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teekathepony

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PostSubject: Question about run-ins   Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:24 am

For those of you with horses on 24h turnout of one type or another, I have a question. What do you do when the weather gets bad? Do you let your horses make their own decisions?

I've had Teeka and Dale in a run in with 24h turnout for just over three years. I'm still struggling with the open door concept, having had Teeka, for the 10 years before that, in a traditional stall and walking her to the pasture every morning and locking her in her stall at night. Now they have a convertible run in -- one big stall that can be separated into two nice sized ones, each with its own door to the aisle and a door to the pasture. Last night it was very cold and rainy, as you know. So I closed one of two outside doors to the stall, closed the side door to the aisle and closed all the windows, leaving only one door open to the pasture. Lots of fresh hay inside and some out, so the horses could pick where they wanted to eat. I went out this morning and Teeka is soaking wet and shivering. Which leaves me thinking that "I'm the one who reads weather forecasts, not Teeka. I should have made the decision to turn the run in into two stalls and locked them indoors last night". But at the same time, "She had the open door and could have come in at any time!"

Just to add, my horses don't wear blankets and have a... er... healthy layer of fat on them, lol!

Thoughts?
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SexyDexy

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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:59 am

Mine live with just a run-in. Dexter was stalled for the first 11 years of his life and if there is even a sprinkle out, he will hide in the run-in. George was also stalled and is the only one that I see shivering from time to time. He will get wet then go in to dry off but gets cold in the process. Prince was born outside and I've never seen him shiver. He's always the one out in the rain or hanging half out of the run in and he can be soaked but never seems to get cold. I have no way of locking them in the run in so I leave it up to them. When I see George shivering I just give him extra hay. If I felt he needed more help drying off and warming up then I can take him in the main barn and throw a cooler on him for a few hours. The only time I stall anyone is when we get nasty winter storms and then George goes in the barn because he will try to keep Prince and Dex out of the run in. Seems to only do this when they really need (or want) to be in there.

I would just give them the option and see how that goes. If she starts dropping weight then I would consider locking her in during rain/freezing rain.

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Tango



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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:23 pm

I'm in the same boat lol. I'd like them to be in in bad weather, last night when I went to feed one of them (oddly enough the biggest of our horses) was shivering. He does go in the run in quite often. He can be possessive and bossy but on some hot afternoons I have seen them all in there. Then one day, actually after that last hurricane, I went out and the arthritic old mare had gone out through the window I have for clean out (left open all summer) and tore a couple boards with her - luckily no one stepped on any nails, crazy horses.

I think for my own peace of mind, I will use waterproof rain sheets (not heavy winter blankets) this time of year and in the spring when we get these cold nasty rain storms. Winter actually doesn't seem as bad. I have two box stalls that two went in last winter and two stayed out with the run in. It would be really hard when I'm by myself in the mornings if I convert our two box stalls to four straight stalls as it is a walk from there to the pasture times the four horses, and it will just be a challenge to get them all out without one of them loosing their minds at being the last lol.
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MoonShadow

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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:15 pm

I realy had the perfect set up on PEI. A very large run in, that the horses could choose, when they needed shelter. There was no safe way to lock them in. And if it was raining realy hard, or very windy they choose to be out. The rain on the metal roof can be deafening, and with hig winds, its realy hard for the horses to hear. Horses depend on thier hearing far more than we know. So if they can't hear the monsters comming, they have to be able to see them. For the most part, my horses choose the hot summer buggy days to hang out in the shelter.

Now here in NS, I don't have any kind of traditional shelter for them. We have opened up a parcel of wooded area, where the canapy of the trees provides some shelter. But when its realy windy, they are not keen.. they can not exercise thier "flight" mode as safely as the trees are fairly dense, so they have to pick thier way semi carefully. We are in the process of constructing a lean to of sorts ..made of standing pines, tarps and brush... this is a place they can go to get out of the pouring rain. We humans have to remember that horses bodies were designed to adapt to all kinds of weather. They need loads of hay to chew, movement and water. Mine have that. Horses coats are amazingly designed for wet and cold.

Try and think of horses, similar to deer.. no one is locking them in a barn, where they have to adapt their survival defences to cope with being locked up. No way to get away from the wind monsters, or away from the annoying noises of the rain hammering on the barn roofs and windows. Stuffy air filled with dust and hay particles to breath for 12 or more hours. Not enough space to truely stretch out the aching muscles, or room to run, if it is needed to get the heart pumping blood to warm them. They cold standing in a barn too.

Horses are smart animals, they know when they need to come out of the rain.. ( so to speak).. just be sure to provide them with all the hay they can eat, ( and then some).. fresh clean water, and room to move, with some sort of shelter. Its hard not to think that they need the same type of comforts we humans need.
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Wil-If-I-Want



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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:01 pm

Totally on board with MoonShadow here. Horses don't think or feel the same way humans do. Instinctively, humans have the desire to control (present & future) Horses on the other hand live in the -now-

Although they are not natural, nor wild.. they still have instincs within them. It is not normal for them to be cooped up.. although they do adjust.

