Saturday, June 23, 2018

summer living

The herds at Charlie's barn finally switched to their summer turnout schedule last week.

herd members seem to like to all drink at the same time
During the winter, horses are out during the day and in over night during the coldest hours. In the summer this switches so that horses are outside overnight and inside during the daytime when the bugs and heat are the worst.

charlie takes it a little farther than everyone else tho lol
Additional advantages to this situation include more time spent outside overall, something I feel is preferable to any alternative.

cain is actually similarly sized to charlie - normally he makes all the other horses look like ponies
Isabel actually lived outside pretty close to 24/7, only coming in to her stall for meals and in the event of extreme weather, or instances of illness or injury. And she was quite happy with this arrangement, thankyouverymuch lol.

it's kinda funny tho how much time charlie spends wandering the stream
Charlie, on the other hand, is much more comfortable spending time stalled than Isabel ever was. I'm sure much of his racing career was spent stalled, so he is already accustomed to that lifestyle. Plus especially when I was struggling to put weight on him through that first year after the track, it was useful for him to have solo time in the stall with just him and his hay.

he's gotta sip from every spot
I think Charlie really appreciates his time out, tho. He was on the same nighttime schedule for all the months he lived at the last h/j place, and had a medium sized herd of buddies out in his field. So he's kinda had a similar schedule for much of the past two years.

places with the most rapid currents seem to be his favorite
At this farm tho, Charlie legitimately seems much happier. And it's not really clear why. The last farm had good care and was run by thoughtful, experienced horse people. But in comparing Charlie's overall demeanor now compared to then, it's pretty clear he was unhappy there.

like when the water gurgles over shallow rocks
For instance, Charlie could be very grouchy and threatening in his stall at the last place. Staff put a sign on his stall warning any workers to watch their back whenever they had to go into his stall, and they always pulled him out on cross ties for blanket changes.

I personally never had the same degree of problems - but then again, nobody else can really be expected to take the same risks or be in a position where they need to be disciplining the horse.

i could probably watch for hours, tbh
When I moved him to the new farm, I made it a point to let everybody know about Charlie's aggressive streak. Esp the woman who helped me with my blankets this past year - I made sure to tell her that she might need to tie him, and that if she felt uncomfortable bc of his behavior and didn't want to deal with him, that I wouldn't take it personally.

plus it's nice to not worry about charlie knocking his legs around a normal water trough, something he's been known to do
Imagine my surprise, tho, when Charlie proved me completely wrong in the months that followed. He's been easy, kind, relaxed and gentle for everybody who has to handle him. And everybody who works there now is like, 'Yea I remember you saying that stuff about him but I really don't know what you're talking about!'

Which, like, fine by me! Again tho, I'm really not sure what's different about the new place. But for whatever reason, Charlie just seems much happier here. I think maybe bc he just spends a lot of his time being a normal horse? Especially his herd situation seems to really suit him - he's out with a large herd (~10 geldings) and while sometimes they play hard and he's been dinged up out there, he seems really happy.

charlie's life philosophy, basically. from falseknees
Plus the fields are all really large and there's enough of them where barn management can move the herds around so that pastures and grass get adequate rest.

I especially love that Charlie's summer field has a natural stream and wooded section running through it. Charlie seems to like it too - wading through all the little pools looking for the freshest, tastiest spots.

bc sometimes it's nice to just kick back and relax!
And with the horses back on nighttime turnout, I'm now usually turning Charlie out after my rides instead of putting him back in his stall. Something I enjoy doing bc I really like hangin out at the gate watching the horses interact out there.

I've never worked at either of Charlie's barns so sometimes I feel like I'm missing out on an important part of his life by not being able to routinely observe the herd dynamics. So it's nice to watch sometimes lol.

Mostly tho it's just reassuring to me whenever I can see instances of Charlie looking relaxed and happy in his day to day life. The amount of time he spends with me being ridden is just a fraction of his overall lifestyle, so it's important that the lifestyle suits him.

Do you like to watch your horse in turnout? Is your turnout situation similar or very different? I know different geographic areas tend to have different setups (like west coast pipe corrals, for instance) or some barns that prefer individual turnout to groups. Have you likewise seen your horse do better or worse in different situations? Or do you have any personal preferences or "must haves" when it comes to turnout?

