Keeping Horses In Stalls: Going The Extra Mile

There are certain situations where some horses spend most of their time in a stall. Of course, racing horses are kept in a stall constantly but that is another type of situation that I am not necessarily targeting. Another horse in line for being stall kept would be show horses. Keeping horses in the stall most of the time will keep their coat at a higher level of brilliance not to mention their level of cleanliness is better and they will not get sunburned. If you are showing your horse, you want that animal to look the very best that they can at all times, and this not only takes extra effort, but is a more expensive venture.

Horses in the wild will walk approximately ten miles a day. Foraging is the natural way for them to not only eat large amounts of food, but to find the hundreds of different types of plants and flowers to help them fight off different ailments. Keeping horses in a stall is an unnatural habitat for them, so we need to remember that exercise on a daily basis is imperative, unless of course the horse is laid up due to an injury. Horses’ bodies and joints were actually designed for movement. However, it seems that some horses can learn to love their stalls if they are kept clean and properly bedded to the point that if you turn them out in a paddock, annoyingly, in about an hour or two they will want to come right back inside their stall. This may be more so during the spring and summer as the flies are a constant annoyance to them.

Stall care is as important as any other issue with horses. Horses must have their stalls cleaned thoroughly once a day which means taking out all the urine and manure and turning all the shavings or straw, (or whatever form of bedding you choose), over, and remixing the old with fresh bedding. Water buckets or automatic waterers need to be emptied and cleaned every day; no excuses. As the day progresses, the manure should be picked up as often as possible. Not only will this stop your horse from stepping in the manure and causing him or her to develop thrush, (a black fungus that has a foul odor and will destroy the frog causing serious lameness and feet problems if left unattended). but it will keep down the flies and gnats. At the very least, at afternoon feeding, the manure should be taken out, and try to take out whatever urine you can easily find as urine is also a contributing factor in horses getting thrush.

Keeping a sufficient amount of hay in the stall is important as horses are grazing animals. The arising problem is that horses standing in a stall are not getting enough exercise to warrant consistent amounts of hay. But, out of boredom, some horses will start to chew the wood, crib (sucking wind), or weave (move from side to side constantly on their front legs), or stall walk (fast walking or running around and around in the stall), if they do not have something to eat. Their bodies are telling them they need food. Remember, horses are natural grazing animals. The alternative would be to use a lesser quality hay in order for them to have more hay to consume. Some of the inadequacies of the hay can be supplemented with other forms of feed or supplements, but, be careful not to feed too much grain to horses confined to a stall most of the day as their energy level may become elevated, and they will most likely gain too much weight. There must be a balance between proper weight on your horse, proper exercise, correct amounts of hay and feed, and doing whatever is necessary for a horse that has to stay in a stall throughout the day and night, to help them to be happy. Sometimes, to keep them happy, you have to go the extra mile.

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