Transition to full time turnout from no turnout

Hey all. A little pissed today.

It was just brought to my attention that the horse I’m leasing has not been turned out in over a month, seemingly as retaliation to me (his leassee - NOT OWNER) moving him to another facility; ironically, due to what I feel is subpar care.

Anyways, he is being moved to a facility with pasture board and his owner and I agree that is the best option for him at this time. However, since being made aware of him receiving 0 turnout and “4 flakes of hay” a day (I’ve never seen hay in his stall), should I be concerned about 24/7 access to grass and hay right off the bat? Since learning this news, I’m now considering a grazing muzzle for the day time then slowing transitioning him to more and more time with it off.

Thoughts? Any recommended transition periods?

ETA: Located in Tennessee USA

You have to give location, because the grass condition varies this time of year.


South east USA - Tennessee specifically

Not enough info here, and this is the kind of thing to have a discussion with the new barn owner and horse owner about horse’s general metabolic condition, personality, etc. The barn owner will know how rich the grass is and whether a grazing muzzle makes sense. I’d go ahead and buy one to be prepared!


Fair enough - I’ll get it to be safe!

How big is your horse? Don’t quote me, but I am thinking I have a horse sized tough one easy breathe muzzle that I was sent the wrong size of accidentally it was supposed to be a pony size. I am in Northeast Tennessee and could have it to you quick like Tuesday probably! I will look when I go back out to the barn later on this evening!!

Besides the green guard ones, I love the easy breathe they have the huge nostril holes. Especially with the frost in the mornings, then everything warming up and the moisture that will be on the plastic of the muzzle let alone if it is the thick cloth webbing all the way around… I like that my boy is not breathing in that moisture into his lungs and they don’t panic and feel as constricted. It has a little bit bigger hole than normal muzzles because it is a rectangle but with your boy that might be a good thing for him so he doesn’t freak out and feel like he cannot get anything out of it until the grass completely dies off. But I know here in Northeast Tennessee it is never completely gone which thankfully lowers the hay bill a little bit!


One thing that has continually shocked me over the past couple months is how supportive the Tennessee horse community is. You ROCK!

He’s a 16.3hh OTTB - big dude but wears normal horse/full sized stuff shockingly.

Would be happy to buy that off of you if want to PM me your PayPal and price + shipping!

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I didnt say i was selling it, i said if i have it ill send it to you :wink: as soon as I get done with yellowstone I’m going out to feed :grin:


You’re a rockstar.

I just sent you a message!!

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They’ve had 3 true, hard freezes. The horse will be fine. Let him run!


I have had lows in the 20’s at night already here, during the day my grass is still somehow getting slightly taller. It is going back into the 50’s and 60’s with upper to mid 30’s at night this week. I’d say if the pasture still has a decent amount of grass on it and she is south of me, that her grass may still be growing and having sugar spikes after the frosts? I could be completely wrong though but I know my vet cautioned me about letting my pony out in the mornings on the pasture grass even if it’s frosty and frozen since it is still green as can be in areas once the sun warms it back up.


This time of year grass wise ( unless it is an un-grazed field, filled with abundant growth) and the fact that he probably needs to gain weight being fed only 4 flakes of hay, I would let him out unmuzzled and just transition him on it over the course of a week or so depending on the amount of grass available.

Grass hay at all times until then.

If abundant grass part time in a muzzle.

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Yeah it’s pretty abundant (newer facility and few horses out full time) so I’m thinking part time for ~week. I already switched his grain over so we won’t have to deal with that (and is higher fat which is helping with weight gain) but you are exactly right - the concern is in 4 flakes of hay/day to unlimited access to grass and hay from round bale and large space of untouched grass.

I’m in New York and mine are still mostly ignoring hay and finding a lot of grass. Pony still in muzzle.

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Careful with the muzzle. If he’s never had one on before, that requires a transition too. You can’t just slap it on and put him out for the day. You should hand graze him in the muzzle to make sure he knows how to use it, and to make sure the grass is long enough to get through the muzzle. Also assess the level of anxiety it causes. I have worked with some horses that shut down so severely when they are muzzled, that it is better to just leave them in for a few hours.

If he will be turned out with horses he doesn’t know, the muzzle makes him vulnerable to horses that want to pull on it, and he can’t properly defend himself with a muzzle on. I would call the vet who knows the horse and ask their advice. If the horse has previously been out on lots of grass with no problems, and doesn’t have cushings or any other metabolic issues, I’d be inclined to just put him out 24/7.

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