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I am incredibly pro turnout. I personally hate the idea of horses being coped up in their stables all day, only coming out for exercise. Yes the exercise is good, but it’s not the same as turnout. Even in individual turn out they get the chance to interact with other horses and have down time. But despite my strong views regarding the importance of turnout, I couldn’t help but be disappointed in the amount of hate Dani G Waldman received recently after sharing the fact that her horses are not turned out.
Turnout is more than a leg stretch
As I already mentioned, exercise isn’t the same as turnout. While when turnout isn’t possible or safe due to weather conditions etc, exercise can be a good temporary substitute. Exercise isn’t a long term solution to not turning out. I am a big believer that horses should have down time out of their stables. It gives them a change of scenery away from work, it gives them time to socialise and the constant moving while grazing helps with digestion. In short, turnout has both mental and physical benefits!
Turnout has it’s risks
That being said, turnout does have it’s own risks. Various studies have found that 80-90% of serious injuries happen in the field. Not only can horse’s kick themselves or pull something being silly by themselves, if they are turned out with others they can also be kicked, bitten and chased, even playfully, which can cause an injury. You also have to consider the risk from the public. Loose dogs or even people feeding horses can also be fatal.
Top horses are expensive
Top competition horses are expensive so I do understand why some people think it is too risky to turn them out. But I don’t think that is an excuse for them to only leave their stables for exercise. I was pleased when I read more about Dani’s horses’ daily routine to see that they are coming out of their stable regularly throughout the day, not just for exercise but also for hand grazing. Of course many of us would prefer if she found a compromise where she could find a way to include turnout. But at least she is doing other things to try and make up for the lack of turnout.
What about the forgotten horses?
While I understand the frustration from the horsey population about top riders not turning their horses out. These aren’t the horses I feel sorry for. At least all their other needs are taken care of and every effort is made to substitute turnout for a safer alternative. The horses I feel sorry for are the every day horses who are kept stabled 24/7 for the sake of it. I’ve been on yards where some people would hardly ever turn their horse out. Not only did their horse rarely get turned out, but they weren’t exercised regularly and often wouldn’t leave their stable at all for days on end. This is far worse than top competition horses not being turned out.
So please keep having opinions on horse welfare and sharing them as this is the way to bring about change! But please remember that there is a difference between voicing your opinions and bullying. While I personally don’t agree with how Dani manages her horses, I do understand why she does it. I would love her to find a middle ground where they do get some turnout but bullying is never the answer. I personally am looking forward to seeing more about her horse’s day to day routine.