Am i insane? follow up barn post suspensory injury

hello all… .looking for my mare’s follow up barn after she recovers from her suspensory injury (she is at a layup barn for a few months), and half of me feels like my expectations are realistic and half of me feels like im being crazy… someone talk me down?

is it nuts to want private turn out? vs turn out in a small quiet group? she will be retired after this, and is in her 20s, and although i dont want to limit her social interaction, she is on the lower end of the social ladder and has come in with more bumps and bruises during recent years when she has been in group turn out. when we were actively showing and she was in solo turnout she seemed perfectly happy and we didnt seem to run into that. i just feel it would be safer after all of this, but dont know what is recommended after a suspensory is fully rehabbed… need to also ask my vet

round bales… something im really trying to stay away from in pastures. i would pay double to have a barn throw square bales in the field, but it seems more and more people are giving round bales during the winter. maybe im misinformed but i would like to stay away from round bales (for health reasons for my horse and personal preferences)

i guess i just want to make sure im not ruling out good places based on these “must haves” of mine

thanks in advance

You can probably get those things but not at “retirement board” pricing. I’m from the southeast, norms in your area may be very different.

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Whether your wants are feasible or not depends on what is common in your area. Also depends on your budget. This all sounds feasible at a show/training barn vs. your average retirement facility.

Private turnout only works if the barn has enough land. If there are a limited number of pastures then it becomes a juggling game. I’ve been to barns that do square bales instead of round bales in the pasture, so they do exist. However, this barn did it because round bales just aren’t common in our region.


Private turnout is common enough here in SE PA, usually small paddocks close to the barn. Individual pasture turnout may be hard to come by. If you are looking for 24/7 turnout, there will probably be large bales. Partial day turnout you may have more luck getting hay laps. If money is no object you can generally find what you are looking for. On a budget, and you will need to make compromises. You are not insane to be protective of your injured, low social ranking, senior!


Keep in mind most barns just feeding square bales won’t put enough out for constant grazing. That’s why round bales are nice because your horse has constant forage. If you’re worried about mold etc could you buy a hay hut to put on top?


If you can find a barn that has older horses like your mare, maybe she can safely be turned out with a quiet group of seniors??

If they properly store and feed their round bales ( in a building, never rained on) the health risks are no different than squares and are so much easier to feed for groups and probably get more hay for the $$$ spent.

To answer your first question I don’t think it is nuts to want private turn out or your mare to be fed square bales exclusively. As you said finding that barn may be harder.


OP, I am with you that some older horses do better in individual pens/pastures, at least part time if full time not possible, especially when already in their twenties, as your mare.
If you find a congenial old horse, some times they get along so well that works, but if not, alone is better than in mixed herds.
Two of the last old retired horses we had were happier without needing to keep alert to what others did, fine with them across the fence coming and going and they could rest in peace, not have to keep up or defer all day long to others with more energy picking on them.

Horses being individuals, we also had a 30 year old fat and sassy gelding that thrived in the herd, never did slow down as he aged, so he stayed with them.

Keep looking, somewhere you will find just what your horse needs.

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Anything is feasible and reasonable if you have enough budget.
Retirement board places are mostly not going to do individual turnout l…I would assume a lot live out full time.
And there’s literally nothing wrong with round bales if they’re made right.
I currently feed of 800lb square bales in my barn but in previous years fed grass bay off the round bale to inside horses. It was great hay.

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My old man has more or less what you are looking for. Except grass pasture access is for only about 6 months a year and then they are turned out in pairs and come back into their individual drylots with run-ins overnight. Otherwise, drylot turnout either alone or in pairs or the odd compatible trio.

My old guy now really only has one horse he is prepared to tolerate for any length of time without getting cranky, so they are turned out together and leave each other alone.

They are blanketed and fed according to their needs and watched over carefully.

It is, however, far from cheap and an hour’s drive from here.

Midwesterner here.

Neither of those things are crazy to ask for. Round bales are a huge botulism risk, and my own horse needs solo turn out due to a previous radial fracture.

But this isn’t “retirement” board here. This would be full service, full care boarding. I’m not sure If I could find something like that near me for under $700 per month, but I’d be getting ready to pay $800+ as a precaution. The services you want aren’t cheap to perform. As long as your willing to pay for it, I don’t think it’s unreasonable.


No, you’re not insane for wanting private turnout and square bales instead of round bales. Neither of these are unreasonable desires. However, it is unreasonable to expect a barn to change their program, even if you’re willing to pay double. Sure, you can ask, but be prepared to accept a hard No. BOs run their facility as they see fit, and typically try to reduce labor as much as possible. Therefore, your requests might not be readily available in your area, or at the types of barns you’re looking at, or in the price range you’re looking.

You probably are, but that doesn’t make your “must haves” unreasonable. If they’re must haves, they’re must haves, and you may need to adjust other criteria (such as location and/or price) to find them.


There are all sorts of arrangements, so I am sure what you are looking for is out there.

It is possible to keep small squares in front of horses out 24/7, that’s what I do. I have hay feeders outside that can hold a bale each, and then on top of that I have a bale in a small hole hay net in each corner of my run I s, so they are out of the weather. That translates to 6+ bales for four horses, and 8 -10 bales for 5 horses. They definitely never run out!

While you can find private turnout, odds are it will be in smaller paddocks. I believe bigger, with more room to move, is better. Plus, horses are social animals. When they are retired there’s not much to do but hang out and graze with buddies. Remove the buddies, and much of the stimulation/enjoyment is gone. You just have to be really careful about the turnout group. The most timid horse on my farm also has a tendon tear, and running around makes it worse. She’s in with 3 geldings who are all around 30 years old (she’s 19) and they adore her. No one makes her move, or bullies her. She’s thriving!

IMHO the best way to find a place like mine is to ask your veterinarian, who knows your horse’s needs, as well as all the area barns, and the type/quality of care. If you find a place that seems promising, ask for references. Ask what their thoughts are on your mare being with other horses, and how they introduce new horses.

Good luck!


If she’s only 3 months post suspensory injury and she’s low herd horse I wouldn’t turn her out with other horses. If she gets chased, trapped, or is on slick ground, you risk reinjury. Where is she in the healing process?

A private paddock where she can move around all day but not get her full gallop on is best for turnout until she’s fully healed.