Can a sport horse live outside?

From my friend:

I have a sport horse that is a prospect for the 1.50 grand prixs. He is packing me around a 1.15-1.20 course and is saving me from odd distances. My question is, can a sport horse live outside in the midwest(cold winters, hot summers)? He is active, heats up when I ride, and sometimes sweats. I would, of course, groom him and such and put a blanket on when it gets really cold(under 20F). Also can he go barefoot? The ground gets cold here in Illinois and freezes sometimes. He would have a weather shelter, but thats all. He would have a herd, don’t know if that changes anything.
I’m asking this because some people say they can, and some say they can’t.

Thanks!

eventer chiming in… but… it’s usually best for horses to live out as much as possible. all of my horses are out 24/7, happier that way and it really eliminates a lot of “misbehaviors” from spookiness to cribbing…

i guess it depends on the horse; some are miserable outside truly, but i’ve found them to be rarities. as far as the rest… all questions for your farrier and trainer.

Because some horses can, and some can’t. It entirely depends on the horse.

Can he live? Sure.

Will he still be comfortable performing? Depends on the horse.

Can he go barefoot? Sure.

Will he still be sound and comfortable for the demands of your riding? Depends on the horse.

By living outside, do you meant 24/7 with a shelter? I think it totally depends on the horse. Some horses love being outside all the time and others prefer being inside part of the time.

Do you have an option to try it out for a few weeks this winter to see if it might work and to bring the horse in a stall if it doesn’t? That may be the only way to figure out if it would suit your horse - to just try it and see what happens.

My horse much prefers moving around 24/7. I’ve learned this by just trying it and seeing how he is to ride and train when he’s outside all the time vs stalled for 1/2 day. When he is out 24/7 I can get on after not having ridden in several days and he is still super relaxed and ready to work as soon as I swing my leg over the saddle. I can ride out on the trails when it is cold and windy and he’s on the buckle the whole time.

When he’s inside all day he gets cranky. It’s not super obvious but more like he’s not ready to work, isn’t even in the contact, it takes time to warm him up and get him relaxed. When he’s outside all day, it seems like everything I ask for in the ring is super easy.

You may need to experiment a bit and watch your horse’s resulting behavior to figure out what he thinks is best.

Are you talking about him going barefoot for the winter or always?

As far as turnout - agree with the posts above.

It totally depends on the horse. Some horses require a great deal of turnout to maintain any semblance of sanity. Some need more time in to be “up” enough to be competitive.

I firmly believe that more turnout makes for sounder horses, both mentally and physically. You keep your ligaments stronger, muscles looser… It’s all around better for their bodies. And as to whether or not he will hold up to being barefoot, only time will tell.

My guy was actually the opposite–he loved his stall. I had to pasture board him for a month (he had a huge paddock with a shelter and lots of trees for shade) when I changed barns b/c they didn’t have a stall available immediately. He was miserable. It was during the summer, and he was lethargic and was never grazing when I went to get him and actually lost a little weight. Once he was moved to a stall, he was fine again–regained the weight, had energy, was more forward under saddle, etc. But… he’s a napper and usually stretches out flat on his side and snores most of the day, only getting up to eat hay every now and then! He never felt like he could do that outside.

Like others have said, it totally depends on the horse.

I’ve done it before. When I was showing regularly my 1.20-1.30m horse lived outside 24/7 in a herd. We dealt with some lameness problems and eventually resorted to pulling his shoes. He was sound and happy but I had to be very careful with footing at shows.

Some horses can do it but I’d venture that most horses in a heavy competition schedule can’t. It’s a bit of extra work for you but the horses who live that way seem to be happy and sound.

Of course. all my sport horses live outside with good shelters and they were even when my 1 horse was doing 1.4m. The issue I see with your current plan is that if you are riding enough to keep a jumper fit in the winter, he’s going to get sweaty with a full coat. And will take FOREVER to dry. If you are keeping him in work I’d do some sort of clip and blanket accordingly so he doesn’t chill after rides.