The horses winter coat is a horse's first defense from the cold. When allowed to grow, a horse's natural hair coat acts as a very effective thermal blanket, it increases both in length and density as the days grow shorter. A Horses winter coat is also naturally greasy, which helps it repel snow, ice, and sleet. A heavy winter hair coat acts like a tremendous insulator and provides as much warmth as the best blankets! Horses that are to live outdoors need to be allowed to grow a long hair coat, plus the hair within the ears and around the fetlocks should not be clipped during this time.

Horses have an extremely efficient thermoregulatory system in their skin, it is quite interesting really! Their skin enables them to gain information about the environment around them. Each individual hair in a horse's coat has a small muscle attached to it allowing the horse to raise and lower the hairs to change the thickness of the coat. When the horse is cold it will raise the hairs so they can trap a layer of warm air. The air is warmed by the heat loss from the horse's skin and the hairs prevent the air from escaping. As the horse warms up the coat will be flattened. This in turn decreases the amount of insulation and varies the amount of airflow to the skin.

Just like any other muscle the hair muscles need to be exercised to perform properly. When a horse is kept in a stable with a fairly constant temperature the muscles do not get exercised. This impacts on the horse when its blanket is taken off when going for a ride. Suddenly the horse is subjected to much lower temperatures and it's muscles aren't able to respond effectively.

When a blanket is put on the horse the hairs are forced to lie flat. This means that the horse no longer has control over regulating it's temperature. Often the horse gets too hot under the rug and it is helpless to do anything about it. However the uncovered parts of the horse still get cold so the horse tries to warm them up which in turn make the areas under the blanket even hotter.

Horses can also generate heat through muscle action when moving. This is another good reason for allowing horses to live outside where they have space to move around. Or if the horse doesn't want to move it can create the same effect by shivering as this also generates heat through muscle use.

Rugging and stabling a horse prevents the horse from growing a thicker coat in the winter. Also too much grooming can strip the coat of its natural greases which are there to keep it waterproofed.

We tend to think that if we are cold, our horses must be cold but this isn't always the case! Preconditioning horses before the cold temperatures helps to reduce the effect of cold weather on the horse an will reduce his nutritional needs to maintain weight. A horse shouldn't lose weight in the winter in fact, a little extra layer of fat to fend off the cold won't hurt. Fat cover acts as an insulator and provides energy reserves during stress. Altering your feeding program for the upcoming winter by providing some extra calories will allow horses to lay down an insulating layer of fat under the skin.

What I worry about is because my horse is kept outdoors 24/7, I worry that on the occasion that my human instinct kicks in and I decide she "needs to stay in"
1 - she's going to be colder because she's not moving.
2- If I opt to blanket her with her super fuzzy, full, winter coat I risk the chance of her overheating.

Turnout is a touchy subject to some people, but it shouldn't be. There is no denying that it is the best thing for a horse's mind. However some people want their horses "clean", "scratch free", "warm", "safe" which is the human way if living.

I'm not saying that this lifestyle is best for every horse.. some horses are so used to being in that they've lost touch with their instincs. Also horses live a LOT longer in our care thus special care & attention sometimes has to take place with elderly horses or those suffering from medical conditions.

ETA: I kind of got a big off topic here, sorry. I just find it VERY interesting. In regards to shelters... because of herd structures, often times there is a horse who can't get in when only one shelter is available.. That is why I belive that it is best to have multiple shetlers. My personal favorite is the lean-to's because they provide an easy eascape. You need to have more than one so that they can protect themselves when the winds change direction. It protects them from the elements yet allows them to visually see everything in front of them. (plus they are a good but scratcher haha) I also like to have the option of natural shelter ie: trees.
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just joan
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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:04 pm

I used to drive myself insane, running in and out of the house to the barn to bring them in or take them out depending on bugs and or weather...........I switched to the run in and would watch them, on days I would have run out and dragged them inside they were happily grazing away........I never changed that, only on the bad snow nights when the snow is blowing in the barn do I shut the door..........Abbey would never allow you to put a blanket on her.....she always grew her own great coat right up till the end.....on the really ugly cold wet nights ....big buckets of warm beet pulp along with their regular stuff........I am not sure about this winter with the donkey and the little new guy, never had either of this type before , and right now, I still havent allowed both of them out at the same time in the same paddock.......so its trickier.......but if they get along after Donkey gets gelded, then I will go with the run in when and if they please, but I did build 2 seperate stalls in there with gates just in case.........oh thistle, I hear another storm on the roof.......gonna go watch who comes in first.........

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teekathepony

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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:02 pm

Thanks all for your thoughts.

