Considering pasture board and have questions!
I've been leasing horses for a few years now, with the current one being a full lease and my "trial run" for actually owning a horse. I think I'm finally ready to take the full plunge, and a 2 1/2 year old gelding has really caught my eye. He's been started under saddle, and assuming I do get him, I'd like to continue with ground work and not even think about riding him for another year or so.
I'd really like him to have the opportunity to just be out and "be a horse" until he's ready to start in serious training, and my current barn wouldn't allow that- it's stall board only with 3-4 hours of turnout daily.
I don't have any experience with pasture board, so I'm not even sure about basic things like feeding. Would it be unreasonable to expect to have my horse on his own diet (probably just a ration balancer unless he's a hard keeper?), or is it more normal for all the horses to get the same thing? Will being out in the pasture all the time put him at risk of overeating and foundering? What do you do if a pasture boarded horse gets injured and needs to be on stall rest?
So I guess my questions would be-
1. Is pasture boarding the best option for him? Are there other arrangements I should consider?
2. Any advice or "things I should know" as someone who's only ever had horses kept in stalls? Anything you wish you had known if/when you made the switch? (To be clear, I'm not looking at self care, since I know I couldn't make it out to see the horse every day)
3. When going to look at places for boarding, what are the pasture board-specific things I should ask about? How big of a herd is too big, and how much land per horse should I be looking for?
1. I can't tell you if pasture is the best option for him or not because I do not know your horse. My mare is pasture kept because just does not do well in stalls, particularly ones of the smaller variety. 10x10s she will absolutely destroy. She was put in one for about a month this spring because my BO bought a new barn and outside board wasn't set up yet. That stall had to be cleaned twice a day. This winter she will be stalled again more out of the convenience of myself and other staff, but in one of the 12x14s that she tolerates more. (I already apologized in advance if she breaks anything and for when I won't be there to clean her stall, because lord knows the people I work with on weekends will make me clean her nasty stall. :lol:)
My mare gets her own special diet with her supplements. There is a bucket on the fence that her grain goes in the same as any of the stalled horses. I would definitely ask because Abby was only kept outside with another gelding and two minis. This summer she wasn't fed individually because she was at the summer camp I work at with me. Individually feeding 36 pasture kept horses would be a nightmare with a ton of fighting. She was kept in a group of 8 and they were all group fed in a trough. Definitely something to ask about. If they do have a large outside herd, you could ask if they'd be willing to catch him and allow him to eat by himself somewhere else.
2. I have never had a stall kept horse other than the specific instances in which Abby was, but she prefers outside anyway.
3. Land per horse would depend on the area's zoning laws, but I can't guarantee the horses will actually be kept on that. My barn owns enough land to have the amount of horses that are kept there, but the actual fields are leased out to farmers because all of the boarders, save me, are indoor that are turned out into paddocks during the day.
Ask about the horses he'd be kept with. How they separate them, if there are separate herds (gender, personality). Maybe tell the BOs about your gelding's personality to make sure there won't be any major conflicts. Like I mentioned above, ask about whether he will get his own specific diet or not. And ask about what would happen if he was injured. The best thing to do would be to write down all of these questions you have and ask each BO. Their answers will probably differ from BO to BO and you'd get the direct answers you're looking for rather than the experiences of someone halfway across the country.
"Pasture board" can mean just about anything.
There's one place near me who pasture boards by tossing the horses in a field and never looking at them again.
On the other extreme, I had my boy pasture boarded until last month, and it was pretty much full service - brought in twice/day for personalized feed and supplements, checked over physically, blanketed/unblanketed, fly masts put on/off, muzzles put on/off. He just didn't have a stall to call his own (it was a row of standing stalls).
You can also find just about everything in between.
The key is determining what is important for your horse, and just asking around and visiting stables until you find something that meets it. See if they are willing to give personalized feed, will they muzzle your horse if you feel founder is a risk, do they have a stall for lay-up of injured horses (and if so, what's the cost for use)?
Observe the herd during mealtimes - how do they act around the barn manager? How do they act around each other? Are they separated, or can they steal each other's food?
Also consider facilities. We have separate tack rooms for stall boarders and pasture boarders, and different areas for tacking up. The pasture boarders pretty much stay out of the barn entirely and have just a covered area. There are no lights in the covered area, so tacking up at night is more of a challenge. Only stalled horses have a locked tack room - pasture boarders' tack room is open to anyone.
There really are no easy answers. Pasture boarding means different things at different farms, so you just have to explore.
The two posts above me have pretty much covered it. It all depends on the horses and his needs as well as what the BO is willing to do for you. Right now my horse is on 100 acres of woods/pasture with 8 other horses. They are all brought in morning and evening for feeding (including supplements, treatment for something if needed, etc) then let back out. My guy loves it and cannot be stalled so this is perfect for him. Just search around to find a place that will suit the needs of you and your horse!