43 comments:

  1. Z will bodyweave a stall into the ground. 24/7 is the way to go for her. Not her Sunbleaching coat however 😭 #sacrifice but worth it. I always love watching. And I love those pictures you got of them in the stream. So cute!! I feel like I'm Peeping a bit tho!

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    1. oh man, i feel you 100% on the weaving - it's a huge issue. that's actually how charlie broke his splint bone in the first place so.... yea. it's no good. fwiw tho charlie has a yolked stall door (i'll probably post new pics soon in the next couple days actually) and that has basically eliminated his full body weave. he'll still shake his head up and down and all around, and is very expressive as only a charlie can be, but the actually swing from side to side with fore legs going is extremely extremely rare now. so.... ya know... full turnout is fantastic, but if you ever are in a situation where that's not realistic a yolked door can help!

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  2. I love him playing in the stream! He's like a little kid!
    I selfishly love night turnout because they don't go out until 8pm, meaning they're still in stalls when I go to ride and I don't have to walk so far to get him before I ride hah. But also for their comfort - Doc is soooo happy to stand in his cool stall in front of his fan all day.

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    1. ya seriously, i definitely appreciate the convenience of having the horse already in his stall when i go to ride! they feed dinner around 5:30 at this barn, no matter the turn out shift, so when they stayed in over night i'd just plan on showing up kinda later. now that they're going out after dinner, i just leave a msg to ask for him to stay in and try to arrive pretty soon after so he's not upset to be left behind. finally just got chuck's stall fan installed tho and yea, he's happy lol

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  3. My horses are in a small paddock attached to the barn in the evenings and in a largish pasture during the day. (Or they were until baby arrived; now everyone's all screwed up lol) There's a pond out front and they all LOVE wading into it when it's hot- it's so fun to watch them. I always like to watch them mosey around the pasture, get in the pond, stare into the distance, and just do horse stuff. I spend a lot of time doing that when I work from home because the front pasture is right in front of my house. I also spend a lot of time freaking myself out when they're sprawled out napping. ("OH MY GOD IS HE DEAD WHY IS HE LAYING THERE IS HE COLICKING OH GOOD HE JUST GOT UP I GUESS HE WAS NAPPING")

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    1. lolololol aside from the immediate feelings of 'OMG HES DEAD OMG' bc yea that's immediately where my mind would go too, it's so cool that you have such an insiders view of your horses' lives. i really love my urban living situation, but sometimes i wonder how cool it would be to have the horses there all the time....

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  4. I've always kept my horses in group turnout situations, unless injury dictated different accomodations. Whenever they've had to be in a smaller individual paddock they become assholes to deal with. Being part of a group seems to keep them sane.
    Charlie's field looks fantastic! Lots of places to get into trouble with the other boys.

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    1. yea i definitely feel ya. like, every horse is an individual and one size doesn't fit all, etc etc etc, but generally speaking wherever possible i'm a big fan of groups! and yes, charlie's field is full of spots for them to all be full of trouble, which they routinely take advantage of lol...

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  5. Gwyn is at home and I'm a huge believer in as much outdoor time as possible. Thankfully my barn is conducive to that, since the stalls open up into runs which connect to my pastures. So they have access to their stalls 24/7 and access to turnout 24/7. I think I've locked them up maybe three times since we've moved here and the first time was for a thunderstorm before I realized that was going to be impossible going forward. The rest has been for really bad blizzards.

    I trust that my animals know when to seek shelter and it's fun seeing them sense the weather change and book it for a place where they have shelter. Sometimes they just use a treeline rather than go all the way back to the barn.

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    1. ya know i've still never boarded or been involved at a barn with runs, but i really love the idea! it's cool that it works so well for your herd - and even cooler that you can observe their habits and choices based on weather events. this bit summer pasture that charlie's in doesn't even actually have any true shelter structure from weather - rather it has a long narrow sort of alley-way through a heavily wooded section that runs between the gate (where the stream is) and the full open pastures. so that tree-covered "alley way" is basically where the herd hangs out in rain or to get out of the sun, or when they're maybe thinking it's high time for dinner lol.

