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Ok, young hunter trainers

…You do know that horses are herd animals that are meant to be turned out, right? Someone in my area just told me that no young hunter trainer in our area turns out for more than 1-2 hours a day, 1-2 horses at a time, and that they think that’s how it’s done, because it’s all they ever grew up with. I had one of them recently look for stalls and conclude that my facility’s greatest asset–beautiful green pastures that we carefully rotate and maintain, shade trees, loafing sheds, and 18 hour a day turn out–is too great a drawback because the horses and clients won’t know what to make of all the turn out. An older current client of mine tells me she looked at every barn in our area and said I am the only one old fashioned enough to do it right. She meant old fashioned in a good way. Tell me, internet: do the young trainers not know that they are Bemer blanketing, injecting joints, wrapping legs, Theraplating, treating ulcers, etc., etc. as interventions that are trying to make up for the hours and hours a day of unhealthy confinement? Or do they think all those interventions show that they are Big Time, and Sophisticated, and the hallmark of a high end operation? Shaking my head. You know Madden Mountain? Horse should not have to be fully retired before they are allowed to live that way.


They think horses let loose will injure themselves. It’s also true of a lot of dressage people.

What I’ve observed is horses getting chronic strain injuries from bad riding and training, which then get blamed on turnout injuries


With the insane skyrocketing cost of a nice show hunter to the upper 5 to 6 figures no one wants to risk a “turnout” injury and be liable for the animals potential loss of use. So horses get wrapped in bubble wrap and are forced to live horribly unnatural lives that some seem to adapt to reasonably well and others really suffer from. The “hidden” ailments (ulcers, stereotypical behaviors, behavioral issues, colic, tendon and ligament injury, arthritic pain, muscle wasting) from lack of movement, social interaction, free play and slightly uneven footing I believe far trump the potential injury from well managed turnout for 8-12 hours a day. I am lucky to have my own place and allow plenty of appropriate turnout --not everyone is so lucky, and many owners might be quick to blame a trainer or BO if a horse suffered a turnout related injury in a boarding situation. I think it comes down to owners with less knowledge, normalization of unhealthy practices and our generally litigious society. So everyone compensates with supplements, sedatives, lunging, bodywork, theraplates, PEMF etc etc. Perhaps we need to look at them more as sentient beings with needs instead of vehicles to a trophy.


Just FYI. I believe some of the young horses at Madden Mountain also live outside. They get brought in, worked, and turned back out.

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The truth is that horses DO injure themselves in turnout. I know that from first hand experience. I’ve seen it and it happens to my horse. Whether or not turnout poses a risk of injury is not a question, it’s a given.

The question, and it’s one everyone has to answer for themselves, is how to balance the risks of turnout with the benefits. For me, the benefits outweigh the risks, but I’m sure not going to criticize anybody whose calculations come out different from mine.


I’d 100% rather my horse gets injured on her own volition in the field she’s turned out in, than with me on her back.

I feel incredibly strongly about turn out and I absolutely do judge those that don’t turn out by choice. Buy a damn dirt bike or sail boat.

Pure and simple, we are getting further and further from this sport being about the horse.


Of course you do. So many here believe that they know The One True Way to raise/ride/care for horses and anyone who doesn’t agree is wrong/neglectful/abusive.


Yup. I’m in a program that probably has “less” turnout (time-wise) than most here would deem acceptable, but we have spacious, beautiful solo addocks with high-quality grass. Most horses go out until they want to come in, which, in the heat of summer with bugs, is often about two hours.I don’t believe in forcing a horse standing at the gate to stay out just because it’s a horse and should want to be there, nor do I believe that eight hours on tiny bluestone or in a mud pit is preferable to two hours on grass.

@Rumorhasit93, am I misremembering or aren’t you on the West Coast? Not a bastion of great turnout or horse care in many people’s eyes.


If owners are too scared their horse will get hurt, why own one? I’m seriously asking. There are so many other sports people can do for vanity that don’t involve animals. They should pick one of those.

For posterity and reiteration, I did say people that “don’t turn out by choice”.


I am - in WA, although I have lived and ridden/worked at barns in SoCal.

I can’t think of any A circuit barn in WA that doesn’t turn their horses out. Of course some barns have grass, some have gravel paddocks, some have fewer than others, etc. It’s certainly not Virginia, but WA is a lovely place for horses.

