Wracked with guilt: pasture vs. stall living - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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Wracked with guilt: pasture vs. stall living

I lost my 20 year old horse in a pasture accident today. She was kicked in the femur and it was fractured. She thankfully did not suffer long. Aside from feeling so sad and shocked I am feeling really guilty as a horse owner. I lost another horse in a freak pasture accident several years ago and I had hoped that lightning would not strike me twice. My horses seem to be so happy living in pasture with a herd, but now I question whether its the right thing to do.

I have one other horse that I have decided to move into a large mare motel where he can still see and visit with other horses so I think he will be happy. Can a horse be happy with several hours of turnout a day?
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post #2 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 08:04 PM
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Sorry for your loss. Freak accidents do happen. A horse can be happy penned up with turn out. Be aware that they can fx a leg bucking and playing. It happens. Dont feel guilty.
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post #3 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 08:20 PM
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Freak accidents can happen in stalls as well. Just make sure the stall or pasture is as safe as reasonably possible. And don't beat yourself up over it.

For some reason it is the nice safe properties that end up with horses injured and the pasture down the road with a literal junk heap in the middle of it somehow goes accident free. Just the random ironies of life.

Sorry for your loss.
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post #4 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 08:20 PM
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A horse can injure themselves whether they are in a pasture or a stall. If your only reason for not pasturing the horse is that you think it will protect him from the risk of injury/accident rethink the choice.
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post #5 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 08:21 PM
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Depending on the horse, they can be perfectly happy living with other species - it doesn't have to be a herd of horses for the horse to be content.

My mare lives a horseless life. She hasn't seen another horse in over 6 months and it'll be a good many more before she sees one again as I have no plans of obtaining another horse and we occupy the only pastures on the property we board on.
However, I did buy a pair of goats to be her friends and our pastures are the grazing areas for a herd of 5+ deer who are also Lacey's friends.

She seems to prefer the deer over the goats (as in, if the deer are grazing in one pasture and the goats are in another, Lacey is with the deer) but she's perfectly content with her goats.

And actually, I've found that when she's with other horses she seems to be more stressed than she is with her "not the norm" buddies. Of course, she is mostly blind = stress about the other horse's body language. I think though that if she can be really really happy like that, it's not a far stretch to think that a seeing horse could be, at the very least, content.

Pasture does not have to mean other horses. :)

And I am so sorry for the loss of your mare, That is a huge fear of mine.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #6 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 08:58 PM
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I am sorry for your loss. I am with the others that accidents can occur no matter where your horse is stabled, thats why they are called accidents.

I like and prefer pasturing and I think horses are largely healthier for it. I work with someone who year ago worked at this barn. The horses were in stalls a lot like 14+ hours a day. They had this one gorgeous arabian stallion. The stallion started caught an upper respiratory from another horse, in part due to poor airflow in the barn. That turned into pneumonia and the horse was euthanized.

I have seen cases where horses are injured, sometimes fatally when out at pasture. I have also seen cases where horses are injured, sometimes fatally when in a stall or small turn out. There is a saying about horses. You could put a horse in a foam padded rubber stall to keep it safe and the horse would eat the foam rubber, colic and die. Which is a sort of hard way of saying that even in the best of cases and situations horses can do silly things and get hurt. So, don't beat yourself up over this accident.
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post #7 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 09:12 PM
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I'm so sorry you lost your good old friend today. But accidents happen, sometimes in spite of every single thing we can do to prevent them, it's just random life I guess.

I'm going to tell you what a trainer told me a long time ago and the longer I have horses, the more true it gets.

She said, "You can wrap them in cotton batting, keep them in a padded stall and the horse will eat the padding, colic and die because that's just what horses DO."

It doesn't bring me a bit of comfort but when I have to look at my latest horse who has tried to amputate a limb or has eaten the seat off my tractor and I'm waiting to see how bad the colic will be.......I hear her voice and it reminds me just how insignificant my safety plans are when it comes to horses.

I recently had a mare who decided the water in her stock tank was too cold and she didn't drink enough. In spite of the salt I put on her feed, in spite of all the probiotics I put in her feed, in spite of the tank warmers I have in all of my tanks, she colicked and got colitis and ended up in the hospital on IV fluids, antibiotics and IV electrolytes. That was a $1000 poop!

She was, OF COURSE, the only mare I put in foal to my stallion for a 2013 baby. The vet thought she might retain the foal because we treated everything so aggressively. I knew better. I was right, I found the foal in the pasture. A little filly with an exquisite head......**** the LUCK! I'll breed her again next year.

It's all we can do.

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post #8 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 09:25 PM
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I'm sorry for your losses. Just remember that your horse is going to get excited when he is only turned out for only a few hours each day and could invariably gallop around and of course, run into a fence or hurt himself some other way. How big is the mare motel? If it is only a little 12 by 24 pen, I would just leave the horse out or try to turn him out for at least 8 hours, but if it is 50+ feet, a few hours of turnout should be fine.
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post #9 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 10:00 PM
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I'm really sorry for your loss :(
My horses are all outside with run in shelter and trees/bush....I've also heard that horses are healthier outside which I believe also but it's up to the individual.

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #10 of 13 Old 12-24-2012, 11:33 PM
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I feel for you and can also somewhat sympathize.

While my horse didn't have to be put down, he has severe arthritis from a fractured lateral malleolus (where his tibia meets his hock sort of area) that he sustained when he tried to jump out of the pasture in a wind storm when he was spooked. We think he must of fell backwards because he didn't make it over and sustained the injury.

I feel your loss. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do in these situations. Horses are so delicate.

Rusty - a miracle horse Knight - my golden oldie
Vlogging about Midwest trail riding here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_u...tIjwnOxjKzOfjA
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