Difference in horse practices between countries

A fun thread! As an Australian, I find much of what seems to be the norm with keeping horses in the US fascinating, as much of it is different to what we do here. I’m curious as to whether others have noticed difference between countries as well, particularly as I’m sure there are posters who have lived in multiple countries.

Probably the biggest differences I can see are

  • Stall kept horses here are rare. Most live out 24/7 (our climate is more suited, and we have substantially more space in the areas where horses are common). Properties with stables are considered quite fancy.
  • Training programs are a thing I find difficult to wrap my head around. People here may have an instructor who comes to them, and might have a weekly or fortnightly lesson, and plenty of us have them only on occasion, but I’ve never heard of programs like you guys have over there. Regular training rides on your horse? Not unless you send it off to someone for a block of training, which isn’t common either.
  • We seem to have a bit more of a relaxed approach to alot of aspects of horse handling ie most people I know wouldn’t even think of crossties, I’ve never ever seen anyone use a chain (seems to be reasonably common in the US from what I read here).
  • H/J is totally non existent here!
  • Your trucks and trailers…so BIG! The norm here is a 2 horse straight load bumper pull. Virtually no one has a gooseneck, or living quarters. And while most people pull with 4x4s, they’re no where near the size of the behemoths you lot all seem to have! You occasionally see an American truck here and they look very much out of place!

I’m sure many of these things vary depending on which part of the country you are in as well, along with discipline. I find the differences to be quite interesting!

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I’m in South Africa, where our horse-keeping practices are pretty similar to yours in Australia I think.
The exception is that ours are stabled, and go out from 9am - 4pm. But this is due to African Horse Sickness midges, which are most active at dawn and dusk.

Our yard is slick and professionally run (competitive show jumpers). We have crossties, but they are in separate stall areas. The idea of tying up a horse in an aisle is very very weird to me. No hunter divisions here, although the junior riders have some equitation classes at the bigger HOY-type shows.

I think the boarding stables are the fancy places in US. Also, the breeding farms. Many of us have backyard horses that are kept for trail riding. That’s much more likely to be casual, with more turnout, smaller trailers without living quarters (lol), and a casual approach to riding. I haven’t had a lesson since, well, I was a kid. I don’t show, so I just try to keep heels down and myself on the top of the horse.

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Oh wait, I did have lady come out to show me how to fit the harness on our pony to drive her. I’m figuring it out for myself since then.

Your current situation is what I grew up with in the 70’s with horses in the USA. We had Pony Club to give us a foundation on horse management and riding then we went off and did it. We also had one horse to use for whatever we were interested in doing verses today and the horse where the horse is pegged into a program- eventing, dressage, show horse, etc. A friend owns a boarding barn and her’s in the only one in my area where the horses do multiple activities- showing, eventing, fox hunting- and do it well. All other barns are laser focused on one activity.

Our parents were hands off- we would leave in the morning to go riding which might include some time in the ring then we would hit the fields and trails with no cares in the world.

One of my daughters competed a lot on a local AQHA circuit then did rodeo and in both cases the parents competed which was not the norm back in my day. It’s nice to see that change for the families.

My behemoth truck comes in handy for picking up a load of hay or lumber throughout the year. It’s just impossible to imagine not having a truck with horses at home. :slight_smile: It does limit your parking options up in the city so you plan ahead and sometimes walk a little further because you’ve found a large enough parking spot one block away. :slight_smile:

Not all boarding stables are fancy. A lot of horse owners have to board as they do not live somewhere where they could keep horses at home – especially true when you keep in mind that the people earning good salaries live closer to cities. Boarding ranges from “backyard” situations – basically what you describe, with the property owner boarding a horse or two for other people – to “horse palace” fancy.

One thing that gets me, here (near Boston), is the lack of turnout at many barns. And no “mare motels” or other types of pens where the horse mostly lives in a space that is larger than a stall. It’s a stall and a few hours in a very small paddock at a lot of places.

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Very true. That was a bit awkwardly worded. I meant that’s where you find the fancy barns, unless someone is a breeder that competes at the highest elevens. Or, just ridiculously rich. I only boarded at one somewhat fancy place that had a trainer and that was in Rhode Island, near the MA border. The trail access was awesome, so it was worth it.

Close to cities is where it’s just too expensive to have much turnout.

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Having spent several years in UK, NL and Belgium before returning to the US:

  • Seasonality of turnout with horses out for ~12 hrs in summer in large fields and then ~2 hrs in small dry lots for the winter months. Makes sense because their ground rarely freezes and is mud for so many months. Here in the Boston area, turnout size is limited and hours are part days (e.g. 8 - 3) but it’s consistent all year round…but the paddocks do get destroyed with the fall and spring mud.