Conversely I have worked for WP barns in the south with rolling grass pastures as far as the eye can see and not a single horse turned out.


Turnout ON GRASS is non negotiable for me. I’d rather not have horses than own under what I feel are unfair circumstances.


OP, why the focus on ‘young hunter trainers’?

There are plenty of horse people in every discipline that do not turn out for fear of injury. I boarded across the street from a Morgan equitation barn. They did not turn out their show horses – ever.

Not saying it’s right. It’s just far more common than people realize, and it isn’t limited to a certain discipline or breed.


I left the Western/contesting community after overhearing a group of too many people at AQH Congress agree that one of the best forms of prep for a big show is to stall the horse for several days leading up to the show so that when it’s time for your run, they’re adequately “juiced up”…

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Sure… but they also get cast in their stalls, step through their reins and rip apart their mouths, and kick the kickboards in indoor rings. We can’t wrap them in cotton all the time, despite our best efforts.

Mine got a paddock this summer at the horse show because I was tired of her horseshowing and not getting out to stretch. I do think I had a better brained horse because of it. She got only 1-2.5 hours in the early morning, but along with being herd animals, they’re grazing livestock. So the peace of having them graze is something that cannot be manufactured with draw reins, lunge lines, and calming paste… despite our best efforts!



SoCal horses all have limited turnout and they are fine. It’s too dry for grass pastures. They live in stalls or paddocks most of the day, happy and healthy. Two horses at current barn are mid-30’s, never lived on grass.

Where’s the scientific studies that prove that horses require joint injections because they don’t have 18 hours of turnout?

We can’t all live in your equestrian paradise. Doesn’t mean we don’t love our horses or shouldn’t have them.

I’m sick of the condescending attitude about it.


Why the focus on young hunter trainers? Plenty of people don’t turn out their older hunters. Or their dressage horses. Or their saddlebreds. Or their racehorses. Or their barrel horses. Or their Morgans. Or their retired horses. Or their trail horses.

Let’s not start a hate campaign on the wrong people for no good reason.

I think horses deserve turnout, preferably 24/7 or as close as possible. I also think horses deserve to have shelter from heat, bugs, and cold - and that they’re perfectly able to tolerate periods of stall time as part of the routine.

Let’s not focus our blame and internet preaching at a random group of people with no higher percentage of turnout sins than the rest of the horse community.


Turnout really is site (and horse!) dependent.

Some facilities have large (5-10 acre) grass pastures and carefully determine which horses can go out together. Some facilities have smaller pastures, and do individual turnout because there’s just not enough grass. Some have no grass at all, and horses go out in paddocks.

Some have 5- or 6-figure horses owned by boarders who don’t want to take a chance that their expensive horse is injured by another. Accidents happen, and preventable accidents may best be avoided. A single horse can find enough ways to hurt itself.

There is no one-size-fits-all best way of horse care. We should assume good intentions when assessing situations. There are certainly plenty that fall short of the mark, but just because one isn’t familiar with the particular constraints does not mean that the horse care is suboptimal.


Really? Because one of the barns I worked at had several horses getting sucralfate DAILY.

This has been beat to death, but as other threads have brought up, unless you’ve worked at a barn (or several) you don’t really know what’s going on. No matter how involved you are.

Horses are grazing, herd animals. You can’t change that fact. We all do the best we have with the environment in which we live, but let’s not pretend it’s natural or better for them to live these artificial lives we make for them, just because they survive.


But my point here was that this young hunter trainer is specifically looking for a place for her client horses, and specifically rejecting my facility because of all the turn out. So they could “live in [my] equestrian paradise,” but is rejecting it, because she has helped create a group of horse owners who think you are supposed to confine horses. She is literally saying her clients would be freaked out by turn out. Super sad to me that this is normalized, and it’s frankly ignorant about the most basic needs/desires of a horse.

As the article you linked to said:

“The solution is not to lock the horses up in stables to keep them ‘safe’ from fractures,” Donati stressed. “Rather, we need to be sure we’re following recommendations from equine ethologists to be sure that we’re managing group pastures correctly to keep injury risks to a minimum.”


Plenty of barns with great turnout have horses getting daily sucralfate. Your point is?