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  6. I love watching my horses just stand out in the pasture or grazing contently!! If I'm not in a rush to leave after feeding I'll just stand by the gate after I've turned everyone out and just watch them eat their hay and move from pile to pile. Though I also really enjoy watching them drink water with all the water dripples coming out of their mouth as they smack their lips contently after having a nice long pull of water. Basically watching horses in their "natural" habitat is the best ever :)

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    1. oh man, i totally agree. there's something so intensely calming and peaceful about just watching and observing them. so much to learn about how they interact and just hang out <3

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  7. I wish I could kick Opie out into a herd of at least ten horses to see if it would break his unbreakable bond with his pony soul mate and make him grow the eff up. Unfortunately that's not a thing in my immediate area. Boo!

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    1. ugh yea, on one hand it's so funny to me how very very very different various geographic regions can be in their horse keeping practices. like i guess it has a lot to do with land prices and taxes and whatnot, or just land availability. but yet so many horses seem to do just fine with all the different set ups...

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  8. Charlies field looks SO nice! My boys love their back paddock, though I have no idea why. If I am resting it, they will stand at the gate looking wistfully towards it, then look pointedly at me as if to say' why can't we go down there?'.

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    1. haha that's kinda funny! charlie has places on the farm that are his favorite for sure too - like given a free rein he'll always opt to walk back to the barn via the back path that goes past the sheep and goats and shetlands, instead of the direct route straight down the drive way. who knows why!

      i've never had a field that the horses were so strongly attached to - but at isabel's barn there was definitely one field they all agreed was haunted. no horses were ever really settled out there, and we could never figure out why!

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  9. That's so good to hear he is settling in! Sometimes you can just never tell what happens when you're not around that can set them off (I have had a pretty bad experience before in this regard).

    I am lucky to have my boy on 24/7 turnout, and in an ideal world I would do that with a group paddock but after I had to have Des PTS from a kick to the leg in a group paddock situation I decided not to keep agisting there.

    So Bumper gets 24/7 turnout now but in a single paddock, which he really doesn't seem to mind and rarely spends time at the fence with other horses.

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    1. ugh yea the risk of injuries in group situations is definitely something work thinking about. esp in situations where many of the horses are shod behind - a kick from a shod hoof does a lot more damage than an unshod hoof! for whatever reason tho, all of charlie's worst injuries have been self inflicted (like breaking his splint bone from weaving in his stall) or random acts of horror (like stepping on a nail in the indoor). sometimes those injuries just happen.... but it's awesome that you've got a situation that seems to be working so well for Bumper now, and even better that he's able to be out basically full time to enjoy it!!

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  10. Big herds are the best. Obv Bast agrees, haha. Also, that seagull comic is amazing.

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    1. lol that seagull comic is basically where i'm at right now ;)

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  11. Great pics of Charlie in the stream! That is neat that they have that in their pasture to play around in!

    My horse is out 24/7 because he is at home and has a nice shelter. In the summer he has a QH buddy and they spend a lot of time in the shelter together. In the winter he has 2 minis that he can boss around. They seem happy being able to wander around. I was told this gelding couldn't be turned out w/ other horses since he was too mean, but he seems to enjoy having a little herd to boss around. He is 17 so maybe mellowed out a bit?

    I can see the horses from most of my windows at the house - I'm very spoiled, I know! I have a steam that runs through the property and I've been meaning to extend the pasture out that way - it would be fun to see if they would go in the water or take the little bridge!

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    1. aw that's so nice that you can see so much of their activity and life unfold from your own windows!! i've never had the horses at home, but have spent so much time working at barns that i really felt like i got to see a lot of that over the years. charlie's the first horse where i haven't really had that same degree of observation and i kind of miss it!

      also awesome that your horse has done so well with his buddies. it's always so hard to tell why a horse might have been unsuccessful with something like that in the past, but is now fine. but hey, if it works, it works, right? and yes you should totally extend the pasture to your stream! the horses really seem to enjoy drinking from the stream, and it certainly streamlines (haha, see what i did there?) chores like watering the fields!