Yeah, just make sure what is the definition of pasture board at the place you're looking into. In my case, my horse is in with 5 other horses and is number 3 in the pecking order. The food/water is handled by the barn. I can pay for blanketing during the colder seasons for $1 a day. My horse has a large shed in his paddock so he can get out of the bad weather if he needs to. I have full access to the riding rings that the stall board people do. The people who do the feeding are very good about standing there to make sure the alpha horses do not chase off the lower horses in the herd and eat their food.
If the horse you are planning on buying is low in the pecking order, and the people just toss out all the food and leave, he may have trouble getting enough food. Most barns that offer pasture board are aware of that problem and take steps to address it. Just take a good walk around the barn. Make sure you see full water buckets. Look for horses that aren't all nicked up which would indicate they do not take steps to put like minded horses together. Make note if they horses are standing knee deep in mud, whether the paddocks are sloped for good drainage and if the ground is free of holes. Try and find the hard keepers in the group (usually the TBs) and see if they are in good weight. If you see lots of ribs, no good.
I love pasture board simply because it allows my horse to move around as he pleases. It's not for all horses, but most like the freedom and do well with it. Congrats on your pending plunge!
I load the quad and drop flakes of hay all over 5 acres. The horses do a lot of wondering this way and no one get bullied away from hay for very long. There were always way more piles than horses.
Question...why are you buying a horse you cant ride for a while? there are so many ridable "ready" horses?
But any good boarding facility will go over all your horses needs.
You will be able to see what all the other horses look like..well fed, water supply, feet, ect, the fences, run in shelters. Actually check the hay they offer too.
If you do decide to buy your first horse and just turn it out to pasture to be horse with other horses for a while...keep riding and taking lessons on other horses. You can never stop learning. You will be in shape for the work you will have to do with your new horse. :D
It depends on the barn.
Sunny is usually on pasture board(just not this month), and at my barn they are fed twice a day in "outdoor stalls." They're small pens for each horse to keep one from stealing another's food. While they're eating they are checked over, and if necessary they are (un)blanketed or muzzled, flymask, etc.
Sunny got hurt last month and she was put in what's called the Red Cross Stall, which is specifically for pastured horses who need stall rest. She was in it for two days, and I was not charged for it.
There are also "Stay Clean" stalls that you can pay for to keep your horse clean the night before shows.
The entire barn uses the same feed(unless bought by the horse owner), for both pastured and stalled horses.
I am charged an extra $9 a month for a supplement that the pasture horses get.
I love my barn, and I know Sun loves her pasture, too.
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I can only add to the above information some more good points to pasture board:
Living in a herd is a good education for a horse, especially a young horse. He will learn that he is not the be all and end all of the world and that there's someone else who he needs to show some respect to. Also, they get used to moving as a group, so dont' freak out when you ride in a group , say on a trail ride or in a crowded arena.
They move around pretty much constantly, so helps with digestion and muscle development.
IF there are hills, they become more surefooted.
getting enough food (addressed by all the above persons) and being kicked or bitten.
as long as the food is given spread out enough, the lower level horses will get enough, and conflict will be minimal. In fact, if there is plenty of room, the horses will mostly avoid conflict.
Many places ask that pasture board horses have no shoes on their hinds . This helps a lot in keeping injury down.
It's just so darn nice to see them out grazing away and rolling and being horses in a natural setting.
For my pasture board horses I provide free choice grass hay in large round bales. They get fed approx 3lbs Strategy 2X day with salt and daily dewormer. They are permitted to roam around the place as they please and due to their special circumstances we also groom and exercise them daily, but I charge more for that than I would the normal pasture boarder who would come out and visit their horses 2 or 3 times per week. They have available shelter for ugly weather and I can shut them in if I decide it's best (NOT normal for pasture board) and I will blanket and check to make sure they are dry and not losing weight in winter.
Most pasture situations I am used to provide your horse with either a private pasture or group pasture, depending on how much land and what kind of facilities they have, and normally there is at least a run in shed or trees for shelter in bad weather. Most pasture board in my area, the horses are out in a group, round bales provided and if the owner provides and feeds it, they can be grained but not normally. Normally they would not be blanketed nor taken into shelter and shut in in extreme weather. A salt block would probably be provided and free choice water and that's about it.
When I got the group of boarders I currently have, they had not been touched in 2 years, no one had checked their weight, dewormed them or done a blasted thing with them. No grooming, everyone had dredlocks (pasture dreds) and they were all at least 200 lbs underweight. If I were pasture boarding my horse I would be very serious about checking his weight weekly to make sure he didn't start dropping in winter or due to bullying. Most of the horses I have now were approx 3-4 when I got them, so if no touched for at least 2 years, you can imagine the rodeo we had here when trying to catch, groom, pick feet, etc. And the previous place charges more for pasture than I do for full board & care, go figure.
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