Wil - I know the ins and outs of how horses keep warm, it's not so much the cold temperatures that concern me, but cold rain really, you know what I mean? When I come in to see Teeka shivering and soaking wet, I have to wonder if she's ok and why she didn't make the decision to come the Bleeding heart inside! lol

I completely agree that this is the best way for them to live, but I can't help thinking that they were both born in stalls and raised in stalls and are perfectly comfortable in stalls, so on some occasions, might it be better to stall them? I almost never actually do, it's mostly my own guilt that's the problem.

I never blanket them and they both grow impressive winter coats (Dale turns into a yak!) and they get more hay than they can eat, have a great big shelter that is big and safe enough for just two, so I'm not actually concerned about them much of the time. Really, rain is the problem -- it just makes me wonder. I'm glad I got other views on it, haha.

Joan - I was like that too at first. I'd see the rain start so I'd rush out to make sure the horses knew that they could get inside themselves, just to see them happily grazing in the rain. Watching them make their own decisions fir the first few weeks taught me a lot, I think.
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MoonShadow

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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:07 am

I saw this small video on facebook, and wanted to share it.. so full of info. Its a promo for a Natural horse center in the UK, but the info is applicable to this thread.... enjoy!

http://youtu.be/VYdfdkXcmaQ
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Barefoot_Horsegirl

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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:34 am

I have 4 horses and a runin that's split into two stalls. That's all they have and we never lock them in. Don't really have the ability to.

We've always had a problem with the Canadians not going in the barn. This summer all 4 horses were in the barn regularly to get away from the bugs. Yahhooo! However, when we got that rain/snow/sleet storm last week the Canadians were out in it almost the whole time :(, and this is what went on last winter through all major storms. They seem to prefer to be out. When it is shitty, wet, cold, like we had last week, and they are drenched, we will blanket the Canadians only (not the other two). Bear, the old STB stays in the runin during bad weather and so does Beauty, so they are fine the way they are.

The Canadians dry out within a few hours on being blanketed and then at that point they usually want the blankets off (but I can tell they appreciate them when they are drenched).

Last year in total we may have used blankets 10 times throughout the whole winter. Not much. They still grow their thick wholly mammoth coats, its just once and awhile they need a little extra help when its really miserable out. IMO, if we had of stalled during those 10 times it really would have made no difference. I'm anti stalls, but wouldn't mind having a couple here to use during those weather periods that are really, really servere. You know, those storms when its not fit for any creature to be out. That's the only time. If its just raining or snow, I'm not worried. 100kms/hr winds with blowing rain/snow and low temperatures is when I worry. Hurricane, blizzard, etc.

If Teeka had lots of hay left and a shelter, I think she may have been scared to come in. If I found Beauty shivering in the barn when she had shelter and hay, I would probably blanket her for a few hours until she dries out. Give her a meal to "get the furnace going" too and free choice hay. Or, if I had the ability I would lock her in for a few hours with lots of hay until she dries. I also make them run, or bag flag them when they seem cold. Are you sure Teeka had lots of hay?

I really believe that stalling is very bad for a horses health but on a rare occasion when the weather is AWFUL (this happens rarely) stalling isn't the end of the world.


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teekathepony

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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:28 pm

Yeah I'm very sure she had all kinds of hay. About twice her usual amount actually. At the time when I fed them (the night before the shivery morning!) it wasn't too bad outside and that's where they had been before they came in for their grain. I had half outside and half inside so that no matter where they chose to go there would be food for them. I sure hope she wasn't too scared to come inside for some reason! I'd feel awful. I did throw a cooler on her when I saw her shivering that morning. I fed them inside but didn't lock them in. I went back out a few hours later to check on them and she was dry and warm and had a ton of hay yet untouched. I only lock them inside on the rare occasion that it's terribly nasty out, frigid temps, blowing snow, etc. And on those occasions, they seem very happy about the closed doors to be honest. First thing the next morning I always go let them out after their breakfast and they're happy to stretch their legs.
I guess you could say I'm newer to the run in thing and being a self conscious person by nature, I tend to need to hear what others are doing to see if I'm doing it right. lol!
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HHSES



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PostSubject: Re: Question about run-ins   Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:38 pm

As for the shivering, I have a Standardbred, who I feel is a little thin skinned. When I had my horses at home, I had a old school Appy and QH as well. There would be some cases where they would be just fine, but my STB would be just quivvering and shivvering out of his boots (hooves). I found that it was on cold rainy days or days where it was freezing rain and I didn't have a chance to get them inside until later. I just would watch weather reports and throw on a rainsheet if it was gonna be a wetter/colder day. Nothing to heavy, but just a little extra and he would be fine.
While horses are very adaptable, they aren't all the same and some may need a little help here and there.
Good luck with what you're doing, you are on the right track.

And as for the run in, be sure that both horses can get in and out safely and quickly in case there is a scuffle. That's the main concern.
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