A simple way to decrease stress on your horse is to provide plenty of turnout. Horses simply aren’t designed to stand 24/7 in a box stall for our convenience. The innate need for equines to have access to grazing and their preference for constant movement aids their digestion, keeps their joints loose and soft tissues elastic.
Horses that are boxed up in solitary confinement will often develop behavioral issues, and their mental and physical well being can suffer.
Aside from the necessity to stable a horse to restrict its activities due to injury or disease, freedom to roam and graze will make a horse much happier and it is a good way to reduce stress, avoid common equine gastrointestinal issues such as ulcers and reduce vices.
One of my favorite superstars is professional dancer/choreographer Derek Hough and there are lots of similarities between horse riding and ballroom dancing. In his Masterclass Series he says, “Motion is Emotion.” As a dressage competitor I found this a great idiom to remember. Obviously, Hough is talking about how we move being how we feel.
If you think about how sitting tall and upright in the saddle controlling your core by breathing in with your elbows tucked into your side can make you feel proud and in control, versus how being slumped forward in the tack and bobbling about like a sack of potatoes makes you feel like an unwelcome passenger that the horse is hopefully tolerating, it is an easy to understand what we contribute to the riding partnership in terms of the impact of our body control and posture.
To take this a step further, a horse that is able to move his body around freely and explore its environment will exude relaxation and in turn this will improve its state of mind. A horse needs to expend its energy and freedom of motion directly affects its emotion.
As herd animals, horses also need companionship to complete their circle of happiness. As their caregivers we realize that restricted pasture space means not all herd members will be able to escape the ‘bully’ or dominant horse or enjoy direct contact with such a horse. Fencing is the natural solution to manage herd dynamic issues in a small space.
However, hours of turnout may not be the best for a horse either. Extremes of weather, pesky biting bugs and upsets caused by neighborhood fireworks or other noisy events can provide conditions that a horse would otherwise not tolerate. If we are not available to bring the horse in for shelter then it has no alternative but to deal with the situation.
The answer to the dilemma is to offer your horse a free in/out living space, where it can come and go freely between pasture and stall as it prefers. Whether you provide a center aisle barn with Dutch doors to the exterior that exit to a fenced pasture
(the pastures off each stall may be easily divided between the neighboring pasture with a fence), or a shed row or run-in shed set up within a field, your horse will be able to seek shelter when its needs require and also enjoy the health benefits of lots of fresh air and movement with grazing. The addition of an overhang to the structure will further enhance the shelter options available for your horse.
Another advantage of the in/out set up, is you can divide horses for feeding if needed to ensure each individual is able to eat in peace and receives appropriate rations with any special dietary needs addressed, and keep a good eye on their general health condition and check for injuries. Dutch doors can easily be closed temporarily if one horse is in need of stall rest or needs to be confined for its own safety or security.
Movement is critical to both the mental and physical health of the horse. The in/out equine lifestyle design can be beneficial to both the horse, and for the busy horse owner who has daily commitments outside of equine ownership with which to contend and appreciates the flexibility it offers.
Don’t we all desire the freedom to roam? And doesn’t the domesticated horse deserve as much opportunity to match his natural lifestyle as possible?
When you plan your new barn always build in as much flexibility as possible and consider both the horse and your own schedule in the design process. Consultation with an expert team from an experienced barn building company can yield many positive ideas for the design and address questions you didn’t know you needed to ask.
Choose a company that provides full warranties on their craftsmanship, offers a wide choice of styles and materials for siding/roofing and is willing to provide a ‘to the penny’ price for your project from start to finish.
This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen PA – Modular horse barn and indoor riding arena specialists. Horizon Structures also offers both residential and commercial kennels, coops, multi-use structures and playsets. Please visit https://www.HorizonStructures.com to learn more.
About Horizon Structures: One horse or twenty, there's one thing all horse owners have in common...the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart "horse-friendly" design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses' stabling needs.
All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need -
Horizon Structures also sells indoor riding arenas, chicken coops, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures.
Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com
About Nikki Alvin-Smith: International and national published freelance writer and photographer in such world renowned publications such as The Chronicle of the Horse, Horse and Hound, Dressage and CT, Warmbloods Today, The Horseman’s Yankee Pedlar, Reiter, The Equine Journal, Spur, Hoofprints, Horsin’ Around, Horses All, Field & Stream, Western Horse and Gun, Pony Quarterly, Horses All Canada, Catskill Horse to name a few. Ghostwriting, blog services, PR/Marketing copy either direct with manufacturer or for agencies, copy editing and editor services also available. Nikki also produces catalog copy, white papers, e-books, corporate brochures and advertising copy for international corporations and PR/Marketing for celebrities.
As a Brit who has called the America home for the past 34 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to the equestrian world. Nikki is also an accomplished Grand Prix dressage trainer/competitor, competing at international Grand Prix level to scores over 72% and is a highly sought clinician offering clinics worldwide. She has been a horse breeder/importer of warmblood and Baroque breeds for more than 25 years. Together with her husband Paul who is also a Grand Prix trainer, they run Willowview Hill Farm, a private dressage breeding operation and training yard in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.