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Ok, young hunter trainers

So there is ONE young hunter trainer who does not like your barn, and the reason they told you to your face is the turn out. Who knows if that is the real reason or just one they picked to tell you.
This ONE young hunter trainer is now the problem being slapped as a label to the whole industry.

I am not a trainer and I am certainly not young, but my background is hunters. My horses live out pretty much 24/7.


Point is, that’s not a healthy horse. I’m not saying turnout is the cure to all problems :wink:

Back to the topic at hand: my trainer has several winning young hunters who are turned out on grass daily. OP, don’t fear, they are out there.


You’re the only one who keeps blathering on about “no turnout.” The OP was complaining about awful it was to only turnout for a few hours a day and that is what I was responding to.

My experience is much the same as @Tha_Ridge. Where I board, unless it’s raining, the big money show horses go out alone in grassy paddocks, with shade, and stay until they want to come in. Right now, after a couple of hours, they’re all standing at their gates asking to come in. Even when it’s not miserably hot and buggy, they rarely want to stay out for more than 5-6 hours.

That said, I do think it’s possible to manage horses well with no turnout. It takes more time and effort than just tossing the horse out in a pasture for the day (or night), but it can be done and if the horses seem to be happy and healthy, I’m not going to judge the people who chose to do it.


Well I’ll continue to blather as long as people bring this topic up and argue that horses can be “happy and healthy” without turnout. Again, there are plenty of sports people can participate in that don’t involve animals if they can’t handle the risk of owning one.


This is an old trick. I grew up riding in a barn where the entire interior was painted in creosote so it was dark as all get out, and the horses would be super bright and animated when they came out to work.

Morgan/Saddlebred facility before it was a general boarding place.

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My horses aren’t expensive or fancy and they all enjoy their stall more than the actual turnout especially if the weather is not to their liking.

I have one horse that will founder on grass so he is in a dry lot. He survives just fine.

Most show horses in the ASB and Morgan world that I am familiar with don’t turn out in show season but pull shoes in the winter and turn the horses out for Dec/Jan so they can bring in the babies to start either long lining or under saddle.

Plenty of horses do just fine with limited turnout, thankfully there isn’t one correct way to keep a horse.


Screaming about this issue (and I know of one “influencer” that constantly harps about this, and features this in their merchandise) may just engender more pushback than converts. I have been involved with a variety of situations over the years, beginning in California with “mare motels.” In my current situation(s), midday heat and flies are oppressive, and the stalls have fans and are cool. They go out at night. I think we all do the best we can.


in my area the two extremes are the dressage crowd that do hour long individual turn out in teeny pens cause horse is “valuable” so the horses pace the fence and fret, and the casual riders who keep their horses on outdoor board “cause it’s healthier” in over crowded mud pits with dubious round bales. Moderation ie nice sized grass paddocks with compatible turn out buddies for 6 hours is a good goal - if you are busy training you don’t want to be traipsing out to the back 40 to try and catch every horse, if you have air ferns 18 hours of grass isn’t a good idea, the extremes of weather here mean the horses might actually prefer to be in the barn with fans/bug sprayers/out of the rain/sleet/snow and wind.


Horses become accustomed to routine. If all the horses go out for 2 hours and then get brought in, yeah they’re going to start pacing the fence if left out longer. It doesn’t mean only 2 hours is “good” for them or that they couldn’t acclimate to a more robust and healthy turnout schedule-- it’s just that they’re used to what they’re used to.

Half the time when people say their horse doesn’t need/want/like turnout it’s because their “turnout” is totally unenriching. All alone in a dirt paddock while the activity is down at the barn isn’t “turnout” in the natural sense. Turnout is a horse with at least one other horse/goat/mini/donkey, preferably a few, with room to move and forage to graze and shelter from extreme elements. I know that’s not possible everywhere, but that doesn’t negate the fact that naturally horses are herd animals that are used to moving and grazing non-stop for most of their day. I fully understand that there are limitations, but it’s disingenuous to say “my horse doesn’t need or want more than a couple hours of turnout” when what you really mean is “the turnout areas we have are sufficiently limited and unenriching that my horse gets bored quickly.” Which is totally different.

A person that eats McDonald’s every day is going to like and want junk food. It doesn’t mean junk food is good for a person. It’s just what the person is used to. And if the person’s diet starts expanding slowly to include better, healthier food, that person will start enjoying healthier food too.


YES! (And this was quite true, literally for me as a kid.) Ditto with the kid who stares at their iPad all day and wants to come in from playing outside after five minutes. (And a lot of parents will justify the kid sitting inside, because outdoor play is less safe.) A lot of this has to do with the immediate risks of an injury (which are easy to see immediately) versus the long-term risks to mental and physical health (boredom, weaker bones and muscles) that are more subtle, but just as real.

Honestly, most of the pacing behavior I’ve seen at barns is because the horses are fed grain indoors and want food, and they associate indoors with their favorite thing (mealtime) or the paddock isn’t in a good place for that particular horse (like a reactive horse near a busy road, versus turning out in a field farther away from the road), or the mix of personalities in the turnout isn’t good.


