Paddocks or Roaming "Wild"? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-04-2020, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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Question Paddocks or Roaming "Wild"?

I'm new to this thread so if this is in the wrong place please forgive me lol but I've been trying to do some research on what is best for horses overall moral, exercise and social interaction

So I obviously know of turnouts, paddocks and runs - while I'm not entirely sure all the differences and what each are used for I was wondering if instead of putting certain horses out at certain times in certain areas (e.g. paddocks and etc) if you put all 40 horses out to roam 40 acres of fenced land at the same time and be able to go where ever they feel like going and stuff?

What are your thoughts are that?


(also I feel like I should note I currently do not own any horses or anything but am looking to get a few for myself and family along with starting a horse farm for riding lessons and grooming therapy so don't worry at the moment if you think I'm doing things wrong lol! I'm not because I can't and definitely being responsible trying to research and find everything out years in advance!)
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-04-2020, 09:25 PM
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The differences & what each used for... usually about convenience for people & what is/isn't available in their area. Eg. perhaps people don't want their horses 'turned out' all the time because they don't want to have to go catch them or clean them when they get them. Perhaps they don't want an expensive horse to be able to play with other horses because they might get hurt. Perhaps there is no option of f/t 'turn out' in paddocks in their area, so part time turn out or keeping the horse in a 'run'(a yard/very small paddock with shelter attached) is the best they can manage. And then, perhaps the horse needs to be separated because it's being bullied out of feed, or it's injured so needs to be confined.

As a rule, I think turning horses out on large acreage together is the best option for them, to let them BE horses for the vast majority of their lives, when they're not 'working' for their humans. But there are a lot of considerations that mean that's not always best. Or possible.
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-04-2020, 09:49 PM
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Personally, I like turning horses out together on large acreage.

I'd prefer 40 on 40 than paddocks. But that would be tight in my world.
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-04-2020, 09:56 PM
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To add to what loosie has said turn out is not just for socializing but also foraging. 40 horses on 40 acres is no where near enough to feed them. General rule is a minimum of 2 acres per horse but all depends on where you are out. Some areas it can be 20 or more because forage is that scarce. Usually it is in those areas you see runs or smaller pens for excercise or social activity. We currently have 8 on 25. Some of it is wooded with little grass. I have had round bales out almost all year round for close to 2 years now because of weather patterns and lack of good pasture. Feeding peanut hay as well for variety. Still have two hard keepers that need feed on top of that.
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post #5 of 16 Old 08-04-2020, 10:00 PM
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Cross posted with boots. I like having mine out but my child rides and works at a barn that has between 18 and 21 on less than 20. It takes effort to make sure there is enough grass to go around and that is with a lease for extra acres. The barn has a big dry lot that they can be loose in and fed hay when not out in the pasture areas. They come in to stalls twice a day for feed. Depending on who needs what and how well everyone is getting along they may or may not be divided up.
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-04-2020, 10:06 PM
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Forty horses on forty acres would destroy that forty acres in the best of grass climates. You'd need anywhere from 100 to 700 acres of grassland for that many horses. If you want to manage horses in a pasture you have to manage the pasture as well. That means a lot of cross fencing and rotational grazing -- and there will be still be times every year where all the horses must be pulled off the pasture completely in order not to damage it.

Generally horses turned out to graze with a big herd are not being currently used for riding. A band of broodmares or yearlings or retired horses, for examples. Regularly ridden horses are a lot more conveniently managed in smaller areas with a smaller number of horses together. Say you want to catch your horse for a morning's ride, in a big herd on 50 acres. First of all you would have to FIND your horse. I have completely lost the herd in a thirty acre hilly pasture for quite a while, and as for the 150 acre one I once used, you might look for a couple hours and still miss them. And then, you'd have to catch your horse in a herd, dodging the other horses who may or may not be mannerly toward you, or your horse. It can get quite dangerous out there. A threat from higher-ranking horse might send a loose horse right over the top of you. Just one of many scenarios that won't end well.

In any typical larger herd there will be scuffles and fights about precedence and rank, especially if the make up of the herd changes. That means minor bite wounds and bruises are usual, and more serious damage is also a danger. I know someone whose horse was double barreled in a field with other geldings he didn't know and his hip (I think) was hurt; he was off for a year recovering.
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-04-2020, 10:42 PM
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Yes. You'd definitely have to feed year round. But, I'd still rather they have room to move.

