Monday, November 08, 2010

notes on the new turn-out routine

 Reminder: horses now come in for 2-3 hours in the a.m. and again for 2-3 hours in the evening. They spend some of that time closed into their stalls, and the breakfast and dinner tubs are served while they are in. Salina gets an additional tub around 3 p.m. so she comes in at least briefly for that. She and her donkey boys are never closed into stalls, although they have two of them and do enjoy resting in them particularly on hot summer days.

We've been at this new routine for several weeks now and these are a few things I'm seeing:

Salina (27 year old mare with arthritic knees) is moving more easily. I just looked out the window and she is grazing side by side with Keil Bay at the very bottom of our front field. That she is willing to go all the way down is a clear sign that she's feeling good and moving well.

Cody (QH with PSSM symptoms mostly under control) is also moving better. It's subtle, but he has a nice swing in his walk that he didn't have before we shifted to this routine.

The horses all seem a bit sleeker in figure. With a herd full of easy keepers this is a good thing.

They are tending to lie down and sleep either when in stalls or during the warm parts of the day - yesterday I noticed that during the warmest part of the day Keil came up to the upper field and found himself not a sunny spot, but a shady spot in a section of very loose, damp earth. It was in the mid-50s - so while to me it was cool and that damp earth seemed way too cold to lie in, it clearly felt good to him.

They are moving and grazing hay during the coldest parts of their "day" - which they were unable to do in our previous routine, when hay was served in stalls open to the paddocks.  In my mind eating hay in their stalls at night was "cozier." But I also noticed that often on very cold nights I would look out and see them standing out in the paddocks, walking and sometimes loitering near the gates to the fields! With the new plan they get some cozy stall time with hay in the evening, get their warm tubs, and then go back out where they can move AND graze hay during the nights.

We've had a few rainy nights during this trial period, and on those nights we simply reverted to our old way of doing things, as I don't want horses standing in cold rain, and I don't really want to put hay out when it's raining. It was no problem slipping back into our old way while the rain came, and then shifting right back to this new routine when it stopped.

We'd do the same with snow, high winds, etc. And although we just had two nights below freezing, I chose not to blanket. They all have nice winter coats already and I figured it wouldn't stay below freezing for very long. What I'm seeing is that they are not standing by the barn waiting to be let in, but sometimes even have to be actively encouraged to come in and get some hay inside. One morning it rained unexpectedly and Keil Bay and the pony stayed out in the rain and played instead of coming in for hay. That was a surprise, but I love seeing them feeling good and enjoying the season.

So far, so good. When it gets a bit colder and we have night-time temps staying at or below freezing, I'll bring the blankets out, but for now, they are fluffy-coated, happy equines.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like a good plan. We like to leave Donnie out in the shed with Sami. Donnie is pssm and the moving around really seems to help him. Nate has it too but he's the first one to the gate and refuses to stay outside. We don't know whether to try a little tough love on him or not.

I'm glad to hear Salina and Cody are doing so well. We've had to blanket a few times, this morning we had a sort of ice storm, high winds and very nasty. They needed their waterproof protection.

billie said...

Nate reminds me of Keil Bay - although Keil seems to be taking to this new arrangement very well. I think the fact that I segued them into it from summer's night-time turn-out - i.e. we never changed over - so it didn't feel like a big change to them.

Actually, some of why it occurred to me to do it was that it sort of naturally happened as the season began to shift - and I liked how they were looking, so decided to stick with it.