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Discussion Starter #1
My mom was telling me about my brother's fiancee who just brought her horse from Minnesota to live on their farm in Colorado. Basically, my mom told me that they just turned the horse out into the pasture and that's it...they don't brush her, they don't give her any grain/feed/hay...she just grazes on prairie grass, they don't ride her/handle her at all...she's just in the pasture by herself. I have never had a horse, but when I worked at a rescue, we had a mini horse and were required to feed her grain, brush her, etc every day. So, my question is...is this normal to do? I don't see why they would have a horse if they don't interact with it, but, my experience is with dogs, cats, pocket pets, etc. (I even give my fish steamed broccoli and fresh lettuce to entertain them)
 

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Kate
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Depending on the situation (how much grass is out there for her to eat), I would consider that neglect.

Interaction is one thing, but I would be concerned about the horse getting enough food, as well as basic care.

The other thing too... because horses are pack animals, they like to have company. I would feel bad for a horse that is by herself 24/7. My guy is always turned out with a pasture buddy. He can be turned out for a short time by himself, but he generally comes up to run the fence if alone.
 

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Well, it wouldn't be what I would do but if the horse is happy (not frantic for company) and not skinny then it's okay.

We don't brush every day. We feed twice a day because we have to monitor their food. And we have to keep them OFF the pasture for 18-20 hours a day. If we turned them out, they'd be way too fat.
 

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Grain is not always needed, depending on the horse and how much work it does. My palomino mare needs grain year round since it's hard to keep weight on her, and most performance horses need grain. But many pasture pets just don't need the extra calories to maintain weight. Our paint mare can eat grass through the summer and hay in the winter and be fat all year without grain. In Ohio, we do have to supplement hay in the winter due to the snow. As far as attention and brushing, the brushing should be done, and feet should be checked regularly to make sure there aren't any issues. But mine are all happy to spend a full day at pasture in the summer and refuse to come in unless it's hot or storming. As long as there is adequate shelter, a clean water source, the horse is current on vaccinations, and is handled enough not to become feral, they're very self sufficient critters. Much different than most domestic animals, that's for sure. We don't interact with ours as much as we should, but they're pretty to look at and very therapeutic. I wouldn't say their situation is "normal," but their horse may also be happy as a clam with all that grass. I've seen horses pastured on dirt or in a forest, and to me that's worse than an open field. But it's hard to say anything for sure without all the facts.

Eta: I also think it's better to be on pasture than locked up in a stall except for to exercise. But that's my personal opinion. And yes, turn out with an animal friend would be ideal (horse, cows, etc.)

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Kate
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I asked my barn lady to make sure my guy is brought inside every night, or at least every other day. I don't know if it is because he's older or because he's so active when he's out there (lots of running around), but he loses weight when he's out for days at a time. And at his age (almost 27), he doesn't have that much extra weight to lose. He's a skinny boy.

To clarify because of the "locked in a stall" comment... most horses at our barn are turned out between the morning and late afternoon. So generally are outside for 8 hours at least. And then they come inside by evening until the next day when they do it all again. For those horses who are retired like mine, they generally get to spend more time outside to get enough exercise to keep them in shape. Otherwise, they are more likely to lose muscle and come out stiff. That's why they get to be turned out for longer hours or generally 2-3 days in a row or more. And if they have enough shelter and food and water - they generally are fine. With my guy, we had him on that schedule for a while and it was great for his legs and shoulders (he has some arthritis), but his ribs started showing. And not for lack of food - he's usually one of those stud brains who chases other horses away from the food and there's lots of grass out there. :)

Around here too, there were neglect cases last year because people did not want to spend the money on hay (because hay was so expensive). You had a lot of starving horses foraging on whatever grass was available outside (not enough in most cases).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, guys! Like i said, I've never owned a horse, but it seemed strange to have a horse and never handle/ groom/feed it....plus, they have a habit of treating their animals in a way that 2 vets should know better (for example, they have a great dane that destroys their house, so they muzzle and tranquilize him when they leave instead of crating or training him)
 

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As fas as locked in a stall...our guys prefer to be in the barn. They love their few hours outside but then they come to the gate when they see me...ready to come in from the weather...be it hot or cold. They love their barn.
 

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Kate
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@Elizabeth - heheh - I guess given an option between running from flies outside and drinking from the water tank thingy which gets hosed out but still gets dead bugs and mice floating around in it and or standing in the poop-mud in the shelter thingies :yuck: - I'd take the stall with the fan blowing on me and fresh water and hay + clean bedding. :)
 

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When I had my horses they loved going in to the barn at night. I would work with horses allot. My son brushed Morgan everyday but she liked it she would come running to have her mane and tail brushed. My sister still has her horse Gemini, Gemini doesnt like to be brushed she doesnt care for allot of interaction even though we raised them the same she hates the barn and stall. She is too high strung to have sweet feed so she is only on hay or pasture. I say it depends on the horse. Now my neighbor that just moved in deosnt know anything about horses he has 9 or 10 of them they hardly ever have enough water and he keeps them in small paddocks with not enough hay or grass and I never see them feeding them grain. The horses are basically outside my living room window so I see what is going on through out the day.
 