I also watch mine carefully – despite 24/7 hay a few of mine get cold without fairly heavy blanketing. I tried to go “minimal blankets” this year and my horses told me that was a stupid idea and to give them back their blankies, please. So much for saving a bit of time changing blankets but when the horses speak, I try to listen.

Barefoot? I think it is a bit late to pull shoes this year in our area (I’m in northern Indiana so comparable). If I am going to pull shoes I pull them in October because if you wait until Dec the ground is going to freeze before they have a change to get used to it, and you will very likely end up with a VERY sore horse. I would just put those popping snow shoes on him…I have a few that live outside in those and they are great. I like them better than the tube around the edge kind in front. I use the tubes behind.

I pulled during the late Oct cycle here, and if the ground had frozen in November I would have kept the one I pulled shoes on inside. it has been mild here and I didn’t have to this year. Now he’s had a solid month to get used to it I will only pull him in if he seems uncomfortable when we get a freeze. I think he will be fine.

I also have stalls and if a horse wasn’t doing well out, it could come in. let your horse tell you if he is happy. I have three retirees here and two come in at night, the third has an in-out setup with a small 1/2 acre paddock at night.

Also depends on his interaction with his herdmates and theirs with him. The reason many are reluctant to turn out high level horses is a playful kick that would temporarily sideline a horse competing at lower levels could be a career ender at the high levels.

GP horses do get turned out, a few live out during competition breaks but typically in more supervised situations with trusted companions.

If you take care about herd dynamics, no reason yours can’t. Good point, however, about keeping him in competition condition with a Midwest winter coat and the lifespan of blankets in herd situations can be short.

[QUOTE=findeight;8956249]

If you take care about herd dynamics, no reason yours can’t. Good point, however, about keeping him in competition condition with a Midwest winter coat and the lifespan of blankets in herd situations can be short.[/QUOTE]

I get the ones with guarantees! Buy two so you have one as backup to send to get the replacement.

like others siad, it really depends on the horse, the facility, and the herd.

Some horses are hothouse flowers–they really want to be in when it’s hot, cold, or wet. Some are fine out, but need attentive blanketing. Some are happy living as feral as possible. :slight_smile:

You don’t want your show horse skinny or beat up and scraped up, so consider the food situation? Will they get grain twice a day, hay as required? Will they have to fight with the herd for that food? or are they separated so they get their full share.

To me, pasture board means out but with access to a shelter – something with a roof and 3 sides. A stand of trees does not equal shelter to me, but there are those that disagree.

Shoes are highly dependent on the horse’s foot and the ground/footing. All my show horses need at least front shoes, but I’m sure there are some sport horses out there that do okay barefoot.

At our place we have show hunters and babies/retirees. A few of the hunters do live out with the retirees and they do fine. But they have good run ins, free choice hay, and are separated for grain. The do wear shoes and are blanketed all winter. If they have some bite marks or hair missing, I have to be okay with that.

Mine all live outside 24/7 ~ 340 days per year. They stay in if it is over 100 or under -10 degrees, or we are covered in ice.

The horses in work get trace or body clipped so they sweat less, and dry quickly, and then a wardrobe of 3 - 4 different weights of sheets/blankets, to cover most weather conditions. They come out the other side, in Spring, in as good of condition as we went into winter.

Location: Not far from you, in the Upper Midwest

[QUOTE=twisted;8955860]From my friend:

I have a sport horse that is a prospect for the 1.50 grand prixs. He is packing me around a 1.15-1.20 course and is saving me from odd distances. My question is, can a sport horse live outside in the midwest(cold winters, hot summers)? He is active, heats up when I ride, and sometimes sweats. I would, of course, groom him and such and put a blanket on when it gets really cold(under 20F). Also can he go barefoot? The ground gets cold here in Illinois and freezes sometimes. He would have a weather shelter, but thats all. He would have a herd, don’t know if that changes anything.
I’m asking this because some people say they can, and some say they can’t.

