Hot horse world topics from my point of view! As a previous manager of a commercial boarding and training barn, and a current equine appraising and publishing professional – I have lots of experience in many facets of the horse world and I want to share them with you here!
Your Horse Should be Outside
For my first real blog post I wanted to start with something that I am really passionate about, and that is horses getting enough turnout, and ideally even living outside full time. Now, before I get on my soap box, I know that not every single horse on earth can handle living out 24/7 – I myself am caring for a few horses that are stalled at night. Don’t come at me because you have a 35 year old horse with no teeth, low bodyfat, and a hatred of rain; I get it, I do too. On this topic I am speaking generally. Are there outliers? Of course, there are. But in general, most horses are happier and healthier when they live outside, and these are the horses that I want to talk about.
Before we really get into it, I want you to think about the evolution of the horse and human relationship. Prior to domestication horses were completely nomadic, nocturnal animals that were constantly on the move, and living in small herds called bands. A horse’s entire body is designed to constantly digest small amounts of fiber while being alert and agile enough to identify and escape predators.
Since horses were domesticated some six-thousand years ago, their digestive anatomy has evolved very little. While yes, many different breeds have developed all with their unique breed standards – these characteristics are primarily cosmetic. What is the same for every horse on earth is that they are non-ruminants, or hind-gut fermenters. This type of digestive tract is designed to eat small meals frequently; and that goes for all breeds, shapes, sizes, and ages.
At this point you might be asking yourself, “what does this even have to do with turnout?”. Great question! An important aspect of digestion for horses is walking. Walking around helps a horse’s gut motility and just minimal walking from foraging helps a horse avoid things like impactions and gas bubbles building up in their gut. Now I’m sure you’re catching my drift—at this point we have established that a horse’s anatomy is designed to one, eat many small meals through the day, and two, almost always keep moving.
Although I am sure there was no ill intention in the creation of the practice, I assume you can already see why locking a horse up in a 12X12 stall and feeding them three square meals a day is not ideal. Even just stalling a horse overnight is too much—the healthiest horses are not forced to be sedentary. The absolute best way to avoid major health issues in horses is to provide them constant access to good quality forage (this is relative for the horse at hand but that’s an article for another day) and to let them move and be horses. I could go on and on about a horse’s teeth, hooves, circulatory system, etc. and how they all point to the fact that horses are healthier with constant turnout, but above all the equine digestive system is not designed to be locked up in a small space.
If you are reading this and decide you are convinced your horse needs more time outside, great! I’m sure you are right! However, please remember to make any changes to your horse’s life subtly as stress is one heck of a beast to our equine friends, but again, that’s a blog for another day.
Thanks for being here!
Why a Blog?
Welcome to this sites new Blog Page! I recently decided to start a blog – I like to write, and I want to have some informal discussions about some of the topics I know a lot about. I have professional experience in both the hands-on and support sectors of the equine industry and I feel there is a lot to discuss in both aspects of the horse world.
I am going to share with you a lot of what worked well for me, and maybe some things that did not work so well as the owner and manager of a 40 plus horse boarding facility. Currently I am only boarding 5 horses in addition to caring for my own, but I have a lot of knowledge about caring for horses with a lot of unique different needs. I’ve done a little bit of everything ranging from broodmare care and foaling, disease treatment and management, and equine rehabilitation, to name a few. I am really passionate about caring for horses the way that their bodies were intended. The more turnout the better—I’m sure I’ll lecture on this more than once.
Besides the actual care of the horses, I also have a lot to contribute towards discussions of business management and customer service in the boarding business. I feel that the equine industry is unique in the way that often, customers proclaim themselves as experts, even though they are paying an actual expert for a service. While yes, many horse owners are amazing and well educated, there are SO MANY who really need the advice they’re given from equine care professionals. I got to the point over the years that I would rather loose a customer than people please to the point where the care the horse was receiving wasn’t to a standard that I found appropriate or healthy. I think there is a real “kill them with kindness” epidemic in the horse world, and I found it better to loose a customer than contribute to a horses insulin resistance issues or lameness issues.
Now that I am primarily working in the support sector as an appraiser and publisher, I have a lot of insight to add on equine current events, hot products and current trends. I love to report on and publish medical, management and training articles but I don’t tend to offer my own opinion, and this blog will allow me the outlet to do that. One of my first few blogs will focus on how insane the horse market has been – a really fun topic for me given my appraiser training.
Lastly, this blog is going to become a place for product reviews and gift guides. I want to share some of my favorite things and help promote some of the businesses that I love, and I also want to create a column of “I tried it so you don’t have to”. I’ve seen similar blogs/ videos outside the horse industry and I’d like to bring it to this space because put plainly, who wants to buy something (something expensive no less) when no one you know has bought or tried it. Products in the future might range from tack, apparel or farm and stable supplies and equipment. I’ll be the guinea pig and report back honestly on what I love and what might not be worth the price.
Thanks for being here!