  • More boarding service level options. I loved in Europe how many barns offered a middle ground between rough and full board. Turnout / in, grain, hay was all fed daily and blankets changed on request but stalls mucked by horse owners. It allowed the barn to minimize staff needs and so prices could stay down. It did require daily barn visits or buddying up with a friend to cover each other on days you didn’t plan to go out.

  • Efficiency over “correctness” - At least in the NL barns I boarded at, many of them were set up so that they could open stall doors and horses would turn themselves in/out. They did this by having gates they could open and close to create chutes to the relevant fields. Fewer fields, bigger groups, lots of time saved in walking horses back and forth.

  • Prevalence of lunge pits / round pens. Every single barn I boarded at had a lunge pit or round pen - it generally felt like a standard amenity. At least here in the Northeast in the US, I’d say they are more the exception than the norm

This may be silly, but as a US person I’ve always been a bit jealous of the horseboxes used to transport horses in the UK and other countries. They seem way more stable and easier to load/unload than many of the trailers we use over here.

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I think we have to remember that like from country to country - what is done in one part of the US might not even slightly resemble what is done in some other part of the US.
The climate and landscapes are so different in the various parts of the country that there can not be all one type of horse keeping.

@sweetsalute how do you pick up your hay and such with out a truck?

I understand the potential challenges but I would LOVE this option. I’m out daily and without being wasteful know how to get a stall neurotically clean. Having worked at a co op I can see how easily it goes sideways but talk about a way to save on labor and curate a barn of engaged boarders who have to collaborate with others when traveling.

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This is 100% true.

In the PNW in the western half the the states boarded horses are typically kept in a stall with various turn out options during the summer. In the wet season often the turn out is very limited. Indoor arenas can be used for turn out during the wet season but that varies from facility to facility. Most, if not all, boarding facilities will invest in a covered arena before looking at outdoor all weather options. Also some facilities will have runs or porches off stalls to allow horses to have a bit more movement/social interaction. The hay in the PNW is generally cheep and easy to get higher quality. There are lots of places to haul to for trails, and events. However depending on your sport, the PNW’s weather can limit the show season.

The Mid-south in a backwater area on the other hand, land is cheaper and easier to find. A lot more people keep their horses at home. The facilities may have an indoor but often will invest in an outdoor all weather before a covered arena. The horses are kept out more and due to the areas soil, the pastures don’t seem to turn into complete mud. Hay is a bit harder to find at the price points of the PNW but the quality is out there. Most interestingly to me the show season is much longer and easily accessible. There are a lot more schooling shows in the sports I participate in and it will be easier to bring a horse up the levels without breaking the bank.

I manage a boarding facility in Michigan, USA. The weather/property can get wet and stay wet for months at a time, but usually in the warmer/mild months the horses are out 24/7 (July-October), November-June chances are they are stalled at night and usually 1-2 days a week due to the muddy conditions in pastures. We don’t stall keep horses unless pasture conditions require it.

Training programs are like cults in my area. Once you’re in, you can’t get out, and if you do, your reputation will be ruined by other riders and professionals talking behind your back. I just started my own, so that solved that :wink:

I don’t use chains but I do cross tie and single tie my horses. Leading nose chains don’t offer any release, so horses don’t learn anything but discomfort. I’d rather use a rope/training halter that the horse can’t lean on but that offers release.

h/j, you mean hunter jumpers? I took a lot of lessons in a h/j show jumping barn. It’s all the rage. “rolls eyes”

As for our trucks and trailers, I think most of us use what’s available to purchase in our region. :slight_smile:

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Yup - it was a great set up. Shavings were dropped outside your stall 2x a week and if you used more then that you paid extra (granted it was on an honor system of recording you’d taken an extra bag). I’m sure that issues arise at times, but I actually didn’t hear of any directly when I was there.

The other thing I loved is that barns actually billed me monthly with an emailed invoice and receipt (and option to pay digitally). I HATE dropping board checks each month - it always feels like it requires a special trip to the barn because I never remember it’s end of month at a convenient time.

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My hayguys deliver (& stack) the 300 small squares that see me through a year.
Likewise, feedstore will deliver a pallet - 50 bags - of bedding, but stacking that is up to me.
I can easily carry 3 50# bags of feed in the hatch of my SUV. More, if I drop the back seats.

I had a Monster truck - F250 V10 - & hated it.
Mileage was dismal, though hauling a (aluminum) 2H GN w/LQ made little difference.

Now I haul a 16’ aluminum stock with my 6cyl SUV.
Longest haul was 5h with 3 ponies (large, Shetland & mini).
Mileage not great, but not a lot different with that load.

