they prefer standing out in the elements. The only time they use a shelter is in the middle of summer, to hide from heat and horseflies. :)

(Referring to what others said about limiting food intake in case of health problems - yes, I agree, that's a whole different story and a different approach can be a good idea, or if the grazing available is by itself not suitable for a horses' health - too rich in sugars, all clover, etc.)

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Last edited by Saranda; 12-11-2013 at 03:32 AM.
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post #13 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 03:47 AM
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So many of these scientific papers are written by people who have all the academic qualifications but little to no real experience.

I do agree that horses will take the cold but what no stock will take is wet and rain. That will work through their coats and then they start to shiver and that will make them loose weight faster than anything else.
They can access to ad lib hay but if that hay is in the open and it is driving rain. They will not stand out to eat it but seek shelter instead even of this means standing under a hedge shivering.
As for not working horses in the winter, that is when my horses did their work. They were jump racing and/ or following Foxhounds, for that they needed to be fully clipped.

No one will ever convince me that horses do not like to be stabled in adverse wet weather, they soon learn that a large stable, deeply bedded, hay and grub is better than being out in a field standing in mud and driving rain, shivering.

Even the young horses that were housed in a large loose shed area, would go out in the rain, walk so far down the track (they would go out loose) turn and walk back inside. They weren't stupid! Also if they were out and got wet they would stand at the gate and call out to remind me they were still out.

I found it easier to have them in when it is wet. Hosing their legs off from the mud stops mud fever. They keep better condition and are happier.

In over 50 years of working with horses professionally, I have had horses stabled only once in all that time have I ever had one yearling start to crib. Guess what? He was out 24/7 at the time so that can decry the fact that stabling them causes the problem.
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post #14 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 03:55 AM
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one yearling start to crib. Guess what? He was out 24/7 at the time so that can decry the fact that stabling them causes the problem.
I have experience with three chronic cribbers - all different histories, lifestyles, health. They didn't start cribbing when out 24/7, but they sure didn't even think of quitting. One even used to crib on other horses' withers.

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post #15 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 04:28 AM
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Having access to forage and fibre 24/7 is not the same as eating all day, they also lie down, sleep, groom each other. Horses can choose to stop eating and can cope without food for periods but having it available when needed is another thing.

As to coping with rain, it depends upon the horse - last winter it rained pretty much every day (and the summer come to think of it) and I went to check my haflingers and not a drop had penetrated their thick coats, they were completely dry. They generate warmth from food and shivering, but I think this is something humans find quite hard to deal with emotionally. My horses also only really take to the shelter of the trees in driving rain and the when the flies are out in the summer
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post #16 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Odd. Mine seek shelter more during the winter than during our fly season. Mine seem to largely ignore the 100 deg heat and intense sunlight found in southern Arizona.
The fact that yours does it doesn't mean it's true for every horse. Both mine spend WAY less time in a shed during winter (even when we have snow or really cold temps) than in a summer when they hide there from the heat. Same stays true for my neighbor's horses. In fact I've seen same tendency in both barns I kept my horse in in past (although it's been a while back).

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post #17 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 09:45 AM
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I think this article generalizes way too much - and so do people who keep a certain type of horse and do a set routine of riding (or not riding) with it
If you have something with a coat like an Exmoor pony and don't want to ride it at any speed in the colder months then it will do fine - but for many people who hunt or compete indoors riding in the winter is now different to riding in the summer so they clip and the blankets have to go on
Horses with metabolic issues can't have access to 24/7 hay or grass - and my cobs would be the size of elephants as they have no concept of 'full up', they just keep eating - but I've had plenty of horses who would spend long periods just dozing in the field and never get overweight
I've had horses and ponies for years that were either clipped in the winter or had very fine coats and got blanketed when it was cold - I've never had one sweat under its blanket or suffer in any noticeable way
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post #18 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 10:04 AM
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The article makes universal statements. ANY evidence to the contrary will disprove a universal statement.

"It is important that every domestic horse has unrestricted access to hay 24 hours a day"

No, it is not. Far too many horses thrive without 24 hr access to food. It cannot be an important principle for every domestic horse when a great many domestic horses do fine without it.