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    2. From a stream biologist (who is also a fellow owner of a farm with a stream on it) - please keep livestock fenced out of streams. Horses and cattle do a lot of damage both increasing erosion and introducing bacteria (all water is connected and downstream is always someone's drinking water), which is why there are national cost-share programs dedicated to fence-out/alternative water source projects on private lands. It's also safer for your horses, preventing extra slips/strains in mud, muskrat holes, and ingestion of parasites such as liver flukes (aquatic/semi-aquatic snails can be secondary hosts). When I bought my property, the first thing I did was fence off the stream for all of our sakes; aquatic wildlife like fish, mollusks, and crayfish appreciate it as well.

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  12. the seagull comic, omg

    i love turning my horse out at the end of the day and watching. i used to stand there for ages, especially if they come back for scratchies.

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    1. oh man, i just love watching too. like i almost feel like i can't pull myself away until charlie's out of sight up the hill returning to his pastures, or fully settled in with one of his buddies...

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  13. P's in a similar turnout situation (minus the creek- that looks heavenly, though not sure P's feet could take it anyway). In winter/spring/fall he's turned out 24/7 and just comes in to eat and in cases of extreme weather. But in the summer, the barn switches to overnight turnout (from 4 PM-9 AM), then horses are in during the worst of the NC heat. P loves to stand in front of his stall fan and snooze, so it works out great.

    So glad Charlie loves where he's at now. I feel the same way about P moving to the barn we did last year. The 2 years spent at the HJ barn, he was just mentally off, he's so much more relaxed and happier where he is now.

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    1. i kinda worried about charlie's feet in the stream too... but then i remind myself that he's out on dewy grass, and in the rain and mud, and that there really are limits to how dry i can keep his feet if he's going to be spending any amount of time outside, barring dry-lotting him. this year tho his feet are in much better shape than this time last year, so fingers crossed it stays that way!

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  14. His situation seems ideal. Mine are out during the day but can come in the shelter when the bugs or weather are bad. I know that people around here do night turn out but I just cant' bring myself to do it- there are so many coyotes around and our coyotes are huge (think german shepherd size). I think that some barns just have a different atmosphere that horses respond to.

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    1. yea i definitely feel you on increased worries about safety when they're out over night. that's another advantage of such a large herd tho - a predator would have a much bigger task ahead to face down ten horses!

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  15. My girl has been happiest at the place we have been at the last few years. She is turned out 24/7 in a HUGE field. I do wish they had more cover in the field but whatever I guess.

    I know I would be a happy pony too if I had a creek in my pasture!

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    1. it can be so hard to find all of the most ideal situations in one single field, but it speaks volumes that your horse is so happy!

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  16. This looks SO nice! What an ideal situation for horses.

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    1. it's definitely a great farm for horses to live like horses. yea it's rustic and old and in some places kinda dilapidated. but so long as the horses are happy and safe, it's cool!

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  17. Those pictures are lovely!! It must be so nice to see such a positive change in your guy, I'm sure it helps to reassure you that you are doing all the right things!

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  18. what a pretty place to live. Charlie you are a lucky horse :) Very idyllic looking.....

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    1. it's very idyllic for sure! lots to appreciate, even if it's a long way from home...

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  19. Some barns are just happy places for horses. I can't always explain it. Glad you're in a good place for the two of you!

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  20. My barn also does overnight turnout in the summer and I've been really happy that Niko seems to enjoy it. It's especially gratifying to come home from a horse show where he's been cooped up in a stall and working hard, get him off the trailer, let him eat dinner and then turn him out.

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    1. yea i really appreciate that too! we only ever do one day shows out of our trailer, but so far this season it's meant that he's missed his entire turnout shift while we were showing. i'm glad to see that change!! (even if it means now i have to hike out to catch him in the early show mornings instead of finding him already nice and tidy in his stall lol!)

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  21. Turnout overnight. In Florida, it's the same winter and summer. Violet is in a paddock by herself. She has not had good experience sharing space with others. She is known as the babysitter, so if someone is doing limited day turnout for injury, she'll go out next to them as well. She gets the smallest paddock with less grass, because pony + grass = founder and we're very careful. We do rotate around the property, using the ones with less shade when it's not so hot and more shade in the heat of summer. Even if they don't go out until 4-5pm, the sun is still brutal here.

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    1. yea i can definitely see how different environmental factors have a big impact on what makes the most sense for turnout. and the grass situation... yea, that can be a real problem for horses predisposed to founder! sounds like you've figured out a situation that works well for V tho!

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