For the original question:
I have only seen boarding barns in UK, China & Japan. They seemed very similar to what I know in the US.
In Holland a friend’s sister kept her horse very much like mine at home here: mostly turned out on small acreage.

I have seen videos of German youngstock kept in herds in a common stall. These were WBs, dressage-bred & destined for sale or export.
Seemed like a decent means of horsekeeping to me.

I lesson monthly, Dressage trainer comes to me.
Above, budget permitting.
No Driving trainer available, so I clinic when I can: once a year at best.

Horse keeping in Canada is very similar to the US, with similar regional differences.

Ontario is the most populated and does offer a variety, but boarding barns with stalls, an indoor, an outdoor, and limited turnout is most common. Further from the cities you can find some places with outdoor board. Quebec is similar.

Alberta offers more outdoor board options, even at the fancier barns.

BC battles mud, similar to the PNW.

I’ve never lived in the other provinces so I can’t speak for them.

No matter where I’ve lived there have been options of backyard or casual boarding facilities with no training/lessons. Fancy facilities with full training programs. And everything in between.
I prefer to be at a facility with outdoor board, an indoor arena (we’re stuck inside six months of the year), a trainer who offers a la carte lessons and training rides. I usually lesson once a week and take advantage of training rides if I’m on vacation, busy at work, or sick, or if we’ve run into a problem.

I suppose I should actually contribute to the original question too, haha.

What a previous poster mentioned about the sheer size of the US/Canada and the vast differences between culture and climate is very difficult to convey to those who haven’t been here personally.

I live in the high desert, on the West Coast a few hours away from the ocean. Save for a few prosperous areas in the southern valleys, there is ZERO pasture here. Not a blade of grass to be seen, unless you are wasting your water on a lawn. Horses are all kept on dirt or in the sagebrush. In my immediate area, barns are rare. People tend to house their equines in large dirt paddocks with run-in shelters (us included). Indoor/covered arenas are even harder to come by, which can suck in our often-windy and cold climate.

We do have a plethora of stables and training barns scattered around, ranging the gamut from bare basic “pasture” boarding to top-flight dressage, H/J, and reining/cutting show barns with box stalls, fancy light fixtures, and covered hot walkers.

I will say that turn out is always a thing here, even in the smaller boarding barns I’ve seen. There is just a ton of room and really no reason for barns to not have at least one large paddock for the purpose.

Being out in the middle of ranching country, Western is slightly more popular here, but I’ve had no problems finding instruction in other disciplines. Another cool thing about living in such a horsey location are all of the shows (Covid notwithstanding), from tiny community 4H shows in the neighborhood public arena, to endurance races in the surrounding wilderness, to the cow horse Futurity, huge regional breed shows, and all of the fun hoopla that streams through the giant livestock events center down town.

Can’t say that I’ve noticed any particularly region-specific ways of handling horses up here (such as more chains over the nose). We do have a preponderance of giant pick up trucks, but for horse people they tend to earn their keep.

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Not only is there regional variation, there is, I think discipline/breed variation as well. I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen a horse tied (vs cross tied) at any of the Morgan or Saddlebred barns I have frequented, it seems not very common in most English barns, but more common with those who ride Western.

Now, with COVID, more are tying outside and in various locations that are more socially distanced.

Question: Does anyone ground tie? I trained my mare to do this as it was something I always envied in cowboy movies. Is this a more Western practice?

I should say that she is trained to stand in the two places which I have trained her to stand in, with her lead rope hanging. One place outside and one place inside. I am not sure how portable her talents are:)

My barn here in the US offers just that. The BM is very flexible and also allows people to work some shifts for reduced board and/or free lessons.

The barn I rode at when I was a student in France did the same thing. Some differences from barns that I have experience with here in the US:

  • Horses were not turned out. No space for it, although there was a xc course in an enclosed field so some people did turn their horses our in there but only for a short time and not every day.
  • Horses were stalled on straw, not shavings. Stalls were not cleaned every day.
  • People routinely gave DRY bread (baguette!) to the horses as a treat.
  • There was a robust lesson program and more school horses than boarders.
  • No western riding or even Hunters - just Dressage, Jumpers, and eventing.
  • No cross ties. Horses were groomed and tacked up in their stalls or (rarely) tied to a ring in the wall.
  • Not many private lessons. 6 to 12 people in lessons, even jumping lessons. Fun times :wink:
  • School horses were not ridden on Sundays. Made for a very “interesting” first lesson at 9 am on Mondays…lol
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Yep, ground tying is super useful and I see it constantly at working ranch events here, especially!