What is the best place for my horse to live - a stall or a paddock?
You may have read my previous post about why stalls could be the best thing since sliced bread for your horse….and although it’s an epic piece of writing, it’s also a load of dookie for some horses and farms. Here’s why outdoor living in a paddock, pasture, dry lot, or other space other than a stall can be better:
-You horse has room to roam. This can help with stocking up, preventing boredom, and mimicking his natural inclinations to be on the move most of the day. This room to roam is also more room to roll, which is great for auto chiropractics, fly control, and a lovely grooming challenge.
-Your horse may have closer access to buddies, which also supports his herd mentalities.
-You horse will typically not develop vices, such as cribbing and weaving when living in a pasture environment. This does not mean that a cribber who lives in a stall will cease this behavior when turned out, but he may not crib as much.
-The air quality is usually much better outside than in a stall! You also rarely need to worry about ammonia smells piling up, although you will be hoofing it further to pick up manure and feed hay in a pasture or paddock.
-You have the opportunity to increase the amount of time your horse spends eating small amounts. Again, this mimics your horse’s “natural ways”. If you have actual grass pasture, this is great to keep your horse nibbling. The many variations of slow feeders are also easily used in paddocks just in case you don’t have much grass.
Ah...rolling hills of grass and horses!
OF COURSE there are downsides - you may be trucking hay and wheelbarrows and manure forks over longer distances. This eats time as you build muscle. A tradeoff?
And remember that not all horses can tolerate grass. Know if your horse is metabolically challenged. Know if his hooves need supplements from being on hard or soft ground.
Have a plan for wicked horrible weather. Snow and cold can be fine, ice is NOT fine. At all.
Have enough land to rotate pastures and rest them.
Why does your horse live outside of a stall? Or in combination with a stall?