TIPS ON KEEPING A STABLED HORSE IN WINTER HAPPY

If your horse's turnout is reduced throughout winter how can you ensure he stays happy, despite longer hours in the stable?

  1. If you're in a livery yard get together with other owners you can trust, see if it is possible to share duties and vary the times so that the horses are seen more regularly. This works quite well if you have people who work shifts or are part time workers or lucky enough to have people around you who do not work! Agree a rota and details such as how much hay needs to be given to each horse, whether horses can be turned out into the arena for a leg stretch, put on the horse walker if there is one and so on.

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  2. We have visited yards where areas in front of the stables have been sectioned off and the stable doors left open so each horse could be in his stable or could wander out into his own individual area in front of his stable. Could this work in your environment?
  3. If your horse's grazing is really limited, can you persuade a member of family or a friend to visit the stables with you so that while you muck out they can take your horse for a graze in-hand. Alternatively, allow yourself a little more time so you can take your horse for a walk and a graze.
  4. If you have to work on your own, and your horse is stabled for long periods, split his hay into two or three piles (or nets) placed around his stable. Give him treats in one of the balls he has to roll around to get the treats out - some horses spend a considerable amount of time playing with these.
  5. Think about where your horse lives in comparison to your work place. Some of us keep our horses close to where we work so that we can visit them at lunchtime as well as morning and evening. At weekends the journey is longer but you generally have more time then!
  6. Try to split up your exercise periods - for instance, perhaps hack the horse before work but then after work, lunge him for 20 minutes or work the horse in-hand.

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  7. If you do decide to move your horse think about the stables he will be moving to - for instance, stables with grilles rather than solid walls, allow the horses to have more contact. This can be very positive - providing he gets on with the horse next door.

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