Thanks![/QUOTE]

This is kind of a strange question for someone who is looking to do the grand prixs…who theoretically should have the basic horsemanship knowledge to answer this question when competing at 1.2m and wanting to do the prixs.

The answer is that it’s entirely dependent on the situation, the horse, and the care. No one on an internet forum can tell if that particular horse can go barefoot. That’s a question for the vet/farrier team caring for the horse. It’s highly unpopular to see a barefoot grand prix horse. They oftentimes need supportive shoeing and be drilled/tapped.

Likewise with living outside…can he? Possibly! Should he? Maybe! If he’s going to live outside and be in full work, he needs to be clipped/blanketed appropriately, with the correct clip pattern and blankets selected for his personal needs. A horse in full work who only has a blanket on when it’s below 20F will have quite a coat on him, and he will get very sweaty when worked. This is a basic fact that your friend should be aware of. Your friend will need to make sure the horse is either blanketed enough to have a light coat so he doesn’t get hot and sweaty, or be clipped and then blanketed accordingly (but never a full body clip for a horse living outside in cold winters). It baffles me that a 1.2m rider doesn’t know this.

I’ve had horses that hated being outside, some that loved it, some that got along with a huge group of horses, some that needed to have one buddy or go out alone.

In short, not to be harsh, but your friend should spend some time learning some basic horsemanship which will help her make informed and correct decisions for her horse’s wellfare, rather than depending on the advice from strangers on the internet who don’t know her or her horse and what the particular needs are. Times 1000 if she’s actually going to make it to the Grand Prixs…

My retired performance horses say they would never tolerate living out 24/7, even with a shelter, and God forbid I pull shoes (suddenly crippled lame). :wink:

Depends on the horse.

It is amazing they survived for so long without our help.

Setting aside the oddness of the question (things most people know by the time they get ready for 1.5M), the question isn’t really “can he live outside/go barefoot” but rather “is he happy living outside and more importantly does he know how to live INSIDE when it is time to show?” If they are going to be stalled frequently for showing it is unfair to them if that is extra stress on top of the normal stress of showing, not to mention it probably makes for a less successful showing experience.

As for barefoot, if he can keep a good foot working in abrasive sand, stay sound, make the step, get good tight turns in all sorts of footing without studs, then of course he can go barefoot. Usually one or more of those conditions is tough to meet the more you show a horse though. And let’s face it you don’t get to 1.5 by dabbling.

They weren’t riding around in trailers and airplanes, living on the road jumping a course if 17 efforts over 1.4-1.5m fences and 20’ of open water as GP horses do. They were, however, prey taken down at the slightest sign of weakness by savvy predators.

Even until recently in domestication, most did not enjoy as many useful years or just years period as we offer them today. Fair trade off IMO.

Agree that it depends on horse and individual situation but that said, all mine are outside and sound and happy. SW Colorado has cold snowy winters and hot summers. I have two run in shelters which they actually use more in the summer and blanket when it gets really cold or really wet. 3 of 4 are barefoot.

Sure I worry when they get to running around and acting like fools, but the happy sane horses I get to throw a leg over are worth it to me.

[QUOTE=DMK;8956787]Setting aside the oddness of the question (things most people know by the time they get ready for 1.5M),

And let’s face it you don’t get to 1.5 by dabbling.[/QUOTE]

I totally read OPs post as a bit of an odd question as well due to the background given, but as a west coaster, there are many experienced riders that are not experienced with dealing with a mid west winter, and the care that goes along with it. I have no idea where her friend is from, or if she is new to perhaps snowy cold weather, or what, but I don’t see the horse care question as odd as perhaps the mention of 1.5 horse, who is currently bailing out rider at 1.2. Not a great way to start a horse with that much potential if one is serious IMO.