Wednesday, November 03, 2010

new turn-out routine

Taking a brief break from my Elkmont series to update about the new turn-out routine I started a few weeks ago.

Normally at this time of year we would shift from night-time turn-out to day-time turn-out - meaning the horses would go out and graze during the days again, and would come in to their paddock areas with access to stalls at night.

I decided to try something different this year. Instead of coming in for the night, they are coming in to stalls twice a day. In the morning, they come in for hay and then their breakfast tubs. I close the stall doors on the geldings so that Cody and Keil Bay can lie down if they want to, without being intruded upon by Apache Moon, the pony. They generally get a couple of hours to rest this way.

Across the barn aisle, Salina and the donkey boys get a similar rest period - although I don't close them in. They have access to two stalls, the barn aisle, and their grass paddock, so they can seek out the sunshine, rest in the quiet stalls, or just amble around as they feel like it.

After this, they go back out where they are mostly grazing hay now.

Salina is getting one mid-day tub, around 3 p.m., and she and the donkeys have the option at that point to go back out with the geldings, or hang out in the barnyards.

The geldings come in around 6 p.m., go back in stalls for hay and another few hours of rest, and then they all get their dinner tubs around 9 p.m.

And then, they all go back out again to graze hay all night long.

Obviously they will come in if we have cold rain/wind or other severe weather, but what I'm seeing so far with this new routine is horses that are moving well, in good spirits, and I think this will be our way of doing things through the winter unless we hit a problem.

I'm seeing good things particularly with Salina - I will use her blanket and Whinny Warmers as needed once it gets colder, but the activity seems to be doing her joints good.


Matthew said...

Thank you, really beautifully written and so true.

Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like a good plan and I'm sure they'll all be very happy with it. You certainly take the time to figure out the best for each of your equines.

billie said...

I am guessing Matthew's comment above was meant for the voting post - I'm not sure he thinks my new turn-out routine is particularly beautiful or well-described - LOL.

billie said...

Arlene, so far I'm liking what is going on with them. Cody is moving better (he has PSSM symptoms that are mostly under control, but this seems to be adding extra benefits) and Salina definitely looks more free in her movement.

The rest are simply looking more "sleek" - which is a good thing considering they all have the potential to be blimp-sized if allowed to be!

Victoria Cummings said...

Billie - Do the horses lie down at night in the pasture? My girls really seem to prefer getting tucked into their stalls when it gets dark, especially now that it's colder. I will have to check out Whinny Warmers for Silk. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments about the older girls - it does all fluctuate from day to day. And I enjoyed your voting post - I totally agree with what you said.

billie said...

Victoria, they generally lie down in the stalls during the two rest periods, but they have always tended to lie down in the pasture in the sunshine in the mid-morning too - which makes me think they stay up and awake during the night, preferring to rest in the light of day when they can soak the sun in.

Salina has been with us for 5 years now and I have never seen her lying down. I see evidence that she has done so, and I've seen her roll, but I don't know when it is she actually sleeps.

She reminds me of mothers everywhere - sometime when everyone else is taken care of, she finds the time for herself!

I've always said that Keil Bay likes coming into his stall during hot days and cold nights - and they will always have access (like last night) when it is rainy or extremely cold - but as I stumbled into this way of doing things I realized that he likes having some quiet stall time - but never stayed inside the stalls through the night - I could see by the manure that much of the night the horses spent hanging out in the paddock by the gates to the field, probably trying to open them. :)

This way they still do get tucked in for long enough to rest, but then they get their warm dinner tubs (on cold nights) and go out where they can walk around and stay warm grazing the hay we put out.

It's very clear that Salina likes this routine - she goes to the gate and waits to be let out again after the dinner tubs.

I'm sort of smacking myself on the head and thinking "duh" - why haven't I done this before now?