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I wanted to clarify what I meant when I said "locked in a stall." I'm definitely not saying stall time is bad. My mare was just on stall rest for the better part of a month, and itching to go outside each day. Two of ours get stalled at night, since Penny still has a bandage on her leg and needs company, so we keep Molly in too. Our barn is unique in that we have a three box stall-sized run-in at the back for the horses to come in whenever they want. They can come and go as they please, with access to fresh water and fans. They go out in the morning and come in at dark, ready for a little hay and grain. But on really nice nights, it can be a fight to get all four of them back to the barn without leading them all.

What I'm talking about is people like the lady up the road from me with show horses. I can't say that I've ever seen hers in the pasture in the eleven years we've lived here, and we pass her house many times each week. Of course, it could be that the horses are with the trainer. But I do know of people who rarely let their horses out and that just makes me sad. And too much stall time can cause problems - cribbing, weaving, chewing, and my mare gets stocked up really bad if she doesn't have at least eight hours at pasture each day. So I really think it depends on the horse. I know how happy mine are to be out after just being stalled overnight, regardless of bugs and weather. They do let us know when they're done having fun and we'll bring them in, but they're generally very happy at pasture.

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The Missouri Crew
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My horse prefers to be outdoors, she is not a fan of being stalled.... she is ok for about 2-3 hours , then after that she wants out.
 

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Knife Swallower
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I'd be most worried about basic horse husbandry, i.e. deworming and farrier care. Domestic horses don't travel enough to wear down their hooves naturally. In some cases, the hoof wall grows like "elf shoes". The front toe grows so long it turns up. It causes severe lameness, joint damage, not to mention it's incredibly painful. The horse may not need shoes but it WILL need trims every 6-8 weeks.

Pasture should be fine for now...but the grass isn't as rich as in spring/summer and won't be providing as many calories or nutrients. Hay should probably be given over the winter. Not many horses need grain, especially if they're on pasture and not working. But adequate forage, be it hay or GOOD pasture, is a must. As is 24/7 access to clean water. Especially in winter, when water freezes. Do you know what the watering situation is like?

Companions are a bonus, but not all horses "need" them. Some are perfectly fine on their own. But basic forage, basic farrier, basic deworming schedule and shelter is must for a healthy horse.

As for human interaction...eh. Some horses like it and some don't miss it at all. The problem is keeping the horse used to being handled so when it's brought in for farrier or vet, it doesn't act like an unhandled two year old.

In all honesty, my guy doesn't get handled much anymore. I'm busy at school and he's at a great facility that looks after him. Besides getting his grain every day (he just gets it because he spoiled, he certainly doesn't need it) and the odd blanket change, he's left to hang out with his friends. He's fine, and he's a horse that loves interaction. I feel bad for not seeing him more often.

But we'd turn out school horses in a pasture for 2 months each winter and we could hardly get near them. They just cared about their "Freedom" and seemed happier without us bothering them with blankets or brushing them so they were left to their own devices besides a daily check for injuries.

So yeah - basic care. Forage (which means hay in the winter), shelter, farrier every 6-8 weeks, deworming. Wouldn't hurt to have a vet check teeth, too.
 

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I have 5 horses, and they are very social animals. This is most likely considered as neglect. They don't always need grain, but they should be brushed and at least some attention.
 

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Kate
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^ This is how the babies at my barn (well not my barn, but where I board) are raised. Early in life they spend all their time in the stall with their moms, with daily turnout with their moms.

When it comes time for them to be weaned, they always are kept with another baby while they grow up and learn to be horses. They learn how to be good in stalls... are usually given a prime spot where they get fed treats and are handled all the time by all kinds of people throughout the day, every day. They are turned out together and so forth.



And then over time, they are turned out with other horses and my barn lady and all of the people who work at the barn keep an eye out for any personalities that do not get along together.

So generally by the time they are all grown up, they have their own pack that they are turned out with on a daily basis and/or longer. And they prefer being with other horses out there, because that was how they were raised.

Definitely, you can raise a more solitary minded horse by not doing as much nurturing and socialization, and handling.... but it's not always the best thing.

My personal THING or what I love the most about my guy and all the other horses at this barn, and it is a huge credit to my barn lady - these horses are closer to being dogs than most. They genuinely like and trust all the people who come into the barn and enjoy being handled. And while there are personality clashes (my horse can never be turned out with one of his brothers, because they will try to kill each other), they generally are a peaceful pack because of how they were raised.



Should add, another attractive thing that keeps me boarding at this barn - every horse is very socialized about cats and dogs. There may be a unpredictable element still as far as whether a young horse (or a mare) will get skittish about a dog being underfoot. But generally, when my dogs are out in the gelding's field with my guy and the others - I'm not that concerned. Because again, these are very socialized, handled, and mentally sound horses who have been inside the barn with people and dogs and have that trust.

Anyway. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for all of the replies. I was there for their wedding a few weeks ago and saw this all for myself...the horse literally has no care. She loves attention...I went to the fence and talked to her, and she came up to the fence so I could pet her...this worries me because they don't pet her/talk to her/groom her. What worries me most (aside from me telling my brother that she was drinking out of her water bucket by the tubs we were setting up to put the beer in and he was shocked she found her drinking water because they ~think~ there might have been a stream somewhere on the property and didn't bother to provide her water) is that they have goat head burrs all over their property. These burrs flattened the tires on our rental car and ruined the soles of my shoes...so how will an unshod hoof hold up?
 
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