Pastured and Unattended
For large portions of the day, horses are left to their own devices without human
supervision, and are capable of finding or making trouble. Consider ways to not
add to their propensity for injury.
Halters left on horses pose a potentially fatal hazard, especially for foals.
Halters trap legs when scratching or get snagged on stationary objects as a horse
passes by, especially if moving at a run. This can have catastrophic consequences.
It’s best to avoid leaving halters on pastured horses, but if you must, use a break-
away halter designed with a leather strap or one made entirely of leather, which
will break in an emergency. Leather neck collars, like those used on broodmares,
are fairly safe to leave on if your horse is hard to catch.
Continually re-evaluate the dynamics and social situations of your herd. It
often works best to stable geldings only with geldings, and mares with mares.
Individuals have their own personalities; dominance hierarchies develop and
change as the group evolves.
Have a few different turnout pens and group horses that seem to get along
well, but be ready to modify the arrangement. At feeding times, spread hay piles
far apart to allow horses to move away from dominant or aggressive individuals.
When introducing a new horse to a herd, pick one of the less aggressive
horses and let the two buddy up with a safe fence in between. Then move them
together into a small pasture or large pen. Once they have established a safe
relationship, turn them out as a pair with the others, but stick around to break
access areas where he shouldn’t be.
Although a horse may escape through
tenacity, it’s invariably people who
accidentally leave latches unsecured.
As added security, use a clip or
snap as a backup lock on doors and
gates. An escaped horse often aims for
the place on which he focuses much
of his daily attention: the feed room.
Since overconsumption of grain or
rich hay can cause gastrointestinal upset and/or laminitis, think Fort Knox:
block off the feed room and store
feed behind secure latches.
Some horses attempt to leave their
paddock or pasture by jumping over
a fence. Enclosures should be at least
4 ½ to 5 feet tall for stalls and 6 feet
high for pastures. Another consequence of escape is that a horse might
end up in a group of horses that take
exception to the intruder’s presence,
and a kicking match might ensue.
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