"it is not advisable to forcefully exercise horses in winter"

That is a stupid statement. Everyone I know feeds their horses more in winter than in summer, and you always feed based on the totality of the horse's nutritional needs. If you do not, they either gain weight or lose it. The idea that horses need to have winters off from exercise or work is stupid. Again - millions of horses prove it can be done without harm to the horse. In fact, it keeps them in better condition.

"The scientific thesis by Dr. Cook, which conclusively proves the harm of the bit in the horse’s sensitive mouth, has already been in print and available for YEARS, it is however yet to be included in veterinary school syllabus, and is largely unknown by vet professionals."

Again, Dr Cook's thesis that bits are cruel isn't 'unknown' by vets, but REJECTED by vets who see plenty of horses doing fine with bits. My avatar shows Mia with a curb bit in her normal riding head position and normal riding slack of reins. Does it look like she is in pain? Here is Mia in a curb with all the slack gone. Notice the gaping mouth, dripping blood, etc...and notice poor suffering Trooper in the background:

"EVERY horse ridden without natural free collection or longer than 15 minutes a day suffers pain."

Notice the word, capitalized for emphasis, "EVERY". Anyone who believes that SHOULD give up riding. But I've got a 650 lb little mustang who has carried my 175 lbs, plus tack, for an hour with no sign of resentment - and Cowboy will show strong resentment when he is uncomfortable. Mia is not a stoic horse either, but she never indicates that she is suffering pain in 15 minutes. It takes twice that long just to get some of the freshness off of her!

A website promoting universal propositions that are unsupported by facts deserves criticism.
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Last edited by bsms; 12-11-2013 at 10:09 AM.
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post #19 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 10:23 AM
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I think we can all agree that horses are designed to be trickle feeders who have access to forage 24/7. We can probably also agree that they're designed/evolved to walk miles a day in search of that forage. That hooves are supposed to be (are designed) to handle this constant movement without protection. And that horses have the evolutionary adaptions to survive just about every bit of weather thrown at them, whether it be instinctual like heading for shelter when it's sleeting or an adaption like the ability to fluff or flatten their hair.

I think we can also all agree that domesticated horses have far different demands placed on them than any feral or wild horse and therefore the same adaptions aren't always adequate. There are things you can do to make your horse's environment more "natural," but it's never going to be truly natural. Horses that have access to forage 24/7, aren't walking 10-15 miles a day in search of it so you run into metabolic issues. Hooves aren't always as strong as they should be, partially due to genetics and partially due to not enough movement over rough enough terrain. Etc, etc.

We alter our horse's environments and lives, from before birth until death. Not one of our horses has anything close to a "natural" life. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive to meet their evolutionary needs when at all possible, but as long as the horse is happy and healthy there is no right or wrong way. I think just about any horse out there would choose a grain bucket and a chunk of alfalfa hay over a tromping through the wilderness in search of food while constantly being aware of predators. Even if the tromping through the wilderness is physically what their bodies were designed to do.

Coming from an owner with unblanketed horses that have access to forage 24/7 (with a slow net), both are shod during the riding season, and both are ridden with bits. Sometimes they like to stand outside while it's raining/sleeting and sometimes they like to stand in the shelter. Both have been comfortable and happy when they were stalled at different points in their lives. Being grained and on limited forage at different points in their lives haven't hurt either one of them either.

I think horses, for the most part, are far more adaptable than many of us would like to admit. Humans tend to anthropomorphize the creatures that we love and I wonder sometimes if the side that we argue doesn't have more to do with our own wishes and wants for our lifestyles than it does with our horse's wants/needs.
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post #20 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 12:38 PM
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I think that somebody promoting universal propositions that are unsupported by anything but their own experience deserves criticism.

I also think it is pointless to try and find anything that could be wrong with that Academia Liberti site, as it clearly supports and represents a totally different way of horsekeeping and handling than many of us practice. Their articles by default are about horses that are not ridden or worked at all, because it is their firm belief, supported by some kind of research, that it is harmful for equines. Therefore, they are not meant to be applied on horses with competitive or working lifestyle, instead, it is assumed that the reader should be at least aiming to follow the principles of AL.

So, pointing out how they are wrong is quite meaningless - just as meaningless it would be to criticize the use of contact in English riding, if one thinks that only Western riding is the way to go - as it is a totally different world.

I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.
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