I have two on 600. A friend has 5 on 800. That's their catch pen. Their smallest pasture. I'm in an area rated for 75 acres per animal. And you're hauling water.

But, most don't have, or even need that. And it's okay.

Main thing is to watch the herd and see that all are happy and healthy.
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post #8 of 16 Old 08-05-2020, 01:29 AM
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The first place I had horses the whole place was only 2 acres so maybe 1.25 acre lot to keep one horse and then eventually 2 in. Needless to say it was a dry lot and hay had to be fed year round.

Place #2 was 10 acres and we had pasture but it had to be managed with horses being off of it for part of the day plus anytime the ground was saturated from rain so their hooves wouldn't tear it up.

Place #3 and current we have 50 acres and 9 horses. 2 are minis so I keep them on a dry lot. There are 5 horses sharing a 23 acre pasture and 2 horses sharing 18 acres. They have access to that pasture pretty much 24/7 and neither herd can keep up with the grass so the pastures have to mowed.

In all 3 scenarios horses had access to a barn to come and go as they please. One gelding and 1 mare I had lived in all 3 places and I can't say they were any happier at one over the other. No matter which they were taken care of and had plenty to eat so that was all that mattered to them. For me it's easier on the larger acreage both chore wise and pocketbook wise. The only thing that could make it better was if we had a natural water source but wishing I didn't have to scrub water troughs on a regular basis is just my laziness talking.

All that being said there are some horses who just can't live with 24/7 access to pasture for health reasons like my minis who are so prone to founder I just don't take the chance thus keep them on a dry lot with hay. With the ones that do have access all the time they do a pretty good job of self regulating. Mother nature helps by sending us flies and a hot sun which makes them want to stand in the barn all day and other than going out for about 10 minutes at a time to grab a couple of mouthfuls of grass they wait until sundown to really do their grazing. Of course this is during the green grass season. In the winter they rarely stand in the barn.
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-05-2020, 02:29 AM
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NB I have 4 on about 7 acres at present. Because I don't want the place trashed, that land is divided into about 6 separate areas(because of lay of land), with a narrowish(most around 10-12') track around/between them. They live permanently on the track, and I open & close different areas for them to graze. At this time of year, all internal 'paddocks' are fenced off to them(well, until electric shorts, then I have one who takes out the fence!), so the grass can grow well by spring. The advantage of this is not just that the majority of the land isn't trashed from overgrazing, only the 'sacrifice' track, but in spring, I can restrict grazing & also wait for the grass to mature/lose some of it's sugars, so they don't get fat, and it motivates movement - esp when hay is at one end & they have to go over, around & down a hill to get to the creek or trough for water.

Esp motivates exercise when, like yesterday, one must have been dozing when the others wandered off from the hay, then she woke & found herself alone... but she could see her mates, over the hill at the other end of the 'C'. Of course, being a horse, it didn't occur to her to go AWAY from them, around the track to get down there, so she bolted around in circles, whinnying & bucking in frustration! Twas fun to watch. Then the others decided they'd race back up to her - then they all raced off back down & around again - a thunder of hooves around the property!
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post #10 of 16 Old 08-05-2020, 02:30 AM
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I agree that 40 acres for 40 horses would not be enough ground.

Avna has pointed out the dangers of large (unnatural) herds. Rarely would you get that many horses together in the wild.

Horses are notoriously bad grazers, land they are on needs to be managed or you will get large swaths of long sour uneaten grass.

Yes, horses do need turn out, but as someone who has had majority of horses stabled majority of their day, I can tell you that in driving rain and wind, if I turned those horses out those horses would go out, first thing they did was roll, have a gallop around the field, roll again and return to the gate wanting back in.

The youngsters we bred were housed in the winter at night, in a large barn together. Open the gate to let them out in the wet and they would go out, turn around and walk back in.

In the summer they would, when the flies were bad, want inside. When brought in they would all be lying down snoring away within half and hour.

Forty horses is a lot to keep and have them pay their way. I know, several years ago admittedly, that a horse needed to 'work' three hours a day, six days a week, to cover costs. Feet/veterinary/ feed/utilities on buildings and wages of staff.

The idea of having a large herd running free sounds great but practically would be a nightmare for me!
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