This is so true. My horses live at home and are turned out on grass, which they greatly enjoy, starting around 7 am. I intentionally don’t have a set in stone schedule, but they start congregating around the gate around 4:30 or so, as I sometimes bring them in that early. But usually I wait until 5:30 or later and they eventually wander back over to the grass after 15 min of loitering.


Vx111, I too applaud you.
There was an article in Equus back in the 90s entitled “The Perils of Confinement.”
Horses are herd animals, very social, engineered for near constant movement.


I think there should be some universal standards of horse care that include turn out. I find it unconscionable to keep horses in stalls around the clock.


At one point my husband and I contemplated a move to Salt Lake City. When I saw how the horses were kept there, I decided that if we moved I would sell my riding horses and leave the retirees under a friend’s eye back in the Mid-Atlantic. I know people do it. But I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t participate in a horse living under those conditions. I know people do it. I know options are limited and finances play a role. I just couldn’t do it. I’d rather not ride.


My 20-year-old OTTB has parrot mouth. He would starve on pasture. He can’t cut the grass with his teeth. He was born in the backyard of a small breeder-owner who raced him. At his birthplace the week before I bought him:

Never seen lush grass in his life. Also never experienced freezing temperatures, hurricane season, or blizzards.

If those of you “they were never meant to live this way” diehards really mean that, why are you saddling and riding your horses?

These wonderful, adaptable creatures thrive everywhere from the Mongolian steppes to the Arabian peninsula.

A more recent view:


While I understand people who keep horses in less than equine friendly areas and must adapt to the lack of turnout, I am floored by the people who don’t feel the more turnout the better. It’s a culture taught by certain disciplines and trainers who have managed their horses that way and aren’t interested in change. Can horses adapt so we can still enjoy them? Usually.

I have experienced taking in horses who had never been turned out, and adapting them to herd and all day turnout. There’s a period where they drop weight, pace the fence, etc because they have no idea how to be a HORSE. Then they learn how to HORSE and enjoy turnout, their weight comes back, they are easier to work under saddle, and their pacing and pawing in their stalls vanishes.

Thin skinned horses need adequate shade and fly spray to deal with bugs, and maybe day time in a stall with a fan, and horses who can’t graze need access to appropriate feed alternatives, but none of those things mean they shouldn’t go outside.


In my experience, city horse keeping means horses kept in stables with no turn out. Think police horses, think cavalry army horses, think delivery dray horses. However, such animals are working for several hours a day and they are also fed appropriately. They will have vacations for short periods, turned out on grass, largely to rest their legs. Then I have experience of horses kept at grass who never enter a stable but are equally well adapted, if somewhat shaggy and muddy.

One really important variable in “the best” way to keep a horse is how much work it is doing. Turn out allows constant movement, which is probably the most “natural” thing but a horse putting in four or five hours of work each day doesn’t need that exercise.

A horse banged up in a stall for 23 hours a day in a dark barn and fed like a racehorse is going to require a lot of management. Think show barn.

Historical note: 19th century leisure horses kept in London were exercised for two hours daily, by their grooms, so their owners could have a pleasant hour or so hacking in the Park later in the day.


I don’t think anyone (on this thread anyway) is arguing the PETA hardline view that humans can never ask animals to compromise from their 100% natural lifestyle. Riding horses live longer than feral ones because of artificial things like regular feeding, veterinary maintenance, etc. all things that are “not natural.”

We do lots of thing to them that are not “natural.” Riding, blanketing, fly spraying them! But the difference between these things and the “I don’t turn my horses out because I don’t want to mess up the grass or have the horse get hurt and cost me money” is that real deprivation of turnout is VERY detrimental to their well being. More detrimental than the sorts of annoying but short lived injuries most horses get on turnout or the cost of overseeding. And because we ask them to do unnatural things FOR US, like being ridden, I think we owe it to them to try to let them live as otherwise happy and healthy lives as we can.

No, your horse probably wouldn’t make it dumped in Nevada to run with the mustangs and fend on his own. But that’s a false dichotomy because there are many options between that and stalled 22 hours a day aside from an hour in a dirt pen and an hour being tacked and ridden. Your horse and most horses would live very happy and healthy lives being out in a smallish herd for most of the day/night coming in for shorter stretches to eat.

I understand that turnout options differ across the country. I get that. And you can only choose from what you have. I get that too. But that’s not what this thread is about. This thread is not about being an urban cowboy and literally having no CHOICE but to stall most of the time or being in the desert where grass just can’t grow no matter what you do. This is about trainers and owners who choose to prioritize themselves over their horse’s best interest even when there are options to cater more directly to what is best for the horse. This is about the barn that HAS plenty of nice turnout but only allows a few hours a day because they don’t want to pay more for barn workers to do additional turnout shifts or that only turns out horses solo so the horses can’t play and get hurt. This is about people who CHOOSE not to give a horse what is best for the horse where it’s possible because the person prioritizes himself/herself/themselves.


No, @vxf111. This is what the thread is about.

And I call BS on that being the only right way to keep a horse and shaming people who choose to do it differently or live in an arid climate.


Maybe we just read that differently. But if you read the entirety of the first post and not that sentence alone it’s clear the OP is talking about a part of the country where turnout is available but trainers are not choosing to offer it. OP is saying she has a facility with pastures and can offer turnout and that others in the same geographic areas are not offering turnout because they don’t think horses need it.