What's your barn's schedule?
Hi, as a soon-to-be BO, I'm wondering what works for other BOs as far as their barns' schedules.
Currently, the horses are out all day and all night other than their twice daily feeding or inclement weather. The horses are all healthy and happy, but the pasture gets churned up when it's muddy and ruins the grass.
Therefore, I'm debating restricting their pasture time, having them out at night and up during the heat of the day so that the grass can have more of a chance to recover. I'd also prefer to keep them off of the ground after a storm until it dries out. However, I feel guilty restricting the horses' exercise/grazing and subjecting them to being alone (though they can still see others and even touch the one next to them) and stuck with flies, manure, etc, without being able to escape.
I'm also looking at changing up how the pastures are set up as a solution, but does anyone have other suggestions or insights into barn schedules?
How many horses & are they turned out all together, or in groups? Personally I am 100% for field management. I rotate pastures & almost always dry lot at night. I am not a huge fan of stalls, except in cases of injury, illness, needing to stay clean for whatever purpose. We are making a dirt arena, and its near their shelter, so it will double as a dry lot/winter sacrifice/"higher ground." I would personally be ok with them staying off it while its soft enough to sink more than 2" under a hoof (like my front pasture! Lol)
You mentioned day heat. How hot does the barn get? I would be upset if my horse was confined in a stall in a hot barn.
How large is your pasture area? Is there enough to rotate? Well, there's one persons opinion ;-)
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I dont like keeping my horses out in pasture any more. When I had my show horse out there I thought they will get a long. Nope. All most every horse he has ever been with has picked on him. He got hurt many times, some super bad and not allowing my to work or show him. Setting him back a long time. Let alone the vet bills. I no longer like horses on pasture unless they have known each other for a long time.
At our barn we have the option for stalls, with or without turnout, and then small turnout pastures. The horses on turnout are there 24/7, and the staff will clean the pasture cover and keeps it from getting too bad, though admittedly there's not a lot of grass anymore. They get fed as well out there.
When they get turned out, they go out for a couple hours every day in a big outdoor pasture with the rest of the stall horses. They can eat out there, but still get fed in their stall.
I don't like keeping horses in stalls for long periods of time. Their digestive system is not designed to go long periods without food. Unless they have access to hay constantly, most horses will develop ulcers. I would never put my horses anywhere that the grazing time was limited, especially as one of mine was a racer and as a result of stomach ulcers he developed a windsucking habit.
I like having horses in paddocks 24/7, however when this is not possible paddock turnout during the day and stabling during the night is fine, as long as there is a lot of hay for them to eat during the night.
I prefer to have my horses in a paddock together as they are herd animals and need company, but I have kept them places where this is not possible. In that case they were kept in smaller paddocks where they could always see other horses and the paddocks were rotated on a monthly basis to allow the paddock time without a horse on them to recover.
If the pasture gets churned up, are you able to rotate the paddocks? Are the horses all in together or are they in individual padodcks?
We have more pasture for the pasture board horses too. Like I said, I'm working on coming up with more long-term solutions as far as the pasture set up goes. I'm planning on setting aside some area for dry lot, but that will take some time because rather than "dry," it's a mucky mess. Hopefully in the future, I can build some nice paddocks so that stall horses can at least get out of the stall and stretch, even after the weather has been terrible!
The barn doesn't get nearly as hot as standing outside; it huge, open, and very well ventilated. I would install fans, but even without them, it stays a good 15-20 degrees cooler than the outside.
I do agree, I'm all for horses on as much pasture time as possible, but the pasture needs time to repair.
The horses are constantly hayed, so we've never had a problem with ulcers. We also don't have any horses with bad habits, likely because they are still able to be relatively social while in their stalls. They can see and somewhat touch each other, and we pay attention to the group dynamics to assign stalls.
We don't have any paddocks, which is where part of the problem comes in. It's pretty much all or nothing, haha. I'll eventually build some so that the horses can have turn out even if the ground is mushy. I actually prefer horses in the field as much as possible, and I'll only use the paddocks for wet conditions, new horse, injuries, etc.
Anyway, thanks for the thoughts!
I no longer board but my horses come in themselves fairly early in the morning to escape the bugs. I grain at about 8. About noon I hang a small mesh hay net inside, one per horse. It slows down how fast the hay is eaten. The horses want no part of going out until towards dark then spend the night on pasture. You might want to think about fencing off a sacrifice area, just large enough for a horse to buck and run a bit. 80x100 is enough for two or three at a time to exercise and it will save the pasture from getting torn up.
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