Weaning to 24/7 pasture — work up to 4hrs and then?

I’m transitioning my TB to 24/7 pasture life (she’ll also receive hay when needed). She has been living on a dry lot for the last 8 months but was raised on grass pasture. Right now I’ve worked her up to almost two hours through increasing by 15 mins every day.

There seems to be two schools of thought here. One claims that once they reach 4 hours a day, they’re fine for 24/7 access. The other claims that they should be restricted to 4-5 hours a day for a week or so before fully transitioning to being on it all of the time.

She’s never had laminitis problems and is not particularly gluttonous. My vet is not being super helpful. What say you, COTH (in your experience)?

Also, if she misses a day here and there during the process, should I wind the clock back 15 minutes the next day? It’s occasionally difficult for me to get out there every day.

Pic of her included to show the pasture condition. It’s not terribly lush as this is a high desert area. (I removed the halter after this pic was taken).

I’m the type to do the 4-5 hours for a week or two DAILY to see how they do before turning them out full time. the 4-5 hours gives them enough time out there to start regulating themselves on how much they eat, without giving them too much time to gorge themselves.

I wouldn’t worry about missing a day in between, but I would be cautious about missing two days in a row.


While she doesn’t look heavy, I would have a muzzle on standby( if you don’t already) . She looks like a fairly big bodied mare who could easily balloon up on 24/7 turnout without eating limitations.

As for my preferences , once I had them going easily all day I just left mine out 24/7, especially once July is around the corner and the “lushness” of most pastures is over and the grass is more mature. Of course I assess everyone daily condition wise.

My muzzle wearing mare is now out of her muzzle for several hours now that we have turned the corner in the pasture growing stage.

Lovely horses. I adore Bays… Never had one.

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A poster here cited a grazing study that horses out 8 horses eat about the same forage calories as those out 24/7. I found that interesting and pretty compatible with my experience. As such, I’d stretch it a bit further (6-8 out) if you can do so without disrupting your life then to 24/7.

And agree with @clanter, high desert pasture in July less of a concern then something like my southern PA lushness in May.

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Thank you everyone, this is my first time ever weaning a horse onto grass pasture. Out here dirt lots are far more common (I really lucked out with this beautiful spot). I’d like to err on the side of caution, so I will stretch it out as much as I can while also keeping an eye on her weight.

@candyappy I adore bays and this girl is easily one of the nicest horses I’ve ever owned. Amazingly she still shows an outline of ribs now and then depending on how she is moving, but she has a big frame and is likely still filling out at only 5 years old. Knock on wood, she is demonstrating a moderate metabolism so far. Her friend behind her is an Oldenburg broody who is just as lovely, they are both retired due to injury and were instant BFFs.

Some may be, others won’t be

some think that’s too conservative, others are fine.

Me personally? When I’ve done this, at 4 hours they stayed there for 3-4 days, and if manure was the same, I went to 8 hours. After another 3-4 days, 12 hours. After a week, 24x7 if that was the goal.

Missing a day wouldn’t have me going back, it would just extend the day until the next bump in hours

That looks fairly lush at the moment, and she looks on the verge of a little too heavy. If the quality of the grass will be declining due to heat as her time increases, that may be fine. But yes, I’d definitely have a muzzle on hand if she starts moving too much past a low BCS 6.

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Ahhh, that’s good then! Just keep a feel for the ribs.

And keep in mind that at age 6, or 7, or 8 when she’s really full grown, her tolerance for grass calories may become lower. My TB mare certainly didn’t need a muzzle until she was maybe 10.

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Thank you @JB !! I have an air fern and-now -Cushings arab and it has been a journey keeping the extra weight off her even when she was younger and in full time work. I am very alert to this issue now. The vet recently scored this TB at 5.5 on the body condition scale which does feel like it is trending upward. I will keep a sharp eye on her!

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