Bringing in Your Horse
Whether your horse lives out year round or you’re panicking that he’s chilly even in the summer, deciding when it’s time to bring your horse in can be tricky, and everyone seems to have a different view.
The key here is knowing that every horse is different, and every owner is different too! While many horses are happy to be out in the field come rain or shine, others appreciate the warmth and comfort of a bed when the weather is bad.
Can’t decide whether he’s happy out or craving the warmth of his stable? Here’s what to consider.
Change in Behaviour & Condition
You know your horse the best, and if you notice their behaviour or condition changing, it might be a good time to start bringing them in, either at night or for a few hours during the day. If they are looking tucked up, feeling chilly behind their ears or just generally looking a little miserable when the colder weather hits, bringing them in at night may be the best option.
Thinner horses can be kept out but will need plenty of forage to keep them going. They will use their energy keeping warm so need to be rugged up and given extra food to compensate. Horses that are in good condition or could do with losing weight will cope better outside, as they will have enough fat reserves to keep them warm.
Most horses are very happy to be out in the field during bad weather as long as they have a mobile field shelter to stand in! These will shelter them from the wind and rain, and as long as they have some forage, they’ll be as happy under these as they are in their stables.
While we’d recommend everyone invest in a mobile field shelter, if you do lack a suitable shelter, bringing your horse in during bad weather is the best option. Not only will the stable shelter them from wind and rain, it’ll also provide them with shade and respite from the flies in the height of summer. Allowing them to chill out in a cooler stable can be the best option during those hot summer days.
Whether it’s the rich summer grass or ankle-deep mud, your field can cause a whole range of grazing problems. If your horse is at risk of laminitis and fencing off a section of the field isn’t an option, you will need to bring them in regularly to keep them away from the grass and provide them with low-sugar forage.
Likewise, if your horse has lost condition over the winter and there’s not much grass available, they can be brought into the stable and given ample forage. This also allows you to monitor how much they are eating.
As well as the condition of your horse, keep an eye on the state of your field. Mud fever is a nasty condition caused by excess mud in the field – although many horses will last all winter in muddy conditions without developing mud fever. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so when you do bring your horse in ensure you clean and dry their legs thoroughly.
Sticking to a Routine
If you have just bought a new horse, it’s best to stick to what they are used to and make any changes gradually. Horses thrive on routine and changing too much too soon can lead to stress and a range of health problems.
Putting a horse out 24/7 who is used to only going out for a few hours each day will be a big change for them to get used to, so if your horse is used to coming in regularly, stick to what they know and reduce their time in the stable gradually.
Type of Horse
Some horses will cope better outside than others. Native breeds have evolved to be tough enough to cope with severe winter weather without any problems, and they are usually very happy to be left out year-round.
Leaner, more athletic horses like TBs and Arabs have evolved to cope with the hotter weather, but not the cold! They will need extra food and shelter to keep them in good condition, and if it’s cold they will need to be rugged.
Knowing when to bring your horse in can be tricky, but the important thing to remember is that there is no right answer! Trust yourself to make the right decision for your horse.