Niamh D’ O’ Gorman
Competitive riders and horse owners often worry about whether their horse should be kept stabled or turned out in the field.
How many people keep their horses stabled full time? Is it to make sure they don’t lose condition because they are in work and clipped out? Is it to stop them getting ‘grass bellies”or is it to stop them getting injured?
The important thing to consider is what the horse thinks about it all.
Horses are herd animals who are, in general, more resilient than we give them credit for. They can adapt successfully if they are given a chance to acclimatize to their surroundings. Look at the ”Connemara ponies” in the ”Wild West” of Ireland with rough terrain and mountains to contend with.
How many people exercise for only one hour a day and then expect the horse to stand in for the other 23 hours? We then wonder why he has started to box walk, weave or kick the door down.
Many people will buy stable toys to amuse their horse while they are standing in their stable bored, however all the horse wants is to be out and about with other horses. This is the instinct of herd animals.
Owners and riders are often worried about an injury as their horse gallops around the field. What about letting our children go to the play ground where they can fall and scrape their knees? These things happen and many people think keeping a horse in a stable prevents injuries. This is incorrect. A horse could become ‘cast’ in the stable, injury itself. The horse could also knock its knee on the wall, get colic from lack of work and over feeding.
We come across too many horses that are not let out and as such, aren’t happy horses. Sometimes we are told that the horse is worth too much to risk, but what is a horse with behavioral problems worth?
The fact is, these things happen. Horses will get injured whether stabled or out in the field so is it really necessary to keep a horse stabled full time?